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  #1  
Old 05-09-2002, 01:11 PM
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Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
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Brake Job Price

I have an '88 560SL. I just purchased pads, rotors and sensors all around. I called a local garage for a quote to install. He says he has to see it.

I understand he would need to see it to inspect pads and rotors to know what to replace if I just took it in to have it looked at/diagnosed. But, in this case shouldn't he just tell me the hours and cost for this very specific work?

It seems he just wants me to get the car there, get it in the air, give me high quote and have me say what the heck to a higher price just 'cause I already have it there and don't want to hassle...

Thoughts?

BTW - My back pads are low, rotors seem okay. My Front pads are fine, rotors are warped. Going to just do it all and not hassle again for while...just in case anyone was wondering.
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Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


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  #2  
Old 05-09-2002, 01:13 PM
Michael's Avatar
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Can't be more than a few hours labor-if you get a quote of more than 3 hrs., move on to the next mechanic
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  #3  
Old 05-09-2002, 03:37 PM
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DIY prices for parts are for DIY. You won't find any kind of real tech who will install those parts. He may have been generous and wanted to see if you had quality parts. Maybe if he would have aproved of the parts he would do such an unbusiness like proposition.

A shop price for repair includes profit on parts that are necessary to extend the warrantee for such repairs. A quality shop will not allow work to be done in its name which can not be fully warranteed.
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Continental Imports
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  #4  
Old 05-09-2002, 04:28 PM
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Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
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Our local indie MB shops will install MB OE parts if you ask, but I wish that MB would be kinder to them. They get a jobber discount of only 10%, which is ridiculous. I get the same discount!

I know a few shops that would install the supplied parts, but would not offer a warranty on parts OR installation.

When I was in the auto-electronics biz, we HATED people that asked about install prices on their own parts. It's impossible over the phone to tell what the heck they've got. Also, the only problems we ever had was when someone brought us something we didn't normally carry, and we installed it.

Those customers seemed to nickel and dime us on everything, and were nothing but headaches. Case in point:

We sold AstroStart car starters. We ONLY sold them installed, NEVER over-the-counter. I couldn't stand the thought of some DIY burning his car down with something from MY shop.

However, we would install car starters bought somewhere else, as long as it was a brand we knew and trusted. But, we didn't do this very often. We charged a starting price of $110 for install. We sold the basic AstroStart for an installed price of $230, which means that the "price" on the unit was $120.

One of our competitors had a sale on cash and carry units for $115. People bought the unit down the street for $115 and wanted us to install it for $110, netting them a savings of $5.

Well, our $230 installed price included an install that was one notch above our $110 stand-alone install. Did people get pissed off! They wanted us to upgrade the install to the one we gave if you bought the gear from us. But, without the additional margin from selling you the gear, I couldn't afford the labour for the better install.

All that bickering and yelling and frustration for FIVE DOLLARS.

Finally, we instituted a policy that we NEVER installed something that we didn't sell you. We lost a little business, but it was those no-profit complainers, so things were actually better. And the install techs were MUCH happier.

I'm with Steve. Why did you buy the parts and take them home if you weren't going to install them?
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  #5  
Old 05-09-2002, 05:18 PM
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First, my real question was, isn't this a straigh forward job that someone should know the hours for?

Second, Wow! I'm a little surprised at the responses. I've done this for year - under certain circumstances. I've never had anyone tell me they would not install the parts and have never gotten any "attitude" over it. I have had people tell me they will charge a little more and I tell them that is fine, I understand. So, that's what I do - in very particular situations.

I would never and don't go to a shop, have them diagnose something and then ask if I can get the part myself (unless they could not get the part for a few days and I could get it right away, which happened once). Mostly I do it for logistics and time reasons, not to save $5 or nickel and dime someone...

DIY'ers out there - have you ever bought a part and then come to the realization you coudn't get it in yourself and gone on down to your local tech for help? Did they do it? It's happened to me more than once. They laughed at me for trying it myself, but they were happy to help.

