I have heard this from customers and friends for over twenty years. “Shop “X” screwed me over! They charged me a lot of money and the car isn’t even fixed!” My response is usually professional, but in my mind, I want to ‘spill the beans’. You see, I was always told that it is not “professional” to talk about other shops or businesses. After twenty plus years in the industry biting my tongue, I must say I think I disagree. People do what they do because they get away with it. Maybe calling them to task would help eliminate some of this stupidity. With that being said here is the response I really want to give.
After spending the first 12 years of my vocation in “stealerships” eh I mean dealerships, I have maybe met one crooked technician, and I am not even sure if he was really crooked. Most techs are just folks trying to make a buck. They put in long hours under strict deadlines, with little reward or praise. The real problem with customers getting ripped off happens for many reasons but crooked techs are not common in my opinion.
Reason number one: Lack of skill or training. Most techs these days are young men that did not grow up around the field. As a society, we have long pulled vocational studies out of the high schools, and the post-secondary training centers are laughable. Shop owners rarely use apprenticeships anymore, so the pool of skilled experienced techs is lacking. They are not trying to misdiagnosis your car, many of them just don’t know what they are doing. (I will address this in more detail in another blog)
Reason Number two: Many shops use service advisors, and many are trained to sale. They do not want to tell you the $350 tuneup did not fix you car and refund you the money. Instead, they make up sly excuses about how it now needs this or that also. Sometimes that is true, but most often it is not. Dealerships especially have what I call a culture of “sale sale sale”. They try and sell/scare you into buying stuff that may be unnecessary. It is all about the almighty dollar. I see this in my shop almost weekly. A customer comes in for a second opinion (because they really don’t want to spend $1000) and we check it out only to find it is ok or the repair could be put off to a later date to lessen the financial burden.
Reason number three: Bad parts. Our culture has become a throwaway Walmart society. The majority of parts are less than good. Parts suppliers are trying to drive down prices to fit the demand. And the parts are mostly junk. Think about it, if I use on a quality OEM part and it cost two to three times more than the cheap stuff I look like a swindler. If I use the junk and my price is right, but it fails a month latter, I look like I am not doing my job. Guess who gets blamed for the junk parts? Not the builder or vendor of the junk. Shop owners do. (Again I will address this in another blog)
That is the three big ones in my opinion, and my hope is, that being armed with this information you will be able to make better-educated choices when it comes to your auto repair. To simplify it:
1. Make sure your tech has the training and certifications. And make sure he has references.
2. Look for that culture of “sale”. It is obvious if you are paying attention. Seek second opinions if you have a bad feeling. Trust your gut.
3. Ask your shop where do they get their parts, and why? Is it just a cheap part so they can mark it up more?