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Right To Repair - A Hot Issue or Big Problem?

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    There is a difference between saving a buck out of need, and someone doing what he did. Let's just say you would have had to be here and experience the situation in order to comprehend what transpired.

    Diagnostic fee's don't cover the real costs of providing the level of service that we offer. Thank pricing pressure from all of the other things that go on around the trade. Without the repairs we didn't make enough money to justify even bothering trying. It's no wonder other shops go on gravy hunts and try to sell all kinds of services.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,261
    edited April 2012
    The human brain gravitates toward hope. This is why all the health quacks in America make so much money.

    If YOU tell him it will cost $300 to repair his car and the kid behind the counter at Autozone tells him "it's just a fuse", then the kid will be believed in most cases.

    Worse yet, when you are proved right and the kid wrong, they'll still go back anytime they need to hear what they need to hear.

    I call this "faith-based" mechanics, and you'll never be able to shake some people by the shoulders and tell them to "think rationally".

    It's also based on a concept I call "uniform authority" (as in wearing a uniform or possessing some symbol of authority). That big shiny tow truck MUST mean that the driver is well-informed, no?

    There was an interesting study on this---college students were dressed 50/50---some in white lab coats, others in street clothes, and told to read test subjects some "facts"---some of which were true and some not.

    The kids in the lab coats got a much higher rate of believe from the test subjects.

    Over the phone, "we" have little authority.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    edited April 2012
    It's no wonder other shops go on gravy hunts and try to sell all kinds of services.

    I see posts around here all too often where the car owner is looking for any kind of advice so they can avoid going to the dealer or a mechanic at all costs.

    The bad apples have pretty much made most people suspicious of your profession.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,261
    This bad reputation goes back to postwar america in the late 1940s, when new cars were scarce, and every huckster, gangster and scam artist got into the automobile business.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    edited April 2012
    There's a guy around here who did (apparently good) work for my mother in law a few months back. Met a sheriff's deputy a couple of weeks ago and happened to get on the subject of mechanics, and he said the guy was under investigation for defrauding people. And the guy has left town.

    No wonder people want the car or a plug-in computer to tell them what needs to be fixed instead of a real person. :sick:

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/competitiveness-cant-substitute-for-crea- tivity/1226643

    We take a totally different approach than our "competitiors" do, but few bother to see the difference.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,261
    well it must not be different enough then, because people would notice, say, the difference between Paypal and Western Union right away.

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    Maybe you should team up with your competitors instead. Let everyone specialize in what they do best, and have some kind of profit sharing to spread the revenues. Hire one guy with a truck to tow the dead vehicles between the shops.

    Darwin really wasn't about the survival of the fittest - the species that cooperated the best survived the best.

    I can't wait to see what the anti-trust crowd says when every independent shop in your county gets together under one umbrella. :)

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,261
    How 'bout an auto repair business that houses different businesses under one roof? You have a huge airplane hanger with specialists for Japanese, German, American makes (or whatever), then a radiator shop, AC specialist, car audio, upholstery, body shop, auto parts, 4X4 off roading, you name it. The various business co-own the entire property, share ideas, help each other out, trade customers. A governing board made up of reps from each business get to screen the credentials of all newcomers. When you leave, you sell your "share" back to the co-op.

    One stop shopping.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    Maybe you should team up with your competitors instead. Let everyone specialize in what they do best, and have some kind of profit sharing to spread the revenues. Hire one guy with a truck to tow the dead vehicles between the shops.

    I'll give you a day to think about what actually happens if someone actually tries to set this up.

    Hint: Think cut-throat, and consumers rewarding the shop who boasts the cheapest price with their business whether they are tooled and trained to do the work or not. Essentially it's why so many are looking at R2R to save them from the way they have run their shops for the last twenty years......

    I can't wait to see what the anti-trust crowd says when every independent shop in your county gets together under one umbrella.

    Never going to see that happen, the shop owners each think they are the best that they can be, and that everyone else doesn't know what they are doing. They will all fail together because they have been trained to try and stand alone. Outside market pressures are only ensuring that none will escape unharmed.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    edited April 2012
    I went to the five videos on YouTube that the group has posted - looks like they blocked comments there as well.

    "The auto repair bill is one of the most fiercely lobbied proposals on Beacon Hill, with more than two dozen organizations and companies employing twice as many legislative agents on their behalf."

