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ABC's new show 'The Lookout' turned their hidden cameras on shady mechanics and found overcharging women customers, lying about problems and even causing problems at both local and national chain repair shops.

Women were often charged much more for repairs and told that fixes were needed when nothing was wrong. ABC's cameras weren't the only ones to catch this problem. A recent study by Northwest University's Kellogg School of Management and AutoMD looked at why consumers were often quoted different prices for the same auto repairs. They found that women who admitted they had no idea what an expensive repair would cost were overcharged when compared to their equally clueless male counterparts. For both men and women the more knowledge they displayed when dealing with mechanics, the less they were charged.

The takeaway? The best way to get a great price on a repair is to arm yourself with information. The more you know about the relative cost of a repair, as well as how your car works, could save you hundreds of dollars. It's also worth asking for recommendations from friends and checking a repair shop's online reviews before bringing your car in to a shop.


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  • 365 Comments
      JE WA ZA WI
      • 2 Years Ago
      In Naples Florida there is an Auto Shop,that put my auto on the hoist and kept it there for an hour and a half to change my oil .Charged me and said it's ready to go .Later that evening checked the oil,and the change had never been done .Their waiting room walls are covered with religeous pictures and biblical scriptures to give one the impression they are God's chosen few to do your auto repair .Confronted the manager and told him I'd been scammed .and he changed the oil,and haven't heard from them in 5 years .The manager resented being called a scammer ,but he was .
      Capt-tom
      • 2 Years Ago
      Don't go to any auto repair shops that have a sign that says customer not allowed in work area. They don't want you to see!
        itzvern
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Capt-tom
        Not being allowed in the shop area is required by insurance companies and don't forget about osha regulations as well. How would you feel if you were walking by a work area and got sprayed in the face by sparks from a grinder without saftey glasses on and got blinded? Who would you sue? How about someone doing a welding repair and they do not know you are standing there and you are looking at the welder when he strikes an arc? How about you bring your car somewhere and some parent is talking to a mechanic and there kid scrapes the side of your car with a screwdriver? Who do you sue then? The shop or the parent?. How about getting crushed under a lift? There are many dangers in a shop. Customers are not allowed in the shop for saftey reasons. Not just for the sake of "ripping" you off.
          oakspondman
          • 2 Years Ago
          @itzvern
          That is not true. It is not the insurance company.
      Mike Fort
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's a shame auto repair places are a rip off. DIshonest mechanics taking advantage of people. Best to check with BBB first or check with a friend who knows a good reliable honest person before having work done on your car. Also, know your car....know what has been done and know what needs to be done. The computer gadget - you can now buy, plugs, hooks right up to diagnostic connector right under the steering wheel of most new cars will pilnpoint a problem to a T. For the most part, most new cars just need oil changes and tire rotations every 6000 miles. Wiper blades every 10k..... When you get to 60k, that 's when you replace the cabin filter, do a radiator flush/fill, replace the plugs and pcv valve and change the fuel filter/air filter, and bleed the brakes, put in new brake fluid/and/steering fluid check and check see if new brake pads needed??? also check condition of all belts - serpentine for wear/tear and tension. Also check condition of radiator hoses. After all those checks and fixes, that you should be good for another 60k, no more major svc until 120k. BUt just keep doing oil changes synthetic every 6k and tire rotates everytime it's in for the oil change.
