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Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 10:08:40 -0500
From: "Walt Kienzle" <>
Subject: Re: Puzzled by a SAAB dealer's cliam of billings convention

You are both correct. You were indeed "taken for a ride", but the service advisor was also correct in stating that this is a common practice. As you already noted, you should have spoken up earlier if you were suspicious of the time quoted to complete the job. You might have been able to negotiate a slightly lower time estimate (but don't count on it). BTW, $81 per hour is a great rate. The Saab dealers I have checked in my area (suburban Chicago), get between $95 and $100 per hour. The quoted time is called "book time" because there is a book that gives the standard times required to complete a job. It is necessary to do it this way because most of the repair shops employ union labor, and having the employees report their time by this method is part of the contract. In your case, the mechanic could do 3 of these jobs and have completed nearly a full days work (7.5 hours according to his timesheet based on book time). Having completed all of his work by lunchtime, he could kick back for the rest of the day. Don't feel like they singled you out on this practice. Not only do they do this to other paying customers, they do it to the manufacturers for warranty work too. I had a Ford Taurus in for repair under a service advisory for a new clutch and flywheel. While the car was there (and unknown to me) they found other service advisories for the disk rotors and the starter motor. Because you have to take out a lot of parts (including the transmission) to replace the clutch and flywheel, the additional time needed to replace the starter motor and rotors would be only a few minutes. But they were able to claim the full book time of several hours for the labor associated with replacing each of those parts. When I picked up the car, I was surprised when asked to sign all these additional forms for extra work, a total of about $2000, all done at no charge to me. Walt Kienzle 1991 9000T 1990 Ford Taurus SHO "duvalautumn" <duvalautumnnopsamnet> wrote in message > Dear SAAB community: > > I would like to seek your advice about repair billings convention. > > Recently, I had a problem with my pulleys on my '95 900s during a > cross country trip. I was in western Virginia and decided to bring in > my car to a local SAAB dealer to get it fixed. The service advisor > gave me an estimate of about 2.5 hr of work at $81/hr and about $100+ > worth of parts (2 pulleys and a new serpentine belt), so total with > tax about $380. > > I thought this sounded kinda high just to replace two pulleys. I was > hoping that he might have over estimated the job would take 2.5 hrs. I > gave the okay anyway since I did not have a whole lot of choices in a > cross-country trip. > > I waited in the lobby. After less than 1.5 hr later, I was called that > the repair was done. When I was presented with the invoice, I was > charged for the full 2.5 hrs even though the repair only took 1.5 hrs! > > After disputing with the service department, I complained to the > service manager but he said that I gave the approval with the > estimate. He further affirmed that it is "the industry standard" that > any reputable repair shop would abide to the estimate the shop gives, > and charges no more than 10% above the estimate. So if the repair took > longer, then the shop would only charge 10% more. If less, it would > charge the longer hr based on the estimate and NOT on the actual > number of hours done on the car. Somehow, I thought I was taken for a > ride since they knew that I am from out of town. > > I am considering to file a complaint with SAAB USA. I would appreciate > your comments on whether the dealer or the car owner is bound to such > estimate. Lets say if the job ended taking 20 hrs, would they > "really" charge only 2.5 hrs plus the 10% as this dealer claims? > > OR, is it because most people drop off their cars for repairs, they > would not know the actual number of hours done on their cars, so they > would not be aware of any over-charges? In this case, I was trapped > at the dealership and waited for my car. > > Thanks for your comments and suggestions. > > Eric

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