How to Be a Kick-Ass Female Customer at an Auto Repair Shop
I got a text from a friend last week regarding her Volkswagen Jetta: “Why is my oil change going to cost me $98?!”
My reply: “Look it up."
I never did find out why my friend's Jetta was quoted for a $98 oil change, but her surprise at the high quote did remind me of an article I read in The Atlantic a few months ago. This article touched on a study that showed women are sometimes overcharged by auto repair shops. Apparently, most repair shops believe women know less about cars and repairs and, if they are not proven wrong (by the female customer), they will charge the lady more.
Was my friend getting ripped off because she was female? Perhaps--but also, maybe not.
Obviously, not all repair shops overcharge (women OR men), so don’t get me wrong that I'm hating on my buddies at Pennzoil. However, it doesn’t hurt to make sure you’re being treated fairly whenever you’re out and about—and especially when you’re taking care of an expensive purchase like a car. It pays to be informed and to be bold -- literally.
Here are some tips:
Own that Auto Shop
Women who defy stereotype come out ahead. -- The Atlantic
You’re the customer and you’re in charge of the transaction. If you don’t like what Business X is telling you, you have the option of leaving and trying your luck someplace else. When you walk into that waiting room or pull into that garage bay, own it. You’re here because you want to tune up your car. Don’t act meek. You’re in charge. Be friendly and strike up a conversation with your attendant. It doesn’t hurt to make the transaction personal. If you’re relaxed and friendly, they’re more likely to like you—and probably less likely to tack on an additional $15 to your bill because of your gender or lack of know-how.
Case in point: Whenever I go to into a Jiffy Lube or Pennzoil, I always like to hang out in the garage while they do the tune-up or oil change. (Not only do I get to see exactly what they are doing--I find it interesting--but I also like chatting.) The workers don't usually mind--and I think they like giving me the blow-by-blow account of my car's tune-up. By being engaged, I come off as informed and less likely to fall for any suggested, unnecessary repairs/parts replacement.