Beware of the Flim-Flam

Remember when you were younger and you would hear older people say things like, "...that's how they get ya!" and you would think how awful it must be to grow up and be paranoid about everything all the time? I think I'm about at that age.

I feel like everyone is always out to 'get me.' Whether it's commercials on television, ads everywhere you turn your head, or every person on every internet who is selling "the best product in the world." There is a catch, a gimmick, a flim flam. And usually, in my semi-paranoid defense, there is.

I had the nerve to make an appointment with one of the home-repair sales peole who come around claiming their 'team is doing some work in your area' and they are seeing if they can HELP anyone else in the neighborhood. I know, I know, believe me the Bullspit-O-Meter was off the dial. I'm somewhere in between the guy in Insomnia who is constantly staring out his window, aware of every neighbor's move, and a semi-nosey citizen just keeping an eye out on the happs of the 'hood. 

Leaning toward Insomnia because while watching small children is definitely busy-all-day work, the mind really tends to wander. And there is not much going on around here. Definitely not any home repairs, other than the already-completed work on an abandoned home 2 houses to the West. I know, I hear the elderly already creeping it's way into my aging bones, but I've had old-lady tendencies for decades. I'm just finally aging into a time when I don't have to hide it anymore.

So, back to the story at hand. A nice young man, perfectly dressed in casual-end business casual approaches the door. We see him because the kids and I are having our mandatory winter "10 minutes outside" time of day. My 3 yr old marches up and says "Hi friend, you come-a my house?" (we may need to have the Stranger Danger talk with this one) and we all laugh. 

He very nicely, wisely, not even really salesman-ish-ly at all LAUGHS heartily and tells her, 
"Yes, I come to your house! My name is _____ [already forgot because: OLD] and what is YOUR name?" 

She tells him, they chat it up, and he's really good at being the nice guy at the party, who every girl immediately thinks will be a GREAT father because 'look how great he is with kids.' This kid has got it DOWN. He even asks if she is mine, and responds,
"You are so blessed!"

Mothers, hide your daughters. Voters, meet your future mayor.

So, long story short (too late) I agree to schedule an appointment with his company. For several reasons, not just the abundance of charm. Our house is old-ish and is definitely overdue for several repairs. We suck at this in a big way. Our knowledge of homes, repairs, what keeps them together, could find shelter in the shade of a snow pea. 

We mostly just really need a real grown-up to come in and tell us which things are urgent, and which things can wait, and which things are just aesthetic and we can just knock off some money from the price of the home when we move. I figure if we actually have someone in the business come and look at a few things, they will share their wisdom. 

Specifically, we have/had a mold problem in the attic. Mold is no joke, so we did kind of take care of it. And by that I mean, my husband let me, while I was pregnant, go up and spray the spots with bleach water and wipe it. Yeah, I know, welcome to my life. But obviously we're not worried enough to get a loan to get the problem completely, properly mitigated. Just worried enough apparently to wait for someone to come along and try to schedule an appointment, and maybe tell us if we're going to die a horrible death or not. I know, it's crazy we're in charge of the well-being of 3 human beings. Anyway, he tells me to expect a call and to go ahead and confirm and schedule an appointment.

The call came in almost immediately, which should have been my first clue. And whattayaknow, they just HAPPEN to have someone 'in my area' that VERY DAY, at the EXACT TIME I said would be a good time to reach both me and my husband. I KNOW, okay? But there are always tons of kids around and usually if I can knock something out sooner rather than later, the chances of it actually getting done are better. 

I probably should have called my husband to check, but it's one of those things he never wants to do, even though we really need to look into some options. Plus it was Wednesday night. Long story short, Wednesday night is one of the few nights he's not busy with his Bowlin' Night for nerds. Which means Tuesday & Thursday he schedules time with other nerds in a Star Wars Old Republic guild to play video games as a group. Yes, he's a grown man. 
That 'type' would be, easily manipulated by a small amount of charm.
Anyhowdy, through kids making tons of noise I schedule an appointment for that very evening, 7:30. I assume this appointment will be for some nice person to come out, hear what kind of work we would like to talk about and get some details from us. I also (foolishly) assume this is going to be a really quick appointment and they'll have to come back out to look at everything another time. When it's say, light outside. What a fool I am.