In this instance, I want to replace brake pads and rotors. Even if I could do it myself, I don't hav ethe place. I live in NYC now. It could wait a few weeks but we are going on a long weekend trip and my girlfriend will be meeting me at the other end, driving my car. So, I want it done before then. The local Mercedes dealer and the couple of independents I know have a 2-4 week waitlists for just about any work. The local corner shops which I trust to do maintenance work (and little else as they are not mercedes experts) don't stock the parts and I frankly don't know what quality parts they would buy and install. I live in NYC in Chinatown and most of the work they do is on Cab's , Towncars and lesser expensive Japanese cars. That's just where the demand is in our area.

So, I buy high quality OEM parts (from Phil at parts Shop) and get someone to install them. I did that a couple of weeks ago for some other maintenance items (oil and tranny service, dist cap, rotor, fuel filter, etc). Frankly, they seem glad I have the parts. They can get me in and out, don't have to hasle with the ordering and off we go.

The guy around the corner charges $50/hr. (cash only, that's the way we do it in C-Town). My Mercedes dealer charges $90 (and of course the parts are about twice as expensive). So, in this instance I AM saving money $300 vs. $600 at the dealer. On an oil change or something the dealer has a menu price on, I save no money - just time.

By the way, the next two place I called quickly gave me labor quotes. One for $40 , the other $130. Frankly, the $40 guy kinda' scares me.

I'd just like to ask everyone to keep an open mind. I never meant to offend or raise any one's hackles. People have different experiences. I think there are probably no "rules" that govern all decisions and practices. We all have our reasons...
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Thanks,

Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2002, 07:41 PM
Senior Canadian Member
 
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Location: British Columbia, Canada
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honestly, if i were taking my time to make sure i did an a-1 job, and inspected other things, i could take up to 4 hours to pull off a rotor and pad re&re for one end of a car.

I'f i were trying to get it done asap, probably in about 60-90 minutes to do a respectable job.

Spent 3 hours doing the front for one of the 500Es only 'cause i was dallying.
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  #7  
Old 05-09-2002, 07:55 PM
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hmm... yea... I didn't think it would be that big of a deal to get your own parts. I do it all the time. My mech doesn't seem to care, I mean, I tell him that I have found the parts for $10 online, and he will tell me the cheapest he can get is for $20, so I buy the parts, and he installs them. I don't expect him to warrenty the part, but he does warrenty the labour, I don't see why other mechs wouldn't do the same...
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  #8  
Old 05-09-2002, 08:42 PM
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Yea this is going to upset some , but ,,,, thats life. We do not install parts customers bring us, go to Ryans bring a steak and tell them to cook it for you , not going to happen. I dont give prices over the phone either, I have plenty of buiness not to try to beat joe blows texaco down the road. To answer your question ,remove rotors ,repack wheel bearings and flush brake system is 3.5 hours by book. I would mic the rear rotors and turn them if I could , or replace them. Turning will run you 15.00 a rotor, and time to do rear pads and rotors is 1.4 hrs by book. So that is a full brake job, bearings cleaned and repacked and complete system flush (if moisture present , or fluid dark) for 4.9 hrs. That is called buisness, we dont make alot of money in profit from labor. It has to come from parts too. Ask anyone that owns a shop and pays the bills , it sucks. I dont own a shop but I have been a tech, bookkeeper, manager, and parts for many years and I have learned and earned the respect of my customers and fellow employees and boss cause of this. I know what we can do the job for and if it is not right after we inspect before customer gets it , well they do it again at their (techs) expense. All of our technicians have a personal relationship with our customers. We have DIYers also , I give them free advise, diagrams and instructions. When it is over their head or they dont have time they bring it to me and never complain about the bill. So understand that what the book says is what most shops go by. If it is too high for you do it yourself. I personally dont work on my own Dodge it goes to a shop , hey I could probably do it but I dont have time and I want it done right by someone trained and knows that vehicle by heart.
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  #9  
Old 05-10-2002, 11:39 AM
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Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
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Freedom of Choice

Euro,

Who would you upset? I agree with you entirely. If you can't or don't want to install customer parts that is entirely your prerogative. You have reasons for not doing so and it is a business decision. If there are mechanics that want to do so, that is their business decision.

As a customer, I have options and can decide whom I work with and how I work with them. You as a business owner should do the same. I don’t think anyone should be upset or offended either way. It was a free country last time I checked.

