Where to hit the pipe: a lesson in free market economics

General Patton, greatly paraphrasing: Just tell your people what you want done, and you’ll be amazed at what they come up with.

A story: A higher-priced plumber came to figure out why the customer’s water piping kept making this irritating banging noise that the customer couldn’t figure out. Plumber looked around a minute, found a spot in one pipe in the basement, took a wrench and hit it. The banging stopped immediately and stayed stopped.

That’ll be $300, said the plumber. The customer reacted angrily. Why, that just took you a few seconds! That’s outrageous! The plumber offered to itemize the charge. Customer: This I’ve got to see.

Item #1. $40.00, for labor, standard one hour minimum labor charge for the plumber. Item #2. $260.00, knowing where to hit the pipe.

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