In my first Blog I decided to write about my experiences and frustrations I am feeling about your every day average typical Garage Mechanic that is fairly honest .. (or you are they??)
To begin with, I own a mini van, I have had it for several years now and outside of regular maintenance. , I have had to put some money into repairs only once before, so this makes the second time. so I took it to my garage ( one I have trusted for about 4 years) for its yearly State Safety inspection, When I made the appointment I was told I would have to leave it for the morning and either him or his partner would get to it & get it done by Noon Which was fine with me, At 10:30 he called me and said he wanted to call me and tell me that there was a problem… The problem is, is my Steering Rack ( A.K.A. Rack & Pinion ) is starting to go ( it was not entirely shot, but the seals were leaking a few drops ) I said ok what will the damage be to fix it… what he said sent a shock wave through my body… He said about $800 to $850 dollars… he said a new Rack & pinion would cost about $250, then a front end alignment would be about $60 and the rest is labor to change the Rack & pinion in which he said would take about 4 – 4 1/2 hours ..
Now in my mind I started thinking… I am no great Mathematician BUT …… that would mean. I would be paying roughly ball park figure of $500 for labor… which amounts to about $ 100 an hour … I told him Sorry I just can’t afford that, and that I would be back to pick it up… When I did I asked him if I owed anything, he said no charge as all they did is look it over, I said OK, and left….. NOW I decided to do a little investigative homework on it and here is what I found out… He quoted me $250 for the new Rack & pinion…. When I went to the nearest auto parts stores ( 2 of them to get my own price quote… The prices were $160 and $ $180 IN ADDITION to a core exchange fee of $60 ( which I would get refunded when I bring the old one back in) … Now seeing as I am not a mechanic, but have a little knowledge in the way Garages operate I do know that when they order a part they need for a customers vehicle, They get a special ” dealers ( or Mechanics) discount from the Parts Store but then they tack on a certain percentage to the part as a “”handling” fee” which I understand & have no problem with unless it is outrageous as in which case this guy was charging )… He had added on $80 to it ( to me a $20 -$25 increase would have been considered fair ) But then I got thinking and realized what he was doing .. he was charging me the full price and a price mark up AND ALSO having me pay the $60 core exchange fee but was not going to refund it to me … that is in addition to the labor rate of $500… That makes their profit a rough estimate of $560.. So what I did was this… I searched around and found a Mechanic that only charged $50 an hour, and asked him about buying the part myself, he said sure as would be easier for him and cheaper for me to get the part myself So what would have cost me $800 ended up only cost me just under $500 with tax,
Now don’t get me wrong I understand Garages have to make a profit, BUT unless the Mechanics are top-notch A.S.E. certified, ( which the ones at the other place I used to go to were not by any means, ) I can not figure out why they have to charge $100 an hour.. I mean .. I know the owner has bills to pay, and so on, BUT do they & all garages who charge that much realizes the customers have limits as to what they can afford to pay out,?? Do places like this realize that Customers can not afford to pay their rates & will go somewhere else where they charge less ( and as I found out the old saying you get what you pay for is not always true )?? The way I always see it is… I have to have the work done regardless, and at the same time I am looking to get the job done at the most reasonable & fair price, so.. If you want to charge $100 an hour and I find someone who will only charge me $50 an hour for the same job … you just lost out and not just on the profit, but on any future business from me and any possible customers i would have steered in your direction … Remember Word of mouth is your best advertisement and if someone asks me if I know of a decent Mechanic that is fair on their prices… where do you think I am going to send them?? certainly not the Garage that charges $100 an hour when there is another one across town that charges $50 an hour and does great work.