Date: Sun, 25 May 2003 12:18:39 +0100
From: Johannes H Andersen <>
Subject: Re: Puzzled by a SAAB dealer's cliam of billings convention

duvalautumn wrote: > > 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 Sounds weird to me. Isn't the dealer confusing an estimate with a quote or quotation for the job? However, you could have queried the estimate beforehand, especially when you knew that it sounded kinda high. I'm not defending the dealer here, he obviously has taken you for a ride, but if you had left the garage instead of waiting, you'd probably have been none the wiser. Around here I feel that estimates are usually on the low side in order not to frighten the customer away; the bill normally ends up just higher. But a dealer will always call up the customer if more work than anticipated are needed or recommended. But garages is quite a tricky subject. Clearly, a lot of mind reading takes place in regard to who you think are trustworthy or otherwise. Johannes

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