Saturday, September 18, 2010

How could you carpet a home for $37?

Contractors have a reputation for questionable business practices and ethics, most of the result of a few disreputable small time operators. But for some time now, some of the big players in the remodeling industry have been using sales tactics that are as misleading as any fly-by-night roofer or siding salesman.

Home Depot is running ads saying that, on certain brands of carpet, you can get your entire home carpeted for $37. Now think about it that. The fine print says that it does not include the time it takes to move the furniture, pull up and dispose of old carpet, or install on stairs--so right there that $37 goes out the window. The installer is going to charge plenty for those items--but at least its relatively easy to see that these are not included.

But think about installing that carpet. In my state, the minimum wage is $8.40. When you figure employer costs on top of that, you would be lucky to get 4 hours of labor out of that $37. And do you want minimum wage labor installing your carpet?

Obviously the cost of installation is covered in the cost of the carpet--and possibly the charges for all those non-covered items. How else could it get paid for? Which means that you are paying more for the carpet than if the labor were priced separately.

At the end of the day, the total cost for carpet and installation may work out to be the same price as another carpet installer--but this type of advertising is misleading if not deceptive. It leads people to have unrealistic expectations as to what reputable, competent labor from a reliable company costs. And that does not do anyone in this industry a favor. Especially in the aging-in-place market where limited resources and fixed incomes require homeowners to do careful planning, creating unrealistic expectations is a bad idea.