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Acceptable Charge?

joelbjoelb Posts: 16
edited March 2014 in Subaru
I received a $30 charge for "Parts Cleaner" at a Subaru dealer while getting a head gasket replaced. Is this a scam?

Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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 Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    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 Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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.

    jb
  • 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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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.

    jb
  • 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.

    -juice
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    say what you mean, and mean what you say, is still good policy.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    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?
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Shifty insists, "Look, let's just come out and say it. Those "rag fees" are just a skim. Everybody knows that. "

    If the repair from shop A, which buries incidental charges into labor (as you apparently prefer) has the same identical bottom line total cost as the repair from shop B, which breaks out solvents, rags, environmental charges, and other items into separate lines, then how can you possibly say that shop B is skimming? I think that is an offensive statement without any basis in fact.

    jb
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well if your hypothetical situation were an actual fact, then I couldn't, nor wouldn't say that, no. That would indeed be offensive.

     Now remember, I was just talking about the rag fee, okay?

    Let me pose a hypothetical question to you. What if say a fancy restaurant presented you with a "napkin fee" for your meal? Do you find this charge in any way similar to this rag fee business?
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Shifty says, "What if say a fancy restaurant presented you with a "napkin fee" for your meal? Do you find this charge in any way similar to this rag fee business?"

    Exactly the same - and my response also is exactly the same: What matters is the total cost. If fancy restaurant A charges $35 for a 6-course meal, and the fancy place across the street charges $30 plus $3 for the tablecloth plus $2 for napkins, for what is otherwise the identical meal, WHY WOULD YOU CARE? You're going to pay $35 either way.

    The basis for your annoyance at the more granular breakdown of a total that is exactly the same as a single sum completely escapes me.

    jb
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,560
    most people probably don't realize the bottom line is the same. I agree...slapping on miscellaneous charges like a "rag fee", "napkin charge" or whatever just looks like they're trying to nickel and dime you to death, or bleed every last penny out of you. It comes off as trifling.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    (I deleted my original post, and reposted with a couple of changes)

    For me, when I see a charge of a 'rag-type fee' in my bill, it comes across as the dealer trying 'nickel & dime' you. I agree with Shifty, it's all a part of the cost of doing business, and I'd rather see that line item be buried in the total bill. I know that rags and oil are going to be used, but I don't need to be reminded of what those items cost. All it does is to set the stage for an argument with the dealer. My wife's a perfect example. Whenever she sees that line 'rag-charge' line item, she's set to launch herself at the dealer. It doesn't make her happy to see that charge broken out, instead, it makes her furious. I think for most people, it's really counter-productive for the dealer to show that line item. I really do. For me (and my wife), the bottom line is all that counts. I'm really not interested in every little single line item to be shown.

    Jack, the 'CPA' in you is indeed showing. :)

    Bob
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Bob says, "I'd rather see that line item be buried in the total bill. I know that rags and oil are going to be used, but I don't need to be reminded of what those items cost."

    ????? Does it bother your wife when the car insurance bill arrives listing $300 for liability, $100 for collision, $50 for medical, $35 for uninsured-motorist, and $15 for comprehensive, totalling $500? Would she really prefer that the insurer just sent a single line: 'Car Insurance: $500'?

    When she goes to the grocery store and runs here cart through the checkout stand, would she really rather be handed a 1-inch-long receipt saying 'Groceries - $58.75' - or does she want a slip showing each item she's paying for? My wife wants the latter - but she's a CPA, too, so I guess that explains it.

    Sorry...I just can't identify with the rag-charge breakdown. I will always prefer a more detailed statement. If I'm interested, I can review it. If you're not, you can skip straight to the bottom line. How it can somehow be worse to provide the detail utterly escapes me.

    jb
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    We're talking about rags...

    Should the dealer subtract the amount of time the mechanic takes to go to the bathroom while working on my car, or how many paper towels he used to wash his hands, and subtract and/or add that from my labor bill? I mean, really, how detailed do you need to be??

    Sorry, I don't buy your argument for the need of full disclosure of absolutely everything. Neither does my wife, or most people for that matter.

