A Very Unusual Day Near a Carrot  

rm_titsandtires 52M/42F
2973 posts
5/18/2006 7:14 pm

Last Read:
5/29/2006 5:54 pm

A Very Unusual Day Near a Carrot

Unusual event no. 1: My ex wife called me to remind me that my oldest son is turning eighteen next month, and to fore-warn me that I don't need to make a full Child support payment. (Yeah, have you ever heard of that before?)

Unusual event no. 2. As many of you know, a I'm an automotive technician. I had a car with an unusual problem... no need to bore you with those details...

Unusual event no. 3. Now this is the one you've been waiting for. Like I said, I'm a technician in an independent repair shop here in Portland. Just after lunch, a camera crew came into the shop with one of their investigative reporters. Apparently, at some point in time over the course of the last few weeks, they brought in a car that they had checked out and verified that there weren't any problems with it. They then took it to several shops, mine included, and had an oil change and a "check out" done on it. The reporter introduced herself, and told us of their "sting" they performed. We were then told that we not only told them there was nothing wrong with the car, but that we were the only shop that said there wasn't anything wrong with it. Pretty cool, huh?

Not really. You see, I love working on cars. I always have. I have never felt like I have to "go to work" a day in my life. I get to wake up, go work on cars, and as a bonus, someone gives me a check every two weeks. How cool is that? Here's the problem for me. I can't stand the way this industry is so self destructive. I don't care what part of the country you're in, I can guarantee that there are shops in your community that have negative ads on the radio, or TV, or some other media. They make claims that they are the only shop in town that can do it right. Everyone else is wrong. Everyone else is going to screw you, the consumer, out of your hard earned money, because they're crooked. They make claims about everyone else's quality, or lack thereof. Mechanical shops do it, body shops do it, and quite frankly, I'm tired of it. It's worse than political campaigns sometimes. And it makes the real skilled technicians look like idiots.

Let me give you all a little history here too. this may be informative to some of you. Boring to most, but I just need to rant here.

Most technicians are paid on flat rate. Let me explain how that works:

A technician gets an hourly rate. Not hourly pay, but rate. For most it's 18% to 28% of the labor rate, which is about $80.00 around here.

A front brake re-line pays 1.8 hours. The technician gets paid 1.8 x his hourly rate, regardless of how long it takes. If he does it in 40 minutes, he still gets paid 1.8 hours. If it takes him 3 hours, he still only gets paid for 1.8 hours. Simple, right?

The problem is that most technicians used to be able to make 125 to 150+ hours in a two week pay period. Not bad money. As business gets more and more competitive, shop owners decrease the flat rate hours on a given job. What used to pay 3.0 hours now only pays 1.9 hours. The shop increases their labor rate, making the same amount of money in the long run for the owner, while the technician gets screwed. Most techs I know have seen their annual earnings drop at least $20,000.00 in the last four years. Those technicians now find things wrong with your car that they may have over looked a few years ago. Couple this with increased fuel costs, (which cuts into the dollars spent on maintenance) and you have some seriously financially strapped technicians out there. Many of who are looking for other lines of work. Now you have new technicians who don't even know what a distributor or a carburetor are, because they've never seen one. All they know about is fuel injection and DIS modules.

Okay, I'm sure I've lost most of you by know, sorry. Let me just say this... I'm sure that this investigative reporter truly thinks that her story is doing good in the community. I really do. I hope it does keep a few people from going into a sketch business. And I also think that she may have indeed come across a scam shop or two. But to tell you the truth, I think that she has just contributed to the snow ball effect that an already suffering industry has been rolling for a long time.

(If you look real close, you can see me. I'm just left of the carrot nose.)

rm_titsandtires 52M/42F
3656 posts
5/18/2006 7:21 pm

BTW, if anyone in Portland is reading this, you can see the story on channel 12 next Tuesday night @ 10

frbnkslady 49F
6183 posts
5/18/2006 8:34 pm

I am sorry for the decreases pay rates...But I also know, and you have to attest, the being a woman and going to have your car looked at.. you do get screwed... Maybe 2/50 will tell you the truth... Unless you are a guy, and then they ASSuME that all men know cars.
I think the rate up here is also close to or above $80. T


rm_sj365 56F
2414 posts
5/21/2006 7:08 am

yeah, but Portland is just waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too far for me to go to find a good mechanic!

(yeah yeah, i know ...automotive technician, not mechanic...)

SexyRycheBabe 46F
820 posts
5/22/2006 10:28 pm

Did the news reporter REPORT to their audience that you guys were the only ones who said there was nothing wrong with the car? If so, that should get you business in droves.

rm_mm0206 70F
7767 posts
5/27/2006 10:54 am

Portland would be worth the drive to find an honest mechanic...

fortunately I have one I completely trust here..

too bad he is married.

I love men that are good with their hands.... and can use their brains too

take care...

rm_mm0206 70F
7767 posts
5/27/2006 10:56 am

ohhh since I worked at a Honda/jeep dealership in the service dept as a service writer... I understand if they are screwing the facts around...

I look helpless but a few know different now.


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