I recently rang up several professionals in my city: a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, a pool tech, and the mechanic who maintains my truck. I asked each of them a single question, and despite the wide range of professions represented, the answer was always "No." The question was, "Do you offer free estimates?"

What a difference from our line of work! Apparently, somewhere back in the forgotten beginnings of the construction trade, some marketing genius thought that providing a free estimate would make a great promotion. But what started out as a good idea went horribly wrong over the years, and the market began seeing the free estimate as a right...

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