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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sometimes You Gotta Pay the Price: Bargains vs Community

We had two annoying auto expenses in the last 2 weeks: one (my fault, when I scraped the underside of the car on a curb) cost $170; the other (car's fault, hate the Honda) involved the fan not working, during a terrible rainstorm, en route to work. Scary drive. Mr. FS estimated that the second would cost $500.00.

He returned with the news that it was ONLY $280.00. "So, he said, "I spent $150.00 on bicycle shoes."

No, he wasn't kidding. He had ordered bicycle shoes from a mail order company a while back. They didn't fit right. Luckily, they do fit Frugal Son. Meanwhile, he had gone to the local shop and tried on some shoes, which seemed like they would work for his hard-to-fit feet. They didn't have his size, so he decided to wait.

This decision--the UNFRUGAL CHOICE--was made after reading a Frugal Traveler column in the New York Times. The author was looking for some shoes for travel. I can't remember the brand he ended up with. But he spent a lot of time with a helpful young salesperson and THEN BOUGHT THE SHOES ON-LINE.

I was appalled. So were lots of other people, judging from the comments. So Mr. FS and I decided: if you try it, you have to buy it, especially if you have received lots of personal service from an employee.

Have you paid extra for community of late?


Duchesse said...

I by the local product for small purchases like espresso at the local coffeehouse. And if I go into a local bookstore and browse, I buy there.

I'd feel weasely taking up a lot of a salesperson's time then buying online but then... was in a local jeweler's looking at branded earrings and decided to check price online. Online price was 40% cheaper. Was I being gouged at local upscale boutique? That is the question.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse--Such a good point. You really do have to check.

Jane said...

I stuck to my guns the other day when a used car salesman tried to sell me a car. First he kept trying to steer me to more expensive cars but I kept saying "show me the Cobalt" which he finally did. I took it for a test drive and he took me for a tour of the repair shop and elaborate waiting area complete with free frappacinos and home baked cookies. He told me all about the "women only" nights when they had workshops that teach women stuff like how to change a tire, I guess because we're too stupid to read a manual. But when he finally got around to tallying up all the "hidden" costs including the "administration fee" of $395 I thought - man, that would buy a lot of cookies - and the bottom line ended up being $1200 over my budget inspite of beginning well under budget I walked away. No more seductive sales gimmicks for me.
The next day I found a similar car, same year, a few more kms, not so many bells and whistles which came under budget by over $2000, yes you read that right!
Just walk away.

Suzy said...

At first I was appalled that your hubby would get all the information from someone then order online then I started thinking what I'd actually do and well depending on how much I'd save I'd probably do the same thing! I would have more sympathy for a small mom and pop type business though than a big chain store.

Businesses know they need to be competitive. Some advice is worth paying for and some just isn't. A lot of stuff can be found on the internet..biking shoes go to some bike forums...treadmill advice find those forums...and it's free!

Frugal Scholar said...

@Suzy--My husband bought his shoes at the local bicycle shop. I was referring to an article where the writer did what you describe: buying something online after getting lengthy attention from a salesperson. The article upset me, so we decided not to do that ourselves.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Jane--Well, car salespeople use such confusing tactics that I think ALL IS FAIR when dealing with them. They still make money!

Duchesse said...

At a party I met a man who had owned a used car business all his life. He was in his 70s- and told me 'it is an enormous scam, that's all it is." He seemed to genuinely regret his occupation.

Of course this is just one person.

Suzy said...

oh ok I was still half asleep when I read your post! But honestly I think I'd be going online if the savings are that great. Online has really cut into a lot of businesses - people can sell stuff without having to open an actual store and save money on the overhead.

RoseAG said...

We have a local shopping area with a Border's. We try to buy books there because we like to go over there and shop.