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September 25, 2008


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I have found the same kind of bias at a lot of places. I am a physician who owns my own practice and I had to get all my locks replaced and the quote was 75% less when I said "I work in xx building" instead of "I am a doctor over at xx." The same principle applies when shopping for a car. I tend to dress nicely but not too nice, and I leave my expensive jewelry at home.

If you ask me for my interpretation of the "White Hair Upcharge", I would simply say that Painters 1 and 2 were smarter businessmen than the 3rd.

Smarter businessmen until people wise up and find reliable, reasonable contractors, and get estimates for their work before they have it done. These guys might get away with it a few times and think they are doing good, but in the long run, they aren't going to be as successful.

I think they can be successful. Think about it. They get 3-4 times the profit for the same amount of work. This means that if painters #1 and #2 got only 1/4 of the customers that painter #3 gets, they would all make the same amount of money. The difference is that painter #3 has 4 times the overhead in parts and labor.

Also note that few people call around and compare prices. Many people would pay the initial $1300 without even checking on a second price quote.

I don't know about the "White Hair Upcharge" (I'm in my 30s) but every time I've ever had a painting job quoted I've *always* had a crazy variance in estimate prices like the ones listed. Often there's a 200%-300% difference between the high and low bid. As a result I always get a minimum of three estimates for painting work. Anyone else have this experience?

We could also talk about the "white face" upcharge or the "blond hair" upcharge or the "nice address" upcharge or even the opposite of the white hair upcharge in which young people are gauged when shopping for things like cars or jewelry.

I have all the above traits, and people try to rip me off constantly. It's amazing the different quotes and/or different treatment I get when I go shopping for big ticket items with my father or a boyfriend - even if said male is just as clueless as I am about whatever we're doing. *sigh*

It's tough for contractors because of all the competition. They want to charge as much as possible, but there are more and more handymen flooding the market who are willing to do work for next to nothing (especially in areas like Texas).

I'm not surprised at any price variances anymore. I needed a new HVAC system earlier this year and my estimates ranged from $12,000 all the way down to $3,000! Unfortunately this is one area in which the more professional companies who hire only documented workers and have legit incorporations cannot always compete effectively with the other guys who are content to earn slim profit margins or who cut costs by hiring illegal aliens.

So what? If you don't know what something is worth and shell out the money for a good or service beyond what it is worth then that is your own fault and you have only yourself to blame.

I think too many old people are lulled into thinking that just because they're old they're special and shouldn't have to learn about things, or price a product, or drive the speed limit. Too many older people just give up on learning & growing and think the world should bow to their desires and stay the way they remember it being, which isn't even based in reality but on a set of selective memories.

If you fall for a high price because you were lacked the knowledge or desire to find the true value of the item then the only person to blame is yourself...this is true regardless of your age, sex, or color.

*Note, on a personal level I am nice to old people, but anybody who expects all people to be nice to them and have only old people's best interest at heart is a fool.

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