Editorial Page

How Female College Students Can Lower Car Repair Estimates

You’re a female wrestler on scholarship away from home for the first time and your car needs important repairs. Yes plural. Please remember, if money is tight, the more you save on your repair bill, the more you’ll have for something that is vital are just as important; fun!

fciwomenswrestling.com article - wikimedia photo
fciwomenswrestling.com article – wikimedia photo

He’s sees you driving up with an anxious look on your face. He remains expressionless on the outside but guess what?

fciwomenswrestling.com article - wikimedia photo
fciwomenswrestling.com article – wikimedia photo

He’s smiling on the inside.

Why is he smiling? You are a young woman with auto repair needs and according to research; that alone is going to influence the mechanic to charge you more money than he would if you were a man.

According to theatlantic.co, a great information site that speaks to News and analysis on politics, business and more, Researchers at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management teamed up with AutoMD to find out why customers receive different price quotes when they call an auto-repair shop.

“When the researchers broke down their results by gender, they found that women are worse off if they indicate they have no idea what a radiator replacement should cost. Women were offered an average price of $406, while their male counterparts received a quote of $383. Why the difference?

One of the study’s authors explains: Repair shops probably do not inherently dislike women or take pleasure in ripping them off. Instead, the data are more consistent with statistical discrimination. Shops believe, rightly or wrongly, that women know less about cars and car repair.

In the absence of information to the contrary, they will be offered a higher quote. “But when you show that stereotype is wrong”—because you reveal yourself to be an informed woman or an uninformed man—”you get treated the same way”.

Please read this next paragraph very carefully.

The study continues. “The experiment revealed another gender difference, too. When women request a lower price, they receive a price cut from the repair shop more often than men do—35 percent of the time compared with 25 percent for men. This “pretty sizeable” difference, the authors say, is not explained by higher initial quotes women sometimes receive. Instead, repair shops are surprised perhaps when a woman customer defies the stereotype that women don’t haggle and negotiate. They think she will walk out the door; hence, she gets a discount.”

There is hope. You’re in college. You’ve heard this before. Do your auto repair homework!

fciwomenswrestling.com article - wikimedia photo
fciwomenswrestling.com article – wikimedia photo

In her well researched article, kiplinger.com writer Jessica L. Anderson provides women with some great tips on how to reduce your chance of being a victim.

“Nine in ten women believe they are treated differently at auto-repair shops than men are, according to a national study by the Car Care Council, an association that encourages consumer education. Even I, the car writer at Kiplinger’s, have been the target of repair-shop gender politics. Take our advice on taking control — but keep in mind, anyone can get ripped off. These rules aren’t just for ladies.”

fciwomenswrestling.com article - wikimedia photo
fciwomenswrestling.com article – wikimedia photo

Let’s consider Ms. Anderson’s suggestions.

Get a clue. You can diagnose what’s wrong before you hit the shop by using the CarMD tool ($99; www.carmd.com). Just plug the hand-held device into your car (every model after 1996 has a standard connection port) and it reads the car’s computer codes. You can then plug it into your computer for a full report of what problem the codes indicate, the most likely fix, and what labor and parts for the repair cost in your area.

Show them you know. Familiarize yourself with the owner’s manual — you’ll avoid unnecessary maintenance if you know what needs to be done at every service interval. When choosing a repair shop, make sure the technicians are ASE certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.[adToAppearHere]

Use all your senses to describe a problem, says auto expert Lauren Fix, author of Lauren Fix’s Guide to Loving Your Car (St. Martin’s Griffin, $17.99).

Don’t overpay for repairs. If you’re getting the car repaired by an independent shop, call the service department at your dealership after you get the diagnosis to see whether it’s covered by the warranty, a recall or a technical service bulletin; having the car fixed at an independent shop won’t void the warranty, but you may have to pay for the repair.

Get a second opinion. If you’re unsure about what you’re being told, go somewhere else. Don’t repeat what the other shop said; just provide the same information about the problem and see what the mechanic finds and what the shop will charge to fix it. Before a repair, ask to see the part, where it goes and why it needs to be replaced, and then ask to see the old part after the repair is made. If you feel pressured to make a repair, walk away.[adToAppearHere]

RepairPal.com can help you find out whether your mechanic is quoting a fair price. Enter your car’s make, model and year, plus your zip code. You’ll see a price range for dozens of fixes at dealerships and shops in your area.”

Thank you Ms. Anderson.

Further help is provided jamesrussellpublishing.biz/autoscam.html. You can visit the website for the full article but here are some of his suggestions.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

fciwomenswrestling.com article - wikimedia photo
fciwomenswrestling.com article – wikimedia photo

1. “Always look for the hourly labor rate chart on the wall. Protect yourself and get out of the shop if none exists.

2. Always get a “written” job estimate breaking down the parts, supplies and labor. This way they must come close to the actual estimate; read the fine print on the estimate about this. A scam artist avoids giving his customers a written estimate, so beware of this. If you don’t get a written estimate for the repair get out of that repair shop for you will be cheated and robbed.

3. The written estimate is a legal contractual agreement. The repair shop must abide by it. The shop that gives no written estimate is bound to nothing but to inflate his bill and rob you unmercifully. It’s his way of saying, “Thank you, stupid.”

4. Do not be a trusting soul anymore. Sure, the service writer may be cute, kind and polite but his boss isn’t and he sets the rules you have no idea is designed to scam each and every customer.

5. Watch television and listen to the radio. The shops that “advertise” are the very ones you need to avoid. Why? They are ripping off so many people they are losing word of mouth recommendations and referrals and they must advertise to “drum up more victims”. Cynical? It sure is, but true.

6. Never explain to anyone at the shop how much you need your car or truck to get to work, etc. Your desperation is a signal tapping the spider’s web to inflate your bill. Mr. Russell makes some excellent suggestions.

So if you apply the above suggestions from Ms. Anderson and Mr. Russell, as a female you will have a far better chance of getting your much needed auto repairs at the same rate as men.

fciwomenswrestling.com article - wikimedia photo
fciwomenswrestling.com article – wikimedia photo

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Sources: theatlantic.com, usnews.com/news, business.time.com, blogs.wsj.com, latimes.com, kiplinger.com/article/cars – Jessica Anderson, jamesrussellpublishing.biz/autoscam.html, thank you Wikimedia Commons for photos.

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