Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Repair vs. replace

The passenger door on my car has been broken since last Fall. The inner door panel began separating from the outer door sometime earlier in the year, and in the Fall it came apart so much that the outer door would not open properly.

Before leaving VA I took my car to a place that had done quality work on my car before and asked them to give me an estimate on fixing the door. They said the inner door panel really needed to be replaced and that it would cost $775. for parts and labor. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting such a high price, and since Spouse was living in DE and I was still in VA at the time, there was no one needing to ride on the passenger side, so I decided to wait on the inner door replacement.

Fast forward a few months. I've moved to DE and am working at home. I rarely drive now, and since its winter when Spouse & I go out we usually go in his Civic, so there is no incentive to get the door fixed. Plus, we're getting adjusted to the new expenses of living here.

Fast forward a few more months. Spring arrives and I'm starting to make up reasons to drive somewhere just so I can put the top down. But there's still the door problem. No passengers until the door is fixed. A few times now Spouse & I have wanted to go for a delightful evening drive with the top down. Bummer; I really don't have an extra $775. sitting around with nothing to do, and I don't know where to take the car now that I'm not living in VA anymore.

The guy that has the personal trainer appointment immediately following Spouse's owns a car dealership so Spouse does me a big favor and asks him where I can take my car. I called the recommended shop last week to make and appointment. They were kind of busy, and with the holiday, they told me to bring it in today.

I get there exactly on time, just as they open. The guy who owns the shop looks at the door, we talk about it, he starts taking it apart, and then he tells me the door can be fixed. "It won't look exactly like it did when it was new, but it can be fixed" he tells me.

"Well, the rest of the car is 13 years old so if the door doesn't look brand new I suppose it will fit in just fine" I tell him with a chuckle. "As long as it opens and closes like before, and doesn't look unusual."

"I've got the clips and screws it needs. Do you want me to go ahead and do it right now? It's going to cost..." his voice trails off as he mentally adds up the figures, "...twenty five dollars."

I look at him for a few seconds and don't say anything. "You mean twenty five dollars for the materials..." I suggest, thinking this is a real bargain even when the labor charge is added on.

"Twenty five dollars for the whole thing" he corrects me, "parts and labor".

"Oh," I respond, trying not to show how utterly shocked I truly am. "Yes, if you can do it now, that will be great."

I begin to think of the garages in VA I've been to before, and realize that none of them are owned and operated by an actual person. They are companies who make rules about 'minimum labor charges' and the like. They don't even want to quote me a 'repair' cost because they didn't want to 'repair' my car. They just wanted to 'replace' the inner door panel... for $775. But this man, who owns and operates his own shop, gave me what I asked for: a quote for the repair. And because of the recommendation and his super-reasonable price, I will return there in the future whenever I need other repairs.

Its times like this I'm thankful I now live in a small town, where owner-operated garages can survive because of treating people right, which leads to repeat business and referrals. Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

Drag Queen name of the day: Ada Lott

1 comment:

Michael said...

OMG, $25 is awesome. I accidentally tried to close my top while the trunk was open and the toneau cover hit the trunk. It was $800 to fix it or the top wouldn't go up and down!!! Wish I had a Delaware place to take it to!

See you in a few is so miserably hot down here this weekend.