Cost Comparison Shopping for Professional Services

August 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Spending

When you are shopping online for a product, finding comparative prices is easy. There are dozens of sites that promise scour the Internet for the best deals on almost any product that you can imagine.

But what about shopping for services, such as a medical test/procedure or for lots of other tasks that you might need performed?

There are sites being introduced that will help you compare costs of a service being offered so that you can make a more informed decision about whether you are being treated fairly. Here are a few of those cost-comparison sites of which I am aware.

For health care costs, the new site on the block is Healthcare Blue Book. It continues to increase its offerings but even now, you can obtain data representing typical costs in the following categories:

  • Hospital admissions for selected surgical and non-surgical conditions.
  • Physician charges for a wide variety of treatments and procedures
  • Lab tests
  • Cosmetic surgeries
  • Dental procedures and treatments

Overall, I think that Healthcare Blue Book will likely work best for elective and non-emergent medical issues.

For estimating the costs of a wide variety of services in diverse (and growing) categories, there is What It Costs. This site is a good place to start your “cost for service” study, just to obtain ball park estimates. For example, if you are planning a wedding, What It Costs will lay out what you might expect to pay for a wedding planner or a wedding photographer. Want to hire a bodyguard or a personal chef? What It Costs has those numbers as well.

Finally, I’ve previously written about FairRepair.com which can provide cost estimates for many different car repairs, as performed by shops in your area. Unfortunately, a report from Fair Repair will set you back $10 but it may be worth it to evaluate a large repair estimate you have received.

An even newer online service for estimating car repair costs is RepairPal. This site is very easy to use and will refer you to local shops if interested. The best part – it’s free!

Mr. ToughMoneyLove encourages you to bookmark all of these sites and use them to become a more informed consumer of professional services.


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Comments

2 Responses to “Cost Comparison Shopping for Professional Services”
  1. MasterPo says:

    I reluctantly disagree about this concept.

    While I do agree about cost comparison shopping, when it comes to repair services in most cases if I have to call a repair person it’s because I can’t do it myself or I’m on a tight time frame and don’t have the time do gather all the tools, materials etc I would need to do it myself.

    To the first point, since I may not be skilled to do the repair how can I totally describe the problem to the repairman? IOW, I will give my best description but when he comes (or I take it there) and he looks at it there’s a chance the problem may be much bigger than I thought. Do I take it in stride? Or do I accuse the guy to bait&switch, padding his bill, etc?

    As to the second, if the repair guy says the best tool or material for the job is XYZ how can I reasonably know if he is right or wrong?

    I’m not saying take everyone at their word. Heaven knows there are many dishonest repair services. But you also have to look at it with an open POV in that there may be problems you as a non-pro can’t see or understand that the pro does and that may raise the cost of the job.

  2. Rick Beagle says:

    MasterPo,

    Check out Angie’s List.

    Angie’s List was developed and designed so that neighbors could rate local businesses, with special emphasis on those folks who do those odd jobs. It has it’s problems to be sure, but if you are like me, it is a great way to find that small business owner gem that will do the work right, for the right price.

    Peace.
    Rick Beagle

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