The Cost of Motoring

In the UK the word garage applies to both a building in which you store your car and a business that services and repairs cars. Here in the US the latter is called a dealership.

My father has a law of garages in the US dealership sense of the word.

“There are three kinds of garage owner: those are dishonest, those who are incompetent, and those who are both dishonest and incompetent.”

In common with all such statements, including this one, it is a generalization. However, it would seem to apply just as accurately here in the US as it did in the UK. I have just had a terrible experience with the local Chrysler dealer who charged us over $350 to diagnose two faults.

Half of this charge was to tell us what we already knew, that the cable for the iPod did not work. I had asked them to check that the cable had not come loose from the radio; they did not do that, all they did was to plug an iPod in and verify my statement that it did not work. The second part was for telling us that we needed new tie rods to stop a worrying sound that the steering was making.

I had dropped the car off on the way to work and they had taken me a couple of miles down the Freeway to the office. They forgot to call me to arrange a pickup and when I rang them they told me that their driver had gone for the night. Fortunately, a friend drove me down the road to pickup the car.

The combination of the overpriced iPod test, their negligence over my clearly stated lift requirements, and then their rudeness on the phone when my wife complained about the charges led us to cancel our order for them to fix the tie-rods. It is fortunate that we did so. I took the car to the Chrysler dealer in Vacaville, who had already ordered the parts, but checked the car first. They identified the actual fault and fixed it; naturally it was a pricier fix than the original work, but turning the steering wheel at low speeds no longer makes an odd sound.

The Vacaville dealer seems to know what they are doing, have staff who actually call you back, and they don’t charge for their coffee while you are waiting.

There is one difference between the UK and US; tax is only levied on the parts and not on the labor.

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Published in: on 18 January, 2008 at 18:44  Leave a Comment  

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