This whole topic reminded me of the first time I bought my own parts and why. I was having some bodywork done. I needed the black plastic cap (long strip) for the rear bumper of my 300e. When I got the quote from the body shop, they wanted about $300 for the part. That seemed high so I made a call just to check. I got the part for about $50. Is that kind of mark-up business like? In this case, I think not. Who knows, it may not even have been a big mark-up. Maybe they just had to buy it from the dealer vs. using the Internet sources I use. Supply chains are funny things these days…

I’ve heard a couple of people use the “wouldn’t bring a steak to a restaurant analogy”. Good point. However, I bet I'm not the only person who has gone fishing in Mexico or Hawaii and had the hotel kitchen cook the fish I caught. People do it all the time. They just charge you and make the money they would of off selling you a piece of fish.

Yopu can also bring wine to many restaurants that also sell wine. They just charge a $10-$25 corkage fee. They still make money and they give consumers something they are big fans of – choice.

My point is, there is no one "right" way. There are plenty of good and different ways to do business as a service provider and as a customer. Many can be considered “business like”. There are both good and bad consumers and good and bad service providers out their. It is up to each person to do what he or she thinks is right and make their own business decision.

Live and let live my friends….
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Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #10  
Old 05-10-2002, 12:44 PM
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There are no rules, but there is convention, ethics, and respect. Due to convention your question will threaten the ethics and respect indirectly of a great body of respected technicians.

Since I obviously don't want to get in an economic discussion with a person whose obvious intent is to reduce my pay, I always leave the issue to warrantee. Ha, is all I say to the concept of warrantee of labor only. Brothers have shot brothers or such discussion. There is absolutely one way to resolve that warrantee issue and that is to warrantee the job, no questions asked.

And yes I have installed more owner supplied parts than most DIYers will ever need in a whole lifetime. We are an authorized installer for Tire Rack and are eager to avoid High Speed Tire warrantee problems by letting people buy their own tires and we just charge for mounting and balance. This is the type of exception that equals the wine example. To a real business asking such a proposal is tantamont to the syeak question at Ryan's. Of course if you have dropped a couple grand here last year I'll probably do anything you ask, no questions asked.

As to a bunch of techs available for such work, I doubt it. I am only including MB techs in the gene pool. There may be significant number of tire store techs and a wide range of shade trees
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  #11  
Old 05-10-2002, 01:11 PM
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I’d like to chime in here, and meaning not to offend those on either side of this issue ------- I'd like to add some observations as as both a long standing business owner (14 years), and as a owner of 2 MBs. As an MB owner, I don’t like the often excessive parts charges by repair shops. The dealer I use is no exception to high pricing for parts. However they are willing to install my supplied parts. They claim it is company policy to do so. I do tell them that if the parts are not to their specification they can install their own. I buy parts from this site and have had any problem reported, except for the occasional wrong part delivered.. BTW the dealer I use is the largest MB dealer in the Seattle area.

Second as a business owner, I like to give my customers a savings whenever possible for the simple reasons that a) it helps makes them happy, b) it saves me paperwork and c) also the inevitable issue of warranty for parts is a non-issue because I don’t sell the parts to them. I work with computer electronics, which for the 14 years I have been doing this work are still flaky often enough that I don’t want to be obligated to throw away time by offering warranty for parts. Consequently, I buy parts for my customers, using their credit card, at my choice of vendors. The customer gets billed directly, I am certain that the right parts will show up – most of the time – my scheduling is kept under my control, and the customer saves about 35% on parts. I do get paid for the time it takes to buy the parts.

And even here, if there are some related or unexpected by me parts that need changing during a project I do encourage the shop to use their own so the job can be completed on a timely basis. I don’t wish to punish the shop for my desire to save some money by demanding that i buy every part. I also understand the need for them to get the work done quickly.

