Cheaper Plumbing on Fridays

(Photo: University of the Fraser Valley)

(Photo: University of the Fraser Valley)

We received a postcard from our plumber offering service on Fridays with no service charge, explaining that they can offer this because the plumber will be in our area of town, thus saving drive time and fuel costs. We are better off, saving the $59 on the service charge; and the plumbing company acknowledges that the savings make it better off too. It’s not often you see a company that understands Pareto improvements this well. I invite other examples of commercial offers where the advertiser makes the mutual gains as clear as this.

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COMMENTS: 11


  1. Matt says:

    I would like to nominate every restaurant or other business that offers any kind of volume discount. Clearly they understand that their transactional costs are non-zero and are willing to pass the savings along to you.

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  2. Brian says:

    I see this quite often in the home repair industry. You have a few factors at play, first the plumber must be good because your neighbor chose them, second “did someone say discount?” and third, you need to make the decision quickly because this may be a one time savings.

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  3. Aaron Bentley says:

    Or this could just be good old market segmentation. If it is, the plumber is actually charging on a sliding scale, using nearness as a cover story. In order to charge the service charge to those who would pay it, the plumber asks the client to give up convenience in exchange for waiving the service charge.

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  4. JM Anderson says:

    I posit that it’s all a put-on to make you think you’re getting a good deal. Like the half off sale where all of the prices were doubled in advance. I bet he’d waive the service charge to anyone who asked nicely or bargained a little. See also clothing stores like Express, that constantly offer deals and coupons, and where every item is currently 40% off. Or that luggage store on Michigan Avenue that always seems to be having an inventory closeout sale.

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  5. Roger says:

    I had to call out a plumber during Thanksgiving week and it was a highly amusing experience. The majority promised 24 hour service on their websites yet the majority of those didn’t even answer their phones. The ones who did said they were unavailable, and one said they could help in two weeks time due to equipment issues!

    Eventually I used Roto-Rooter (a franchise) who actually answered the phone and came in a reasonable time. All the other plumbers seem to dislike them though.

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  6. steve cebalt says:

    This ploy is so transparent that it damages the plumber’s reputation; like random strangers with a truckload of “leftover” asphalt to pave my driveway super-cheap. I’d prefer a plumber who appears to be busy on Fridays (and every day) because of high demand for his/her skills, who somehow works me in on MY timetable. And toilets break on their own timetable; same for most discretionary plumbing needs (a VERY thin market at any moment…).

    There are certain things I don’t want to buy on a discount: bungee-jumping cords and plumbing services being chief among them.

    I don’t question the theory from the plumber’s perspective; but some marketing offers work better in some industries (hair styling, where timing is not always so crucial) than in other time-sensitive markets.

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  7. Ozhamada says:

    A solar panel installer, on securing interest of two residents of my street, established a local town hall forum to garner further interest. The installer was quite transparent as to the savings he could pass on if many residents employed him at the same time. The savings were in the form of bulk-buying from a manufacturer and time/labour. He was also transparent as to his interest to use the street to establish his brand in the area. The forum was successful and the installation clients jumped from two to fifteen. Win-win for everyone.

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  8. Nate Martin says:

    I don’t understand why some people accuse the plumber of having ulterior motives. It sounds like Mr. Hamermesh was already employing the plumber before he offered the discount, and he saw that the $59 service fee was dropped when the plumber came on Friday. In that case, I see no other reason why the plumber would make this offer. Am I wrong?

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  9. Anna Turtle says:

    I’d be inclined to take the plumber’s offer at face value. Having had a blue collar job similar to plumbing, you find yourself driving back and forth across the city all day from job to job. It will quickly occur to you that if you could stay in one neighborhood for a day you could get way more done and make more money. He probably figures he’ll make about the same amount (if not more) but his stress level will go down.

    That said, I predict the plan is not going to work. He’s going to get true emergency calls from Neighboorhood A on days when he planned to be in B all day, and if he won’t help the customer in B, they will call someone else (and inevitably not be too happy with the plumbing company).

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  10. Sam says:

    I work in construction, most people in the trades wouldn’t know how to even get the addresses of the surrounding houses and I find it highly unlikely they are going to coordinate their schedule with mailing out solicitations, it would probably be easier and cheaper to actually knock on the neighboors doors if that was the case. However it is a simple thing to mail out the same letter to EVERYONE, and as someone else mentioned, it has the discount offer…and buy now or you will miss it, sales hook making it more effective. I remember seeing a 20% off coupon for one of the trades that said you had to present it before the estimate (who would actually fall for that??)

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