Although it might or might not be common knowledge, the fact is that selling cars or motorcycles does not earn a firm its revenues. There is not enough volume to turn a profit, which is why manufacturers rely more on aftersales and service and spares for continued cash inflow. Workshops run on the same model, with labour charges being their primary source of revenue. It helps to know how workshops structure their pricing to avoid ending up paying more than you should for a repair or service.
So how do you find out how a workshop prices its work? You ask. Before you take your vehicle in for repair or scheduled service at a new facility (for you), ask how the shop charges for the jobs. Some workshops charge a flat rate for labour on automotive repairs. The rate is based on an independent or manufacturer’s estimate of the time required to perform repairs. Some workshops, on the other hand, charge on the basis of how much time was consumed on the repair or service.
If your car is due for expensive or complicated repairs, consider getting a second opinion on how much it would cost. Ascertain if there are any diagnostic charges involved since many workshops also put a price on time consumed over diagnostics. In situations like these, workshops that only do diagnostic work can give you an objective opinion about which repairs are necessary and whether it is fair to pay for diagnostics in certain situations.
If you finally decide to get the repairs or service done, ask for a written estimate. The estimate should clearly include the condition to be repaired, parts needed, and the anticipated labour charge. Get a signed copy of the estimate. The estimate should state that the workshop will contact you for approval before they perform any work that exceeds the specified amount of time or money on the estimate. Laws may be in place that requires this as standard practice.
Finally, get a completed repair invoice describing the work done. It should list out each repair, parts used with their individual costs, labour charges, and finally the vehicle’s odometer count at the time of bringing it in as well as taking delivery post repairs. Ask for replaced parts, if only to make sure they were indeed replaced as required.
This article was not written to highlight how workshops might try to rip you off. It is compiled to help you gain a deeper insight into the business of an automotive repair facility, and the potential ways you can end up overpaying for repairs. Staying a little vigilant and asking questions at the right time not only saves you a costly oversight or negligence but also establishes you as a customer who knows his or her way when it comes to such matters. Above all, be cordial in your approach. All particulars, from diagnostics to billing, are available at your request. Do keep in mind that the workshop you are going to might not be there to rip you off, and could turn out to be a steady facility you keep returning to with your proud possession.