The short answer is that a fair price is one that allows a contractor to stay in business and compensates him and his employees in a manner commensurate with the work performed. This means many things to many people, but to the guy sitting behind the desk making decisions, it means being able to have money to pay the bills and keep the lights on. To everyone else working under him, it means being able to be paid fairly, whether or not to go on vacation, or even to make the car or house payment. A doctor expects to be paid for his or her services, so does an auto mechanic, or a lawyer. So why is it that anyone would consider my services of those of any other home service professional to be worth breadcrumbs? I don't make as much as a dentist, much less a doctor. I imagine even the dental hygienists make more an hour than I do. I don't have an issue with that, but are merely stating a fact. I do not own a house, nor a boat, and my cars are nearly a decade old. My clothes are whatever I can scrounge up, while my wife and kids take priority.
My boss is a good man, with a good heart, who wants to do the right thing at every turn. Neither he nor his wife drive a new car. They each have a good head on their shoulders, their priorities are dead on and they take care of their people. God Bless them!
When you complain to the clerk about high fuel prices, you do nothing but make their lives miserable. These people earn less in a week than you might make in a day. When you complain about a price that I clearly showed you to my boss, you're doing nothing but cheapening my livelihood and those of others who depend on fixing your home to stay solvent. Yes, it's expensive to call a serviceman over to fix a broken appliance, but think about this. Does a doctor make house calls for what he or she charges? Does an auto mechanic (not many)? Sure the parts and labor are expensive, but can you find the parts and fix the problem yourself? Probably not. Think about this, I'm in your house for about an hour or two and I have to assess years or even decades of wear and tear on a piece of equipment that in many cases is just as complicated as an automobile. I also have to fix it in one trip or you'll be screaming to my boss.
Even something as simple as an ignitor costs money each time it changes hands. The government taxes it every time it's sold from the manufacturer to wholesaler to the retailer. It costs money to handle and transport it each time as well. When I drive over and remove your old one, and take the one out of my truck stock, I expect to get paid for it and so does my boss.
If you've ever worked, you expect to get paid. Anyone waiting on you should also expect to be paid a fair price. When I go to a restaurant, for example, I pay 20 percent of the bill as a tip. If I can't afford the bill and a tip, I eat a cheaper meal or buy a sack lunch, end of list. Whether or not someones broke, the price has to stay the same or everyone will be broke and out of business. Either find a cheaper way to fix it or find an alternative, but beating someone up on price isn't helping anyone.