Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Itemizing Difficulty

I took my car to the mechanic today to have the water pump replaced. The mechanic told me to be there at eleven. I didn't learn until he had my car apart that the new pump wouldn't be there until eleven thirty. Then, of course, there was his very important lunch break. It was raining and I was stranded so I read a lot of magazines (I hate Woman's Day), read the various signs on the wall, listened to dialogue between the mechanics and paced. Finally, at nearly two o'clock, I walked out the door. When I saw my bill, I actually considered handing the woman back a modified bill, charging her for my time.

He charged me $150.00 for this--labor being fifty dollars per hour (a total of $66.00), the pump being $34.00 and some change. Then there was the the cost of two gallons of coolant. And finally was a "new" charge I've never seen before. Another $12.00 per item they had to disconnect to get to the pump (specifically the air conditioning and the power steering). I quizzed the woman behind the counter and she explained that these were considered standard charges when the job is made more difficult by the removal of these items.

Now I'm confused. Isn't replacing water pumps a fairly straightforward process? Don't mechanics expect to have to remove parts of cars to get to other parts in cars? Isn't that I'm paying them to do when I pay them labor? Exactly what's wrong with this picture?

I've clearly been thinking about this all day (and probably need more to think about). Maybe I'm going at life the wrong way. Maybe this is why mechanics are rich and educators and factory workers aren't. We don't itemize our challenges.

I work with kids for a living (for three more weeks anyway). Maybe I start charging parents extra because their kids are difficult. How about when they (the parents) are the problem; maybe I should really put the whammy on them for that. I'll bet they'd shape up.

My husband works at a factory. Maybe he should charge his boss extra whenever he gets burned on the hot machinery.

When did it become okay to charge people extra for doing the job right? Sigh, Maybe I'm really behind the times.


Scotty said...

I hate to say it, but that sounds like a case of being stiffed for car repairs because you're woman. I agree with you that removal of these 'extra' things is considered when one starts the job and gets factored into the labour costs.

Mary O. Paddock said...

I think it's becoming a common method of padding the bill, unfortunately.

It's tough enough for the American family to make ends meet at the moment.