I don't normally ask “can I get a discount?”
Initially we had taken it to Firestone – a local retail mechanic who thought all the dash warnings were simply a result of needing a new battery.
But the problem with the Lexus was not that I had left the car sitting parked for weeks. The problem was that while it was there, some animal had made a home for itself.
The animal ended up eating away at cables, the engine harness and more.
And now Firestone was telling me I had to take it to the Lexus dealership because the specific part (somewhat related to the engine harness) could only be replaced by them.
So that's what we did – we took the car to the dealership – knowing it would cost more. But we were trying to sell the car and we needed all those warning lights to get fixed.
There we were. Ready to talk to the Lexus guy. Ready to negotiate how to get this taken care of.
Before I tell you what I didn't say, let me step you into another office I've been in recently.
I told you a while ago about the horrible dentist I used a couple years ago. They weren't bad with dentistry per se, but instead were horrible with their pricing practices (really high prices followed by up to 50% discounts in negotiation).
Well it turns out they weren't so great at dentistry either.
The crown they had placed on one of my teeth over a year ago had fallen off.
And because of that, I recently ended up with an infection that started causing me serious pain and meant I'd have to go to an endodontist to re-do a root canal. Oh fun.
So there I was, in their office last week. Signing the paperwork and giving them payment details so they could charge me for their service.
Want to know what I didn't tell them?
Here's what I have never said
I didn't tell the Lexus dealership guy or the endodontist woman some things. And I think it's kind of important to share these things with you – not because I think you really care about my car or teeth trouble.
I just find that when we humanize it, in actual narratives, it's easy to understand the lesson.
I didn't say this:
Hi. Listen, I know this isn't your issue. And more importantly, I totally trust you. It's why I'm coming to you now.
See I've worked with other folks in the past and they've been horrible. They let me know.
I paid them and I didn't get what I wanted from them. I've received bad advice and even worse execution.
You're an expert. I get that. You already know it. I'm sure you get a lot of folks like me, where we finally get here after making mistakes.
But here's the thing. See I already wasted some of my money on those charlatans.
I only had a certain budget and because I chose poorly, because I delayed in coming to you, I wasted my money on them.
So here's my question:
Can I get a discount from you?
When you see it like that…
When you see it in that context, it sounds silly, doesn't it?
You don't go to the dealership looking for discounts.
You don't go to the specialists (like an endodontist) and ask for discounts.
You go to the specialists because you know they're good.
And because they're specialists, you know you'll likely pay more.
The money you wasted – that's sunk cost.
In fact, consider it the cost of your education.
Now you know better.
Bringing it all the way around
Why am I sharing this with you?
Because I hear it in the WordPress community all the time?
“Hey, my last developer ripped me off and didn't do what I wanted. But I spent half my budget. Can you (re) do all the work for the remaining half?”
It's a crazy question.
And honestly, I think when you think about it in the context of other professionals, it really does sound crazy.
But more often than not, we don't think about it that way.
So if you're a developer
If you're a developer, take a few minutes to explain that someone else's wasted time or poor code won't help you at all.
I know. You do this already. I'm just making sure to remind you.
Instead of getting defensive, however, stay professional. The more you act professional, the easier it is to explain that that's not how it works (for professionals).
If you're a client with a missing or crappy developer
If you're a person who's been burned and now is looking for this kind of discount, let me just ask you this?
Do you do that with the other vendors you work with?
How has it worked for you so far?
I honestly don't recommend the approach. Take the hit and learn from it.
What I can tell you is that if you find someone agreeable to doing all the work for half the pay, you're likely going to learn the lesson a second (or third) time.
Work with professionals. It's a lot more enjoyable and cheaper in the long run.