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Why don't we haggle with our solicitors and doctors?

I have become very adept at bargaining. It gets easier when you are kitting out a house in a recession to ask for discounts on everything.

Tables, televisions and light fixtures have all been discounted on request and it certainly all adds up.

In fact, there is nothing in my house that I haven't pushed for a deal on.

When retailers aren't selling, they are more than willing to cut the price in order to secure the sale.

Compare that to how I open my wallet and hand over the dosh to the doctor, the dentist and the solicitor without a whimper; despite the fact that the prices have not changed since the recession hit. Why is it that we just don't quibble when it comes to professional services, some of which are extortionate?



Disgust

The Taxing Master is a person who adjudicates when there is a dispute over legal fees.

This week there was a ruling in a case between a firm of solicitors representing a man who was injured in work and the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. The Taxing Master slashed the legal fees being requested by up to 82pc. In his ruling he said: "In my 15 years as Taxing Master or indeed in all my years involved in litigation, I have never encountered such grossly excessive fees...I can hardly find the words strong enough to describe my disgust and bewilderment at the level of these costs being claimed."

At last, someone in authority has verbalised what the rest of us have long known -- the prices charged by those who provide professional services are way over the odds.

Elsewhere, prices have dropped because we have demanded it. Everyone from the butcher to the builder, mechanic and hardware seller has been forced to slash the price of the services and goods that they provide because we simply won't pay what we used to.

But, for some reason, we just don't quibble with the people who we pay the same amount to now as we did when the country was awash with money.

Is it that we are so grateful to the doctor for writing the prescription that we feel it is inappropriate to question what he or she charges?

Are we not brave enough to suggest after the consultation that prices have come down everywhere, so why shouldn't they be less in the surgery? A friend of mine is much better at me than bargaining; that means that she is very good at securing a deal indeed, considering that my own skills have become very honed of late.

She even asked for money off at the till in Debenhams. It takes a special kind of bargain hunter to seek a discount in a department store.

But even she will not question why the dentist and the solicitor are still charging top dollar.

Perhaps we are still living in the two-tier class system, where the mere mortals are expected to doff their caps in a mark of deference and respect to the well educated, cultured few who have attained professional qualifications.

In that instance, it would be inappropriate to question how much they charge, after all, they know best; better than us.

There is an arrogance about medics and members of the legal profession who have not cut their prices. Why should it be that everyone else has had to take a hit, but not those who care for our health or legal needs?

The rest of us have not had an option when it comes to pay cuts, but we all conspire to let the professionals off the hook and allow them to get away with maintaining Celtic Tiger prices.

So which of us is brave enough to look the doctor, the dentist or the lawyer squarely in the eye and say that prices are falling everywhere, why not here? Is there any chance of a reduction in those fees, given the times that we live in?

Once one person takes this particular bull by the horns, it won't be long before others follow. After all, there is no harm in asking.


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