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Many of us have seen the media reports on the news programs about young women who are taken advantage of in the Automotive Industry.
The sad fact is that many women will not take their vehicle into a mechanical workshop for servicing or repairs themselves but will ask their husbands, boyfriends or male co-workers even to drop them in.
On the Gold Coast and Brisbane there are many reputable businesses who are doing the right thing and putting the customer’s best interest first but unfortunately the industry is tarnished with the same brush by the wrong doing of a few.
The most common items for repair that women in particular are ripped off on are:
– Parts quoted that are ridiculously overpriced
– Parts quoted for repair that are not broken
– Excessive labour charged
– Repairs carried out without permission and billed
– Charged for repairs that have not been carried out
The worst thing is that most women don’t even realise that they have been taken advantage of until it is too late. Quite often they will change workshops and realise that the servicing costs substantially less or ask for a second opinion when getting quotes. It is then they realise that their former mechanic was taking them for a ride.
The best way to avoid falling into this situation is to make it clear when booking a vehicle in for servicing that you want to be contacted if there are any additional items that the mechanic finds that needs repairs and have them quoted before repairing them.
Most workshops will do this regardless but it is best to be clear and upfront that you want to be informed first rather than be surprised with your bill for additional parts replaced you didn’t ask for.
Try more than one workshop to quote the repair and diagnose it. Keep in mind though that the cheapest is not always the best as there may be a good reason why they are drastically cheaper than the others. It is common that specials that are run on general servicing such as oil and oil filter changes are almost at cost because they are just trying to get you in the door. Often they will put the hard sell on you to change your wiper blades and brake fluid flushes. It could be that your vehicle does require these items but commonly they don’t and the workshop is just trying to make their margins back, which they have lost in getting you in the door.
Ask around female family and friends for recommendations on who they use. If they have a mechanic who they have already done the groundwork in finding, it makes sense to use them too. Let the mechanic know that a satisfied customer has recommended them to you. They will always appreciate the feedback and it gives them the opportunity to thank your friend for the recommendation.
Make sure that you feel comfortable with the staff and that they explain what work is being done on the vehicle. Never hesitate to ask what they are referring to when quoting work and ask to see the part in question if you still don’t understand.
There is nothing worse than waiting for your vehicle to be serviced especially in a remote part of town and there is dirt and dust all over anything. There is always that place that has the dirty rug thrown over the 1985 couch that sags in the middle. Drive by the workshop if you can during working hours and glance in to see the waiting area if they have one. Servicing can take up to half a day depending on the work required and the last thing that you want is to be stranded in a hot/cold waiting area afraid to sit down.
Usually you will find that the outside of the building is a sure indicator of the cleanliness of the building as well as the website.
When approaching a new mechanic ask them if they have a trade-qualified mechanic who will be working on your vehicle. It is not law for a workshop to have a fully qualified mechanic on staff and in fact there can be mechanical workshops that may have very able mechanically minded staff but no one who is actually qualified.
Besides the piece of paper on the wall there are a couple of ways that you have verify that the establishment has at least one mechanic who is accredited.
– If they have apprentices on site there must be a fully qualified mechanic to supervise them. The apprenticeship programs will not allow any apprentices go into a workshop without someone who is fully qualified.
– If they are accredited by the Queensland Transport Department as an Approved Inspection Station and can do Safety Certificates, they definitely have qualified staff.
Most of all trust your own instincts. If something doesn’t feel or sound right give another shop a call and they will certainly tell you if something is seriously wrong with the quote or advice you have been given.
It is highly beneficial to learn the basics of mechanical servicing and maintenance to upkeep the vehicle.
M1 Safety Certificates is conducting an information night for ladies only. This is a safe environment where questions can be asked with fear of being ridiculed. The Department of Transport will be attending as well as demonstrations on how to change a flat tyre/wheel.
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