How much would you charge to perform a task that literally takes a minute of your time? Ruben, a customer service agent at the Norwalk McKenna Volkswagen service department, recently quoted me $100 for a task that literally took a moment. I had bought side-view mirrors from the parts department and needed them installed.
While Ruben was getting the paperwork ready, I was having a conversation with a parts worker. When he heard how much they were charging me to install the mirrors, he told me that the mirrors easily snapped into place. He told me to bring my car around to the back so he could install them for me.
I told Ruben that I had changed my mind and that I would install the mirrors myself at home. In an attempt to intimidate me he replied, ‘Don’t break the glass.’ Smirking, I left and drove my car to the back. There, the parts worker removed the old mirrors from the casing, took the new mirrors out of the box and snapped them into place. He smoothly remarked, ‘There, $100 worth of work.’
I was so amazed at his kindness and Ruben’s crookedness that I decided to explore the underhanded workings of a car dealership service department. I returned another day and spoke with John Hatcher, customer service manager.
Although I thoroughly explained my previous visit (omitting the good Samaritan parts guy in case his kind act would result in a disciplinary action), Hatcher could not explain why Ruben quoted me such a high price for such a simple task.
‘To do the glass portion on [the side-view mirror], I’m going to say it would be a half-hour labor or $62.50,’ Hatcher said.
I made sure to confirm that he was knowledgeable on the procedure that should on require a maximum of five minutes for a blind man. We both knew that the job would not cost $62.50, so why did he quote that price?
‘The factory has guidelines that they put in place,’ Hatcher said. ‘Each job is going to pay differently based on the approximate time it is going to take to do it. A technician who takes 30 minutes to do the job, should you just pay for 30 minutes of work? An individual has to bill his time up to become efficient at a job. [

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