Reader Question: I had my 1997 GMC Sierra pickup towed to an auto repair shop on Jan 11, 2007. On February 22, I was finally told the fuel pump and module needed to be replaced. (I told the owner I was not in a big hurry because I had another vehicle to drive, but after several weeks, I paid them a visit and they worked on it the following week).
I was then told that they needed to replace the fuel pump and module and was quoted a total price of US$582. This was US$432 for parts and $125 for labor and the rest I guess was tax. The owner/mechanic said the truck would be ready that afternoon, but when I called back, he said he replaced the parts and the truck still would not start! Therefore, now I am wondering what is going on?
I also inquired why the price was so high for parts because the two local auto parts stores charge $250 for the parts he replaced. He said he went with the dealer’s parts because they were better quality and had a warranty. When I confronted him about the $432 for the parts, I told him that he should have told me my options for the parts first because I would have selected the non-dealer parts (which also have a warranty).
Then when I asked him about seeing the receipt for the parts, he said he only paid $379 for them. I asked him why he was charging me extra and he said because of the warranty. I asked him if he has to pay for the parts if he has to take them back to the dealer and he said no. So why would he then need extra money for that? Then he changed his tune and said he charged extra because he has “overhead.” I told him to pay for his overhead out of the $50 an hour he gets for labor!
I called back this week and the truck is now ready for me to pick up. I asked what else had to be done and how much was it going to be. He said that I had the wrong spark plugs in it, so he replaced them and added $56 for spark plugs and said he was going to be nice and not even charge me for the labor of putting them in! Others told me that this was somewhat high for the plugs, too.
Is it possible that I did not even need a fuel pump and module? How can I tell? What do you think I am obligated to pay this person?
There was no written contract.
Thank you for your time.
Sounds like a mess alright! My first response to this would be – is the vehicle fixed? I am VERY wary of any shop that cannot complete a simple task in less than a few days. I would never recommend anyone leave his or her vehicle at a repair shop unattended longer than it is needed to do the repair. This job should have only taken a day to do the diagnosis, get the needed parts, and do the installation and final test drive.
Leaving the vehicle with them that long period of time just leads to problems like this. I have seen and heard of this happening many times. Cars get vandalized, broken into, catch on fire, get backed into, paint scratched or flat out get stolen and disappear from the shop! I have had ALL of these things happen to customer’s vehicles at my shop, and thank God, I am insured for it most shops ARE NOT.
I think this shop is not very paper work savvy and lack some general business skills but that is why they are mechanics! They like to work on cars not necessarily deal with customers or the tasks of running a business
OK, off my soapbox. There should be an initial diagnosis fee somewhere, the price of the parts, the labor, taxes, and probably an additional environmental fee added in somewhere as well. His labor rate is cheap, mine is US$75 an hour in Houston, and we would have charged you US$50-$75 for the initial diagnostic charge, plus the part cost whatever that is, and labor of about US$180 in my shop. I would have also sold you a new fuel filter with that new fuel pump at an additional cost of US$40 parts and labor.
Therefore, I am not very sure you can argue TOO much about price here. The dealership part could be of better quality. That is debatable, but what I do know is that the mark up on dealership parts is very low, probably about 15% where as an aftermarket part might have a 40% mark up. I can only assume this shop was trying to keep their profitability by adding a higher mark up to the dealer part. What they SHOULD have done was charge more for their labor, include the diagnostic fee, and keep the price the same as the list price at the dealership. Nevertheless, hey that requires thinking.
The price of the spark plugs is ok if they used the high quality AC Delco plugs that it calls for. You can ALWAYS get a better deal on auto parts if you visit your local auto parts store and buy them yourself.
Most small repair shops do not really get any deeper discount than the normal walk in customer. Therefore, they have to mark the price up over and above the listed price to be profitable.
Overall, depending on where you live. This place is probably “cheap” but probably not very well managed. I wonder why the engine would not start after the installation.
I hope they diagnosed the problem and repaired it correctly.