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Getting Into Hot Water

Stephen White
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We had a kitchen tap problem. No hot water. We don’t have a tame plumber, but coincidentally that same day we had received a tradesmen’s flyer so we went with one of the plumbers listed.

He turned up on time, he was a very nice man and he seemed to know what he was talking about. He assessed the problem, diagnosed elderly pipework, did some more tests, re-diagnosed elderly pipework plus a faulty tap and told us what we needed to replace it with – a new tap capable of handling low water pressure because of the pipework.

There and then we found a tap on Amazon – he checked the specification and said it was fine. He’d call back when the tap was delivered. Two days later it arrived. We called him and made an appointment for later that week. The following day a second tap arrived – I had inadvertently ordered twice. We returned one to Amazon.

The plumber arrived. He looked at the tap and declared it unfit for purpose. The hose to the tap, which attaches to the pipework, was too narrow for low water pressure. We would need to select again. He’d come back when we had a suitable tap. We returned the second tap to Amazon, feeling foolish. Without hot water washing up was an increasingly tiresome process

We found online a tap warehouse which happened to be about 4 miles from our home. We selected a tap which was specifically designed for low-pressure systems, then called the warehouse and asked if we could come to check it out and take it home. They were very nice but No, the showroom was closed because of Covid. Could they assure me the tap was suitable for low water pressure? Yes, it was, and if the tap was wrong they would refund. And delivery would be £10. I asked if I could avoid the £10 charge, being so close to the warehouse. Perhaps someone could just drop it round on their way home? No, but they immediately offered me a £12 discount on the price of the tap, then added back the £10 for delivery. I was now £2 better off.

The tap arrived. The plumber arrived. No, this tap was also unfit for purpose, for the same reason. The hoses were too narrow.

At which point I had to work out who was the most dysfunctional – the tap warehouse, the plumber, or me? Despite my complete ignorance of plumbing and taps I reckoned it wasn’t me, and of the other two choices, I decided on instinct to trust the warehouse. So I told the plumber to fit the tap regardless of his view, and that I would take responsibility if it didn’t work.

It worked fine. The plumber was baffled. It wasn’t designed to work, it shouldn’t have worked, but he could see with his own eyes that it obviously did work. There must be a gizmo inside the tap he didn’t know about which made it work.

Whatever. We now had hot water in the kitchen sink.

Moral of the story? In negotiations, if you are dealing with two sources of information both of which seem legitimate it is better to make a decision and go with your instinct rather than be stuck with indecision. Sometimes you’ll get it right, sometimes not, but at least making a decision keeps the momentum flowing.

Like the tap.

Stephen White
More by Stephen White:
Answer The Question
Tiers and Tears
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