Something I have noticed in the auto repair business, that is sort of a new and somewhat scary trend, $10.00 hr general service tech’s are now doing repairs on customers cars!
This is insane if you think about it, when you go to the doctor, do you want the intern to fix you? This seems to be the new attempt for shop owners to make more money.
Before we get into this let me explain how the pay scale works in a Auto Repair shop, you have the service writer/manager, who checks you in, he is paid a salary, and a bonus based on monthly sales, then you have the general service techs, (GS) whom are paid by the hour, where I am this happens to be $10.00 an hour, with no incentives at all, I have worked in some shops where the GS techs get a % of a job if they find it, and list it on a repair order, if that job gets sold. So for an example, if you bring your car in for an oil change, the GS tech notices that your brakes are low and writes it down, the service writer tells you and you say fix those brakes, the GS would get a % of that sale. Then there are the actual ASE Certified techs, they fall in 3 different categories, A, B, C, (A) being the best, with the most experience and the highest flat rate hour. This is how this works, each job is assigned an amount of time to fix the item, lets say 2 hours to fix so and so, the tech will get paid 2 hours to fix your car, even if he fixes it in 1 hour he still get 2 hours, and if it comes back, for the same problem he has to fix it for free, so the incentive is there for him to fix it right.
What happens is when you take your car to a shop to have it fixed, you expect that your car will be looked at by a qualified ASE certified tech, well this is not the case anymore. you drop off your car for a noise, so in an attempt to save money what the shop management will do is give the car to the guy who makes $10.00 hr to find out and fix what is wrong with your car, while the more electronic issues or large jobs are given to the actual techs. this makes more money for the shop as well as the service writer, remember his bonus is based on profit, or sales.
While this sounds all good and well (maybe) the problem is that #1) the $10.00 hr GS (General Service Tech) the guy who changes oil and tires, does not really care if he finds or fixes the problem, remember he is paid by the hour, not by the job. so why would he care? Not to mention he just simply does not know, and guesses, this is why sometimes you will get a call, well while we were working on your car and fixing the one noise, after the test drive we noticed another noise and this is what that will cost to fix that item, what they should be telling you is that the GS guy miss diagnosed the issue and we think it is this now. I have seen people spend a lot of money on repairs that did not fix the car, and for some reason this practice continues.
One of the latest things I have seen now is when you drop your car off for a check engine light, or ABS, Air bag light, they get the GS guy to pull the code, then Google the code for your car, and fix what google tells them is wrong with it, resulting in you having to bring the car back because the light came back on, and of course they tell you that there simply is another problem.
Here is another problem with this practice, Who do you want working on you cars brakes? the GS guy of the seasoned Master Auto Tech? Who do you want replacing the steering components on your car? the GS guy or the Master Tech? I can’t tell you all the jobs I have had to redo that these GS techs have fixed, almost every one. Everything from brake pads being installed incorrectly and brake caliper bolts that have fallen out, from not being torqued properly. this is unacceptable when it come to your car especially safety items.
Now I am not going to tell you all this without a solution, here is how you make sure your car is being fixed by someone who is qualified,
1) find a shop that is run by the tech, that is correct a small one or two person shop, you will get better service this way anyhow,
2) get to know the tech at the shop, when you drop your car off find out who is the actual tech is (name) and introduce yourself to him/her get their personal card, and thank them for checking into the issue you are having with your car, as a matter of fact if you can describe the actual issue to the tech, this would be even better. once you get to know the tech, call him when you have a issue with your car, ask for him/her by name, and talk with them about your car, make an appointment with the tech not the shop, most of us are very approachable, and I prefer to talk directly with the customer, gives me a better idea of what is going on with the car. in other words develop a relationship with the tech, trust me this is the best thing you could possibly do.
That being said it may take several shops and several techs before you will find one that you can develop a relationship with, once you find one make sure you keep his/her contact info, because this will be one of the most important things that you will find, it is hard to find a good tech, once you find him/her don’t loose it.