I hear all the time that we live in a "service economy." But that doesn't necessarily mean the service you get is very good.
I was hanging out with several co-workers the other day, and they started comparing horror stories about dealing with general contractors. One guy's contractor lied about having permits for some work he did on their house (litigation ensued). Another had a contractor take his deposit and then file bankruptcy.
Another story kind of summed it up for me, though. My friend wanted to have a room added on to his house, but he had heard about problems with contractors so he decided he'd be really careful. He spent a lot of time interviewing and checking references on contractors. Eventually, he narrowed the list down to two different guys:
One who cited his experience, the quality of his work, his attention to detail, and his ability to create a distinctive room for them.
The second, who basically said, "I'll show up and I'll do a good job."
My friend went with the experienced guy who promised to create a distinctive room for them. Things got off to a good start, but a couple of days into the job, the contractor didn't turn up. Over the course of the next few weeks, he came by a few times for a few hours but didn't make much progress. My friend hounded and hounded the guy. No luck.
Finally, he terminated the contract with the first guy, and called the second guy. Guy #2 came to his house every day until he finished the room, and did a good job.
Promises can sound really cool, but at the end of the day there's a lot of value in just showing up and doing a good job.