        chzyrider
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike Fort
        Nobody should ever have to pay for false work done on their car. But for those that cannot do it themselves, you can't always condemn every hired mechanic at a shop. Not all shops and mechanics are dishonest, but unfortunately too many are only out there to take advantage of the public's common ignorance about their own cars. Too bad these dishonest shops and mechanics are the only ones you hear about in the news. If comparing hourly rates, there are dependable private or mobile mechanics that may often be more meticulous and take a bit longer to get the job done right the first time, and may still often charge less to be competitive with established repair shops. The Flat Rate repair estimating system is used for consistent job estimating and better time management in scheduling jobs and the shop-rates typically pay for the business operating costs plus profit, including what the hired mechanic(s) are actually paid. Higher quality shops often hire more experienced mechanics and if a job returns with a malfunction complaint, that hired mechanic can be required to re-repair it unpaid if a mistake was made. The downside of flat-rate estimating guide is that it is based on clean new cars. The better mechanic finishing a flat-rate job faster than estimated is usually due to his skills and experience. When the flat-rate mechanic is assigned a 2hr job, and if he finishes in 90 minutes, he would typically get paid for that 2hrs estimated work. He can then start another job to be paid for that job according to the estimate, and so on. When additional effort is required due to complications such as rusted/broken fasteners or extremely greasy/dirty vehicle, or if special tools/supplies are needed, it can tempt the dishonest ones to take shortcuts here. Many shops may include Add-on charges in 0.1hr increments for additional work due to vehicle condition. If he finishes a '2hr job' in only 30 minutes, I would then either doubt that it was done correctly or suspect the problem was misdiagnosed then incorrectly estimated for your bill. This is where shops may still state a one-hr minimum charge. Another drawback is If the methodically slower or lesser experienced mechanic takes longer than the estimate, then he only gets paid for that work-time stated. This can also tempt many to take shortcuts to finish a job faster. Then along with the scams of false repair, the ones that take these shortcuts again overshadow the honest ones in public opinions.
        chris36m
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Mike Fort
        Problem with dishonest tech as most are working a pay system called Flat Rate, you get paid per job, so if it takes 30 mins to do a 2 hr brake job thats what they get paid, if there's no work = NO PAY either Let's see how you would like to get not get paid for working a 8 hr day, instead making 4 hrs or sometimes less
      • 2 Years Ago
      Oxymoron - Honest mechanic
        Joseph
        • 2 Years Ago
        or honest customer. You just know when you got a cheapskate chisler at the counter, they start out by telling you how every shop they ever went to in their entire life ripped them off. Yeah, well Im too busy to work on your fifty dollar twenty year old beater today.....................
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joseph
          yeah I know how you feel, my toolbox with out tools alone cst more then what alot of people pay for their car and then they wonder why it cost to get their car worked on.
      kmills1019
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sounds like the heath care industry.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would like to say my very smart, smart ass, funny and endearing wife got quoted an astronomical price for a brake job, wiper replacement, intake air filter replacement, and cabin air filter replacement. She said to the tech, "I'll just have my husband do it, it sounds like a lot of money." The tech replied with "ma'am this is a pretty big job and I don't know if you'd want to put your hubby on it." Meanwhile she's arbitrarily playing with her phone. He continues with the brake job description, ets. and she replies with "no I really think ill have him do it." As he continues on about how difficult the job is, she pulls a video up on YouTube with her iPhone, puts the phone up to the techs face, and says, "no, it seems pretty easy from the video I think he can handle it." The drop jawed tech didn't know what to say and rang her up for the state inspection... God bless my wife I love that lil minks! Lol she saved us $360 and got a great story to boot. Lol poor tech didnt see her coming...
      Michael & Linda
      • 2 Years Ago
      The same with most ANY tradesperson....you just have to swallow hard and get on with it. I can do many things myself, but I can't repair an AC unit or a modern automobile engine. You are at their mercy....and they know it! One can just try to find a trade that isn't too arrogant, sarcastic and insulting....that mostly seems to come with the job!
