“Our goal is to provide you with excellent products and services at competitive prices, and we’re here to work with you to make that happen. Your satisfaction is important to us, and we’re committed to meeting your needs.” That was the introductory message I got when I clicked to speak to a representative for an online reorder of my contact lenses.

This was my third time using this website for contact lenses, as they were the most competitive and easiest to work with thus far. This time, I had a lower offer from a competing company vying for my business by offering me a 30% discount. Still, I was interested in staying with them, as I was used to the platform, and they already had my prescription information.

I asked if they would match outside offers. The immediate reply was, “Your order contains items that incur a processing and/or handling charge. We guarantee the total cost of your order will be the lowest on the internet, even including these fees.” She continued, “We want to ensure you get the most value from your purchase with us. If you have found a better offer online, please share the details with us. We’re more than willing to review and see if we can match or even beat that offer.” I took a screenshot of the offer, which spelled out a much better deal. I sent it over and waited a few moments.

“Agent typing,” my screen showed. “Agent typing” for almost five minutes. Then the message simply read, “Now, when it comes to pricing, it’s essential to consider the overall value and quality of the product or service you’re getting. While it may seem like our price is higher compared to some alternatives out there, let me take a moment to explain why that is: our top priority is providing the highest level of quality and customer satisfaction.”

Wait, I thought they guaranteed the lowest price?! I asked if there was anything they would be willing to offer to maintain my business, but she said there was nothing she could do. She did end the conversation by saying, “You get what you pay for,” and terminated the session.

Later that day, I replayed those words after speaking to a client I had been working with for several months. They finally went into contract after several failed bids. Their offer was finally accepted as I helped them secure the deal by bringing in a co-signer. The condition was that the co-signer needed to be refinanced off within six months after the buyers filed their 2023 tax returns and showed more qualifying income. Everyone agreed, and we completed the loan application with the three of them.

A few days later, I got “the call.” In the interest of ‘transparency,’ he told me that he also reached out to his financial advisor, who could get him a lower rate than what I provided. It was a full 1% lower than what I was offering. It came with some conditions that he didn’t want to share with me entirely, but regardless, it was a lower rate. I kept asking about fees, and he finally told me there was almost a $5,000 origination fee. Wait, what?!

Despite the significantly lower rate, they were only saving $330 a month compared to my offer, without the 5K. Even if they kept my mortgage for an entire year, which they couldn’t, my proposal was much more advantageous. I explained to my client that you need to consider both the rate and the cost to obtain that rate. Nonetheless, his financial advisor said theirs was still a better deal because it was the lowest price. I asked if they explained how closing costs work, but he said they really didn’t speak by phone; it was all via email. I’m afraid to think about what else may not be explained throughout the rest of this complicated and delicate transaction. As I said my goodbyes, all I could think was, “You get what you pay for.”

Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Approved Funding is a mortgage company offering competitive interest rates as well as specialty niche programs on all types of Residential and Commercial properties. Shmuel has over 20 years of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. He can be reached via email at Shmuel@approvedfunding.com.

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