Boy, would the fur fly if you open a Flat-rate discussion on any of the tech only sites.
Unfortunately I totally disagree about flat-rate helping the consumer. I will give you some examples. Our shop pays salary (actually hourly w/overtime). Our ten technicians (who have an average seniority in our business of over ten years) average billing 35 hours each per week. They all work hard. Seven of them are ASE masters.
I have a friend that works at the local Toyota dealer no one there has worked over 3 years there. They get paid anywhere from 10-16 dollars a flat rate hour. So I asked him... Wow that means you guys need to bill 80 hours a week to make the same amount as my guys. He said ... no problem. Now I will let your imagination wander as to how those techs with a carrot in their face manage to bill over two times as much work as my techs.
Part of the reason is they work on a very limited range of vehicles for simliar problems, part of it might be they hurry, accept less of a product, maybe even short change the situation (but only if the rent payment is due and that tranny job is half a weeks work.....maybe he will fix it when it comes back).
I guarantee you won't find seniority in a shop with flat-rate pay over an average of three years. Disputes over responsibility for "come backs", pay variations, no sufficient vacations always ruin the relationship between shop and employee.
The MB Time Guide dated 02/15/98 gives 1.2 hours for front flex disc replacement.