I agree, given the amount of training, equipment, manuals, and general overhead most services have, $80/hr is acceptable. It is when incidentals are compared...When "Job A" completed 3 years ago costs $x and the same job "Job B" completed today costs $x+50%, one should question the validity of the charges.
The dealer that did the top end work ended up replacing the heads, valves, springs, etc. I believe whatever was done, whether it be lack of coolant or otherwise, caused the head damage. Maybe it is coincidental, but they did work on part of the cooling system. Prior to taking it in for the aux pump, the car never had any such problems and 15 min after leaving their shop, it overheated. That coupled with incorrectly stating I brought the car back due to a coolant leak, overshooting their original estimate by ~$1000 with no explanation, taking 10 weeks to fix the car, charging >36 hrs labor, and their general apathetic demeanor, made for a real memorable experience. Not a good one.
I work at a very large insurance company. There are several high-end vehicles in our parking garages. Of the marques sold by the above dealer, maybe 10-20% of them are from there. The other cars were purchased elsewhere at least 30 miles away. That must say something. Maybe that should have been my first clue.
Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.
Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.
MBCA Member, Chicago Region