||Women Quoted Higher Prices for Auto Repairs
Study Shows Informed Men and Women Get Bigger Discounts
When it comes to what it costs to get a car repaired, women may be at a decided disadvantage, according to a new study.
Women who appear to have no automotive knowledge are more likely to be quoted a higher price as men for the same repair; however, women who haggle about the price more often get a better price break than men.
Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management conducted the study using mystery shoppers who asked for prices on a radiator replacement for a 2003 Toyota Camry. The shoppers, who used scripts, participated in one of three scenarios: knowing the market price of $365; overestimating the price at $510; or claiming to have no idea what the repair should cost.
"Our findings suggest that auto shops may assume men know the market price for a given repair, so they automatically grant it," said Meghan Busse, associate professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School.
"However, they may not expect women to be knowledgeable in this area, so the perception is they can charge them more."
Auto repair shops will change their initial price quotes depending upon the perceived knowledge level of the consumer regardless of gender. This includes quoting higher prices for women if they appear to be uninformed.
Among those uninformed, women were "constantly quoted higher prices," according to the study; women who knew the market price were quoted at market value. Men were quoted the same price regardless of whether they knew the market value or were uninformed.
When it came to negotiating for a lower price, many shops were unwilling to budge. However, women did have a decided advantage in one situation. While they were more often quoted higher prices, women were able to negotiate lower prices more often than men.
In fact, 35% of women were able to get their requested price met, compared to 25% of men.
"It's kind of an ironic twist," said Florian Zettelmeyer, the Nancy L. Ertle professor of Marketing. "The same kind of cultural expectations that cause repair shops to overcharge women are probably also responsible for showing preference toward women in negotiations."
The best way for consumers -- regardless of gender -- can avoid overpaying for any repair: tell the mechanic what he or she expects to pay for a repair. If a consumer has an idea of what his or her auto repairs will cost, it is likely they will not get ripped off.
"Once callers refer to a price, gender differences disappear," the study found.
Obviously, this requires consumers to do some research in advance of bringing a vehicle to a mechanic. Women benefit from this legwork the most, Busse said.
If you are a woman, once you have gathered some information, "when you call each additional shop," Busse said, "reveal that you know what you’re talking about -- that you know the car, you know the repair, and you know what a sensible price is -- right off the bat. And if you get a price that's above that, ask for a discount."
(Source: The Detroit Bureau, 07/02/13)