This person, another extremely polite young man who talks to the children, shows up on time and is slicker than otter snot without even seeming to be. A very young man in casual clothing, asking all the right questions and saying all the latest buzzwords about 'customer service' and 'recommendations from clients' and 'awards won' by their company in industry categories he knows damn well we have no knowledge of, and also no interest in really checking up on. 

Am I really going to contact Door and Window Magazine if that is even a thing (I think it's an e-zine b-the-w) and ask them,
"Excuse me, did you award Power Remodeling the Blah Blah of the Year Award last year?"
I mean, wouldn't it be incredibly ridiculous for them to pay to print up literature that says that, just to hand out to people, if it weren't true? Again, who really cares.

We talk to this guy for what feels like forever, and in my defense, he DID look at the mold issue in our attic and assure us it's not one of those 'you have to get out of the house NOW' type situations (knew it) and he did point out some interesting things happening in what is called in the industry the "decking" of our roof. That's what I gathered from him, when I was kind of paying attention, in between tending to the children, to be the inside wood-work just under the roof. 

Our decking is seeping sap, and that sap is growing lichen. Gross, for sure, but probably not immediate-horrible-death-causing. Phew! 

Of course as part of his pitch he told us if we don't mitigate that like really soon, we'll have to pay tens of thousands more to replace that as well as the roof, that he also assures us needs to be replaced. 

Even though it was dark outside before he even arrived. 

Incidentally, and of course I mentioned this to him as well, the inspector and selling real estate agent also told us we would need to get a new roof "right away" when we moved in to this house 7 years ago, and it literally does not look any worse today than it did then. 

The mold is new-ish, that is from the Polar Vortex shitting of snow we got last year. It snowed so much in the Midwest last year, in November and stayed until March, that we had snow IN OUR ATTIC. 

That's how much snow we got. It snowed inside our house. Why do people even live here?

Well, anyway. After a really long time of talking with my husband, he goes over options, specific items which need to be replaced, versus the items that we just really should replace, and goes over some options. Most of which I walked away from to 'deal with the children' (mwu-ahahah.) My husband thanks this kid for his time and information, and tells him he has to think this over and call him back to discuss further another time. 

This is where the sweet young boy slowly changes from Nice Guy to Evil Snake-Oil Pitchman. 

Like that scene in the last Harry Potter book when sweet, old Bathilda Bagshot morphs into a horcrux.
from www.tumblr.com/tagged/bathilda-bagshot
The guy wants to quote him a price today, because as it turns out their company offers this very special "First Appointment Discount" which could save us thousands of dollars. Because everyone knows having this young kid come out one more time would certainly justify padding a price thousands of dollars. That just Business, Son. *eyeroll forever* 

He not only quotes us the low-low price of $30,000 for a new roof, but wait, that is without the First Appointment Discount (barf!) He will not accept that we need some time to digest this information, this crazy high price that may as well be a bazillion dollars, and the fact that oh I don't know, maybe we don't just HAVE THAT MUCH MONEY sitting around. 

Like we have piles of cash everywhere just like the Simpsons. I'm surprised you didn't trip on one of them in the attic, actually...
See? We NEED people with power tools to get up in there.
from www.simpsoncrazy.com
We were just waiting for someone like you to tell us how to spend all this cash. How lucky you just happened along, really.

During this time, the childrens' bedtime has come and gone. I've brushed their teeth (which Daddy normally does) and done the night-time aniating of the stuff animals (which Daddy does way better than I do, as they pointed out) and I've read them books, do I really need to repeat it at this point? And he's snuck away from his pitchman to kiss the babies goodnight, and apologize for being busy, and tell me whisperingly (because our house is pretty small) how this guy is turning up the heat, and has been classically trained in SELLING and CLOSING 2.0
from wealthartisan.com
Time ticks away, I hear them chatting. I'm always really tired right after the Nighttime Ritual. I think it's the singing that does me in. Well, that and the Getting Up Early and Running Around After the Children as well. So I could go into the kitchen and join in the discussion, but I vaguely overhear tense voices and decide that maybe I need to go to the bathroom real bad. 

