Full Disclosure increases 'Percieved Value'
You have touched on one of the hardest subjects that a forum like this can discuss.
Because the members consist of owners, technicians, and owner/tech-whatevers, everyone will have a different opinion.
The shop owners and technicians who have previously responded have perfectly valid reasons for their opinions.
My computer repair shop charges $60.00 per hour for a technician to go to the owner's site to perform whatever is needed on a time and materials basis. Naturally, when working at the client's location, the customer is always brought up to date before the technician leaves, even if temporarily to get additional parts. If the work is not complete by the customer's closing time, at the customer's option, the technician will stay to complete the job. The tech is paid $15.00 to $20.00 per hour, but as in the responses above, overhead tacks on quite a bit more.
My shop is very reasonable when compared to COMPUSA or one of the other biggies, who charge $85.00+ at their shop. And you get to talk to a technician at the front counter only if you insist. Talk about polite indifference--it is built-in there.
If you bring your equipment to our shop, you can speak with the technician/s or the owner if you wish. Our shop rates are $45.00 per hour. We also consult with our customers in person at our shop, or by phone at no charge.
It is easy to relate the Mercedes dealer versus independent shops to the scenario above. You will definitely get more bang for your buck when dealing with an independent, if (and only if) the independent is a businessman who realizes the value of his reputation and customer base.
I have used the local Mercedes dealer and three independents so far, and have been disappointed with each. I wish I could visit some of the professionals who frequent this forum.
gillybenztech mentions MB's policy for 'warranty work' versus 'non-warranty' work:
"If the engine, or some other 1 year warranty part fails, we need the time guide, because that's all MB is paying us. Now, not everything is covered. it's pretty complete, but even on a new car, not everything is covered, we usual charge "open" time for that, BUT we need to prove it by using a time punch system to prove that if we charge MB 1.5 hours to do a job, that this is how much time we spent on it. YES we hope to get jobs that are in the time guide as paying MORE time than we have into the job, as we can get paid for MORE hours than we were actually working. As long as the job was perfomed correctly, we can sleep well at night and not feel anyone was cheated."
That being said, he ends with comments concerning additional time dealing with rusted parts and other conditions that to me, should ALWAYS be assumed when working with older cars.
I would like to ask if it is ever an independent shop's standard procedure to estimate a specific job based on a 'time guide', then use a 'time punch' system for the entire automobile's time in the shop, breaking down the time spent on each particular repair by 'guesstimate' for each task, so the owner would not feel like he was being taken advantage of?
If the shop used less time than the time guide dictated, an owner should not complain so long as he understood that those standards were being used and he was fortunate to have an expert technician doing the work. It would not hurt for the technician to consult with the owner after completion, thereby adding to the 'percieved value' factor in the job.
That way, as gillybenztech states, "As long as the job was performed correctly, we can sleep well at night and not feel anyone was cheated." would include the owner as well.
I am more than grateful for this forum because of the wealth of knowledge and assistance available here.
I consider it a welcome place out of the storm, where a guy with low compression or leaky injectors can find advice and sympathy from his compadres.
So, that out of the way, what do you guys think of changing out air conditioner compressor oil every other season?
Sorry, jest kiddin'.