The Plumber Conundrum

All plumbers talk the same

Today I woke up to the sound of a man’s voice talking outside my bedroom window. He was talking to the lady living downstairs. As he was talking, I realized I have heard this conversation before

“Hey, lady, look, this is a very complicated issue. Can I talk to your husband?”

All plumbers act as if they believe all women are incapable of thinking. This is a false impression. In fact, plumbers found out that women are harder negotiators than men are. We think we’re so good at it, until we are confronted with an expert. You’ll see what I’m talking about after you hear the conversation with the husband:

“Hey, John, how are you? Look, listen, I’ve been talking to your wife here, and she wanted me to explain to you what the problem is. You see, there is a pipe in your garden, you know, the gray one? Yes, the one going from you wall down to the ground. This is very serious. It should in fact go sideways, and then into the ground. Uh-huh. Yup. I knew you would understand. So now I need to dig all around your garden for a day and it’ll cost you 2000$, but you’ll get a grade A job done here. Uh-huh. Otherwise, the problem will reappear next year and it’ll end up costing you double.”

This is schmoozing.

Schmooze (v): talk idly or casually and in a friendly way.

It sounds like: I respect you, we are friends, now trust me on this one. When in fact it is: you are too embarrassed to ask, buy I am lying through my teeth.

Men are schmooze-suckers

Men have underdeveloped language centers and over developed ego centers. When being fast-talked by one of these experts, in an area we understand nothing about, we get confused. Our first reaction is what makes us suckers – it’s the instinct dictating that we hide our ignorance. So the plumber is talking fast, and we’re going ah-ha, ah-ha. And then we pull out our wallets, thinking, “boy, am I happy I got this on time!”

Women simply say: “I don’t care. It sounds too expensive, and I want a second opinion.”

How not to fall on your face

I would be a terrible at this. At one time, I was  squeezed 400$  (more than tripling the original price) by a plumber making a face, pointing at the floor and saying, “oh-no, this is terrible. It’ll be lots and lots of work.” Just the notion of negotiation is beyond my grasp. In my mind, people should ask for a fair price, and I should pay a fair price.

The plumber, on the other hand,  is thinking: how can I make the most of this crap? After all, after he’s done with my crap, he has to go and pile some more crap. He’s a plumber. By definition, he has a crappy job. So what he’s trying to do, is maximize the amount of money he can get, per job, so that he could finish the day early, go home and take a shower.

In business school, they teach that a repeat customer is worth more than a disgruntled customer. This is because the loyal customer pays you more than once, and he tweets about you to his friends And now they come over and pay you some more. A disgruntled customer buys where he tells horror stories about you, and now his friends will never-ever try your product. When you sum it up, the happy customer is worth more, even if he pays less every time.

Please, don’t schmooze me. Repeat customers are worth your honesty.