And then brush my teeth. 
And wash my face. 
Hey, I haven't flossed in quite a while. I should do that now.

At some point I decide to just go to bed. Selfish yes, but you should maybe know that lately my husband has taken to pointing out just how much weight I've gained, as well as my poor choices in clothing, and that kind of thing. Typically we would totally approach these things as a team. We usually take a "Good Cop, Bad Cop" approach, and it may (or not) shock to find that I usually play Bad Cop. You work with your strengths, people. However, being the old, fat person my husband claims I am, I just left him to fend for himself. 

He came looking for me in the final rounds of the battle, I believe that was about the 2nd or 3rd time he thought Bathilda was leaving 'any minute.' He told the guy in no uncertain terms 'we're done here' and then he pulled the old, 
"I'll just go get you a business card out of my car" trick. He must have called his boss, because he was out there for about 15 minutes. 

This man had already gone to his car to get a bag full o'tricks, samples and some huge model of a section of gutter, all of which was spread over our kitchen table and floor like the worst LARPer game of all time. 

At one point I hear the boy asking, "Have I done something to offend you?" Later my husband told me he answered him, "Well, I told you I' done discussing this for today and then you went to your car and got your computer."

He tried a few other tricks, and eventually 6 days later he got the hint and went home. After over 2 and a half hours. My husband was pretty upset about the end of the situation, and proceeded to tell me all about it. I mean, I did make the appointment.

The next morning I finally had the chance to look up the company on Yelp and I saw many other people said the same thing. I gave some neighbors a heads-up and got some similar stories. This is obviously why they insisted on coming in for a meeting that day, before we had a chance to do any research. 

I should have known at the insistence of the quick meeting that there was going to be a catch. I'm not saying that's always a waste of time/money, but I have found that when I've gotten an offer that "ends soon" it's usually because they don't want to give you time to figure out what a bad idea it is. 

When someone offers a quality product, for an honest price, they don't mind when you have time to check with past customers and do some research. When a company RUSHES to get into your house immediately, and offers you a "first-appointment discount" just think about WHY they're in such a hurry. Give yourself time to consider all the options.

I have no idea if they do good work or not, and I never plan on finding out. If a new roof really does happen to cost $30,000 we will just move. If we EVER have to talk to anyone from this company ever again? I'll learn to build my own home, out of sticks and wet newspapers. Mold issue? We'll move and I'll build a new home out of sod. 

Have I mentioned lately how much I miss my little condo??

Do you have any experiences like this? I mean, besides with used car salesmen. Have you ever been suckered into the time-share scam? That was really rough. I think I've just about completely mentally blocked that from my memory.


  1. No, it's true, everyone IS out to get you. This is why, like Ron Swanson, I just do everything myself. Home repair. Car repair. Last time I got a deep cut I sewed it shut for a few days with fishing wire.*

    *That's not a snarky joke. I really did that. Have you seen the cost of an ER visit lately?

    I'm no roofer, but $30,000 seems ridiculous. Even Google says that the average roof replacement cost is about $10,000. For $30,000 it had better be solar powered, gold plated, and full of hot women in bikinis.

    1. That stitches story is beyond IMPRESSIVE! You made your own air conditioning, too. You guys are the McGyvers of non-explosive impressive inventions. I need to learn how to do stuff. We tried painting & a few simple tasks at my husband's old house, figuring we couldn't possibly make it worse. It looked like drunk monkeys painted that place, and thanks to over-spackling an ENTIRE wall looked like it was made of cake. His friend had to come in, scrape and sand that wall and start from scratch.
      $30,000 IS ridiculous! My FIL said he negotiated with his HOA to re-roof their condo building, which has SIX condos on three floors and was just under $10,000 for THAT huge building, so yeah: OVERPRICED! And no bikinis or solar power!

