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North Hills

Be wary of businesses offering freebies

| Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, 1:33 a.m.

Because I have had the good fortune to write a monthly column in a well-respected newspaper I have also been treated to a decent amount of feedback from readers.

There are unhappy readers who call me to express their strong but different opinions on powerful topics like hammers, ball bearings and gasoline cans. There are happy readers who call to gush over my thoughtful positions and exquisite use of the English language (thanks Mom). But my favorite feedback comes in the form of phone calls from folks who are at or above the age of 80.

Octogenarians are direct and very pure, if unvarnished, when delivering their thoughts. Like verbal prize fighters they jab with wry wit and then punch me in the face with an upper-cut of truth. I appreciate that.

They are old some might say, not up with the times and perhaps that is a valid position. But they see through the silliness of modern life and the absurdity of things which we “young folk” accept as normal. That quality has exceptional value and we should all take note — especially those of us, consumer or vendor, who are involved in the world of home improvement.

You see an 83-year-old person would never believe, even for a minute, the ludicrous claims made by some home improvement contractors and retailers these days. This demographic, born before cable TV, scoffs at the idea of a contractor who claims he’ll install windows, shingles or flooring for “free.” They laugh at the notion of a landscaper who says he’ll charge you for only a half season’s worth of work but deliver 12 months of service. They scorn the retailer who advertises free light fixtures for your home with every purchase of a light bulb. Old people would never fall for that stuff. But then again, it’s not the 83-year-old shopper who is a major buyer for these things is it?

The truth is that it’s those of us who are younger and boast about our high level of formal education who are the creators of and targets for these crazy advertisements and ridiculous claims. The shame of it is that despite our so-called education, we are also the ones believing that junk.

Here are the facts: products cost money, labor costs money and high-quality products and labor cost more money. If a home improvement company or retailer is offering something of inherently high value and telling you it is free, something is amiss.

Older Americans, the men and women who eat red meat and white bread for lunch, know for a fact that lunch is never free, a lesson we all need to learn.

So before you choose a contractor or retailer whose offer is laced with an overabundance of free stuff, call someone with tons of gray hair and a wrinkled face; ask their opinion and let them provide you with feedback. Chances are they will pop you in the jaw with a dose of reality and in all likelihood you will appreciate it.

Ed Pfeifer is a Tribune-Review freelance columnist and owner of Pfeifer Hardware Inc. If you have hardware-related questions, call the store at 724-625-9090.

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