Two Tools for Avoiding Unfair Auto Repair Shops
By: Luke Shaff ~
It's an ugly truth of the car repair industry that women are often given higher repair quotes than men. The assumption that drives it is that women are somehow not as mechanically minded and will therefore be easier to overcharge. It's a wrong assumption, of course. Women are every bit the critical consumer men are. However it's so common that it gives a bad name to the industry as a whole. Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it, though, and with a little consumer confidence you'll be able to guarantee yourself a fair price from any auto repair shop.
Why Do Repair Shops Do This?
It's easy to assume misogyny, but the motivation is principally financial according to a thorough study by Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business. In their study, they had three separate people call a repair shop for a quote on radiator replacement for a 2003 Toyota Camry. One was male with a fair price expectation, one was female with a fair price expectation, and the third was male with a higher-than-average price expectation
While the male participant who knew the right price for the repair was given that price in most cases, the female was not. But the male participant who expected a higher price was almost universally quoted a higher price, at a rate equivalent to what the female participant was quoted.
Some auto shops see a lack of knowledge as an invitation to prey on the customer. A shop shady enough to pull this stunt is likely to assume a lack of car knowledge for women and overcharge any unprepared customer.
What Can I Do To Avoid Higher Estimates?
The Kellogg study also determined that shops perceive women customers as less likely to bargain and more likely to walk out the door when given a bad price. As such, if you do research beforehand and confront the shop with a fair counteroffer, they're actually more likely to accept the offer than counteroffers made by men. That may be a small consolation, but the study called over 4,000 shops, so the finding about counteroffer effectiveness is pretty meaningful.
The other best thing is to use social networking and recommendations from friends and family to find a shop. Auto maintenance shops that treat women with respect stand out, and customers remember them, so ask around!
If you live in Washington, Luke's Automotive in Redmond has built a reputation in the community specifically for their equal and fair treatment of all customers. Their service is comprehensive, professional, and transparently priced. If you've got a car problem you want checked out but are nervous about getting a fair quote, you can trust an estimate from Luke's.
Schedule an appointment, or call 425-885-4333.