I was driving around listening to Car Talk on NPR this weekend, and it was an incredibly insightful lesson on risk tolerance and risk perception. I tend to do a lot of errands over the weekend around that time, so I usually catch 20-40 minutes of it every week as I’m in and out of stores. Pretty much every week you’ll hear things like:

Caller: My car’s making this grinding noise when I accelerate. CT: How long has this been going on? Caller: About a year or so. CT: And why didn’t you take it in? Caller: I’m worried it will be too expensive to fix.

Gee, that sounds familiar. Or these calls:

Caller: My engine feels like it’s running slow or something. CT: Is the check engine light on? Caller: Why yes, how did you know? CT: And let me guess, it’s been on for three months? Caller: Okay, who called and told you? CT: No one [Click and Clack laugh]. So why didn’t you check the engine? Caller: I’m scared it will be expensive.

Then there are these calls:

[long discussion figuring out the problem] Caller: So I just need to take it in and get it fixed? CT: Yep, that’s it. Caller: Will it be expensive? CT: Maybe, about [x dollars], but it will be a lot more expensive later if you don’t. Caller: Oh, that’s a lot. Do you think I’ll be okay if I don’t get it fixed? CT: As long as you don’t need a car, you’ll be fine.

Think about all those cavities you could have avoided by going to the dentist on a regular basis, or that big air conditioning repair you could have skipped if you just performed the annual maintenance on time. Then stop complaining that your users “just don’t get it,” or stop whining about the business ignoring you.