Relationships Lost by Being Frugal

Presently we are remodeling our bathrooms and plan to also do the kitchen. A couple weeks ago while removing the bathtub I broke a water line which required emergency repair from the plumbers. We called them and they came out pretty quick (within 3 hours) on a Saturday, and fixed the water break. We also discussed re-piping the house since all the 50 year old water lines were patched and possible breaks in the future. So the last ten days have been taken up dealing with estimates, preparation, shopping and decisions about the re-pipe job. Its finally over and done, but it was a negative experience.
 
I can't help but wonder if we brought it on by being frugal. We felt it would be a pretty easy job for the plumbers since a newer main water line was already to the house. We offered to dig a trench and lay new cpvc around the perimeter to save them time and to save us money. I didn't really like the idea of busting through terrazzo floor slab and stucco walls and having a water line in our closets. We have enough problems keeping them mold free. So we dug up a trench and laid the pipe to the back of  the house. We also bought our own bathtub valves and shower valves so they match, and to save us from the 3x markup on parts that plumbers typically do. So basically, all they provided was labor for 11 hours and lots of pvc and elbow joints, a few shut off valves for sinks and toilets.
 
To make a long story short, they finished most of the job in 2 days and tied in the new pipes. So to save money, we told them we would take care of installing the bathroom valves so they could consider the job wrapped up, please give us a bill. We figured at $85/hr we were in for just over $1000 for labor and the parts at worst couldn't be more than $500, so we calculated about half of the estimate. Boy were we out in left field. The plumbers expected labor of 15 hours to include the time for giving us an estimate, shopping for parts, and driving to our house. They wanted close to $1000 for parts.
 
Well, we were not pleased to be f**ked like this. We told them our expectation and asked them to explain theirs. It got ugly with raised voices, arguing and bullying from the plumber and hostility. They turned it into a totally unprofessional situation, where we just gave in rather than argue with this man. We decided on a number in the middle of the final quote and higher than our expectation, but a liveable price. We felt we were being more than fair, but this man wanted to screw us.
 
The unpleasantness of  this situation is that we've used these plumbers for almost ten years, as do our neighbors who recommended them to us. The plumber does business with our neighbor who is in the AC business. They are our best neighbors who watch our house, lend us their truck, invite us for holidays, watch our dog when we're away, make us great food and in general are great people. It hurts to know they may be offended if they find out how this deal all turned out. I'm not going to get into the drama with them, but the plumber might say something about how we're cheap a$$holes or something.
 
It's a tough situation to be in when you know you are being unfairly charged for a product or service and its not by mistake. What do you do? Risk the relationship to settle the difference, or just pay it to keep peace. I know we have sometimes forgiven crappy cold chicken wings at our favorite bar and grill, because we go there often and don't want to be known as the complainers. We also have paid more for a service when we have no other choices, or it would cost more to start over.
 
So in our short 3 week time span, this is the second vendor we have pissed off who probably won't deal with us anymore than we would deal with them, just because of price. First the trash haulers who wanted double what they agreed to, and now the plumber who finished the job in half the time quoted (due to our prep and assistance on the job) but wanted the full price. Hope it doesn't happen again. At least our handyman is a good guy who's honest, forthright and reasonable.

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