What is “Price-Shopping”?
For the sake of clarity, I’ll define “price-shopping” as any of the following:
- Moving from shop to shop as you look for the cheapest price for a desired service.
- Returning regularly to a shop because it seems to be the cheapest. (Even if you’re not calling around for price comparisons, price is your main consideration.)
- Making purchasing decisions based on perceived “bargains” (coupons, specials, advertisements etc.)
I don’t recommend that you do any of these things. I recognize that you’ll often save money in the short-term, but we believe you might spend more in the long term.
There’s that old (and true) idea that you often get what you pay for. In automotive repair, there’s a lot that you should want to “get.” Such as the following:
Does the shop treat you fairly and honestly? Do they give you good information and enough information to help you make good decisions? Do they care about you as a person?
Diagnosing and repairing vehicles is a complex and demanding field. Mechanics make many decisions that affect the quality, dependability, and longevity of their repairs. Would you rather pay more for a long-lasting repair or less for one that may fail you prematurely?
A repair is worthless without functioning parts. Parts are available in a huge range of prices, and while the most expensive part is not always the best option, it’s naive to assume that the cheapest part will always be “enough.”
What happens when people price-shop?
People who price-shop often wind up in shops that cater to the desire not to spend money. And then these things happen:
- Cheap Oil Changes
- Loss Leader Services
- Low-Ball “Estimates”
- Poor work quality
- Poor parts quality
- Shotgun Diagnostics/Diagnostic Dice
- Unnecessary Parts Replacement
These shops may cater to the desire not to spend money, but that doesn’t mean you’ll actually spend less in the long run! Value is what really saves you money over the long haul. Value is presented by quality service, services, and products at a fair price.
Now am I suggesting that you forget cost? Not at all! Spending wisely requires balancing cost versus value.
I don’t recommend cost shopping, but I do recommend seeking out a trustworthy auto repair shop where you can build relationships with the employees.
Don’t go looking for the lowest cost. Look for trustworthy people who care about you, and the cost will take care of itself.
-From the Mechanic