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Super Moderator 2010 SLK300 2LOOK
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Discussion Starter #1
Ran across this article and thought it was great info for our Sophisticated Ladies Section. Hope this helps!

How to beat the sexist mechanics: Simple tips for women to avoid being ripped off at the garage.

Women are quoted higher sums for the same service than men, says new research.

Price disparity due to the assumption that women don't know how much repairs cost.

By bluffing your way through prices or showing some idea of costs, women are more likely to get a fair quote.


Women who know little about car repairs can make sure they aren't being ripped off by their mechanic by simply suggesting a price for the work.

By proposing a sum, women could avoid being overcharged as it shatters the assumption that they don't know what repairs are worth.

According to the Times, a study of how much women were charged at garages in comparison to men reveals women are routinely quoted higher prices for the same service.

But, by showing an understanding of finances and bluffing your way through a conversation about mechanics, women can even the playing field.

The research was carried out by Meghan Busse, Ayelet Israeli and Florian Zettelmeyer from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Illinois.

They found that 'information asymmetry' - when the tradesperson knows more than the customer- is key to the disparity in prices between male and female drivers.

The research team used hundreds of calls made by men and women to garages who would quote either a realistic price, an excessive price, or no price at all.

They found that when women knew nothing about car repairs, it can be taken advantage of by opportunistic mechanics but when men knew nothing, mechanics often thought they were being tricked.

Professor Busse told the Times: The fact that men did not suffer when they showed no sign of knowledge suggests discrimination is at play.

'It is why the internet has been so important to in car buying over the last ten to 15 years.

'Auto repairs is one of the last vestiges in which there is a tremendous amount of information asymmetry going on'.
 

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Super Moderator UK SLK 55 AMG 2007
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There was a story on the Wright show (UK) today that suggested that men pay more for repairs (not servicing).

They suggested that now there are more computer chips men don't like to admit a lack of knowledge and some garages 'bluff' the work needed compared to what they charged women. Worked out 13% dearer for men.
 

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Registered 2005 SLK55 AMG
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1,705 Posts

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Premium Member
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568 Posts
Thanks Marykay, Myk and Terminal! Your posts illustrate one of the reasons we are so lucky to have this forum for free exchange of knowledge and advice! Even if a member (lady or gent) is not planning to perform a repair or routine maintenance themselves, they may be able to get valuable advice on what might actually be needed when they are facing a repair. So everyone - Please be sure to check out all the great technical and parts information on this wonderful forum. Many members have spent what looks to be a lot of time posting links to pages with very valuable information.
Those posts gave me the idea that I thought perhaps interested ladies (and gents) might find the following list of suggestions helpful. In my several years of garage management, I had the opportunity to gain a little insight into what is a very often a stressful and expensive process for most people. It is important to have a strategy in place so that one is not overcharged.

1. BEFORE the vehicle NEEDS repair or service, check out shops/dealers in the area offering to specialize in your type of vehicle. Choose a shop you feel comfortable with and keep the service manager's card in the vehicle (or info/contact in your phone). And I can't say it enough - read up on the tech posts for your model and check out all the links to information that have been posted by others on SLKWorld.com!

2. When repair or service is needed, ask the shop to prepare a written estimate with labor and parts clearly notated for EACH repair operation (repair task) or service - including a detailed list of parts (individually priced) Ask if there has been a read-out of diagnostic codes and if so, request they supply you that info as well.

3. Most shops will balk (siting safety reasons) but whether or not your car is already disabled at a shop, IF POSSIBLE, ask to have the service manager show you on YOUR vehicle exactly what is presumed to be wrong and explain what needs to be done to repair it. During this 'show & tell' notes can be made on the estimate as the service manager is going over each part of the estimate.

4. Be sure to inquire about the shop's current labor rate. To arrive at a price for a service or repair, shops consult vehicle-specific labor guides (either in digital or written format) to determine the number of 'labor hours' required to do the work. To compute the cost of the labor for a repair is then simple : 'labor hours' times 'labor rate' . If there are several operations performed in areas that relate (such as engine belts and water pump - because the belts have to be removed to replace the pump) one should not be charged labor for 'remove and install belts' AND 'remove and replace water pump'. Obviously, when shops charge separately for two related operations, they 'unbundle' the labor and charge more than is fair.

5. With all the information you have gathered, you can search the forum for insight into your car's problem as well as confer with other members who have had similar problems. This may help you 'bargain' with the repair shop. In addition, be sure to check parts prices on line to get an idea of the 'list' price for the parts to be replaced to insure you are not being charged OVER list price. Most shops will not allow you to provide your own parts, but you can ask the shop for a discount on parts grouped as part of one repair operation. Of course, time is of the essence when your vehicle is disabled, but a little time spent researching may help you save some money.

Any reputable shop (dealers included) should be willing to provide a thorough and complete written estimate. AND be willing to explain it.

Again, please be sure to check out all the great technical and parts information on this wonderful forum. Many members have spent what looks to be a lot of time posting well organized lists of links to pages with very valuable and informative info!

