Comparison Shopping – A Real Life Example

termites-croppedYou always hear people tell you to make sure you shop around before you buy anything. Most people equate this experience to things like buying a car or a new TV. If you are anything like me then you probably don’t do it as much as you should.

Comparison shopping works just as well for services as it does for consumer goods. You could liken the experience to a a government request for proposal process. You line up several potential companies, ask them all to perform a specified service and see what shakes out. The advantage you have is that you can then pit the proposals against each other to further lower the costs. I recently found termites near my garden which caused me to want to get protection for my house, the garden is only a little ways away.

I called a total of four different pest control companies and asked each one to come out and provide me a termite inspection and a quote for a bait type termite prevention system. I have opted to leave out the business names for the sake of the guys giving the quotes, you will see why a little later on.

Bug Guy #1 (Regional Chain)

The first bug eradication company offers the Sentricon termite baiting system and because my home is newish he will be willing to give me a new home discount if things check out. Bug Guy #1 does the following: he performs a detailed walk down of every inch of interior and exterior walls on the first floor, inspects all door jams, and looks inside the garage. He measures off the linear feet around the house, draws a pretty graph of the house, and then gives me a lengthy run down of termites and how the operate and how bait systems work. His quote is for $399 to install the bait system and the first quarter of monitoring, each quarter after that is $62.50. In total that makes it $586.50 for the first year and $250 per year after that for maintaining the system. This all includes a damage replacement guarantee if termites ever get in and do damage to my home.

Bug Guy #2 (Local Exterminator)

Bug Guy #2 offers the Advance baiting system, which works and looks like Sentricon but it isn’t. This guy takes the cake for efficiency, he came out and looked at the active termites out by the blueberry bush, asked who else I had look at it, how many linear feet the house was (I got that from the first guy) then agreed to do the preventative treatment with the guarantee. No inspection at all really and he never stepped foot in my house. He quoted $680.00 for the first year, I was put out by the fact that he didn’t actually look around the house and he wasn’t as professional so I didn’t even try to haggle.

Bug Guy #3 (National Chain)

Bug Guy #3 offers the Sentricon baiting system, same as Bug Guy #1. Bug Guy #3 wins the award for talking your ear off, and I think he may have had a few drinks at lunch because I could smell a little beer breath going on. He walked down the exterior and the garage and was very interested in what everyone else was quoting me. He made a remark about how high Bug Guy #1′s quote must have been, then gave me a quote higher than that. I told him how the first company quoted me $585, which he didn’t like to much. He went below Quote 1 and offered $575 for the first year then $250 for each year after. He also volunteered to throw in a free exterior treatment for the house to keep other insects out.

Bug Guy #4 (Regional Chain)

Bug Guy #4 offers the Advance bait system, similar to Bug Guy #2. I felt bad for this guy since the actual salesman was sick they sent over the technician who does the treatments. He was knowledgeable but didn’t have the flair for sales that Guy#1 and Guy#2 had. He did an exterior inspection and asked me what everyone else quoted. I offered up that $575 was my lowest first year offer so far. He had to call his boss to talk about pricing, seeing as he didn’t actually do sales, but he came back with the best offer yet $575 for the first year then $150 for each year after that. That is a $100 difference in maintenance fees for subsequent years and I never divulged what the others had quoted for that fee.

Conclusions

It was a lot of fun to actually get this large spread of people in all offering the same thing at different prices.  I am toying with the idea of taking quote #4 to Bug Guy #1 and seeing what he might be able to do to match it and play one more round of pricing updates before settling on the winner. Of course it seems that Guy #3 is going to be unbeatable with the $150 per year maintenance fee.  While the costs may be close, I stand to come in at least $100 under the highest quote, and possible even $200+ if you count the yearly maintenance fees. It just goes to show you that comparison shopping really will save you some money.

Photo: (Aaron Escobar)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Bible Money Matters April 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

My favorite line to use with these guys after attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University?

“It’s not good enough”

and then just wait to see what they’ll offer. let the awkward silence fester, and often they’ll feel uncomfortable and offer up a better price!

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