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Acceptable Charge?

joelbjoelb Posts: 16
edited March 24 in Subaru
I received a $30 charge for "Parts Cleaner" at a Subaru dealer while getting a head gasket replaced. Is this a scam?


  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    Yeah, they're packin' you, unless they sent your cylinder head to be dunked chemically or something (that is, they're passing an outside labor expense onto you with a mark-up). If it was internal shop work, it's a pack IMO. They should charge it out as labor, not as solvent.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    they meant to say "wallet cleaner" ;)
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    Some shops charge an "environmental charge" on most replairs, but those are usually a $5 charge for disposal of heavy metals and toxic wastes.

    If you got charged $30 for parts cleaning, then they saw you coming.
    I don't know any shop that would charge that much for parts cleaning, unless they tanked a block for rebuild, but that is only for rebuilding the block.
  • cutehumorcutehumor Posts: 137
    I had my g/f car maintence taken to a local shop: spark plugs, wires, trans service and kit, valve cover gasket, pcv valve, upper and lower radiator hoses, antifreeze done. environmental charges: $2
    $545 total bill

    I go to the Pontiac dealer to have one bearing replaced and serpentine belt to be put back on. environmental charge/miscellanous/shop supplies: $18 I don't have the exact bill near me but they called it one of those items, but I thought that was kinda steep. $255 total bill.
  • 0patience0patience Posts: 1,542
    Shop supplies involves brake fluid, spray lubricants, locktite, never-seize, shop towels, disposable seat covers, disposable floor mats, cleaners and things like that.
    Those are acceptable charges and while some shops will incorporate those charges into the labor charges, some shops itemize those charges.

    Almost all shops now charge an environmental charge of $2-$5, depending on the repair.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    I hate those charges. A business should just incorporate that into labor. A good businessman knows these costs beforehand. This is just "packing" the customer. If you added up the actual usage of the items you listed on a particular car, what could it amount to, 50 cents?
    One squirt of this, 3 towels (that get cleaned anyway). As for never-seize, we all tubes of that stuff are like Tabasco sauce, with a shelf life of years. What next? Charges for water and electricity?
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Shifty says, "What next? Charges for water and electricity?"

    Why not? There are two choices: Either bury various minor costs of doing business into vague, imprecise, all-enveloping bills (that'll be $500 to fix your whatchamacallit) or break out as many of those costs as practical, so that consumers can see the 'real' labor charge, the real parts costs, the various incidentals, and so forth. Maybe it's the CPA in me, but I'd far rather get a fully-detailed bill than a single non-specific number - or even two numbers (parts & labor). To use your examples, you're paying for part of the business's electricity and water whether or not it (and other incidentals) are separately specified. If a sound method for allocating those costs to each individual job can be arrived at, how is the consumer worse off by actually seeing the detail rather than just burying it in a (bulked-up) labor charge? If one customer doesn't want the detail, he's free to ignore it and focus only on the total. If another prefers to understand the individual component charges, they're there. I'll choose the latter every time.

  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    most consumers want it detailed, even though they may not understand the details....
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    for rotating the credit cards and greasing the palms....
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    rotating the air in your tires!!

    Plus, there's the tire fluffing service I told you about a while back.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    time for my annual flush ;)
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    right next to the muffler bearings and tire air rotater kits.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    Well I see your point and it is well taken but don't you think there is a level of detail which becomes pretty clumbersome?

    Think about how cheesy it looks to charge a man who has just spent $1,500 at your shop for a "rag".

    When I go to a repair shop, I check the hourly labor rate and I compare that to what I know about flat rates and parts prices. When I see "shop fee" all I see is a charge on top of a charge. It feels like "stacking" and that's exactly what I believe it is.

    If you have to "stack" to make your profit you might as well stop [non-permissible content removed]-footing and just raise your labor rate $1 or whatever.

    It's just a kind of jive, isn't it, I mean really? I charge $50 and hour, the shop down the street $60, but when you get my bill (having come to me because of my attractive pricing) I hit you with rags fees, nuts and bolts, and a bathroom cleaning charge?

    Sorry to be so petulant about this but it doesn't sit right with me.

    Environmental fees might be okay, especially if there is a big notice plastered on the shop wall explaining that this will be added.

    I'm tempted sometimes to tell the shop "I'll bring my own rags, they are the same as yours, and you can KEEP them, too, when you're done".
  • zueslewiszueslewis Posts: 2,353
    I agree with you completely. In Oregon, for instance (I was a service advisor/manager at a Chevy store), we HAD to list an environmental disposal fee because DEQ said so. Weird.

    When I open my own shop, I won't break things down to the penny - I hate it, in fact. If someone asks where I came up with my per hour labor rate, I'll be glad to explain it.

    Then, if that doesn't work, the person should go to his family doctor or dentist and ask for an explanation of charges about a minor procedure.
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Shifty says, "Think about how cheesy it looks to charge a man who has just spent $1,500 at your shop for a "rag"."

    I just don't get your point. Bill "A" says"
    Parts: $1,000 Labor: $500 Total: $1,500

    Bill "B" says" Parts: $1,000 Labor: $499 Rag: $1.00 Total: $1,500

    Where's the beef?

    Unless you can establish that the shop(s) which break out the detail are charging a larger BOTTOM LINE than those that lump all the minor stuff into a vague, undefined 'labor' charge, then there is no point to your point. But if that's the case (higher total prices at the shops which fully detail their charges) then customers will flock to the lower-priced shop.

    So long as the total charge is the same between shop "A" and shop "B", I as the customer would far rather see the detail making up the total than see the SAME total lumped into one or two broad categories.

  • armtdmarmtdm Posts: 2,057
    How much should parts be marked up by independent shops that carry no inventory, just make a phone call and the part is delivered and they mark it up 50-100 % on the customer bill. Is that fair. Labor is not enough, if they kept the inventory yea, a markup is needed., to make a phone call, some markup but not what they do!!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    $30 to clean the heads is reasonable, maybe they just didn't label it the way they should have.

  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    say what you mean, and mean what you say, is still good policy.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,644
    Look, let's just come out and say it. Those "rag fees" are just a skim. Everybody knows that. They charge a rag fee on jobs where they don't even use a rag.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    wildly flailing for words.... gasping... uncontrollable twitching... how could this happen?
This discussion has been closed.