Happy Driving ?
Rory
 

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Super Moderator 2010 SLK300 2LOOK
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15,103 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Very useful info especially #4 , I had no idea about being double charged for a remove and replace!

Thanks!0:)
 
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Registered 2005 SLK350
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The subject of labor rates has always miffed me. If you're going to charge me $100 an hour for labor and it's a three hour job, then I should get my damn car back in three hours, not three DAYS!

A friend asked me once if I considered how much I was paying myself when DIY'ing. I told him there aren't enough zeros to do that.

Ah sweet mystery of life-how lucky we were to get in!
 

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Super Moderator 2010 SLK300 2LOOK
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Discussion Starter #8
Since the hourly labor rate is a predetermined amount why do dealers/indys charge for a full hour if they only work on the car for 30 minutes?
 
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Premium Member
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The shops I worked at did not have that practice, but there is the 'concept' out there now of a 'minimum' charge and that is usually 1 hour. Some shops will have a set fee for services such as an oil change etc. The techs in the shops I worked at made half the labor charged for a job. No matter how long the job took them. A good tech can make a good living, but they have to own their tools at most shops. Unless in the case of a special tool that is real expensive. The shop usually owns that. I am not defending techs or pricing here - just offering insight. My own dissatisfaction with the local dealer here brought me to this forum to learn more and do for myself!
 

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Premium Member 2004 SLK32 AMG
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Dad worked for a GMC truck dealership back in the 70's. They charged an hourly rate on the amount of time the "flat rate book" called for the job to be completed.

As an example, changing the fuel filter might be a flat rate book of one hour. Works fine for the dealership if it takes less than an hour. On the other hand, if they run into a problem and it takes two hours, the additional time is not charged to the customer.
 

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Premium Member 2005 SLK200K
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1,124 Posts
We love our SLK but had heard horror stories from other Brits who felt they had been ripped-off by the local Main Dealer... so... when we needed to take our SLK in for work/query I checked out this Forum first.

I swiftly went from helpless-female mode ..to technical-maniac (using all sorts of word/phrases gleaned from this forum which I had to translate into French). I discussed our problem with the Service Manager, starting off by telling him that we Brits were not bottomless-pits and that I wanted to maintain the car in good condition, but not at just any price. We reached a wonderful understanding. Every detail of our problem was noted, fully explained and the repairs listed and priced.

In the end, they did the work and we were very satisfied with the quality and costs... but I reckon they quake now, everytime I walk through the door..>:D

and it's all down to this Forum... well done all of you..:x:x:x

Stella
 

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Registered 2005 SLK350
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2,027 Posts
It certainly helps to know something about what to say and expect. I took the e series in a few months ago, having no time to work on it. I told the guy, it needs a water pump (spun a bearing) and I want you to change the tensioner, thermostat, hoses and belt while your in there. I asked a friend of mine how many people take their car to the mechanic and tell THEM what it needs? I too have learned a tremendous amount from all the folks on this forum. I wasn't too afraid to take on a used, warranty-less Mercedes SLK from the beginning. Having found this forum has turned a calculated risk into a truly enjoyable experience. Come here all of you! Group hug!
((((((( :) )))))))
 

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Premium Member 2005 SLK200K
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1,124 Posts
My helpless-female, tearful-female has come up trumps on many occasions over the years..it transcends all language barriers.

We have travelled all over the continent in our 1965 TR and broken down in all the best places :wink:

Maybe we were just lucky... but we have met so many wonderful people who have gone that extra mile to get us back on the road...

So nice to know there are a lot of good-hearted folk out there... :grin::grin::grin:

and to cap it all... often there was no charge..." a pleasure to work on such a lovely car"...

I wonder if the MB garages will ever say that..:wink:
 

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Premium Member 2008 SLK55 AMG "Mabel"
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15,652 Posts
Ha ha.. at my great age..I can ring the changes to keep them guessing.. :wink::wink:

The "Grandma-needs-a-little-help" scenario ....also works well.. 0:)
When dealing with women, I find the "Grandpa-needs-a-little-help" scenario ...also works well.. :D
 

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Premium Member 2009 SLK350
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599 Posts
Find a garage you trust they are out there.
If you give them the idiot ones enough rope they will usually hang themselves.
Growing up in my dads garage I may not be mechanically minded but I can smell bullsh1t at 10 paces
It's the sales guys I hate why are you asking Myk avel du to test drive it the blinking car is for me!!! As soon as I see a sales person I have a major attack of Tourette's.
 

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Super Moderator UK SLK 55 AMG 2007
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29,507 Posts
As soon as I see a sales person I have a major attack of Tourette's.
And there was me thinking that you knew the German technical terms for the parts. Doh!

In terms of labour cost.

Last time I visited the main dealers in the UK I got charged a lower labour rate.
They told me that cars over a certain age (I think it was 10 or 12 years) get the lower rate.
Probably because at that age folk tend to go Indy or local.
So, if you have an older car at the main dealer ask if there is a special labour rate.
Don't ask, might not get.

We're lucky, because both our MB Indy and our local garage have been good with us and done stuff for free.
That gets repeat custom.
 
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