Sometimes It Pays Not to Look for the Best Deal

Although it’s hard for me to believe, my humble home recently turned 14-years-old. So, as you might expect, a lot of the original appliances we bought when we first moved in — or were included with the brand new house — have been acting up for awhile now.

We had already replaced our failing garbage disposal and old refrigerator a little over a year ago as part of a minor kitchen remodel that also gave us a new sink, granite countertops, and a porcelain backsplash.

As for the other appliances in the house that had yet to be replaced, there were no catastrophic failures yet, but all signs were pointing to impending doom.

Thankfully, it’s all been niggling stuff — so far.

Take, for instance, the dishwasher; the soap dispenser often failed to open. As a result, it would occasionally take two cycles to clean the plates and pans; sometimes three.

Meanwhile, last fall two of the four burners on my gas cooktop stove decided to go into semi-retirement. Since then they’ve only stubbornly ignited with the aid of a match. After going through almost an entire box of Ohio blue tips, the Honeybee finally broke down and bought me one of those long butane lighters — for my birthday, no less.

Happy birthday to me.

As for the microwave oven, the door is broken. Sort of. The latching mechanism still works, but when it’s fully opened now it no longer sits parallel to the floor at a perfect 90 degree angle; it’s more like 94.3 degrees — but on the right hand side only.

On the bright side, the microwave still reheats my coffee just fine, and the last time I checked I wasn’t glowing in the dark, so I’m not too concerned. Still, we need a new one soon.

Add it all up and you can probably understand why we finally bit the bullet last week and spent over $4000 on a bunch of new appliances: a cooktop, range hood, dishwasher, clothes washer, and a dryer. I know.

We’re not done either; we’ll be buying a new microwave/electric oven combination soon too.

Anyway, today happened to be delivery and installation day. However, during the installation process for the dishwasher it was discovered that a water line stop valve was badly rusted and needed to be replaced, and the installer wanted $89 extra to replace the line.

The alternative was to dismiss the installers and either fix it ourselves or call a plumber.

When the Honeybee called me at work to give me the news, she was unsure as to what we should do. So I quickly evaluated the options with her.

True, although I’m not a plumber I probably could have come home and made the repair myself — but after assessing the damage, going to the store and then making the fix, it would have taken me a couple of hours of my time. Then again, we could have also got several estimates in order to find the lowest-cost plumber, but that would have taken time too.

In this case, it really made little sense to stop the installation of our dishwasher in order to save $40, $50 or even $60 on a stop valve replacement. For me, the alternatives weren’t worth the hassle.

The bottom line is that sometimes it really pays not to look for the best deal — and as far as I was concerned, this was certainly one of them.

Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass

26 comments to Sometimes It Pays Not to Look for the Best Deal

  • You made the right choice. The best option isn’t always the cheapest. I’d rather pay $100 for a pair of shoes once per year than $75 for a pair that won’t last six months.

    • Len Penzo

      Well, that is really true considering my plumbing skills are less than perfect. When I was younger and on a tighter budget, I probably would have told the Honeybee to send the installers on their way — but not any more.

  • Againstthegrain

    When I am replacing or repairing a major appliance home appliance, if at all possible I try to pull the appliance out of its spot to inspect the areas that are typically hard to see and access. That affords an opportunity to see if there is anything like your deteriorated valve lurking that could be taken care of before the installation/repair tech arrives.

    If nothing else, the area can be given a really good cleaning, which it often needs, but isn’t always possible to do thoroughly when a tech is on the clock.

    But then again, my husband and I are somewhat handy in that respect. I realize not everyone is, so in that case, the expense of discovering a DYI issue when there is little time to explore alternative options is rather minor.

    • Len Penzo

      Great advice. Of course, oblivious ol’ me just assumed that even though my dishwasher was breaking down, there was no reason to verify the plumbing attachments were still in good shape. You sound like a real handy gal. I think that is awesome. As for me, if I can’t fix something around the house without a screwdriver, hammer, or pliers, the odds of me screwing something up are pretty good. ;-)

  • Sometimes you are over the barrel! The installer takes advantage of it too. This way they are responsible for the repair and there is a benefit in that if it leaks.

