Reviews and such

 Several comments in response to my post yesterday got me to thinking about how we use word of mouth or written comments to inform our decisions.  Most of us feel we cannot trust advertisements on TV, in the print media and elsewhere, and turn to things like  word of mouth, Amazon reviewers and Angie’s list to help us make decisions.

In recent years, I have hired different folks to do different jobs and in the process developed a set of rules I follow for hiring someone:

1/ If I want a repair job done, I solicit bids after I do an Internet search.  Based on what I read in the form of self-advertisement and recommendations from previous clients, (I look for individuals or small businesses with a small advertisement budget)  I ask the individual to visit my house and give me an estimate of what it would cost to do a job. Most of the time this works well.

For example, a few years ago, we needed the front door molding repaired.  After 40 years, it had disintegrated from wood rot. David had partially repaired it, then had a medical emergency which prevented his completing the job.  I found a fellow who gave me an estimate for finishing the work, and hired him.  David was not pleased with his effort, but while the fellow was here, he overheard me talking to the representative of a fence installation company about repairing my old fence.  “I would like to put a bid in on this job” my handyman said.  So I asked him what he could do and how much would it be.  He sent me photos of the jobs he had done for others in our neighborhood and gave me a few references, and we struck a bargain.  He did a wonderful job on the new fence. He completely replaced it for less than the other company would have charged me for a simple repair job. 

So, even though David did not like the job Hermie did on the front door, fences were his specialty, and he did a good job.  Below is a shot of the fence along the east side of the back yard right after he completed the fence: The moral of this story is sometimes intuition helps choose someone for a job. The other moral is hire someone who knows what he is doing.

2/ Word of mouth.  I have used the same tree firm year after year to trim the same trees.  I found them because a fellow I use for occasional landscape jobs recommended him. I found the original landscaping company by shopping at a particular nursery year after year.  I made the decision to use the nursery based on the attitude of its workers.  Originally, the workers were mainly housewives reentering the job market who actually knew something about gardening.  Later the company expanded and opened a new site and hired many workers from Latin America. They didn’t speak English too well, but they were friendly with my dogs.  Most of them had probably been farmers or agricultural workers in their own countries.

I knew from being a volunteer worker at a local public garden where I lectured school groups, that the children of recent immigrants, particularly from Latin America, understand more about gardening than native born kids who probably watch too  much TV.  Hispanic kids have often come from agricultural regions in the more remote parts of southern Mexico and Central America where they grow food for home consumption, or like my friend Rose Ann, they are the child of migrant workers from Texas and other southern states. 

Farm work is something young people can do well.  When I visited the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I noticed most of the folks who served me were youngsters from the rural areas around here (we are a southern state).  I imagine many of them are in the FFA (Future Farmers of America).  I looked for my granddaughter Joy at the market as a truck from the farm where she works was up for the day, but one of the boys told me she was “working on the farm today.”    

3/ The other method for finding help I have used recently was Angie’s List.  I found my current house cleaners through this agency, and have been very pleased. 

4/ Another source I have used in recent years has been “A Place for Mom.”  Although you can find Joan Lunden advertising this service on TV, it is a referral service.  Through them, I have been able to contact and visit numerous retirement facilities and lay the ground work for the day when I might need such a service. It might sound nutty, but visiting a retirement home convinces me we are in no way ready for such an experience. I have also learned to distinguish among the different kinds of facilities. 

Although the insurance charts suggest David could live to 99 and me to age 93, because he is 12.5 years older than me, I may need a retirement facility some day. 


Ageing Research Reviews

Ageing Research Reviews (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a planner and I believe in being informed before you have an emergency.  I figure none of my children or David’s will take us in and I don’t particularly want them to, so David and I have followed the old Scout maxim, be prepared.  David says we could stay in this house forever.  I tell him “Eat your veggies.” 

So how do you decide which services to buy?



12 thoughts on “Reviews and such

  1. Oh, yes! I agree about gardening help. We changed to a group our next door neighbor was using — Hispanic — the bros. are ESL with accent and one has difficulty understanding Eng. Sometimes other workers don’t speak Eng. at all. My husband found it very anxiety-producing, but I’m more accustomed to communicating with NES or LES and generally enjoy it. Years ago I had engaged in Volunteer Vital English class — worked with a young farm worker and middle-aged married woman. Our gardeners knew little about sprinklers but company owner has learned and I’ve had to give direction on fertilizing as they either hadn’t or couldn’t read the instructions properly, but have done a good job with all the cutting, trimming, etc.

    Has been good relationship, especially for me now. Also, think having two customers so close together is advantage for hedge between yards, decreased truck gas costs for them. Have thought neighbors should band together and all hire the same guy for a group rate of some sort, especially as some of us are gradually eliminating grass for native desert landscaping.


  2. Years ago when we purchased this house, the owners responded to my husband’s request by leaving us a list of all the local businesses they used for house needs. We’ve used them and, sometimes, obtained references from them for other workers, or a worker with them might be available and qualified to do some special job needed. With new companies we get 3 bids, via cold calls made to phone book selections, our cities bi-weekly newspaper. Occasionally, referrals from friends and neighbors. I’m doing this on my own now and had to come up with some new workers myself — so far so good. I continue to try to stick with businesses in my city, and those cities close by.

    If appropriate, I make sure they are currently licensed to do whatever they’re doing. Can easily check them out on Internet now with State licensing professions, and pay attention to Internet comments about them, though some vitriolic negative ones aren’t necessarily enough to rule a business out. I avoid big companies with big ads in phone yellow pages, those that advertise on TV — might consider radio advertisers, just depends, but usually no businesses in my area — mostly closer in to L.A.


  3. Great astronomy picture. one of the joys of having G home when I find a treat like this is to be able to share it on the spot. Word of mouth hasn’t really don’t well here with friends. Now we ask folks who are contractors who they would use. That’s better..

    All I can do is tell you what I did. I have kept going to school, this time for the fun of it and only one class. I’ve found a way to give back to the world that sits well with my confusions plus works well with my too much schooling, and I do small things for joy of it all..


  4. For almost three years, we have lived in a retirement community in Portland, Oregon. Before we moved from NYC–and I started blogging in 2006–I attempted to begin conversations with readers about how all of us make these decisions. Not unlike the women’s group I was part of in the City: talk about this in the abstract but avoidance on a personal level.

    Couple of commenters at A Little Red Hen know my situation. But no one ever asks me anything. Good luck, Dianne.


    • We are not moving anytime soon, or as David says, “Over my dead body.” Please point me to the facilities you checked out and write an update blog. I think it pays to be fully informed. Also, if you have written about your experience point me to the posts, please. Thanks, Dianne


      • If you look at my blog’s category, “Housing Ourselves,” scroll back, you can see some posts. With much to post about in my ongoing life, no plan for an update. You need to talk with people in retirement places close to where you live for input. We look at the future differently…not waiting for the “emergency” moment. That is when little choice is available. Puzzled that the subject has come up frequently here yet your spouse always has the last word.


      • Thanks I will check them out. Everyone I talk to always has good things to say. Cognitive Dissonance. Living in Oregon, I can imagine your thoughts on death and impairment at the end of life, however, I would probably be a lot happier not knowing about them. I might be a “bad” Catholic, but believe in the sanctity of life.


  5. I rely on TV commercials, newspaper ads, and word of mouth. For our roof, I got 3 bids and hired all 3 companies at one time or another. However, judging from their work, the last company I hired is the best and will be the one I refer to friends and family.


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