Dear Car Talk:
My 15-year-old son replaced the bulb for my rear turn signal on my 2011 Buick Enclave. He researched it on the Internet, completed it in a timely manner and cleaned up after himself. He wants to be paid $35 for this work. His father, an economist, thinks he needs to justify this fee. I think this is a good question for you. And by the way, what would you charge to replace this bulb?
Well, we have two prices, Anne. If it's a regular customer of ours, we'll do it for nothing; it's just a service we provide to our regulars. They can stop in and get little things like that taken care of. We figure we'll have a chance to make it up when we gouge them for a transmission rebuild someday.
I guess your son doesn't see you as a potential long-term customer, Anne!
If someone comes in and they're not a regular customer, we'd probably charge $35 or $40. The bulb itself probably is five or six bucks, and it's a 10-minute job for someone who's done it a thousand times. But we have to pay for rent, tools, salaries and benefits, not to mention the bad coffee in the waiting room.
But your kid is a freelancer. He has no expenses. He probably used your tools. And your Internet service to do the research. So his rate should be lower.
And he's charging you for his education, too. You're paying him to learn how to do this. Remind him that in about three years, he may be looking to you to contribute a very large sum toward his educational expenses. So he may want to cut you a "good customer" break this time.
Tell him you'll give him 20 bucks. And mention that if he doesn't moan and groan too much, you'll also throw in his continued free room and board for now. And Internet.