  • This post just reminded me of the importance of a “home appliance repair” savings fund. Granted, our home is only 3 years old but I know it’s better to start saving now versus later. Even if it’s only a little bit, every penny will help in the long run.

  • I totally agree. Sometimes quality matters the most and I am always willing to pay for the quality. You save money long-term.

  • I have to agree. You would have probably spent more than $89 of your time trying to find a cheaper deal, not to mention having a non-working dishwasher for a few days, plus the cost of having an installer come out a 2nd time once the value was replaced. This assumes you didn’t want to do the installation yourself.

    One concern. If the valve was that rusty, this suggests where was a slow leak, perhaps around the value itself if the threads weren’t properly taped or nut tightened. Could there be any water damage to the floor under the valve? The flooring under a dishwasher is usually bare plywood.

    • Len Penzo

      Thanks for the heads up, but I was told there was no sign of a leaky pipe, DC. In any case, our bottom floor (where the dishwasher sits) is a concrete foundation, so if there was a slow long-term leak in the wall, we would have most likely had to notice it from water wicking up the wall. Thankfully, it wasn’t an issue!

  • The Bee was so thoughtful, she still carries a “torch” for you Penzo.

  • ALmost everything we buy lasts us for years and years and years! I don’t really look for the best deals, since I want to get quality, but I do buy frugally. I won’t buy an oven or microwave with all the bells and whistles. Because chances are I won’t even know what those whistles do. But I do get good stuff.

    I remember when we first moved to the US, my parents made their biggest buy it was a Oster appliance for blending and food processing it was super expensive and remember my dad and mom staying up nights thinking if it was a good buy.

    Fast forward 35 years, and it’s still working beautifully!

    • Len Penzo

      Great point on the bells a whistles, Marina. I know our microwave oven has about 15 extra buttons on it (aside from 0 through 9) and I think I use three of them.

  • This reminds me of a time that I was at the inspection station and they told me that I had a marker light out. I opted to let them change it (less than $10) rather than riding down to Auto Zone to get a bulb, installing it, and they going back to the station and getting back in line to get the check off finished. You’re right. Sometimes it’s not worth the hassel of spending extra time running around and instead, just spending a little extra money.

    As for the old mircowave, you could always some of the parts to make an arc welder, however I wouldn’t recommend it. I had a co-worker who was toying with this idea and I told him, not only did it sound pretty sketchy, but it would probably lower all the guys sperm counts in the building when he reved it up!

  • My husband and I love each other dearly, but when it comes to home improvement projects we fight like cats and dogs. If we have the money, we’ll often hire the tasks… it saves our marriage! :-)

    That said, we have done a few projects on our own and survived. Ultimately, you have to do what is best for you!

  • Amen. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in getting that amazing deal that we forget to figure in what our time is worth. Another thing with installers and service professionals…we’ve certainly found that loyalty pays. We have found a great appliance guy and we tell all our friends about him. We call him every time, and he gives us really good deals. He might not have started as the cheapest (just the nicest and easiest to deal with) but he sure is the cheapest for us now.

  • “For me, the alternatives weren’t worth the hassle.”

    You hit the nail on the head right there. It’s all about what is WORTH it for you, right? Or for anyone else in a similar situation. I hate cleaning, but I love the feeling of having a clean home. For Valentine’s Day, my DH got me a two-hour home cleaning session. Romantic? No. Worth it (in my eyes)? Yes.

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  • [...] Sometimes It Pays Not to Look for the Best Deal. “Although it’s hard for me to believe, my humble home recently turned 14-years-old. So, as you might expect, a lot of the original appliances we bought when we first moved in — or were included with the brand new house — have been acting up for awhile now.” Len Penzo dot Com [...]

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