Most consumers (83 percent) continue to
‘feel’ overcharged in the auto repair process and rank the experience of going
to the repair shop/dealership to get their car repaired on a par with going to
the dentist (with women preferring the dentist), according to a new consumer
survey from AutoMD.com.
While women have a more negative view of
the repair shop/service center experience than men do, across the board
consumers who responded to the survey say a more transparent process would
improve the experience. Consumers say that not knowing what a repair should
cost is the biggest challenge in the process and that they want real
apples-to-apples repair job quotes. But, the survey shows, these consumers are
empowering themselves digitally, by going online to research pricing and to
look at consumer reviews before going to a repair shop.
“We know that there are excellent repair
shops and service centers in every city in the U.S., but, as this study shows,
a persistent perception problem plagues the industry: consumers simply don’t
trust that they are paying an appropriate price for a repair and their view of
the whole experience is, generally, not a positive one,” said Brian Hafer, VP
of marketing at AutoMD.com. “But there is good news. Consumers are going online
to check price quotes and repair shop reviews and are craving apples-to-apples
actual job quotes. So, for shops that are pricing fairly, offering real quotes
and keeping up a good digital presence, there is a real chance to improve
perception and, with it, their business.”
The survey, which was conducted online
among more than 2,400 car owners from March 27 through April 30, offers a
snapshot of how car owners view the current repair shop experience. The
survey included self-identified Do-It-For-Me DIFMers (46 percent) and
Do-It-Yourself DIYers (54 percent) who shared consistent and similar views of
the overall repair shop experience.
Vast Majority ‘Feel’ Overcharged/Overall
Perception Not Positive
Eighty-three percent of those surveyed
say they have “felt” overcharged for vehicle service at the repair shop or
dealership, a number that has remained stubbornly high over the past four
years: in 2010, it was 88 percent and in 2012, 85 percent. When asked to rank
against other experiences, women said they dislike going to the repair shop
more than going to the dentist. Men ranked it just below going to the dentist.
More than 44 percent of women have a
negative view of the auto service center/repair shop experience, according to
the survey, with only 12 percent viewing it positively. Overall, only 16
percent of all survey respondents had a positive view but the silver lining
for repair shops/service centers is that 40 percent overall had a neutral view,
meaning perception change is possible, AutoMD.com says.
Transparency Offers Biggest Opportunity
Respondents ranked “not knowing what a
job will cost” as the No. 1 challenge in the repair process. Eighty-six percent
said that a more transparent experience, i.e. ‘knowing exactly what I will be
paying up front for the job I need done, before I go to the repair shop,” would
improve the process, vastly trumping better customer service and speedier
What would most positively change the
way you feel about your current repair shop/service center experience?
A more transparent experience, i.e.
knowing exactly what I will be paying up-front for the job I need done before I
go to the repair shop: 86 percent
Speedier repairs: 8 percent
More pleasant customer service: 6
What Do Consumers Want? Comparative Job
Quotes, Actual Parts Prices and a Good Mechanic
Eighty-four percent overall reported
that getting the same kind of apples-to-apples repair price quotes usually available
for most goods online is either ‘important’ or a ‘must have’ in the auto repair
process. And an even greater percentage, 91 percent, said that knowing the
specific part to be used in the repair and its price was either ‘important’
or a ‘must have.’
Is knowing that you have a good
technician important when choosing a repair shop?
Must Have: 76 percent
Important: 22 percent
Somewhat Important: 1 percent
Not Important: 0.2 percent
Don’t Care: 0.5 percent
Ninety-eight percent ranked having a
good technician as a ‘must have’ or ‘important,’ followed by fair pricing (97
percent) and a convenient location (52 percent). Shuttle service ranked low in
importance: 56 percent either don’t care or say it is not important.
Consumers are Looking at Online Shop
Reviews and Pricing
Almost two-thirds (65 percent) report
that they have looked at reviews before going to a repair shop/service center,
with women considerably more likely to do so than men (73 percent versus 64
Have you ever looked at online consumer
reviews before going to a mechanic/service center?
Yes, sometimes: 42 percent
Yes, always: 23 percent
No: 31 percent
No, but I have afterwards: 4 percent
More than three-quarters have gone
online to research what the price of a repair job should be, with men only
slightly more likely to do so than women. Overwhelmingly, consumers say that
websites offering actual quotes for an actual job from an actual repair shop
are of far higher value than websites offering just a general repair price range.
Consumers Not Following Service
Even though more than half of those
surveyed have more than 100K miles on their primary vehicle, only 55 percent of
those who normally go to a repair shop to get their vehicle serviced follow a
maintenance schedule, the survey indicates, with 45 percent only taking their
vehicle in when something is really wrong.