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The Problem With Living in a Small Town


I have been holding onto some money because I need repair work done to my home and I need it done soon. We were going to get it done last year, but couldn’t get enough money together and I really didn’t want to take out a cash advance check from our credit cards. So, we put it off until this year.

I called a company that has done work for us before, since we were happy with them and we tend to be pretty loyal once we find a company we know and trust – even if that means paying a little bit more for contracted work (versus hiring a handiman). I felt quite embarassed calling them this year – because they are the same ones that we called last year and we ended up not doing it. I received the answering machine when I called, so I left a message. In it, I said that we just couldn’t come up with the funds last year. It’s hard to admit something like that.

I never heard back from them. I could have called again, but I just took it as them being upset because we backed out last year. I would understand if that was the case.

So, I called someone else I knew that is a handiman, but has never done work for us before. He gave me some homework and said to call him back. A few days later, I called him back and got his answering machine. So, I left a message.

A few weeks later, no call back. I’ve tried calling, but time and time again I would get the answering machine. I haven’t left another message (I know, that’s bad of me – I just really dislike them).

Yesterday, I saw the first person I called. They just ended up being real busy and haven’t called me back. I would have preferred a quick message to say that they received my message and they aren’t upset because I didn’t get the work done last year – but that’s okay. They are pretty booked until November, but my repair could be done then.

Throw into the mix my father-in-law. He is a retired carpenter and he says he can do our repairs and he really wants to do them. It would be a big trip for him to come to our home, so we’ve been trying to talk him out of it.

What I told the first person I called is the information about my father-in-law. I didn’t mention about the handiman I had called, but haven’t heard from again. I wanted to, but it wouldn’t come out because I felt bad for calling someone else. I felt horrible.

I haven’t even gotten to the kicker yet of this story….

The first company I called and the handiman are related!!!!!!!!

Why it took so long for my brain to remember this little fact is beyond me. Now, I feel REALLY embarassed.

Now, I technically didn’t lie to the first person I called. I just omitted the part about calling the handiman. If I had heard back from him, I would have, though since it would have been a done deal. But I haven’t heard from him. Perhaps they both know I have contacted each of them?

I just want my repairs done πŸ™

I also sorta feel like hiding under a rock for a while…


  • Reply Sara |

    Now, I don’t live in a small town, but I do own a small business, and I’ll be honest – business is business. I don’t really care if I give someone a quote and they don’t end up doing it, or find someone who the prefer over me – the customer should be looking out for themselves and not worrying about hurting my feelings!

    That said, you need your work done, and the first company never called you back – why shouldn’t you have called someone else??? I agree with the pp, that you should make sure that you get a fair price, but don’t feel embarassed about the work or the calls – a good financial decision is getting multiple quotes to do the work – but, you already knew that!

    I hope your work gets done soon, and that you don’t freeze!

  • Reply Personal Finance Blogger |

    Bad customer service is not unique to small towns… πŸ™‚

    Given that you live in a small town and the two guys are related you can be reasonably sure they know you’ve called them both. But so what? Have them both bid on the work. Have your father in law in your back pocket to do a sanity check on their quotes if you’re worried they may try to rip you off. Never forget, you’re the customer. It is your hard-earned money these guys are competing for.

  • Reply ry |

    just gotta be careful that they both don’t come together and try to rip you off by giving you higher than normal estimates

  • Reply Karen |

    Home repairs can be painful in more ways than one – it’s not just forking over the money, it’s trying to decide if the lower bid is the BEST bid. I go with my gut. I have had one company who did an excellent job at a reasonable price, and the next year called him for an estimate on a different house that I had moved to, and he did not show up at the agreed upon time or even call! He called a week later and asked if I was still needing him (NO!). I ended up doing the work myself (painting). Alot of small businesses do not have clerical staff, which allows them to do the job for less, but when they get busy, they are not always good about those administrative details. One thing I can tell you for sure: Get everything in writing and DO NOT PAY until the job is done. If necessary, go with them and buy the supplies and keep them at your house.

  • Reply Matt |

    I wouldn’t worry about it; if you think about it if the company takes you time to get back to you then why wouldn’t you start shopping around? As for the handiman; his not calling you back is just as bad as the first companies. Don’t stress about who you called when and which company you end up going with.

    But I have to agree with the previous poster, don’t pay upfront when ti comes to a repair job!

  • Reply Tricia |

    Thank you everyone for commenting. I will try to write a little more about this later…

  • Reply Steve Heath |

    Stepping away from the financial a bit… if you get along well with your father-in-law, and he can do the job, why wouldn’t you? It’s not just about coming to do the job, I’m sure he’d like to come see his son in person, and this gives an excuse. Why not offer to pay him what you would pay the contractor towards his travel expenses? That way you aren’t feeling like you’re taking advantage of him, and yet can still get a mini-family vacation/gathering at the same time?

    That’s assuming, of course, that you like your in-laws and would like to visit with them πŸ™‚

  • Reply Tricia |

    Hi Steve!

    I do get along with my in-laws, but my father-in-law would need my husband’s help for the repair. Unfortunately, home repairs are not my husband’s thing. I can just see heads butting and everyone getting upset at each other (it’s happened before).

    Since writing the post above, we found out that my father-in-law is having medical problems and they probably will not be able to visit us for a while.

  • Reply Steve Heath |

    Lol, then it sounds like your hubby is in the same boat I’m in with my Dad πŸ™‚ He’s so good at those things he doesn’t talk about what he does, and he expects you to know how to help him… but I haven’t got a clue, he never in my life showed me how to do that kind of stuff. I even put together Ikea furniture wrong πŸ™‚

So, what do you think ?