Repair Guide » Negotiating the Price and Keeping Your Repair Shop Honest

Negotiating the Price and Keeping Your Repair Shop Honest

You’ve scrutinized your estimate, and analyzed how each major component squares with AutoMD.com‘s “fair price” breakdown: the hours the job should take—and the shop’s and alternative shops’ hourly labor rates. You’ve checked true parts pricing online…So now you’re ready to negotiate the price before you authorize any work.

Most people simply don’t realize they can negotiate auto repair work. And while some itemized charges may stand firm (like some parts prices), others have significant wiggle-room (shop mark-ups are often as much as 200% to cover operations). Unless you’re stuck in Death Valley at the only gas station for miles, your information ammo, combined with the fact that you’ve hopefully obtained more than one estimate, should make you feel comfortable negotiating a fair price. Lots of people dread negotiation, but online, objective information is public, impersonal and printable—let it speak for you!

And presenting a “fair price” estimate really works! In a nationwide study of repair shops, over two-thirds of the shops CHANGED their price quote when presented with the AutoMD.com industry standard price.

Key negotiating tips:

* There are three types of repair businesses: dealerships, franchises like a Sears or Jiffy Lube, and independent shops. To understand your negotiating opportunity, you need to understand the business models/mentality of each: unlike most independent shops, dealerships and franchises typically use managed sales/service writers, (mechanics just perform the work), and have a more top-down management-set pricing system. Hence, with the independents, you’ll typically have a much greater opportunity to negotiate price. This doesn’t mean that all dealers and franchises are “unfair,” and all independents are “fair,” it’s just important to know for your negotiation expectations. You should still present your benchmark price or competing estimates to all three: it’s a competitive market and, even at a dealer, not all is set in stone.

* Negotiate before any work is done, when you still have the power to go elsewhere. Never assume you’ll be able to haggle after the repairs are completed. The shop can refuse to return your vehicle until your bill is fully paid.

* Ask for the “fair repair” price you’ve identified. Show your AutoMD.com print-out and/or the competing estimates. If the shop refuses to budge on an estimate that’s too high, tell them that you’ll go to another shop.

* Mechanics will often argue they’re not authorized to approve the lower price. Ask to speak to the person who is. If they can’t produce that person live or on the phone, then politely tell them you’ll need to take your business elsewhere.