An elderly woman took her car to a local dealership because the interior lights were not working. A few hours later, she received a call from her service advisor. He explained in detail that she had encountered a difficult electrical problem and that it was going to take longer than expected. A large portion of its interior would need to be removed to access some wiring harnesses.
She proceeded to authorize 4 hours of diagnostic time to investigate why her interior light was not working. Several hours later she received another call from her service advisor. Finally, they had discovered the root cause. A corroded wire in a control module connector was the culprit. Fortunately, the control module did not need to be replaced, which would have been over $3000 including parts, tax and labor.
However, to fix the wiring and remove and reassemble all the necessary interior components would cost $1500. She accepted the charges and was relieved that “that was it.”
what really happened
The above story sounds perfectly plausible, doesn’t it? You may be surprised to find out what really happened… The Inner Light Problem was examined by a technician. This is what you should have done:
- First: make sure the interior light switch is on (it was).
- Second: check if the interior light fuse had blown (it had).
The fuse was the cause of the problem – a 15 cent fuse that is quick to check and easy to replace.
Instead, the technician literally spent hours working on the problem. He reviewed the wiring diagrams. He traced wiring harnesses, consulted technical manuals, and pulled out various interior components to search for the source of the problem. After 15 hours, he finally thought to check the fuse and found the problem. 15 hours to find a blown fuse!
This is an outrageous amount of time and was a direct result of the technician’s incompetence.
The repair should have taken 15 minutes, not 15 hours!
However, the technician expected his 15 hour salary. The service advisor made up the detailed and elaborate electrical history he just read, as well as the “lucky” savings to cover the technician’s time; the duty manager did not care about this disappointment.
The old woman was charged $1500, not because she was old or because her car was older, but because situations like this happen every day in every type of service center in the automotive service industry. It is normal!
I use this “real life” example (one of many) to illustrate that price gouging (car repair scams) is extremely common and can get quite elaborate.
The unfortunate truth is that these scams happen EVERY DAY, and there is little “accurate” information to not only prevent you from getting scammed, but to STOP getting scammed altogether!