Category Archives: mac

BULLSHIT

According to the Bureau of Automotive Repair’s website, the BAR’s purpose is to:

“To protect and serve California consumers by ensuring a fair and competitive automotive repair marketplace and administering a model motor vehicle emissions reduction program.”http://www.bar.ca.gov
What they actually do, however, is charge automotive shops $200 a year for the mere title of being “BAR-certified,” and then never talk to them again. I’ve worked at plenty of shops that hand out exorbitantly overpriced estimates only to never replace a single thing in the car, and other shops where the customer comes back multiple times only to be charged every time the shop attempts to fix their car.
There are no “secret shoppers” to investigate, evaluate, and otherwise expose the customer-raping practice of these crooked shops. There are no estimate evaluations done. The only time you’ll hear from them is on the rare occasion when the customer finds their phone number, one that’s almost never found on the estimate or invoice given to the customer by their repair shop because, most of the time, the shop’s BAR account number is listed to small that you’d need a fucking magnifying glass to find it, or the shop itself rip the part of paper with the BAR number off and tells the customer, “Sorry, the printer chewed the invoice.”
Shops pay $200 a year to give their customers the illusion of peace-of-mind. The one time I actually met an agent from the BAR, one of my bosses was selling timing belt replacements but was really only changing motor oil—minus the required filter change—and shipping the cars. The BAR Agent’s admonishment:”Just give them back half of the repair and they’ll go away.“So now a $900 oil change—since they never got the timing belt replaced—got reduced to $400.50. Thank you Bureau of Automotive Repair.
In my opinion the place should be shut down, or forced by the U.S. Government to actually begin regulating the industry like they were assembled to do. Because for at least the past ELEVEN years that I’ve been fixing cars, they’ve done nothing other than charge shops for the privilege of fucking as many people as they’d like in a way that’s Bureau of Automotive Repair-certified.
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IT COULD BE

If I had it my way, the industry pay-scale would be turned inside out. Fuck flat-rate, bullshit pay, and fuck anyone who agrees with it. Let’s pretend it was never implemented; let’s say it went like this.

  • Technician Pay – a flat salary that the owner and mechanic both feel comfortable with. For instance, a not-so-decorated mechanic might be worth $40,000 a year. Seems like a good start, but the mechanic would be entitled to keep his end of the bargain: hustling, working, and not standing around counting wrenches in his/her toolbox just to milk the clock. Anyone that’s worked in a shop knows there’s always something to do.
  • Time Worked – The first thing people think of when they hear salary is eighty-hour work weeks. Instead, the owner and mechanic could agree on a mandatory number of hours worked to complete a “work week,” say six days, forty-five hours. The technician would still be required to run a time clock, punching in and punching out for lunch, etc. And when the technician got to forty-five hours, the week would be over until the next work week began, unless they both agreed to put in the overtime.
  • Vacation – Salary means getting paid every week, no matter what. Shop owners like to think that it’s only salary if you’re present in the shop, mean it’s more like “weekly” or “daily.” I say that’s bullshit.

For some reason, shop owners think that they’re untouchable and no one can fuck with them because no one’s pushed back yet. Things have to be even if a shop is going to max out its earning potential. Tension will rip apart a shop. I see it happen every day: mechanics work with their boss’s bullshit comments in the back of their minds and break things; they drag their feet just to piss the boss off because they’re not getting what they want; they refuse to help coworkers with jobs because they think they should be getting paid more… no one wins. It’s called a TEAM for a reason. Mechanic, technicians, and co-workers should be working together, not against one another to try and look better in the boss’s eyes when the next payday comes around. It’s sad, STOP MAKING IT A COMPETITION! WE’RE ON THE SAME TEAM! Workers should push each other to do better, not hold one another back. They should be collaborating on difficult diagnostic jobs and discussing what’s going on, figuring out problems together. As for shop owners, when a worked breaks something, they shouldn’t make him/her pay for it. They make you how much money? Give me a fucking break. Mistakes happen.


Imagine if the industry ran like this. Mechanics would go to work every day knowing that money was the last thing to be worried about. They could finally relax, clear their heads, and fix cars, instead of racing the clock or listening to another bullshit story about how they’re “costing the shop money” when the fact of the matter is even if they were to make thirty dollars an hour, flat-rate and a job paid ten hours of labor, and then lets say that the shop labor charge was one-hundred dollars an hour. A tech would have to work on that one vehicle for thirty five hours before it “cost” the shop any money at all. And that’s not even accounting for the money the shop owner has made on parts’ markups.


Could it work? With the right people? Absolutely. And I guarantee, if everyone were paid their worth, even if it were based on a hands-on testing or some kind of entrance exam to determine one’s basic understanding of necessary systems and orders of operations, it wouldn’t be such a cut-throat market to be a part of. Customers could walk into a shop and see everyone smiling, not just the asshole behind the desk counting the money in the safe for the umpteenth time. …fuckers.

SIX TENTHS

Before I begin, just in case you aren’t familiar with the term “flat rate” here’s a quick rundown.