This being said, IMO any shop charging ~ $90 per hour ought to make enough to pay for the tech, the lights, the taxes, the tools, and everything else and still make a good income unless they are doing something wrong. Techs don’t make anywhere near $90 per hour unless they are substantially beating the book rate at which point the shop also makes more than $90 per hour. While there is nothing wrong with adding profit by selling parts, and in fact, it is the American way -- not selling parts will not break a business. Even so the parts *must* come to a minimum specification to be worth the techs time. If a customer can supply OE parts I don’t understand why there would be an issue from the shop except for the desire of the shop owner to make more money.
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  #12  
Old 05-10-2002, 02:15 PM
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There are all ways to run a buisness and yes with the exeption like said we also mount customers tires from tire rack. We dont like to use customers parts and rarely do cause of warranty issues. Mercedes brakes are very easy , just depends on customers , do they have time or even feel like hassling with it. I see alot of older cars that DIYers are taking care of. As for late models most customers have had issues with other shops that put a bad taste in their mouth. They like us to take care of the car and make sure of no problems. If I had a customer that was online here and bought the parts from fastlane or another good source then my outlook of using their parts might be different due to them buying good parts and not hi-lo ar auto _zone parts that dont hold up or we have installation problems.
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  #13  
Old 05-10-2002, 02:31 PM
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Steve,

A few things.

1. I'm not trying to upset you. I'm simply stating my opinion. I'm not out to get anyone here...

2. You say I am intent on reducing your pay. I said, in my second post, "I have had people tell me they will charge a little more and I tell them that is fine, I understand." Again, I'm willing to pay a little extra labor if that is what is required to do business. In Tracy's post he says he charges his clients to source parts for them. That is extra labor that he makes money on. It likely makes up for money he does not make on selling parts (Tracy?). More generally, I think it is fair to say all industries are under considerable pressure from consumers and competitors alike. I do not think any "conventions" are safe and most will continue to change. I think we all benefit and we all get hurt by this change one way or another. I am in Real Estate. Although the perception is that the commission on a home sale are huge. I think most would be surprised to learn that the average brokerage nets only about $500 profit per home sale (yep, that's all). A real estate company has to sell a lot of houses to make a living. So, if you are feeling that pressure - you're not alone.

3. You talk about convention. Obviously, it is your convention you speak of. We all have a unique perspective on what convention is. Since myself and others have supplied our own part and have never gotten any push back, others must have a different convention than yours. It could vary by shop type, region or many other variables. Who knows.

4. You say "real business". Again, your definition. I'm sure the people that have done work with customers who have supplied parts for people like myself, Tracy and others consider their business real. In Tracy's case, I'm sure the MB dealer consider themselves to be a "real business".

5. Truthfully, I have never even considered the warranty question. I guess it is because I have never had an issue with it. However, in the past when I did have a mechanic install a part which later failed they have always charged for the labor to replace it but replaced the part under warranty. You obviouolsy go the extra mile for your customers and I'm sure they appreciate it. I'd use you - as long as you didn't over charge me for parts.
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Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #14  
Old 05-10-2002, 03:38 PM
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I probably need to quit on this post. It is a perspective that I am trying to give. I am not trying to change your opinion, nor am I getting upset. I didn't figure my words would stand well within the DIY section.

The fact that many have found techs that either don't care or are swayed by being a good guy into doing such poor business practices does not make the practice any more acceptable. The efficient repair is always done with me, the tech, providing the parts for many reasons. The comparisons to the computer industry or the real estate industry are inappropriate. A more appropriate comparison would be with the Medical industry where skilled practicioners would never think of letting you bring your own medicine.
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  #15  
Old 05-10-2002, 03:40 PM
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When I source parts for a customer the charge usually comes to between 15 minutes and an hour of time, give or take for the quantity and type of parts involved. If I sold the same thing I’d make a whole lot more. A 1 hour sourcing project would get many computers, network switches, printers and so on. Were I to resell these same things I’d easily make at least 2 to 3 Kilo bucks. This type of work is part of the value that I provide my customers. Case in point was yesterday when I ordered a new workstation for a customer. I spent 15 minutes on the phone and the computer will be delivered in about 4 days (free of delivery cost). The customer gets a bill from me for 15 minutes of work, the computer shows up and then I show up to set it up.

I’m not suggesting that anyone “ought to” do this; rather I’m merely pointing out that it is an option that is a win-win solution to the on going problem of parts, plus my customers absolutely love it.
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