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Environmental Fee Ripoff?

My dealer has started charging a 5% “environmental fee” on all repairs. This included a rear brake show/drum/wheel cylinder replacement, which I doubt involved significant hazardous waste disposal. Is this a ripoff, or a legit charge? Is $ 700 a fair price for this repair on a 2004 Taurus?

An environmental fee on all repairs is rather curious, but so long as you knew about it and it was not a surprise at check out time, I guess it is legit. He can structure his fees any way he likes so long as the customers keep coming back.

For shoes/drums/cylinders, his cost on parts was about $150 so he should have charged you around $200-$220 for parts. Are you sure that replacing those parts and flushing the brake fluid was all they did? If you really needed new cylinders on an '04, then I am guessing that you live in a wet area and you have never flushed your brake fluid, so there were probably other things needed. If that was really all they did, then I would say that $700 was a little steep. $500 should have easily covered it. I would not go back.

New Jersey? I would first check that it is not a new state tax. Your state is bankrupt and looking for money any way they can. Open up that wallet, Taurus Driver!

If it is not, then you may want to shop around to some independent shops next time. Price sounds high.

I wish my opinion about a business being allowed to structure their fees as they wish was as unmolested as yours is appearing to be.

The environmental fee situation is a pass on, meaning they get charged, you get charged, I suggest you let your local people know you do not like business being burdened with this fee as they are passing it on to customers, good luck with that one.

If they presented you an estimate of total cost before repair does it really matter?

The numbers get worked in all different ways. However in the end it should be in check with the estimate provided before repair started.

It’s partly excess money gouging but there was brake fluid, rags with brake fluid on them and the asbestos to deal with. Even if the brake shoes weren’t organic they probably have to treat the job the same way.

The $700 is fair if it included drum replacement. Drum prices could be $90 each.

Some shops charge an additional “enviro/shop supplies” fee. Some shops just raise the parts and labor by 5%.

Things have changed…used to be brake dust just got swept out the back door or thrown in the garbage. Used brake fluid got dumped on the floor and down the drain, along with old anti-freeze. Used oil filters were thrown in the dumpster. Now, brake dust is kept to a minimum with dedicated brake washing equipment that needs to be serviced regularly. Used fluid is stored and sent to be recycled. Used oil filters are crushed to be recycled. Some shops just do this because they are responsible, others do it because their locality mandates it. At any rate, these are all things that cost money one way or another. The shop is just passing on the cost to the end user.

Personally, I prefer to just see a hike in the basic labor rate, but the shop wants to give the appearance of being competitive.

As for prices, list prices for the work you describe using Motorcraft parts comes to about $360.00. Another $300 for labor seems a bit high to me but I don’t know what the prevailing labor rate is where you live.

For years many shops have charged an environmental or shop supplies charge. It’s nothing new and entirely legit.
Some states may actually mandate this.

The price could be about right but a lot depends on where you live. Some parts of the country have shop rates that are double compared to other parts of the country.

In OK anyone who buys a tire gets hit with a state mandated 2.00 per tire Enviro charge at a minimum. The larger the rim diameter the higher the charge and motorcycle tires are higher than car tires.
Even worse, if you move to OK and go to title and tag your car here you will be charged a tire disposal fee even during that procedure even though you are buying no tires and even if the car you’re tagging is brand new.

This law was enacted, theoretically, to provide a means for safe tire disposal to prevent old tires from being dumped into the creekbeds or along the roadside.
Unfortunately, some companies take the fees and dump the tires anyway. There’s a dirt road out in the boondocks where I sometimes go to do target shooting and about a year or so ago someone dumped a load, or loads, of old tires in the ditch. There’s about 150 yards worth of old tires strewn along there.

About 7 or 8 years ago a tire disposal company got caught (eventually) after they dumped something like 100,000 tires into a stream bed. This was only discovered after a lightning strike set some of them on fire but the company was only slapped on the wrist for this.

Why worry about it. Does it really make any difference what someone says is the reason for what they are going to charge you when the bottom line is the same.

Just look at the bottom line.  If you do this, you will likely find that going to a dealer is far more expensive than your local INDEPENDENT mechanic and the independent may well do a better job than the dealer.  

Shop around and save.  

    Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

The shop I worked at in the mid 90’s charged for hazardous waste disposal, they charged 5% on parts with a $7 maximum charge.

“Environmental” fee
"Shop supplies"
It’s all the same on the business end.

---- You can NOT divide this expense down one job at a time, some more , some less. It is a non-defineable monthly expense that that shop pays out accross the board to maintain and remove all the ‘stuff’ the shop generates in all operations.
We pay out massive amounts to companies like Safety Kleen and Mesa Environmental for which we must make up for the expense. And the very best way, business wise, is to divy it up a little at a time for everyone.

$700 bucks should have been enough to cover all the shops expenses, environmental or otherwise…How many miles on this car?? For a FWD car to EVER need new rear drums is pretty rare…If the STATE imposes a 5% environmental tax on repair shops, that’s one thing, but if the shop has dreamed this “fee” up on their own, then it’s just added profit, and in your case, on top of an already very healthy profit margin…

The OP has a two part question and does not give enough info to know if 700 dollars is ok for the brake job. ( I see 300 dollars in Ford dealer full list price OE parts which can easily be had for less. )

  • but -

Adding the enviro fee is a generic operation of the billing system in the front office and is applied to all customers.

It’s six of one, half dozen of the other. There is a multitude of shop expenses involved that the customer never sees or thinks about and someone has to pay for it or it just won’t happen.

The shop can charge 70 dollars a flat rate hour and 5 dollars for enviro/shop expense fees or they can charge 75 an hour with no enviro/shop fees.

It’s no different than many other businesses. Even the state tag agent charges a 3.5% “shop fee” if you use a debit card to pay for your license plate.

Dealers I’ve worked for generally tacked on a 2.5% fee for shop expenses and it covered a lot of things from the occasional wire connector to partial use of a can of aerosol carb cleaner, etc. With VWs and a few others, etc. this also covered the cost of valve shims for valve lash adjustment. There was a kit with an assortment of shims and rather than bill the customer for shims they were simply substituted out and no-charged.

It’s unusual that an '04 Taurus would need drums and wheel cylinders but the details behind that are not known. If the car has seen a lot of hard use or the park brake cable has been hanging then it’s possible that worn shoes could have shredded the drums to the point where the pistons are coming out of the cylinders.

These environmental charges should NEVER be a percentage of the bill. The shops I deal with Have a charge for coolant disposition, oil and filter disposition, tire disposal, all legitimate and goverment approved!.

I would refuse to deal with a shop that just slapped on a %, regardless of the total bill or disposable items used.

I can understand the environmental fee on stuff like Brake fluid or oil.

I can’t understand for things like Rotors. The mechanics here actually make money. Some sell it to a few of the local guys that go around picking up the metal. Others sell just sell it to one of the metal yards around.

I remember the days when we were paid a small amount for our drain oil, now (in the last shop I worked) we had to pay someone to take it away, things change.