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Ever feel bamboozled by auto repair?

I believe there is nothing worse than being called back from the auto shop or a plumber for that matter letting you know it is more money than they had first thought. Why does this happen?

In auto repair, this happens for two totally different reasons.

Reason No. 1: As automotive technicians we cannot predict how everything is going to play out. A routine repair can have an unforeseen circumstance that we just simply could not predict. Although it never feels good to get that next phone call, if you’re working with an honest shop, they don’t want to make the second phone call either. No mischief here, just life.

Reason No. 2: This one gets me super hot under the collar. As an example, a national auto chain blatantly teaches this manipulative sales practice to employees. It’s part of their sales training. It is called the “Two-Step Selling Process” or the “RDI: Remove, Disassemble and Inspect,” although you won’t hear either of these terms used by the perpetrator. The idea behind these, which isn’t pure, is to be “low cost,” get the job and then tell the customer about all the ancillary items once the car is apart and there is no turning back. At this point, pricing no longer needs to be competitive, you are stuck. I personally hate to feel powerless like this, especially if I would have thought twice about fixing the car had I known.

At Bumper to Bumper Radio, you will rarely here negative talk from us about the auto repair industry. There are a lot of good people working in it and it’s unfortunate that a few utilize manipulative sales tactics. We don’t feel we need to create any more hurdles of mistrust which just drives up the anxiety meter and doesn’t accomplish anything.

The reality is this, auto repair can circumstantially be a difficult service to provide and it is surrounded by decades of unrealistic advertising. Unrealistic expectations, a difficult product and a few black sheep in our industry puts auto repair low on people lists of fun thing to do. Did I mention that it takes money out of your pocket as well?

So without creating extra anxiety, how do you as the consumer handle staying out of bad shops?

Don’t let price be your main driver

When you are overly price-conscious you can become your own worst enemy. These types of consumers tend to be the people that get the “bait and switch” which is the other name for the “Two-step selling process.” All auto shops are all driven by the same economical engine. All things considered, nothing is truly just cheaper. Some shops are just more upfront and less likely to cut corners.

Ask good questions

When you are presented a repair or major maintenance such as a timing belt, ask if there are any additional or ancillary items that might be added to the repair once your car is disassembled. A timing belt is a classic example because this is one repair that is advertised with a low flat price and has so much else that should go with it.

The sign of a good shop is someone who is willing to explain the repair and the potential growth of the repair ahead of time in detail. The outcome of the repair shouldn’t be much different than the conversation prior to the repair. If you are working with an experienced shop, not much will ever surprise you. Remember you want to build a relationship, so when asking the shop questions about a perspective repair, do it in a way that does not question integrity. It’s an easy line to cross and some customers don’t realize they are doing it. Remember, this is not a cross-examination, you just want to understand what you are getting into before you give the go ahead with the repair. Our hope is that these tools will help you create a good relationship with your auto repair shop.

For more in-depth look at topics like this, join Matt Allen and Dave Riccio on Bumper to Bumper Radio, Arizona’s top automotive show heard every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on News/Talk 92.3 KTAR. Call in your questions at (602) 277-5827 you can also reach us at for the best partners, products and advice!