Knock against the chains

It seems like many here have issue with the chain repair places like CarX, Aamco, Meinike and such. I was wondering why that is? I have been to all throughout my car owning lifetime and have never had issue with any outside of Firestone and Pep Boys.

You may not be aware of it, but it is very likely that you paid much more for repairs at those venues than you would have paid at other repair places. Without specifics, it is difficult to comment.

It’s because these chains and franchise operations frequently use bait and switch advertising and almost always try to up-sell customers into buying extra, unneeded services. Aamco’s transgressions are legendary. It’s amazing they can remain in business using that name…Few of them employ mechanics who are qualified to perform complex or difficult repairs. They generally specialize in brakes, shocks, struts, mufflers, quick, high-profit work that can be performed by medium skill employees. When they get in over their heads, they send you packing with something like “We have found some problems that will require a visit to your dealer to fix. Only they have the necessary tools and parts to do this job. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you”…That’s why.

Not all chains are the same. I find the company-owned Goodyear locations are more trustworthy than the franchises. With franchises, there is less oversight.

Personally I don’t subscribe to the point of view that chains are bad. I have met independent mechanics who were just as untrustworthy as some dealership service departments and some chains. No one type of business has a monopoly on dishonesty.

Many of the chain shops operate with a business model of hiring inexpensive help and train them to “push sales and services”. Their business model is built on being able to tolerate a certain number of engine failures/year. The important thing is to keep customers coming through the door and sell them as much as possible while their car is in there.

The shops that get the bad rap fall into the above business model, and many of them tend to be chains.

The more reputable shops tend to be the ones where the local management cares about its customers. You’ll find a higher grade of trained help at these shops and they tend to sell you only what your car needs. They’re building a customer base that keeps coming back. A large percentage of independent shops fall into this category. Some locally controlled chains probably do as well.

As Whitey noted, there is not a sharp line you can draw between dishonest chains and the rest. But the underlying business model for many chains doesn’t make it easy for them to be reputable shops.

Norm LOL!! You’re surely having a banner posting day!! LOL!

Anyway, anything that is/was a franchise, as was stated, is costing a whole lot just to carry the banner. It’s like fast food. It’s probably (or was) a “wealth parking” mechanism for someone who was trying to evade/avoid a 35% income tax. Those that use this method don’t have to make any money, per se~, since their already subsidized @ a 35% discount in avoided losses.

Anyway, you can get lucky. AAMCO, last I heard, was a reman swap shop. Not too much need for truly skilled labor.

Anyway, the business model requires VOLUME to pay the static bills. This tends to require FAST out of your help. Whipping mules tends to have them leaving for less stressful and more gainful employment when their experience allows. That tends to leave people closer to entrance level as the average service provider. They make more mistakes. The basic business model also operates on close margins due to the aforementioned static (and quite high) costs. This means that comebacks are extremely expensive. Since the whole enterprise is run from a “sales” mentality, you get salesmen in service provider clothing running the shows.

I used to think like you that all chains were bad. However in the past few years I’ve seen a few well respected contributors on this forum talk about a few good experiences they’ve had with chains. I tried to reflect the input from such respected contributors in my reply.

I don’t understand “Norm LOL” comment. Can you explain?

Joe, haven’t you seen a few posts from “Beefy Norm” popping up lately? Perhaps you are being confused with Beefy Norm.

I guess “business model” would describe the similar situation of chain store-front auto service businesses. They do share the same faults as large corporations in that they are looked on to clear a profit on a minute to minute basis it appears. There is no concern for the long run viability, just pull in all the cash you can because tommorow we may die.

It’s Christmas and I’m as annonymous as anyone would want to be so let me throw in a personal note. At years end business often slows some and my mechanics pay is basically at their garanteed base at a time of the year when they have family responsibilities which are above average. I have been lucky for so many years and seen profits above my projections through the year and so at Christmas I take 1/2 the ‘excess’ profits and divide them among my workers based on their total years work. It has for most years made their "year end bonus’ plus their base pay their highest paid month of the year. But on the books, I lose money in December. I laugh all the way to the bank.

In dependents are owned and run by a real person who sees the customers. Chains are run by bean counters and corporate types. They want to see big profit this year and if that means reducing the time a mechanic can devote to doing a job or hiring an unqualified staff and paying them based on how much they sell. The result is usually bad. Not every location will have problems and not every customer will have problems but far too many do.