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Mechanic bills charges for using websites

My old car had an ABS issue. It turned out to be a faulty relay – but, according to my mechanic, this was difficult to diagnose. On my bill he had separate charges for using alldata.com, identifix, and an electrocardio graph. I am not an expert, but I have a little experience with alldata.com. As far as I know it is a subscription based service – a shop pays for a year and you get unlimited use. So the fact that he charged $9.90 to look something up on alldata strikes me as strange. If alldata.com is a subscription-based service, why would there be a special, one-time charge to look something up on my car? I know nothing about identifix, but I have the same concern there. And the electrocardio-graph also strikes me as a weird charge. So they used a monitor to graph the electrical signal in the ABS system. Why is that a separate charge? Why isn’t that included in the shop materials charge?

How does this strike all of you? Is it standard practice to charge customers for using internet tools? Has this happened to anyone else?

@agd2-2 you can get a yearly subscription to information websites, but the rate is often thousands of dollars! A subscription for a few days is usually in the $10 - $25 range.

I sometimes log onto the GM and Toyota websites.

GM charges
$20/3days
$150/month
$1200/year

Toyota charges
$15/2days
$75/month
$400/year
Note that this is Toyota’s cheapo subscription. You don’t get Identifix direct hit, ECU recalibrations, or techstream scantool software. That costs substantially more.

These are just examples of the websites I have used recently.

I am a pro, and I sometimes do sidejobs. I am upfront about charges for information websites. I tell my customers what the website access charge is. And I provide them with all receipts upon completion of the repair.

Well as a consumer, it seems to me it should have been just included in the diagnostic fee or general overhead. To me this would be like charging to rent a special tool to do the job. On the other hand, I just don’t get upset at the line items, and just the bottom line and the results. People get upset for a $5 band aid charge in a hospital but I don’t because if they didn’t charge for that line item, they would just have to increase the fee someplace else. It all comes out in the wash. Now the guy that got charged $40 for a jump start so they could change the battery was a different matter. He got taken.

The cost of building this stuff, then trying to maintain/repair it is getting out of hand…Maybe it’s time we get back to the basics and build simple, reliable, affordable cars again…The thought of restoring a 1974 model pick-up truck and driving it forever is gathering great appeal…

@Caddyman
I totally agree, except that I’d probably choose a late 80s Nissan or Toyota truck. Second choice would be 60s Ford or Chevy pickup.

We used Alldata at the RV Center where I used to work. It’s a great service but is expensive. If the problem is very difficult to diagnose I can see charging a diagnostic fee as a reasonable charge. If the $9.90 fee was $99.00…I might have a problem with it.

The problem was found which is the important part. Some customers at less experienced shops can pay for a myriad of different parts during the troubleshooting process. Most of the old parts are never reinstalled even though it turns out they were never the problem to begin with.

Vehicles are now overly complex in my opinion and it’s only going downhill from here. Do you really need a tire pressure monitoring system? No…and no one else does either.

It seems like a transparent costing system to me. Identifix is a service that advises what symptoms often mean for a particular car. Here’s their URL:

http://www.identifix.com/info/about_us.asp

I wouldn’t walk away from this mechanic for charging you what it cost to fix your car. If he uses the same services twice as much for another customer, you won’t be billed for it.

@agd202 I agree with the latest comments. Be grateful that your mechanic eventually properly diagnosed the car and only replaced what was necessary. Sounds like an honest guy to me.