  2. Once when I was an impoverished student, I got a set of steak knives from a door-to-door salesman for letting him demonstrate his vacuum to me. Wow, that sounds kinda naughty and subtextual, doesn't it, but that's not what went on, I hasten to assure you. I easily manoeuvred him out the door without buying a vacuum. He was a pretty useless salesman so it wasn't hard to do.

    1. That is awesome! I remember seeing/hearing about that. When sales people would give you something "for your time." That sounds glorious! Now all you get is a "vacation" which is just a way to TRAP YOU somewhere, so you can't escape and the highest pressure sales people in the world relentlessly bully you over and over until you question your whole existence. NOT worth it!

  3. Ohmygosh, please tell me if new roofs really cost $30,000 so I don't shit my pants when we have to get ours replaced someday.

    1. They should NOT cost anywhere near that, especially for a small home like the current ComfyTown! My FIL's roof for his whole condo building (6 units, 3 floors) was just under $10,000. We still don't have that much, but that's a THIRD of the price for a much bigger building!

  4. If you live in a 20 bedroom, 15 bathroom mansion, or Buckingham Palace, then I'd say that $30,000 is a fair amount.

    1. We don't, you'll be shocked to hear. And I'm pretty glad, I can barely keep this tiny place clean!

  5. Personal recommendation is the way to go, forsure. Those people take advantage, and they SUCK.

    1. YES. And I'm so glad we live in a world with online products like Yelp and Angie's List. I'm not sure if you have those exact sites, but people can leave online reviews of companies, products, service. It's pretty awesome!

  6. I am by no means laughing AT your situation but the dialogue in which you wrote this was absolutely hysterically funny to me, Joy!! If you did not mean for the reader to laugh at all then I apologize. But, I was continually giggling because I think you are freakin' hysterical. And when you got to "slicker than otter snot" I LOST IT!!! I wish you the best with your house, my dear! :)

    1. Thank you, Mike. I ALWAYS mean for the reader to laugh! It's really all I'm good at in the world. Whether people are laughing AT me or WITH me, it's all good! Laughs are priceless and I'm super happy any time I can provide that! It's all I've got :)
      Thanks for the good wishes, we can really use them! Home repairs, or really any repairs are just not our strong suit.

  7. These door-to-door sales people suck. They sell inferior products and services for outrageous sums of money. If I need a new roof I am going to call a roofer, not a one-stop-shopping company. If I need a new deck I am going to call a company that builds decks. If I need my tonsils removed I am going to see a surgeon, not a medical student. If they come to my door I don't answer. If they are loitering on my street, and they do loiter waiting for people to come home from work, I tell that the last thing that I want to do before I even get inside and pour a drinky-drink is to listen to their shill. And to move along. And I cracked up at your telling of this story.

    1. I am getting to that point, Pattie! We have so many dishonest people coming to our area, from all over. Our town must be secretly known for SUCKERS, because I swear kids come from the city with milk crates full of candy they claim they're selling for school, but they have NO paperwork and when you ask them too many questions they just WALK AWAY. Who does that? We've also had older kids claim they were selling stuff for college, again his paperwork was sketchy and he LIED about a few things, once I called and checked up on his info, but by then it was too late. I get that people need to earn a living, and I try to help the honest ones but it's getting REALLY HARD to tell which ones are the honest ones.
      I'm glad you got a laugh, that makes ANY and every experience worth while, my friend.

  8. Ugh, door-to-door people who aren't holy rollers really freak me out. It's commonplace to have solicitors on my new coast for all sorts of reasons, but I grew up back east with a firm "We don't want any" from my grandmother each time. (Or, my personal favorite: "Thank you, no. We already have a religion.") I'm too paranoid and old for this, too. I like your blog!

    1. Agreed, the holy rollers freak me out too. I mean, we all have to do our thing but please take NO for an answer, especially after several of them. Thanks for reading and commenting.