Twenty months ago, when we started our plumbing renovation project, we started a junk pile in the back of the house that grew and grew and grew. At times, I made a half-hearted effort to smuggle one small load of junk into the trash can each week, but seeing that it would take months to get rid of the pile that way, I stopped. In the impending crush of visitors likely to come in the next few weeks, it was decided that we needed the extra parking space, so I decided to bite the bullet and hire some junk haulers to come and take the stuff away.
The first company I called–well, internetted–came within two hours of my inquiry, and I had a distinct memory of something my cousin’s boyfriend (the plumber) once told me. He said that occasionally he would get called in to bid on a job that just looked awful. It had awkward space, or unpleasant conditions, or something, and he would overbid so that if they went with him, at least he’d make good money. (As an ironic aside, he said over-bidding almost always meant they would go with him.) The real purpose of the overbidding was to get out of doing the unpleasant work. This is the distinct experience I had when I called the first company.
Despite the fact that I’d indicated the junk pile to be construction debris–plaster, lathe, and some paneling–the two friendly guys who showed up took one look at the pile and got a look on their face like it was manure. Rhinoceros manure. They looked at each other, looked at their truck, and estimated $800 as the cost of the job. Eight hundred fscking dollars. Then one of them said “You didn’t hear this from me, but you could rent a dumpster for $350.” I looked like the guy getting the mechanic’s estimate and told them I’d have to think about it, and I’d call if I wanted to go with them.
Jenny took the lead, looking up another company — The Junk Platoon — who said, from our phone conversation, that it sounded like a $250 or $300 job. I reiterated, twice, that it was a lot of construction debris, and the phone operator said that would be fine. When the two guys showed up, they confirmed that it would take half a truck, “Two-fifty plus nine,” to do the job. I agreed and 35 minutes later was shaking their hands and waving goodbye. I tipped each guy $20 on top of the $259.
The lesson is: get more than one bid. And that I recommend The Junk Platoon most heartily.