    Fierce lobbying - must be a whole lot of money at stake. :-)

    Senate accelerates right-to-repair bill (lowellsun.com)

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    I just watched the video on the R2R site.
    http://massrighttorepair.com/
    There are some parts of it that I find to be a little disturbing and in need of correction. It isn’t the manufacturers who are advising shops and technicians to specialize in a limited number of makes; it’s your fellow tradesmen who are making that recommendation.
    For anyone who still thinks that they can do all makes and models they need to sit down and make an honest assessment of just what that would really demand of their shop and their technicians. As a full time technician and a part time instructor I study more than anyone can imagine. Getting all of the information in my hands to concentrate on just the big seven manufacturers that I support fully in my shop right now has proven to me beyond any doubt that today there is just too much to have to study and learn in order to be genuinely proficient on even that many vehicles. That means I have to decide which manufacturers are no longer going to receive full O.E. level support in my shop, and which ones I’ll continue with my present program.
    Now that doesn’t mean that certain services with specific nameplates won’t be performed here, but it does mean that I have to pick and choose carefully what I will do and what I won’t, and that isn’t as much by my own choice as it is in looking out for my customers best interests.
    By the way,
    The trend for dissenting posts to be deleted from this site is also a problem so note this post is also being posted on the Edmunds.com forum here.
    http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f117d5f/498?@guest@
    You can of course delete this off of your facebook page and likely block me as you have done to others, but is it really in the consumer’s best interest to do that? I don’t believe that is in the consumer’s best interest to try and censor professional insights. The consumer’s need to be informed about the technology that is in their cars and about the changes that technology is causing inside the auto repair trade. When it comes to owning the O.E. scan tools that is a financial burden that some shops and technicians stepped up and took a professional approach towards and yes it currently reflects tens of thousands of dollars of investment per manufacturer that has routinely been avoided by the majority of shops. At the same time (the last fifteen years or so) those same shops who didn’t embrace the need for the O.E. tools have typically done a poor job when it comes to attending sufficient continuing education. Now that’s not saying they didn’t attend any training but few if any technicians have attended enough training to be proficient at a dealership level on any one manufacturers vehicles as compared to a dealership technician, and no-one not even I have attended enough to be proficient at all makes and models. Continuing to attempt to have an all makes, all models approach would make Don Quixote look like a slacker.
    The promise of a more generic platform for a scan tool and flashing capability is the one facet of all of this that has an appeal to it, that is if it would indeed be plausible. Unfortunately the march of technology has already made it apparent that trying to tie the industry to some single platform will only cause heartache as the J2534 protocol is limited in scale and speed and it fell behind what is currently used by a number of manufacturers more than five years ago. I’ll be the first to say I wish a single interface would work, that would have saved me a fortune that I wish I had a way to get back today. But because of my current multi-manufacturer investment and experience I can see why J2534 simply isn’t capable of living up to the dream.
    The expense of tooling up for as many makes as I did is prohibitive and it was a bad idea to even try. No one will attend enough training to be proficient in more than a few brands. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do that, let alone the financial resources that such an undertaking would require. A tool that works on everything even if it was plausible can’t make up for the gap in training that would still exist and we owe it to our customers to come to grips with and be honest with them about that.
    More Later.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    Fierce lobbying - must be a whole lot of money at stake

    Yea, way more money than what the auto repair trade itself represents. Basically nobody gives a damn about the corner garage, so whatever they are after has to be worth a lot more than that.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,261
    so then why didn't you like the "automotive supermarket" idea? It solves that very issue.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    The automotive supermarket idea would in fact cause simply another version of why I came to this site the very first time. Shops are struggling with the cost of trying to keep pace with technology. Trying to build a big shop like you reference would require a substantial cash flow and that would only be possible with less experienced technicians selling and performing a lot of basic maintanence services. Just like the dealerships that Mr. Reed and NBC targeted last year. That is something that not only can get out of control easily (as they proved) , it has a tendency to (at least for a while) reward the practice of only doing "flushes" and leaving the more difficult work to a handful of senior technicians who surprisingly often get the short end of the stick when diagnostics are not charged for correctly and so in return aren't paid correctly for taking the time that is really necessary to perform all of the steps in a disciplined manner.

    Mr Kinsman has contacted me and is promising to get me even more in depth information about what their one size fit's all scan tool should be able to do. I hope I will also get to see first hand what some of the costs would be. But, and it's a big one. Even if they can build a great tool that has some durability that still won't address the education gap.

    BTW my Carvoyant demo came today. I'll see exactly what it can do in short order.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,261
    edited April 2012
    I'm not following your logic. If a certain specialist is a highly trained and successful tech, running a successful shop, then why can 10 specialists run 10 successful shops? They are merely in the same location. Nothing else has to change.

    I'm on the beta list for Carvoyant, too. Lemme know how it goes!

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    There is a side to all of this that is likely not apparent to many techs and shops who's concentration is primarily focused on simply serving their customers needs day in and day out. As some point out development on 2015's is already completed and the 16's and 17's are well on their way. We (I) experienced the nightmare of purchasing tools like the StarScan first hand when we stepped up and bought the tool only to have it be superceeded twice before we even made the last payment on it. To date it hasn't even retuned a quarter of it's cost and that's not counting the time that was required to use it. When Chrysler was selling it, someone already knew it was a lame duck but they sold it anyway.

