So my car has been leaking antifreeze externally from the gasket intake manifold for over a year. I held off getting it repaired, as while warned it could turn into a disaster quickly (antifreeze leaking into engine) I have been driving it without problems and would only have to add antifreeze about every 2 months or so.
Considering I am going to be driving to Illinois in about a week though, I decided I couldn't risk having that problem as I haven't really drove the car long distances since I had it, and also because I can imagine the leak would get worse driving for 12-16 hours a day. I had a rough idea that it was going to be an expensive job, but man, I was surprised at how these auto repair shops work..
I took my car to the first spot, and apparently they wanted $800 to replace the gaskets. Apparently all the places I went to said it was just the gaskets leaking and that I wouldn't need a whole new manifold, plus, the manifold costs a lot more anyway. I tend to be a sucker when it comes to getting my car repaired as I know literally nothing about cars. I didn't know the year model or engine type of my car until the first time I got it repaired and I had to go look at the book.... That being said, I usually am one to be get roped into high prices, but even to me, $800 did seem too expensive, and I have a grandfather in the auto repair business and he said that was a rip off. Plus, the guy said it was going to take 7 hours (as they have to drop the whole engine to replace the gaskets) but the part is only about $100 so thats like $100 an hour for labor.
I decided to take it to more places. This is where things got interesting. I took it to one place, asked for a free estimate, and I also wanted to get a second opinion on the situation. Well it was indeed the gasket, so I got a little sneaky and told the guy I had it at another shop and they quoted me to do the job for $700. $100 less then what I actually was quoted. The guy only said, "We'll do it for $650"
Hmm, interesting, already $150 off the price! Now, I was pretty happy with that already, and like I said, I am not one to shop around much for something. I usually am the type to pay a little more for something because I'm there now, rather then going to multiple shops looking for a cheaper price, so I was about to go through with it. I called my grandfather though to see what he said, and he said its an average price, and to keep getting more estimates.
Breaking out of the norm for me, now that I knew exactly what the problem was, I called a couple places and asked for estimates there. Being sneaky again, I said I was quoted $550 to get the job done at another place. (once again lying and saying $100 less) The first person I called said, well, I'll do it for $500. I called a second place, and this time I didn;t say anything... He said he wanted $750 to do the job. Then I told him another shop offered to do it for $500, and like that he said he would do it for $450. That's a $300 drop in seconds! Last I called a third place and he said the lowest he could do it was $500. So I figured the $500 range was right in the ballpark then.
I actually called up the second shop I went to though (The ones that originally quoted me at $650 - since I thought the guys were really nice and trustworthy, they also had a great reputation around town) and told them I got quoted for $450 at another place to get the job done. The guy was silent for a little and then said "well they aren't going to use new parts like us" I said, listen I want to come to you guys, so will you do it for $500? He was silent again, and finally said "yea, ill do it for $500"
SCORE! So I ended up managing to save $150 bucks on a job just by calling some other places. The point I find interesting though through all of this is just how notorious and conniving these auto repair shops are. There is like no standard price in any of them, but it seems like they just try to charge you as much as they can get away with. I mean, I guess this is true of all business in some regards, wanting to get as much as you can for a service or product, but damn, you need to stay close to some standards so you don't scare people away, and worse off, rip them off. Because lets say for example I paid $800 to get the job done, then was later at a shop who tells me he could have done the job for $450. I would be pissed at both myself and that other shop for years!
What really makes me laugh though, is that you know they are overcharging you because of how quickly they will come down in price. Tell them you got a price from another shop and they go a little lower then it immediately, but don't say anything, and they hit you with sky high prices. Just from my experiences where I've seen prices go from $750 to $500 or $650 to $500 justify just how conniving and ruthless these shops can be. I just think that's a really wrong way to run your business, but then again, I guess everyone sort of does it. Just look at ebay or even these forums. People always try to get a little extra then what their stuff is actually worth. I don't do it. I usually try to give the fairest price I can, and I think that more people should do this. I'm not a business man, but my philosophy is that good business stems from a satisfied, happy customer base, and not making loads of money. Some might try to argue that you need that extra money you get ripping people off to make the business succeed, but I just feel that's not the right way to do things. But we all know that many companies and shops run like that... Even when I was selling a lot on forums, ebay, and amazon, I wouldn't think twice about giving someone a refund because they didn't receive an item. Whether they were B.S.ing or not, I would rather have a happy customer then $20 in the hole. Luckily, it only happened to me a few times on smaller priced items, but still, its the way I think things should work in business.
Anyway, I really just went off on a large segue there... I will be getting the car fixed for $500, though I probably could have possible saved even another $100 if I shopped around more, but at this point I was happy to negotiate the $500. Plus, I needed the car worked on quickly, which some places couldn't do. It just surprised me how bad these auto shops are with their prices, and how badly they are willing to rip you off just because you don't know better.
Either way, thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts!