Thrifty Thursday: Not paying for convenience

I needed to take 2 dresses to the cleaners last week. We happen to have a dry cleaners within walking distance and, since it was a beautiful day, B and I went for a walk.

The dry cleaner hardly looked at the dresses I presented but spent longer than I felt was necessary clicking through his screen before printing me out a receipt. He is the owner and I assumed he knew where “dress” was in his system. If there were more detailed options on dresses to select, he didn’t know them about my dresses because he didn’t bother to look at them.

He handed me my receipt and we turned to go. As I walked out of the shop, I looked down at the receipt and was shocked to see $26.58. I don’t know how he came to that price, but it was more than I wanted to pay. I went back in and asked for my dresses back because I thought the price to clean them was too high. He handed them back without a word.

I had no idea what the going rate was. The hubs usually takes care of the dry cleaning. But I’ve heard rumors that women pay more than men for dry cleaning and I was willing to try some other place(s) out. We headed back home but, the weather was so nice, we decided to just walk around, instead. We had a lovely conversation so I don’t regret going to the cleaner. It cost me nothing!

When we got back home I remembered hearing a commercial about Zips Dry Cleaners. Went to their website, saw there was one in the next town over so we went.

The woman who waited on me was lovely. She asked if I’d been there before and, when I said no, she explained my options and set me up an account. By providing my email address, I receive a notification as soon as my clothes are ready. They clean right on site instead of shipping the cleaning elsewhere. I chose to get a key tag for quick pickup. If your total is under $10, they only accept cash; credit is accepted over $10. If you drop off by 9am you can pick up the same day after 5pm and they clean comforters for only $19.99.

Now, I could have paid $26.58 for the convenience of walking to the dry cleaners or the exterm elf short drive there. However, I chose a 10-mile round trip twice (once to drop off the dresses and once to go back and get them) because Zips charged me $4.58! I get 23 miles to the gallon in my car and had just gotten gas the day before for $1.79/gal. The drive on a beautiful day, with the windows down and great conversation with my son, might be less “convenient” than a closer cleaner or one who delivers, but it wasn’t inconvenient to travel a little farther and I saved $20.21!

I don’t like to pay for the convenience of having dinner delivered  to me, either. It costs more because of tipping (and those drivers deserve a good tip!) but more importantly, or takes longer and the food isn’t hot anymore. I’d rather drive 10 minutes each way to pick up a fresh, hot pizza and be eating it in 20-30 minutes than have a warm to cold pizza delivered in 45-75 minutes, depending on the time and day of the week. In this instance, getting it myself is not inconvenient, the waiting longer for delivery and tipping is.

My opinion about choosing pickup over delivery is because it fits in with my lifestyle: I have a car to go get it, great pizza close by, my son is old enough to leave at home while I get the pizza or, if I want him to come with me, it’s quite effortless to get him in the car. I have certainly taken advantage of delivery when we were without a working car, sick, exhausted from up all nights with a young child, bundling up a young child against the elements would have taken just as long as the delivery driver, etc. 😉

So, the next time you’re about to pay extra for an offered convenience, stop and ask yourself, “Is it really more convenient?”

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