I thoroughly enjoyed the article by Dan Kolbert (Business, 4/11) touching on the fallacy of "free" estimates and "competitive" bidding. That so many consumers and contractors won't grasp a basic axiom of business - that the bitterness of low quality will linger long after the sweetness of low price - is mind-boggling.
Some years back I adopted a policy of politely informing potential clients that free estimates are one of the professional courtesies I reserve for established customers. Quotes on work for all others are billed at my regular hourly rate with a three-hour minimum, the exception being a 15-minute gratis consult, by appointment, in my shop. Should...
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