    Bob
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    "We're talking about rags...I mean, really, how detailed do you need to be?? Sorry, I don't buy your argument for the need of full disclosure of absolutely everything. Neither does my wife, or most people for that matter."

    So when you go through the grocery checkout, you'd rather the 50-cent cost of the rags you're buying (paper towels) be buried - along with the rest of the 'detail' - into a single bottom-line charge? Grocery stores have ALWAYS provided every single detail of what you're purchasing, down to the last penny. I've been on this planet for 59 years, and I've never heard even one single complaint about that. Now a few repair shops begin to make small moves in that direction, and somehow it generates controversy and even criticism? Egad.

    jb
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    ballistic---I should have posed my question a bit differently.

    If you ate in a fancy restaurant and they presented you with an additional "napkin fee" how would you FEEL about that, even IF you knew the charge was totally righteous? "Zee bill, monsieur, iz $190 for you and zee lovely lady...and...oh...zoot alors!...I am forgetting zee napkin charge for .15 cents!"

    My "problem" is the complete "cheesiness" of the gesture. I feel it breeds suspicion in the customer who, regrettably, is alreadya bit too suspicious of car dealerships. E.G.===>

    4 new hi performance tires = $1,000
    60,000 mile service = $585
    rag fee = $1.35

    I just don't think business practices like this help customer relations at all. It seems awkward and unprofessional...the rags I mean.

    EPA, etc might be a different matter -- not that I think EPA type charges should show, either, but at least the customer feels better about paying an EPA charge than a "rag" fee, seems to me.

    Anyone share this attitude with me?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    somebody probably got backed into a corner by SuperActionNewsHometownEyewitnessTeam 83, and their lawyer said to break out the disposeables fee, and it got to the regional service meeting roundtable, and there 'y' go.

    the safe thing to do when presented with the existence of lawyers is to document everything. but I do have some problems with the metal tags pop-riveted to the sidewalls of my tires saying "do not puncture"...
  • ken_from_njken_from_nj Posts: 105
    just because it is friday afternoon and not much else on my plate i'll throw in my 2 cents. in my business, containerized ocean freight, extra surcharges are common. some customers like them, some hate them and only want a bottom line figure. Businesses will always use surcharges to their advantage and once implemented and relatively accepted within a particular market, they NEVER seem to go away - even if the actual 'cost' associated behind the surcharge reduces. A business will happily just keep charging & collecting so long as no one challenges them on it or it doesn't become a competitive factor to gaining business. The charge often becomes a revenue or (and if they can control costs better) a profit maker. For example, we now charge a US Port Security charge in the C.America/Caribe to/from USA trades. post 9/11 sure there have been security improvements to some us seaports but those costs are not constant however the charge is. now presumably the future will also probably
    dictate the need for more cost/expenses on security infrastructure especially as newer & more demanding legislation is passed in these areas but in the meantime - do you think my company is going to say out of their own good graces. "mr customer, i know we had to pass on the xtra expenses incurred for security upgrades via this surcharge however now that we installed all the xtra lighting & fencing and other things and our expenses are no longer very high - i am now removing the previously instated surcharge" NOT!!! ok - i'm rambling but bottom line on the line item charges - once instated - rarely removed. oh yeah, and in reference to the grocery list - that pint of ben & jerry's i bought at the store, although showing on my list for 3.99 - that 3.99 is not broken down into old B&J's actual costs of raw materials, manufacture, packaging, lighting, rent, transportation, storage, advertising, etc etc of all the things it takes to get B&J to the shelf for me to buy - it just says 3.99 - everyone ideally is getting their cut & covering their expenses and making profit along the way. if not, then i couldn't buy that pint for 3.99. ok, i'll be quiet now - ken
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,788
    I've pretty agreed with most of your posts to date. Here, however, I think you've gone off the deep end.

    Bob
  • ballisticballistic Posts: 1,687
    Shifty says, ""Zee bill, monsieur, iz $190 for you and zee lovely lady...and...oh...zoot alors!...I am forgetting zee napkin charge for .15 cents!"

