Is it better to take the help of professional services or do things yourself? I don’t know myself, but I have become more of a DIY (do it yourself) person ever since I retired. There is a certain fun element in doing things with your own hands even if you do a pretty poor job. However, earlier I was a person who got most things done by profession service personnel. What has changed then? Well, the time, that’s what has changed. When I was still working, there was barely any free time. It was easier, more efficient and less expensive to have someone fix things rather than me wasting my time. Remember, if you consider my hourly rate, it was way higher than the hourly rate for the services (at least in India). Now, I have a lot of free time and my hourly rate is precisely zero.

I am not doing any work at all that pays me even a single rupee. I am just having fun spending time with family, working on my hobby projects, gardening and taking life easy. So now my hourly rate is much lower than the hourly rate of professional services. That could be one reason for me to go down the DIY route. Another reason is that I enjoy fixing things even if it takes a lot of time to learn and then fix it. Most recently, fixing my TV comes to mind. It took me 3 weeks to fix my TV. Not because I was inefficient or not proficient, but because learning takes time and add on top of that the difficulty in procuring the parts and tools to get the job done.

For example, it took me a few days to watch several videos to figure out what various components in a TV do and how to troubleshoot the issue I was facing. Taking apart the TV took less than an hour because by now I watched so many videos, I pretty much knew what to expect. However, a professional service person like a TV technician can do the same in 10 mins without watching a single video. Reason? Well they are trained and have a lot of experience both in training and from house visits. They do one thing and they do it the best. A DIY person has to learn everything from the basics and it takes time.

But there are more reasons for not going down the professional service path. One of them is the quality of service received (in India at least). Anytime I have something repaired, I feel like I could have done a better job even if I take longer. It is not to undermine anyone’s skill. I am sure they are very skilled and could do a really good if they wanted to. But rarely do they want to do a good job. Perhaps because they want to finish things as quickly as possible. What I observed is that most of these professional services folk don’t take pride in their work or don’t have particularly good work ethics. Of course their wage rate is so low that it probably prevents them from those attributes. Another major issue is ethics and honesty which is very much lacking in most of these service providers.

Take for instance the phone repair service that I recently used. For a good repair personnel it should be a matter of pride to do a clean job of it. However, he just did a quick and dirty job. It is not even that he was busy. I was the only one waiting for the repair. He had all the time in the world to put in the effort and do a good job. Not just him. Take the case of microwave repair person, plumber, water filter repair etc. They come, quickly fix the issue, dirty the place with water, dust, clippings etc and leave. Almost all of them never leave the equipment they are fixing in the exact same state. There will always be some gaps in the panels they repair, some lost screws, unclean alignment, naked teflon tape or chipped off surfaces etc. I have a little bit of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) so these things get magnified in my view.

Again, it is not a matter of how much I am paying. I tried both ways. We bargained like crazy for some service and we paid exactly what they asked. In both cases the result was the same. If the person was good at their work, they will do a clean job whether bargained or not. This is not to say that everybody does a shabby job. I met a few who have done an excellent job and we paid them extra for their effort after doing the final payment. I really wish people take their skills seriously and with a lot of pride. It makes dealing with professional repairs an easy choice. It is not happening and that was one more reason I decided to do most of the repairs as much as possible if I can learn the skill since time is not a limiting factor for me anymore :). That and kids learn to do things themselves by watching us do. So if I am hands on, hopefully my daughter will pick up a thing or two from my experience and may try it out herself at some point.