Monday, June 02, 2008

Please show the audience what's behind door number 3

A couple of months ago my car was making some funny noises.

I'm sure you can imagine me on the phone with a couple of car places trying to replicate the sound for the man on the other end of the line.

I'm sure each of them mocked me later.

I eventually got the problem fixed in exchange for a pretty penny or two, but what struck me was the difference in my options of auto-repair places.

Option 1 was Chain Guy. This is the company that you could find in most any American city. Their price reflects the name recognition that they hold, but you know what you can expect from their work, much like how you know the McDonald's across the nation will look exactly like the one down the street from your house. It's predictable.

And, it's convenient. It's close to your home and they provide rides back to your house while your car is being worked on.

Option 2 was Dealer Guy. Normally, your best bet is to steer clear of these places because they tend to be quite a bit pricier than even Chain Guy. But, something I discovered is that, the price difference is all in the labor. The ideal situation would be to buy the part (assuming you know what part you need - which is a big assumption in a story involving me!) from Dealer Guy and take it elsewhere for installation.

Option 3 was Local Guy. Whenever possible, I'm a sucker for the local business over the chain business. And, because Local Guy isn't paying franchise dues, you can bet that his price for labor is cheaper. However, one thing that surprised me in my research is that his price for the part was also cheaper.

So, it's a win-win situation. Option 3 would be picked every time, right?

Only, imagine that you went to Option 1 for an oil change, and they've already got your car torn apart, know exactly what's wrong with it, and could potentially charge you a portion of the labor
in payment for figuring what was wrong with it.

Further imagine that Local Guy is a fair distance from home, and it the problem could be made worse by taking your car on the trek across down. Oh, and also, you would need a ride because Local Guy's shop isn't the best place for a 20-something girl to hang out in.

So, what's a girl supposed to do? Clearly from the facts, we chose to go with Chain Guy, because in this situation, the dice were stacked against us. And, even though I would probably rather go to Local Guy 9 times out of 10, I got REALLY good service from Chain Guy.

In fact, I got such good service from Chain Guy, I'm inclined to go back for each oil change, even if it costs me a few extra dollars.

How do you guys handle this situation? Do you have hubbies that do all that work themselves? Do you have a favorite place to go?


Jenny said...

Um, I don't deal with any of that stuff. If there's something wrong with the car Nathan will call and make all the arrangements. I have a fairly new car right now that's still under warranty. It's nice to not have to worry about it breaking down. I've had my fair share of cars breaking down on me.

Joy said...

We really like our chain guy...and we don't really know any local guys around here.

lanes said...

Magen, since I'm a stalker and everything, I found your blog through Rachel's site. What it do? That's slang for "how's it going?"

I hate car stuff. I'm sort of driving two cars off and on. I had been driving my sister's old car for a while, but because of the car accident I was just in it's not really drivable. And my other car is pretty moody... it only works when it feels like it. ;)

meesh said...

My hubby does it all! From oil changes to major repairs! He is very talented and handy and amazing!

In my family growing up, we always took our car in for everything, so it was quite a change (a nice, much cheaper change) to have Andrew do evrything!

tsbjf said...

We change our oil usually. Um, after we got married both of our cars broke down. That's when we were living in Rolla, MO. Small town, so car fixing options weren't that great. We tried two places for my car and got ripped off at both. That's what we got for having me, who knows practically nothing helpful about cars, having to talk to the people at these places, both local guys. They were evil. That's why I always feel so much more comfortable if Jeremy deals with them, just for the fact that he is a guy, so they'll treat him better.