Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Bargain Shopper

As oyster season approaches here on the Gulf Coast, I have begun my annual quest for the best prices for my favorite aphrodisiac.  A local seafood joint priced them last week at $7.95 a half-dozen, or $15.95 a dozen.  I ordered two half-dozens.  The server had probably seen stranger requests than mine, so she just shrugged and put in my order.

Maybe it's the climate here.  This morning's paper advertizes Target's annual Dollar Days.  Of course, nothing's on sale for an actual dollar, but lots of stuff is priced at some even multiple of a dollar.  Like men's athletic socks.  I buy these occasionally because it nourishes my delusion that I am still an athlete.  Athletic socks are 6 for $5 this week only.  Just my luck.  I just bought a half-dozen socks last week.  They were $4.95.

Anyway, driving home from Connecticut last month, we stopped for lunch at Tart's 50's Restaurant in the barely-there town of Dunn, North Carolina, just off Chicken Farm Road and convenient to I-95.  More or less. You have to be a little lost to find it.  Prices are always cheap at Tart's, and the food and decor are straight-up 50's diner fare.  Sweet.  But two $1.95 burgers later, backing out of a parking space, and stone sober, I swear, I pranged the old M3 into an invisible, altogether too-damn-tall curb and lightly crunched a tailpipe.  Crap!  "Another $100 bill," I thought.  As if.

The muffler shop guy back home took a look at the muffler and snickered.  "Y'all see here where yer muffler is kinda twitched up and these brackets here is shifted leftwards?"  Yeah.  Gulp.

"Whulp," he says, "yer gonna need some dealer work here 'cuz we tried t'get a used muffler onct for one of these BMW cars and it cost $700, used."  Crap.  "And they wooden promise it would fit, neither.  You got insurance, right?"

Hell, yes, I got insurance, but it's one of those $1000 deductible jobs, so I've never used it, except maybe for that sorry incident at the race track a long time past.

So I drove it to Bert Smith's BMW shop and asked, "How much?"  $2346.38.  Crap.  Lucky my deductible is only a grand.

That $2346.38 is to replace a muffler that works just fine and doesn't fart or hang down or anything but just looks a little cockeyed from the back.  Oh, and there's this tiny little scratch in the bumper paint.  "Nossir," says Matthew, my Bert Smith Service Concierge, "we gotta paint the whole bumper.  You got insurance, don't you?"

After the usual administrative waltz (turns out Travelers couldn't find Dunn, NC on its map), the adjuster, Donna G, emails me.  "Great news," she says, "Bert Smith has offered a price of $1909 for the job.  Less the $1000 deductible, of course."

Lucky indeed.  Instead of costing me $1000, the whole job is only going to cost me $1000.  Hell, at Target I could get it done for $999.95. That's two for $1995.95. Unless it's on sale, of course. 



  1. You were getting some great bargains by using your noggin, Ev. Until the car. There's no such thing as a repair bargain.