      Jimmy
      • 2 Years Ago
      People think only auto repair does this..but ANY industry has the potential for this, to overcharge suckers, if they are not informed enough to know better... doing your homework and price shopping is advised when making ANY high purchase.
        itzvern
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jimmy
        Like starbucks. How much for a cup of freakin coffee? Nasty coffee at that.
      ericwrites
      • 2 Years Ago
      I am fond of repeating this TRUE story about rip-offs. It happend to me. Location unimportant, this took place thirty plus years ago. During a poker game held weekly at each players homes on a rotating basis, the host for this particular game owned a couple of midas muffler shops. He and i went head to head -down to the wire in one hand of seven card stud. I held a sweetheart of a hand, a once in a lifetime royal straight heart flush. He had four tens. The pot grew to four thousand dollars after the other players dropped out, and they were taking side bets on the two of us, feeling one of us is trying to buy the pot on a bluff. i (very happily) won. Instead of being dejected, the loser, (in more ways than one IMHO) simply stated, :No big deal, the first B---h through the dorr in the morning will pay for this. Now shut up and deal." A couple of us guys did not let that pass, we asked what if it were our wives taking a car in. "Oh", he said; " I wouldn't screw you guys over." And that's how it goes in the world of car repair shops, nothings changed. Second true incident; I was away playing in the desert in the first Gulf war. my former wife took the car into a Midas shop in another state we lived in at the time. She was charged eleven hundred dollars, for work that was NOT done. the squeaking and non performance of the brakes continued until I returned. i took the car to a friends shop, along with the slips from Midas, My frind told me she is lucky to be alive, yes, that's how serious it was. Being the kinda guy I am, I went to the DMV with all the evidence. Midas had a claims resolution company that handled their complaints from customers. The money was returned, the public letter of apolgy I demanded was not given. They are no longer in business in this region. Please be careful, the life you save could be your own or someone you love. Eric L. Marsh
      Rob
      • 2 Years Ago
      WOW! My wife and I can relate to this story! She just took her Chrysler 300 to a local dealership...Bob Ridings in Decatur Illinois..., telling them that she had trouble opening her sun roof... Low and behold and 80 dolllars later, she needs a new control module and a new motor!... $750.00 to fix the problem. funny how they needed 80.00 just to tell us that... WE KNEW THAT! Now mind you we just bought this unit from Bob Ridings dealership, not even 4 moths ago, or 5000 miles ago...and oh by the way... the warranty which we thought was good for3 years or until 36,000 miles was just up 100 miles ago! We blew the it on the years... the milage didn't count! Maybe it's just me but customer service means nothing anymore...unless you pay for the extended customer service... which by the way will be $2200.00 for an additional 50 000 miles! WTF.. We will never buy another Chrysler again! It's sad becaue we gave up a Cadillac for this!
        machinedr001
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rob
        Should have stayed with the Caddy. GM just had several of its' models ranked as the most reliable, I kinow the new Impala was among that list. They were ranked right up there with Porsche. Chrysler is a Fiat company now and Fiat has NEVER made a reliable vehicle.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rob
        All shops charge for diagnostics fees. Why? because if they didnt, you could say "ok well thanks for looking ill take it to joe blows garage he can do it for half the price." When you go to a shop you are paying for knowledge that you dont have. If you dont want to pay for an 80 diagnostic, figure out how to fix things yourself.
          machinedr001
          • 2 Years Ago
          Actually, most of the dealers around Atlanta will do diagnostics for free because 80% of the time all they do is connect a code reader to the OBDII/CAN connector and read the error codes. Of course one can purchase a nice code reader for around $100.00 or less that does the same thing. Also, you can take a vehicle to AutoZone or Advance Auto Parts and they will read them for free. Now, if it requires the removal of parts or replacement of fluids, etc. during the diagnosis they will charge for that. I would guess the $80.00 was because they had to remove some body panels, etc. to get to the areas they needed to check out.
      rjen164497
      • 2 Years Ago
      DUH. If Government can lie and fleece the Taxpayers, why not auto shops. It's the way the country has become. Liberal accept it as just the way it is in Wasdhington. Well, now that's just the way it is on the street. Try and take it to a Liberal Judge.
      flnativeone
      • 2 Years Ago
      its not our fault that god made woman dumber than men. hey lets blame it all on Obama like the rep. do everything else :)
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