The expensive thing was a new roof on my vintage 1911 house. That the place needed a new roof (including a tear-off of the old roof) was not a question.
I call up a handyman I know and like, and I got a quote of X. His work is good, but it turns out he is not bonded and doesn't always see the need for permits. So I decided to investigate further.
I call up roofing company A, and I get a quote of 3X. But, as the salesman told me, "if I act now!" The price would be 2.5X. I passed.
I call up roofing company B, and I get a quote of 2X. I think I may be stuck with this, but I decide to call one more.
Company C gives me a price of 1.1X, with bonding and permitting included. The new roof is beautiful too (and uses the same shingles offered by A and B). It was very much worth the bother of shopping.
So roof shopping is like car shopping, mattress shopping and mortgage shopping--some people selling the products take advantage of the fact that there are people who don't have the ability to fend for themselves. The sad thing is that those least able to afford absurd mark-ups are those most victimized by those mark-ups. And that is why we need consumer protection.