A recent survey by AUTOMD.com reported that eight-eight percent of car owners feel ripped off by their repair shop. That statistic is pretty astounding and perhaps not surprising. We’ve all been there and wondered if we’ve been taken advantage of.
Well, Susan Koeppen, a Consumer Correspondent with CBS went undercover and teamed up with AUTOMD to find out if customers are truly being taken advantage of by car mechanics. https://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6395074n&tag=related;photovideo
AUTOMD is a consumer information website that helps car owners diagnose issues and then provide them an estimate on the cost of repairs. The undercover experiment included buying two perfectly good vehicles with no issues and grinding down their brakes to where they would have approximately 2000 miles or so left on them. AUTOMD estimated the average cost of the brake repair to be roughly $180. They then had a mechanic for each car take them on the road to several repair shops across the country from LA to Dallas to Washington D.C. and then finally New York. Here’s what they found:
Estimates ranged from $160 to over $600 and the majority of those covering a variety of problems beyond just the brake repair. Only three of the thirteen shops visited gave them a quote for just the brake repair. Seventy-seven percent (ten of the thirteen) were clearly unethical by over-charging for work that didn’t need to be done. WHY? Probably because they can. As consumers we need to educate ourselves.
Last year I was lured into a repair shop with a $9.99 coupon for an oil change to my Honda. Got the oil change, but then they tried to tag me for a new set of tires. They said my tires were bald. I knew better, as I had just had the tread measured and I still had a good amount of life to them. I went back to my previous repair shop. In fact, if you live near Colorado Springs, CO I suggest you check out Hon-Ac. They’re extremely reputable and won’t rip you off!
It’s too bad that honesty and integrity aren’t top priorities of most repair shops. What are the ramifications? To start, mistrust in the eyes of their customers. Lack of trust can have significant consequences to a business in at least two important areas—relationships and reputation.
Ethics play a crucial role in how a brand creates and sustains its reputation and builds positive relationships with customers. You can bet, that the eighty-eight percent of those surveyed by AUTOMD wouldn’t think twice in finding another repair shop. 94% of consumers want to be loyal; businesses just give them reasons NOT to!
This lack of ethics isn’t just found in the car repair industry, but we see it in every industry and yes we all know that it’s bound to be heightened and exacerbated in a stressed economy of disillusioned consumers. Consider the serious lack of ethics witnessed and challenged in major well-known brands such as Enron, Arthur Andersen, MCI/Worldcom and more recently AIG. The effects can be devastating as is the case with Enron and Arthur Andersen. Both were highly regarded brands that went out of business costing huge financial, emotional and psychological ruin to people’s lives. The ramifications, no doubt, are still being felt by many, and will so for years to come.
Why have so many businesses lost sight of their sense of fundamental ethics and basic honesty? Why do we have a society where the vast majority of businesses may just be out for themselves? That’s a question for each business to ask and answer for themselves!
The flip side to this issue is the challenge for brands that value honesty and integrity and truly live up to these principles in every way possible in their business practices. Although a challenge, it is also a great opportunity to shine and stand out from the rest of the crowd. Why? Because, consumers want to do business with people they can trust!
I invite anyone who has a perspective to please share in the comments area of this blog post.