    New vehicles today contain the capability of circumventing us and the dealers as well with the wireless technology that is being built right into the cars. Where at one time doing reflashes and module setups were part of the revenue streams that compensated shops for making the required investment in tools and software it's already being phased out of our future business plans. As people move towards one side of this debate or the other they all need to recognize any "tool" today will have a limited lifespan as the technology in the cars continues to advance at a ever faster rate. OBDII is going on tewnty years old. OBDIII technically already exists but it hides under names like Sync and On-Star (among others). As a shop owner/technician my greatest concern is that I may yet again purchase another tool that someone else knows is already outdated. Maybe it will fill a lot of gaps for many shops on vehicles up to a given model year and we all need to know exactly what year that is, or will be. No matter what the lifespan of the "tool" must be made clear for shops and techs to make informed decisions.
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    http://www.wickedlocal.com/chelmsford/news/x1976919203/Fargo-Senators-seem-unsur- e-about-auto-repair-bill#axzz1tGbhhjCx

    Thank goodness that when a bill is pushed hard enough, the smart people stop in order to have time to try and make sure they know what they are being told is correct.

    BTW did you know an amendment was added exempting motorcycles?
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    And it gives the pols time to collect more lobbying money for their re-election campaigns. :P

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  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    edited April 2012
    I'd be curious to know who the attorney author's clients are. He does intellectual property work; something tells me he's working for the automakers, not the big box parts retailers he derides.

    The details he understands are likely spelled out on his invoices, LOL.

    Good stuff, keep it coming. I guess you saw the Technicans against RtoR Facebook page linked in the comments to that article.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    Well let's just say that's the crowd I usually hang out with.....
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    edited May 2012
    Since you have so much leisure time ( ;) ) you may want to check out this new discussion:

    A Mechanic's Life - Tales From Under the Hood

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    I'll let everyone else play on that one for now. Some days we walk out the door feeling good about what we have accomplished. There are many others have a way of making that impossible, even when we did everything the absolute best that we could. If only we could do this without actually needing to earn a living... :(
  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    Well that's what I was afraid I would see in that thread. It didn't take long for words like greed and selfishness to show up and of course we have the perception that someone elses's financial situation somehow changes our daily needs. There are a few references to how costly it is to run a shop today, and about what a tech has to invest in his/her tools. I'm not sure how much we really want to talk about that aspect of our jobs anyway for security reasons.

    If I threw into the mix the challenges that my wife and I have and are facing, people would be inclined to tell us we are responsible for ourselves, which I agree with. We are responsible for ourselves and our situation and to that end take a proactive approach to dealing with her problem. When someone who is going through a tough time expects us to carry part of their load too, they don't really understand what they are asking of us.

    My wife has never worked outside of the business that I built and the position I created for her. She has Epilepsy that is bad enough to prevent her from being employable. Yet with me being self employe'd isn't eligible for disability or any assistance. They treat her like she is a stay at home mom. Currently she takes clusters of seizures about every three weeks that last 24-36 hours. With a recent study just concluded she is scheduled for surgery to try and help her but not until September as they have a waiting list and can only handle two patients a week. The plan is to attach electrodes directly to her brain,and hopefully pinpoint the part of her right temporal lobe that initiates the seizures. If they can find the spot and feel that it's safe to try they will remove that section of her brain.

    Now we never went on a honeymoon when we got married. Her epilepsy started when she was expecting our daughter and we only went on one vacation in 32 years and that was for four days. We don't own a big house (two bedroom, one bath, about 900 sq/ft) so we don't live beyond our means. But when someone acts like we owe them something because things aren't going easy for them, we just don't have anything left to even try. All we can do is the best we can to be ready to try and repair their car and that is a huge investment each year. When someone price pressures us, or thinks we are supposed to give away my time or knowledge they just don't know what they are asking. Then to deal with the perceptions that suggest that there is an element of greed or selfishness like you already are, and will see in that thread, well now you know why I don't feel like getting involved there.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,273
    Sorry about your wife - medical issues are tough.

    Did you really read the discussion? The greed comments were mostly about the customers, not the techs.

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  • thecardoc3thecardoc3 Posts: 1,526
    I'll read it again, and see if my perception of what is there changes. However "Mostly" still means some are aimed at the techs, and since I tend to expect to see that......
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,261
    the comments were actually in defense of those accusations, and to present that the mechanic's time is not to be squandered.

    The conclusion I came to reading the comments was that a little "goodwill" generosity makes good business sense and that most of the reputation for greed comes from the habits of service writers. The line mechanic does not make these decisions.

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