Saturday, October 15, 2011


It has happened, again.
Contractors, in my house.
I think I may have allowed them to dupe me.

In this particular case, I made the mistake of purchasing one of those 'big deals' that Angie's List sends out to subscribers every day.  About a month ago, at a time when it was so hot in the house I couldn't think, I got an e-mail from Angie's List that advertised the $299 installation of an attic fan!  Materials and labor that are regularly valued at $600!  Yes!  Yes I thought, yes please.  Please, someone come install an attic fan!  Please save me from the heat that amasses and squats on top of my house every day and into the night.  Please, come soon.  I clicked the links and made the purchase.  I looked forward to the day when the attic fan would be installed, the glorious day when my house would no longer toast me.

Now that I've spent the money, let me ask you-- do you know what an attic fan is?

I thought that 'attic fan' was one of the homeowner's vocabulary words I'd mastered already, so I didn't hesitate in the purchase.  I thought an attic fan looked like this:

the attic fan in my head

Yesterday, I learned-- I was wrong about that.

The attic fan they installed looks like this:

the attic fan being installed in my attic

Somehow, I found this to be a letdown.  I was let down even further when I was told-- do you want a switch to turn the attic fan on and off?  Well, that's extra.  The building code requires us to install the switch somewhere in the attic, so that we will do for free.  But if you would like an easily accessible switch in your hallway, in the wall, that will cost you $110 more.

arrrrrrrrrrg.  fine.  arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrg. alright.  yes, I want a switch in the hallway like a normal human person would want.  here.  take your $110, arrrrrg.

Duped!  I walked right in to this whole trap, didn't I?

I'd already paid for this is on Angie's List, so in the moment, I felt I didn't have a lot of recourse.  I guess I could have sent them away and cancelled the charge on my credit card?  But because I am not the type to keep my wits about me, that didn't occur to me in the moment.

All I could think was-- how could this happen?  Someone should have told me what I was getting!  How could this not have been described, how could this have been so totally misrepresented, how could this cost so much for so little?!  And then this extra charge for an accessible switch adds insult to injury.  Not fair!

But then-- obviously no, it's not up to anyone to tell me what I'm getting.  I should have figured out what I was getting.   I bought this service in a reactive state of mind, without thinking about it too much, just wanting to get-something-DONE-already.  In my eagerness to get all my house's little issues resolved, I sometimes don't think enough about my solution.  There's an easy thing that I could have done in this case that would have helped-- I could have tracked down the company on Angie's List and called them to ask: Hey, what's this attic fan you install?  Can you tell me if there are any additional charges?  Hey, thanks, this has been a great 5 minutes of our time together, and now I know what to expect.

Sigh.  The 20/20 in the hindsights of a dupe.

Even if this is not the attic fan of my dreams, it will still (I think?) accomplish the same goal of ventilating the attic and making the house a bit cooler when it's hot.  Admittedly, I cannot imagine a world in which this fan and the installation of it would EVER cost the $600 described in the Angie's List e-mail, but hey, at least I didn't pay that much.

But for now, no more Angie's List Big Deals for me.  At least, not until I can get my self-duping under control.

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