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Labor charges

my mechanic estimated 41/2 hrs and charged me the same but the repair only took 2 hours. Is this standard practice. I assume he looked at a chart to estmate the time

You should discuss this with your mechanic.

Yes, it’s called flat rate…
ie; a set price for a set job.

An experienced tech can put out more work in less time, netting more bottom line.

You CERTAINLY wouldn’t want to shell out for six hours or more when knowing the job should pay 4.5.

A new or inexperienced tech gets paid the same for that job even if it takes them two days.

You would never have noticed if the job total price was not put in to the hours format.
hence ; a set price for a set job.
The job finished right on the estimate, bingo.

There is a flat rate book that is used by mechanics and the time quoted is the time it takes for an average mechanic in an average shop and in average conditions to do the repair.
Sometimes the mechanic can beat the book (yippee for him) and sometimes they lose. (boo)

While not perfect by any means, flat rate is a way of making sure that a mechanic does not sandbag a job. In other words, to prevent his spending 10 hours on that 4.5 hour repair and charging you for 10 while taking a coffee break every hour, etc.

Exactly what job did he do that specified 4.5 hours?

Talent, education, investment in tools, years of experience and professional expertise should result in better pay and beating the flat rate is how good mechanics earn what they are worth. There are jobs that I can complete in 1/3 the flat rate.Should I only earn what an apprentice earns. Flat rate vs clock time has occasionally become an issue despite my efforts and I have chosen not to argue the point with customers. It’s just a take it or leave it proposition.

Having a mechanic that works slow does not necessairly mean the customer will get charged for this slowness. It does mean that this mechanics productivity figures will look pretty bad and some Dealers post these figures for all other mechanics to see.

I have seen many mechanics complain that the time paid is not fair (espically in the electrical diagnosis field). It was not that the time paid was so incredibly low but that the mechanic had poor diagnostic skills. The way to compensate for knowing just what is required to be done and no more is to pay a high base rate to mechanics that can demonstrate high diagnostic accuracy.

“beating the flat rate is how good mechanics earn what they are worth”

Of course, its also how less than good mechanics do poor quality work for customers. As a non-mechanic this is a major part of what has gotten me to DIY.

To the OP: you don’t want it either way. You don’t want to have to pay 4 hrs for something someone can do in 2. But you also don’t want to have to pay 6 hrs for something that should be 4 hrs average. Its just the way it goes. If you’d actually pay actual labor time ask around for shops that might do it that way. You probably won’t win in the the long run.

The really sticky part is when it comes to working for new car dealers and having to wrestle with that dreaded “warranty” word. I always thought VW warranty times were very fair but Honda, Subaru, etc. absolutely sucked.

You reference electrical problems. With Subarus a tech is allowed .2 hours for the diagnosing and repair of any electrical fault no matter how complicated. A whopping 12 minutes even if it takes 2 days. SOA states they will allow UP to .5 hours for this if a detailed explanation is provided but that ain’t never, ever gonna happen.

One large dealer I went to work for (Fiat/VW/Subaru) discovered very quickly that I was a motorcycle guy and thought I would be a prime candidate to service Puch mopeds, which they also sold and which I was unaware of and did not sign on for. Thank God they dumped those things about a month after I went to work there.
People would buy these underpowered garden slugs and decide after a few days the mopeds “did not have much power”. This led to my chasing my tail over something that was entirely normal and moped owners refusing to believe that they could not ride 2 up on the expressway at 60 MPH.

Guess what flat rate was for a complete engine overhaul under warranty was for one of these things? An astronomical .7 hours and which also includes the engine R and R. :frowning:

For the discriminate, a close look at invoices can be very telling. I once saw a dealership bill for replacing a timing chain on a Winsor V8. It listed the labor to R&R the timing chain on one line, then the labor to R&R the water pump on the next line…

When a mechanic gives me an estimate to do a job and I agree to the estimate, my only concern is that the job is done properly. If he completes the job in half the time and the job is done right, both of us are happy.

I had the opposite experience with a carpenter. The carpenter gave me a bid to put panic hardware on the entrance to my church. I took the bid to the church session and it was approved. The carpenter completed the job and brought me the bill. The bill was way less than the estimate. I thought the man had made a mistake, so I asked him about it. His response: “It didn’t take as much time for the job as I thought it would”. His complete honesty has paid off. We have hired him for more jobs at the church and I have hired him for work on my house that I can’t do. His workmanship is outstanding.

I know that you are truthful with the .2 for electrical diagnosis as with GM we were allowed .6 and I had heard Subaru was worse. I am sure you have been told that “a good tech would be able to write a good enough story to get his diagnostic time paid”. GM had a policy called 'OL" (stood for other labor). Well I had a “on and off” relationship with the Service Manager (the guy that sent me home because I would not air up a customers bike tire, hey I though the guy was a bum) Well one Holiday season I got sent home again for singing “NO OL”,“NO OL” "as in NOEL,NOEL (the Christmas song). I never ever got ‘OL’ no matter how good a story.

With Subaru it did not matter what the story was or how well it was explained; .2 was the maximum and about half the time they would even kick that back. Of course this meant the tech did not even get that .2 hours.
Even with A/C work the warranty times are horrible. Unless it’s gone up recently Subaru allows .2 to reseal an A/C system; and that means the entire system, not just one O-ring.

Not meaning this in an arrogant way, but I was pretty decent with warranty claims and the dispatcher used to call me up sometimes to help shove the problem children through the system. With Subaru it was an ongoing battle and SOA has a nasty habit of authorizing something one day and having amnesia the next. I do not trust them any further than I can throw the entire corporate office building due to having been stiffed far too many times.

A lot of this is brought on by their warranty manuals which omit about 3/4 of the labor operations in all areas. You call regional, they approve what’s not in the book, and then deny the claim later.

Can’t say as I blame you for the bike tire incident. A mechanic goes through what seems like dozens of freebies a day anyway and I got a good chuckle out of picturing you singing NO OL, NO OL in the shop.
There’s a lot of frustration in a shop and most service managers should be in the Used Car Dept. instead of the service dept. :slight_smile:

I had at times a real good relationship with this Service Manager but at times he would just blow up. This man suffered a severe case of diverticulitis (I know I spelled this wrong) and ended up with an illiostotomy on him while he healed. Well my second wife had Chrons disease and ended up with one of these bags also. My Manager came to the hospital quite a bit to try and comfort my wife and I always will appreciate that. My wife passed away due to this illness an he was there for me while I dealt with this. But he still sent me home those two times, I simply caught him on a bad day as he proved he was a compassionate man in my book. Still won’t hire me back though.

There is no way in the world I could ever be a shop foreman or a service manager because I do not have the temperment in dealing with people that is required.Everybody wants a piece of you. Theses were the days when on Fridays everyone would get together at the Red Robin after work and he would come up and drink like a fool with the rest of his crew. The owner or the Dealership put a stop to that though, but the mechanics liked it that he showed he was not to good to drink with us.

yes. in most cases. we are doing a transfer case on an 02 jag xtype awd. book gives 7.8 hours. my tech is a master ase with 30 yrs experiance. it will probably take him 10 hours. but we will only charge the 7.8. is this fair.? sometimes we lose and sometimes we win. finished the job today 11 hours

I would rather have that book rate than pay for the actual time.  That way you know ahead of time the cost.  Those surprises can be really bad.