Originally Posted by Darryl G
If he had told you it was a pre-bid meeting up front I think that would have been fine. In many businessess it's not uncommon for the customer to have a pre-bid meeting with all of the potential contractors there to present the scope of work and have a question and answer session. Competitive bids are a fact of life and getting at least 3 bids is SOP for many.
I get this occasionally from prospects who are in some sort of a purchasing position for the govt or a big company. Low-level staff architects and engineers for commercial firms can be as bad, too. I did a design for an architect who also wanted me to coordinate the install. After getting pricing nailed down and everything set he comes back with "ok, I was able to get these trees at discount here, the boulders were cheaper here so they're being delivered tomorrow, half the shrubs will need to come from here..." Dude, I'm cooking, GTFO of my kitchen. That's one I was happy to walk away from. I went by six months later and the yard was still torn up.
Bottom line, the approach that works in the commercial world isn't directly applicable to custom residential. Your $15k front yard doesn't hold the same sway as a $400k school complex.