Questions asked, No-one to give a real answer

john_gMarch 8, 2008,2599975,2602599

Follow that link. Read the forum and you will see some partial answers to the posters question but no full explanations. Sometimes I have to wonder if it's even worth trying to explain why we have to do what we have to do. In essence the original poster is trying to look at one aspect of the auto service industry, and then attempt to force it into his own vision, by changing the rules after the fact.

As you read through notice in one response it's the shoddy work that was done, and they left the sun roof partially open. That is assuming that at the worst the switch was inadvertently bumped and the tech didn't realize it, or maybe the OP or a relative simply didn't close it themselves correctly. The same line also says "they must have been joy-riding around", because the rear seat was pulled loose? Again assumption, and easily falsely accused. Now the OP also mentions wires hanging down. I've encountered situations where aftermarket installed equipment makes it very difficult to perform the ordinary service because of all of the spaghetti that is simply tucked up around the column. Most of the time the factory wiring is quite neatly held and cannot fall into a drivers feet. Does it make it right if that happened? Of course not, but it would be interesting to see exactly what was being referred to. Then in another someone claims that when they had found someone that would install their carry in part for cash that they had finally found someone honest. Note, paid in cash, probably no reciept, no income claimed, and/or appropriate taxes paid,, yep,,, that's honest,,, yea, right.

Now the whole thread alledgedly starts because of a verbal quote of around $220 to fix the turn signal and the final price was $260. I would be extremely suprised if someone like the O.P. would ever get into my shop these days. We don't guess prices over the phone. We would start out with a diagnostic fee, and then advise him (written estimate) from there, but he probably would not be happy with that approach so he would go to whomever guessed lowest first, reguardless of what the final price would be.

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I went down that road several times.I do not think they should be allowed to mark up parts they do not stock.It happened to me with a Napa alternator I priced it and was thinking about installing it my self.Then decided to let a local shop do the work.I told him Napa had the alternator instock.That was his supplier anyway.I forget the markup he had but it was a lot more then my qouted price.He made a bundle on me that day.I never did and never will go back to his shop.I do not mind paying the to high in the first place labor rate.I do not mind them making a profit on parts they stock.But when the Napa is walking distance from his door.Thats a rip off!I have nothing against them making a decent living and keeping there bills paid.But not at the rate there making it.

Thats when I started trading cars before they become nickle and dimers.Let the factory warranty cover repairs or buy factory extended plans.That way the dealership I buy from gets the business.They take care of me and I take care of them.I do not set foot in independent shops ready to rip me off.

I pay more in buying vehicals more often and extended warrantys.But do not have to mess with the local grease monkey con artists.I would like to see independent shops fold my self.Along with Napa and AutoZones etc.With there China seconds parts supply.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 11:44AM
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***Ok I think I have a better understanding of how it works now. From BillMac's explanation the part that cost $117.- retail from Napa probably actually cost $81- wholesale which is why the garage was charging me $162-, right? Yes I expect a courier fee to be a part of the total price as well.
Kind of like a "wild west" pricing scheme where everyone's out for themselves though, still not very good for the end customer and a lot of opportunity for price gouging.
I'll bet the price of parts vary widely from region to region across the country too. That same part would probably cost a third less in a rural area compared to an urban one, no?

The other major issue I had was that even though he quoted me $220- for the job he had me sign a blank work order, I know how stupid of me, then charged me $260- with the price in dispute at the end which is why I questioned the pricing on the part.

While the turn signal was fixed I felt the garage in question did shoddy work with the wiring harness left all hanging out and the dash panel not put back properly so it would fall on my feet while driving after I got the car back. The moon roof was opened and the rear seat belts were out of place so I even wondered if they took it for a joy ride or something. In the end I put the wiring and dash panel in place myself and haven't gone back to the garage.

Thanks for all your input.


You're seeing more in that than I did.

1st, The shop charged him $40 more than he was told it would. Though you and I know that often occurs because unforeseeable needed parts or repairs are found after you dig in, that issue might have been avoided by either communicating what additional repairs were needed when found, or if none were needed, using the 'flat rate' guide for billing whether the guy doing the work beat it by a 1/2 hour or got burned by a 1/2 hour. Consistent billing for the same repair is the object of the game there.

2nd, He doesn't understand the concepts of whole sale, retail, jobber, invoice, or discount pricing. That was explained to him and though he still didn't like it, he seemed to get a bead on the idea and realize that's the way it is.

3rd, It sounds like whoever did the work was a little sloppy in the 'fit and finish' department. That's what got the guy looking closer at the rest of the car wondering what else they screwed up, most likely just then noticing things that existed before. I used to try to get whatever area I was working on to look like it would have when it rolled off the assembly line. I worked with a lot of guys who didn't. Had misc fasteners left over, didn't paint the replacement parts to match what came out, didn't route hoses or wires they way they were. Leave greasy hand prints on the hood, fender, steering wheel, etc. In short, wanting to move on to the next car the second they got the problem addressed and not concerned at all with putting the rest back the way it was or better. I'm sure my way took a little longer, but I'm also sure I avoided some of the hassles with customers like the original poster.

I don't think the cost of the repair was out of line. Sounds like the poster wouldn't have either if this shop would have used just a bit more professionalism. Seemed like his issues were properly addressed in responses he received.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 12:31PM
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I know this will sound like a dream or something but here goes. I had a mechanic in Redmond WA. that was working on an Acura Integra back in 1995. He ordered a new air filter for it from the nearby Acura dealer. He said he had a near heart attack when the filter showed up with a huge price attached. He actually charged me a lower price than the dealer charged him.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 2:11PM
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Foks who run parts supply houses have a problem serving their customers for low sales quantity items such as alternators, starters, and headlamp assemblies. Faster moving items like sparkplugs, waxes, and filters are easier to market because the sales volume is greater and more predictible. Its easier to calculate the selling price on something that has a predictible turnover.

A typical markup for a slow moving item is 100%: for example, the retailer buys a $50 item and sells it for $100. Some products may lie on the shelf for a year or more before it gets sold. (When this happens these days in a well run business, the retailer stops stocking the item and orders it from a regional warehouse on demand.) A part sitting on the shelf represents a loss to the owner. He has cash tied up in it, is paying inventory tax on it, provides storage and tracking records, and payroll costs. Oh yes, there has to be a profit in there somewhere to stay in business. In computing a markup, he must also include the loss of the alternative: Do nothing and get interest on the cash. There is also a loss due to inflation that averages 2 to 3% a year over the long haul.

Forty years ago, I could find parts places that carried a large array of pieces that I needed. But there were more commonality in the parts - same parts used by different car brands. I enjoyed those old parts houses, but those are gone today - went out of business - couldn't make it pay.

I would expect to find the most price variation from place to place on slow moving items like starters. Much depends on how the manager is computing his markup, and some may not paying close attention. I moan and groan when I have to pay full retail for a part that has to be ordered and "will be in in a couple of days". I've thought, "I hate paying retail for wholesale service". But when I think about what I have ordered, I realize that most of the time, it was a slow moving item.

[This was not written to defend businesses who rip the public because they have a captive market, or do it because they can. It was written to express my view of the problem of parts supply and that I miss the time when a greater percentage of items were in stock. Cars were less complicated back then.]

    Bookmark   March 26, 2008 at 1:34AM
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