Home Depot pricing is somewhat odd

My conversation recently at Home Depot:

Me: How much does this solar panel installation cost?

Home Depot rep: That all depends on your house and its location.

Me: Well, what is the average cost?

Home Depot rep: There is no average.

Is what he was telling me is that the prices are in a Cauchy distribution?

8 comments:

  1. It seems as if he's saying that because the units (each house and each location) are not the same, averages are meaningless.

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    1. But surely averages are only meaningful when each element in a set is not the same, right? Otherwise we would just say what the value is.

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    2. I think he thinks you're asking him to do $2/cat + $3/dog.

      By saying it "depends on your house and its location" he's saying the denominators are different, and there's no meaningful average.

      Of course, he could have easily said "if you treat the houses the same, then the average cost is $X" because that's clearly what you were asking. Obviously you don't think every single house is the exact same.

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    3. So if I ask you for the average income of a US worker, you're going to tell me there is no meaningful average, because every worker is different?!

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    4. No, I totally agree with you, I think he's being silly. Just trying to figure out what was going on his head.

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  2. What he ought to be telling you is that there is an order of magnitude difference in installation cost depending primarily on conditions that are, to him, unknown, and to most purchasers, bordering on incomprehensible.

    He doesn't want to give you an average, because that average might be far below the price you would be quoted. How mad would you be if he tells you the average installation is 2500$ and your estimate comes in at $25,000?


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    1. I would not be mad at all. Someone will come over and give me a quote before I went ahead with the job.

      What, in fact, I wanted to know was whether I should even bother having the people come over to give me a quote. If the average installation is $1000, I might do it this year. If the average installation is $100,000, I'd probably never do it.

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