The rate of pay for a technician is broken down into tenths of an hour where each tenth is equivalent to six minutes (ex. 0.2 hours = 12 minutes and 1.5 hours = 1 hour and 30 minutes.). Thus, his/her pay is accumulated by hours earned during the given pay period.

For example:

Employee’s flat rate wage

 = $20.00 per hour.

Given/Assumed time to remove and replace front brake pads and rotors

 = 2.0 flat rate hours

Employee’s actual time spent on job

 = 0.5 hours 

Employee pay

 = 2.0 flat rate hours x $20.00 per hour = $40.00 for their 0.5 hours of actual labor


On paper the system can’t be beat.
But, if an employee were to spend 10.0 actual hours on the job the pay still remains at 2.0 flat rate hours. 

The workers in the industry refer to the total number of hours accumulated as “flagged hours”.

Also, a technician isn’t given base pay. If there is no work and he/she hasn’t fixed a car, then the technician receives a check of $0.00 at the end of the pay period. To keep this from happening, most technicians end up stick to one type of job—something they can complete routinely—instead of testing themselves, unlock their potential, and expanding their expertise.

The flat rate system was put in place to keep workers productive, the logic being the more a technician works, the more he/she will make. The suits and the instructors at all the schools alike love to say the same shit: “the faster you are, the more money you’ll make; the quicker you diagnose and fix a problem, the more hours you’ll flag; make damn sure you up-sell everything and make more fucking hours; TIME IS MONEY! WORK FASTER!” Drilling that into the head of a eighteen year old college kid who doesn’t know shit about wrenching to begin with—who can barely install a license plate frame with confidence—will never improve  anyone’s diagnostic skills, especially not while being a part of your bullshit amazing eight-month program.
In reality, the above attitude has effectively helped create a very hostile working environment for an already stressful position. In my opinion, is the leading cause of the huge number of crippling comebacks, wheel-off, and oil-outs.

Vocab. Lesson:
comeback

: when a customer returns to the shop with the same complaint [within the 12-month / 12,000-mile warranty] after the shop has already attempted to fix the issue but obviously failed.

wheel-off

: when the technician forgets to tighten one or more wheels on the vehicle and it falls off while the customer is driving. 

oil-out

: when the technician lets the car leave after an oil service is performed and the oil cap wasn’t put back on or they forgot to put oil back into the engine after draining it)


AND I ALMOST FORGOT: The technician doesn’t get paid for the job the second time around, and nine times out of ten they’ll be the ones paying for anything that’s been broken or parts to fix the vehicle correctly.  Even when techs move to a weekly salary, the first thing out of every greedy, piece-of-shit-boss’ mouth is either, “You know that job only pays 2.0 hours and you’ve been at it all day?!,” or the lovely, “We’re losing our asses on this one, pick it up.” Personally, my favorite is, “You should be paying me this week; you haven’t made me shit.” Naturally, the tech says, Fuck it becomes upset, rushes the diagnostic and/or the repair-in-progress, pieces the car back together with chewing gum, puts the extra parts in the glove box, looks over at the boss and says, with a smile, “It’s ready for wash, sir,” just for the customer to come back a week later, completely pissed (and rightfully so), leaving the tech right back where he/she started.

The rub? When the customer comes back with the same problem, the boss will yell at his mechanic, usually in front of the client, to make him/her feel that the boss is on their side, that they’re punishing the employee that screwed up even though that same fucking boss—and an arbitrary number on a computer that dictates how long any given job “should” take– was the cause of the employee rushing in the first place. The repair SHOULD be free of any charges, but now that the boss is “on the customer’s side,” and that they’ve gained his/her trust back, they start talking jargon that is so complicated and convoluted the customer won’t remember any of it long enough to Google when he gets home. Instead of a free job, the customer then gets hit with another bill on top of the first one. Hook. Line. Sinker.

Now, while all of that sinks in, you’re probably thinking, “How the fuck could anyone work under those conditions?!” or maybe a little of “That can’t be legal!!!”. Truth is the system is one-hundred-percent for the owner since the owner doesn’t have to pay anyone that isn’t producing, and when the guys in the big seat are making money hand over fist, nothing will change. The bad times never hit him unless things are so slow for so long that the reserve funds were eaten-up by his rent.

But, this never happens because having a car is a necessity. People would (and do) rather cancel their health and dental insurance instead of lose their vehicle.

The shop owner doesn’t pay the mechanic for being there, and he doesn’t allow you to go home when there’s no work. The only time he’ll add money to your paycheck is when you make him money by completing a job (and it’s only considered completed when it’s picked up and paid for by the customer). And, if you mess up, then you start from the beginning, for free, and the part they broke most likely will get deducted from their pay.

In the next entry I’m going to be discussing a system that I’ve developed but just haven’t found the right crew to test it with yet. This system shows a way to allow the technician to be completely relaxed every day and still motivated to work. You’ll see what I mean.
To be continued…