Expensive Lessons: Knowing When to Call it Quits and Call in a Professional, and the Price of Spinelessness and Regret

Lesson 1: When Not to DIY

Broken Garage DoorIn the past year, we only went out an average of 1-2 times per month to run errands and our garage door therefore got very little exercise. One day last month, when I was leaving for my monthly grocery shopping trip, the door wouldn’t close. I left it to Madoline to figure out, and when I got home I found the door stuck halfway down and slightly slanted, having come un-aligned and with 2 of the upper wheels fallen out of the track on one side. Being confirmed DIY-ers, we tried to see if we could fix it ourselves, which involved me standing on the back of a sofa we had purchased at Goodwill (with the plan of re-upholstering it) and wrestling with the door, but soon decided it was best left to a professional and we made to by putting the wheels back in the tracks to keep the door from sagging and damaging the entire contraption.

Our biological father came to visit last week, and although I told him we needed to call a professional repairman, he thought he could fix it to save us some money. One and a half hours later, the door was more crooked, we had lost 3 more wheels, the tracks had been knocked out of place and the door was literally hanging. Furthermore, I found out after the fact that my father had severely endangered his own life, and even worse, MY LIFE, by unwinding the tension cable. And worst of all, he had damaged the door further so that what might have been some minor repairs became major repair, including replacement of the tension rod.

Lesson 2: The Price of Not Sticking up for Yourself

The only garage door specialist in our area is located about 40-50 miles away and they seemed uninterested in the job as they didn’t want to talk to us over the phone but instead told us to submit a request online, which we did twice (4 weeks apart) but to no avail. Fearing a total collapse resulting in further damage and expense as well as the insecurity of a half-closed garage door, we resorted to local handymen.

I went through the list of handymen in our area, and the first one I reached that wasn’t a voicemail told me he could fix ours for $150. He came over to take a look and said that he couldn’t fix the tension cables, which required specialists, but that he could re-align the door so that we could at least open and close it manually, and he might need to replace a few of the wheels and 2 brackets. He then gave me a quote of $225 for replacing 5 wheels and 2 brackets. So we agreed on 10:00 AM the next morning.

I got up at 9:30 AM the next morning (which wasn’t easy for me because I was up until after 4:00AM working on the computer) in anticipation of the handyman showing up at 10:00, but he didn’t show up until 10:30, using the following excuse: the weather and its effect on one’s desire to sleep in. So he fixed the garage door – replacing 1 wheel and 1 bracket – but told me after that we actually wouldn’t be able to open the door due to the damaged tension rod, which also requires a specialist.

We then had him fix a sprinkler leak in our front yard as well, a job he had agreed to do for $75, after which he gave me a total of $325 for the two jobs. Being somewhat muddle-headed and tired from lack of sleep, and even worse, a pushover (one of my worst traits when dealing with strangers), I wrote him a check for $325 without much argument except for asking, “So the garage door was $250?” to which he, of course, replied “Yes.”

After he left, I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole affair and kicking myself (mentally) for having been such a pushover. The quote of $225 had been for if he would have to replace 5 wheels and 2 brackets. Instead, he only replaced 1 wheel and 1 bracket, and he charged me $25 more than the price he had quoted me. To add insult to injury, we still can’t open or close our garage door as he had promised beforehand. (Not to mention his showing up a 1/2 hour late for having slept in.) If I had argued with him about it, I probably could have paid at least $50 less.

Funny Face ImageThat night, I couldn’t sleep for thinking about all this and decided I would call him up the next day (yesterday) to ask about this and tell him I didn’t think what he did was right. But the next day, the check had already cleared our bank account (he must have driven straight from our house to the bank) and I decided it probably wouldn’t have done much good anyway and the conversation probably would only have aggravated me more. So I decided to just chalk it up to a valuable lesson learned about the price of being spineless. And also to never hire this handyman again.

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5 thoughts on “Expensive Lessons: Knowing When to Call it Quits and Call in a Professional, and the Price of Spinelessness and Regret”

  1. Penelope, I’m glad you are able to let this go and not get too upset about it. How frustrating for you!

  2. Ooooh, that’s awful when something like that happens. I know the feeling of not speaking up for myself. I have heard those garage doors can be dangerous. Glad no one was hurt, and the repair guy was not very professional! Found you through the Carnival of Personal Finance #154.

  3. Even though I am a DIYer, Garage doors are something I leave to the pros. They’re are big, heavy and have springs that can cause damage if released improperly. Fortunately, in our area, there are several companies that respond in 24 hours, with reasonable prices.

    Here via CoPF #154

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