At Royal Auto Group, we agree this is common sense. We sell professional service by the hour. If we spend one half hour, we bill for one half hour, at a pre-quoted rate. In most cases we can very accurately estimate the time required, once we have examined the problem. This is how we estimate cost. We diagnose the problem with the vehicle, determining the extent of the repair and the time required. With this, and based on our experience, we can now quote a price that is fair to all concerned. Should the repair take less time than expected, we charge for the actual time spent.
There are sometimes cases where the amount of time cannot be known before checking further. Such a case may be diagnosing a check engine light. In these cases, we quote a range or let the customer set a limit. When the limit is reached, we stop and report exactly what we know at that point. In most cases we can predict how much longer we need.
Our customers love our billing methods and find it saves them a great deal of money. We feel it addresses one of the largest problems in the auto service industry, the practice of "flat rate" billing. With flat rate billing, a guide is used to determine how many hours are to be billed. The customer then pays this amount without regard to how long the vehicle is worked on. For instance, if two hours is specified, two hours is billed, even if the job is done in one hour. We feel this is wrong and encourages shortcuts, and in some cases, dishonesty.
We feel this is a root cause of the lack of trust, so many have for the auto dealership. It also has a profound effect on the people who work under the system. When people are treated like rats bribed with cheese, they may start acting like rats, bribed with cheese. Our thought is actual time billing is a far more accurate and honest way of doing business. Our customers agree, and we think you will too. Honest, actual time billing, is an idea that is past due.