    If my wife found out I had a $190 dinner with a lovely lady, I'd have a much bigger problem than the extra 15-cents...

    jb
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    every time some little silly requirement comes out... provide customers rubber boots when they go to the john, fuel surcharges, per-stop inspection service fees that pay for the city inspectors, and all the myriad nonsense and folderol that flies over the transom or crawls up the sewer in trying to run a business... you don't have to reprogram the computer and repaint the "10 most common" pricing sign, you can just add the latest nonsense as a line item.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    Since this subject was brought up, I had asked several shop owners about what charges they add.
    A few said that they added the EPA(environmental) charge and a shop supplies charge or combined those two charges. Some had tried to itemize the shop charges for folks, but met with some staunch critisism and reverted back to the shop supplies charge.
    Now they ALL say that there is a big sign in most their shops about standard charges and that they go over those standard charges with the customer before they start, which they say is the key to not having an unhappy customer.

    ballistic,
    So when you go through the grocery checkout, you'd rather the 50-cent cost of the rags you're buying (paper towels) be buried - along with the rest of the 'detail' - into a single bottom-line charge? Grocery stores have ALWAYS provided every single detail of what you're purchasing, down to the last penny. I've been on this planet for 59 years, and I've never heard even one single complaint about that.
    That is interesting, because some years back, a certain major grocery store started charging 5 cents per large paper bag unannounced and there was far more than a single complaint on that one.
    They then went to an announced 5 cents per bag, which still met with resistance and then finally to a deal where if you bring the paper bag back, they discount 5 cents per bag that they used your returned bag.
    So, yes there has been the same type of thing in grocery stores and yes, it met with the same critisism.
  • dcm61dcm61 Posts: 1,564
    Actually, a grocery store receipt is NOT any more detailed than a car repair receipt. The grocery store simply lists the stores TOTAL cost of "parts" which includes the labor and related overhead to sell those "parts"; they don't include a breakdown of 5 cents for "clean up on aisle 5". An auto repair receipt also lists the TOTAL cost of the parts which includes the labor and overhead (yes, even the rag to clean up the leaking oil bottle) to sell the parts.

    For installed parts, the auto repair receipt includes a labor element to install the parts. Grocery store "take out" food (sandwich, barbequed chicken, salad bar, etc.) equates to installing a collection of parts but they do not itemize the labor charge to prepare the food on your grocery bill, they simply roll it into the "parts" cost. If this same grocery store scenario would carry over to the auto repair business, you would simply have a bill that says water pump $300. But, an auto repair receipt does detail the parts and labor so it really says parts: water pump $95, gasket $5, labor to install water pump: $250.

    Not trying to argue but, in my opinion, an auto repair bill is already more detailed than a grocery bill. Would you prefer that the grocery store A) itemize a take out sandwich: bread (2 slices @ 20 cents each), mayo (10 cents), ham (.20 lbs @ $5.59/lb.), lettuce (2 leaves @ 5 cents each), provolone cheese (2 1 oz. slices @ 10 cents each), sandwich wrap (1 @ 5 cents), plastic gloves (2 cents), paper towel (1 cents), disinfectant (1 cents), etc, etc.or B) ham sandwich $4.50? I'd prefer B. Note, in my example A and B don't add up but you get the point. As other people have stated, the more detail you go into, I starts to look like nickel and dimeing.

    DaveM
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    There was a guy (prankster) who would put on a fake uniform and go up to tourists on the Golden Gate Bridge and tell them that if they were taking pictures of the bridge there was a .35 cent "photo fee". (He was recording this for a radio show).

    When they protested, he would explain that the bridge was nicely painted, so that it would look good in their photos and that this was a "big job" and the tolls really didn't cover it.

    Some went nuts on him but more than a few coughed it up once they heard the "logic" of it.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    we have a big "T" for transit sign at bus stops in the twin cities. I have told several newcomers that means "taxes," and when government runs low, they send a bunch of folks out to the bench. if you see 'em there, you have to stop and give each one ten bucks, it's the law.

    nobody bit. can't see how some nutcase with a headset on for WAKO radio can get it done.
This discussion has been closed.