If an auto mechanic was to give you an estimate to change an alternator on your car, would you know if the rate was a reasonable one, or if he or she was potentially trying to rip you off? Or how about the price to change an air-conditioning sensor, or a tie-rod end, or evaporative emissions sensor? Most of have no clue what most of these things are, so how are we supposed to know how long it takes to change one or what the cost of these things are? It is ignorance like this that allows auto mechanics to take advantage and over charge us.
So how can we ensure that this doesn’t happen to us, and make sure anything that we’re charge for is actually done with legitimate components?
Believe me when I say this can happen with any auto mechanic, and not just with mobile mechanics who have the ability to carry out a repair and never be tracked down, since there is no physical address for them to be located at.
Here’s an example of a real-life example. A customer brought her Audi to an authorized Audi dealership for a basic timing belt maintenance service. The cost for this service averages at about $1575 at the dealership level, (this would include water pump, pulleys, etc) and about $1275 at the independent service center level.
Yet the female left the dealership with a bill for $2025.68. So exactly what happened to cause this increased, and unexpected, higher price?
According to the invoice, there were no abnormal conditions, no problems noted by the technician, such as corrosion or other extenuating conditions that would have maybe enhanced the labor costs, or additional parts.
Simply put, it was a straight forward service, however the costs was $450.68 higher than it should have been. There is simply no legitimate need to have a disparity of over 30%.
So how can they get away with it? Simple really! They get away with it, just because they can!
If you think about it! When it comes to services, most of us rely upon the advice we get from the experts to be the absolute facts, and we simply accept it without questioning. How many times have you questioned your doctor’s diagnosis when you are sick? Or even gone back to the Internet to search up about your condition to see if the information that you’ve found relates to the issue? The same would be if we needed to get a technician to diagnose the health of our computers. And our cars are no different. We tend to trust the workshops we take our cars to for servicing and the mechanics who work on them. Why? Lethargy perhaps? A lack of understanding? Or more likely, a simple lack of time to carry out the investigation?
When the Audi customers repair will was assessed, it was found that she had been charged, at a rate of $100.00 per hour, an additional 4 hours of labor time, when the work had not been carried out. Add tax to this amount, and the over-payment was close to $500. And like most people, since she didn’t understand, the customer didn’t question the additional fee and just paid the bill.
The sad fact is that the motor vehicle trade has generally been over-charging for years. The facts are out there, and as frustrating as this is, there really are no easy solutions to stop this from happening.
It seems that no-one, not even the Better Business Bureau or government agencies can do anything to stop it. You would think that a reputable dealership would be beyond this, but sadly that isn’t the case!
So What Is The Solution?
The first thing to do is to make sure any repairs you have done come back with an itemized invoice. If you’re unsure on whether or not the invoice is fair, then you could always go to a couple of other mechanic workshops and ask for quotes to cover the exact work that has just been carried out. If you find there is a huge discrepancy, go back to the mechanic that carried out the work, and ask them to explain, and ask them to refund the difference, if they can’t give you a reasonable explanation. If they refuse, then you can always go ahead and complain to the Bureau of Better Business. However, a more immediate, and more effective retribution, might be to go online to leave a negative review of the business on the more popular third party review sites, such as Yelp or GoogleMyBusiness. You may not get any kind of refund, but you could stop others from going to this repair shop and experiencing the same problems as you did.