Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fuel Pump Went Out

Rachael called me on Tuesday night from the Hill Country Galleria, which happens to be 10-15 miles away. She said the car was not working. This was the same car, a 97 Eagle Vision, that we tried to trade in as a clunker. Being a little frustrated or worried about what to do with the car, I was a little short with Rachael when I went to the Galleria (Sorry Rachael). Not knowing exactly what was wrong with the car, I had the car towed to a Dodge dealership.

The next day the service department called and said the fuel pump went out. The total cost to fix it was $800 ($400 for the part, $400 for labor) What!!! Why so much? I declined. I would fix it myself. After about 10 minutes of research, I found that the part at the part store was less than $200 and the total time to replace the fuel pump was 20 minutes to an hour. Of course, it took me a bit longer.

Regardless of how long it took me, I asked the question; why must mechanics charge so much for parts and labor? I was quoted $400 for labor for a job that takes less than an hour? A part is charged to the customer for 2x the market price when they probably get the part at discount. Some may say there are overhead charges, etc, and I don't mind paying a little extra, but $600 extra? I definitely would have considered having them do the job if it was $400 and even perhaps $500, but $800?

Nowadays, with the Internet, the customer has the advantage to research pricing and to determine if a job could be easily done without having to pay exhorbant prices at the mechanic. I have taken advantage of the Dodge Forum, where I have received free advice from many experts and it has saved me more than $1000. It has allowed me to have some knowledge about the true cost of the job to determine if I am getting ripped off.

So I ask you...Do you have the same distrust of mechanics? Are the price markups by mechanics warranted or do they sometimes take advantage of customers with little knowledge or customers that have no choice? Do you guys shop around to determine the exact cost for labor and parts? I would love to hear your thoughts.

ADDENDUM (10/5/2009): Eagle Vision appeared to break down again for Rachael on Saturday. This time it was only two miles from our house. I thought it was the fuel pump again, so I took out the fuel pump that I recently installed, sliced my finger bad (not part of the instructions), and took the fuel pump back to O'Reilly's to exchange for a new one. While installing the new pump I looked inside the gas tank and noticed that the tank was bone dry. Rachael ran out of gas. The fuel pump has a float on it which is an indicator of how much gas there is. I had the fuel pump turned the wrong way and the gas gauge was always indicating that it had a half a tank. Funny!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Door to Door Salesman

Just this week there was a young man who came to our door who claimed that he lived in the neighborhood and explained that he was doing a college assignment to work on his presentation skills. After about a 5 minute spiel about how he was trying to collect presentation points from neighbors to go on a trip to Europe, he pulled out the magazine list. Ugh! I assumed that after that long winded dissertation that he would pull out a list of magazines and there it was. The dreaded list of obscure and unwanted magazines that cost 4x the price. The first thing I did was halfheartedly glaze over the unending list of food and baby magazines as I was trying to figure out what to say to get rid of this guy. I finally said "No" and the guy said "Come on" and I gave him $13 cash to get him to leave.

These guys usually come at a time that is inconvenient. They are selling something that you don't want. I am not sure if he is who he says he is? Is it a scam? It is hard to say NO to them.

What the heck am I supposed to do?

Should I ask right at the beginning if he or she is selling magazines?
Should I require the person to hear my 10 minute life story before I purchase a magazine?
Should I not even answer the door and tell the person to leave?

I don't want to be mean but I also do not want to purchase a magazine out of guilt. I am also not sure if it is a scam. I am trying to figure out a game plan for the next time they show up at my door. I would love to hear what everyone else does. Let me know...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hear The Bill

I just found the solution to many of our problems. (Just follow the link,, and play the audio.) This recording is a great tool to use for sleep deprivation. This audio is the highly secretive and very controversial enhanced torture technique used in Gitmo. If used in the prison systems, it has been known to deter prisoners from future crimes. It has even been used as an abrasive cleaner.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor

"Men are God's method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men..." (E. M. Bounds). Hudson Taylor was just that man. He was the first Westerner to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to inland China. The book, Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret written by his son and daughter-in-law, gives a biographical account of the life of Hudson Taylor and how he leaned on the supernatural power of God and His promises in the midst of trials, suffering, and tremendous barriers.

This book begins in the year 1849 with 17-year old Hudson's Taylor's beginning of faith in Jesus after reading his father's book "The Finished work of Christ". Not long after, he was burdened to go to the vast land of China, full of people who have never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus. This book ends with a flourishing mission (China Inland Mission) with over 1000 missionaries that was guided by the principle to never solicit funds or workers and trust that God would provide the workers and the finances to do His work. Hudson Taylor rested in God's promises and patiently waited for God to act even when the bank account was empty and no workers were to be found.

I was deeply influenced by this book. To read about this man, who laid it all down for God and had faith that God would provide, was eye opening. I realized that I just don't get it. I am too influenced by the world and have faith in a bank account, in health, and in a career that could be gone in an instant. These are not guaranteed. But Hudson Taylor knew there was one guarantee; The Creator and Orchestrator of all.

Overall, this is a great read. Although this book was sometimes difficult to follow, it was amazing to hear about Hudson Taylor's intimacy with God and his never-ending love for the Chinese people.