Date: 24 May 2003 19:42:44 -0700
From: duvalautumnnopsamnet (duvalautumn)
Subject: Puzzled by a SAAB dealer's cliam of billings convention

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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