Women and car repairs – avoid getting ripped off
Women and car repairs -
it's all about information asymmetry
I read an article some years ago in the WSJ about women and car repairs and why they pay more to get their cars fixed. It stuck in my mind. And ever since then I have made a point of getting multiple quotes for car repairs. I calculated that I have saved myself several thousand dollars since.
This is not because I am a vapid ditz. I'm not. But I wasn't raised to take cars apart and I don't have enough head space to start to learn now. I decided that my time would be better spent learning to become a savvy consumer and acquiring some negotiating skills, than learning about spark plugs. It's a lesson that has served me well. Read: The 10 commandments of negotiation for women
Auto-repair shops are more likely to overcharge uninformed female shoppers than equally clueless men, according to different studies. Women and car repairs have easy dollars written all over them.
Research by the National Bureau of Economic Research examined the impact of gender and price expectations on auto-repair estimates. In the experiment, women and men telephoned garages to find out the cost of replacing a radiator in a 6-cylinder 2003 Toyota Camry LE.
They found that " women are quoted higher prices than men when callers signal that they are uninformed about market prices. However, gender differences disappear when callers mention an expected price for the repair. Finally, we find that repair shops are more likely to offer a price concession if asked to do so by a woman than a man."
Meghan Busse on the research team said that "Women who said they had “no idea” about the expected price received a higher quote than men who said the same thing. It seems to us that shops assume that a man, on average, is more likely to figure out if it’s a fair price than a woman. The general stereotype is that men know more about cars than women do.”
A study in the U.K by ClickMechanic found that "only 6% of garages gave the same quote to men and women, with the repair costing men an average of £571 compared to the £616 it cost women - an 8% increase."
This was supported by study by website RepairPal finds mechanics and auto repair shops charge women more than men.
"Information asymmetry" - when the tradesperson knows more than the customer- is key to the disparity in prices. I have started getting repairs not specific to my brand at a generic repair shop to give me an idea of the different price ranges.
So what can you do without going on an auto-repair course?
- Get multiple written quotes and have an idea before you go in of the anticipated. This may take time. There is a huge amount of information on the internet about estimated costs of different processes and parts. My regular garage wanted me to pay double the price for replacement tires.
- Ask for a discount. We know that women are more likely to get a discount than a man.
- If they need to do any additional repairs not covered in the quote, make sure they ask you for authorization.
- Check your bill against the quote - carefully. You would be surprised the little things that slip in. Query any anomalies.
- If the garage says they have replaced any parts - ask to see them. If you have any doubts get a second opinion. One garage tried to charge me for wind shield cleaning fluid when the container had been filled the week before in another repair shop. It was peanuts, but it showed them I had checked.
- Send your son and daughters to auto-repair classes. Read: Breaking down gender barriers in the automotive industry
- Check your area for female run garages.
You may not know a thing about cars but there are still ways to beat those sexist mechanics.
If you want to improve your negotiating skills - contact 3Plus
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