A few days ago I wrote about an excellent independent garage that now attends to my personal transport and a jolly good job they do too. Main dealers are more expensive and can be intimidating places for people who are not versed in car knowledge. Now, although we live in a modern world ablaze with the white heat of cutting edge technology, some things seemingly never change. A survey has just offered the opinion that customers hate dealing with repair garages and car mechanics more than any other trade.
Car Mechanics Of The World Untrustworthy?
If you have been around for a while and have had experience with garages of yore you will almost certainly have come across car mechanics who, on learning of a problem, will immediately try to bamboozle you.
It went something like this…
The hapless motorist rocks up at the premises complaining of a noise that only ever happens when they are alone in the car. No amount of test drives will replicate the problem when a spanner man is on board. Thus the poor owner has to resort to hand signals and peculiar noises and pointing vaguely in the direction of the bonnet to get the message across.
The car mechanics of this particular establishment, let’s call it for sake of argument, ‘We Saw You Coming Motors’, will then circle the car with a combination of shaking heads, muttering, kicking tyres, writing furiously on a clipboard and even sucking air in over their teeth – sometimes doing all of these things simultaneously – before passing you a quote huge enough to make Lord Sugar hyperventilate and leaving you standing there vigorously nodding your head like a dashboard Churchill.
Car Mechanics Are Not Like That Today, Surely?
Amazingly, the fear factor results showed that repair garages now beat estate agents into first place, with plumbers taking the third spot in the parade of punishing prices.
It can’t still be like that, can it? Thanks to the internet and the like, bad news spreads fast, after all. Put a foot wrong, say the wrong thing and social media will drown you in a torrent of abuse faster than you can say ‘gender’. If garages and other businesses want repeat business they should know that it pays long term to give the customer a square deal.
The other issue is that, as cars have become more complicated and high-tech, we have lost the innate automotive abilities once found in every shed in the land. This is our own fault. Customers feel baffled by technical jargon and apparently are worried about taking their car to a dealer or garage for fear of being ripped off.
It shouldn’t be like this.
A massive seventy-eight percent of female complainants said they felt likely to be cheated by a garage when their car went wrong, versus sixty-two percent of men.
If we are ripped off it is basically because, much of the time, we ask for it. When it comes to cars we have become as children. Consider how many things we used to do for ourselves that we no longer do, right down to fitting a three-pin plug to an appliance. Ask anyone to identify and name the three wires today, I dare you; you will probably be astonished. Do you even know them yourself?
Car Mechanics Can’t Shake Off The Bad Image
The image problem is even worse for franchised main dealers, it seems. A massive ninety-six percent of customers said they thought they would have to pay more if they took their car to a main dealer, rather than an independent garage. This is true. Fixing a motor today is a very expensive business.
So cash-strapped car owners do two things.
One: They don’t get the job done. The service interval is stretched out to breaking point, like a worn timing belt. Vital lubricating oil becomes like sludge. This downward spiral of maintenance always leads to breakdowns and even bigger bills.
Two: They resort to saving money by putting their vehicle in the hands of the less salubrious end of the car repair market, with the inevitable result. The financial services industry spotted this one a long time ago hence the rise of the second warranty which, to a certain extent, gives a little peace of mind, but which also costs money.
The customer is always right, so the old saying goes, but that doesn’t always follow when the customer doesn’t know his arse from his elbow.
The spectre of bad service hangs over garage services but a lot of it, I’m sure, is in the mind and we can’t shake it off, much like believing in ghosts and touching wood for luck. Certainly there are still plenty of rotters out there wanting your hard-earned lolly but we should be the masters of our own destiny by properly researching and seeking out the honest car mechanics.
In our social media, internet-driven age there’s always a choice as I found out with the guys who maintain my car. As the actress said to the gynaecologist, ‘I want to get a second opinion’. If in doubt, so should you.