How to navigate getting a quote for repairs
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Brakes squealing? Engine rattling? Transmission slipping? Here’s how to get the best from a workshop.
Estimates and quotes
Calling a handful of workshops for an estimate may seem the easiest approach but it’s not always the most accurate.
Under the Consumers Guarantees Act 1993, professionals are required only to tell you what they think the job will roughly cost based on their skills and knowledge.
The actual price may be more or less than the estimate, but as a rule of thumb it should stay within 10 to 15 per cent of the original estimate.
Where possible, drive your vehicle into a workshop so they can physically see the make and model, gauge its overall condition and check the work required. They can call their suppliers to get a better idea of part prices and availability, which will allow them to give a full written quote.
If the quote is accepted, the workshop can’t charge more than the agreed price unless extra jobs come up that couldn’t be seen until the work started. The provider must keep the owner informed and any variables should be explained along the way.
Getting a quote
Consumer Protection has some great advice:
●Shop around and choose at least three businesses. Give the same information and ask for a written quote. Check whether the business is charging a fee to prepare a quote.
●Compare quotes by looking at the total price and whether GST is inclusive or exclusive. Check the hourly rates, quality and cost of materials, start and finish dates, and how long the job will take.
●Negotiate with the successful business on price.
●Try not to pay a deposit but, if you do, pay no more than 10 per cent of the total. Never pay the full amount until the job is finished.
●Keep all the paperwork.
You can use the same process for an estimate as well but just bear in mind that the price may be more or less.
Make sure the quote you receive is inclusive of GST and be aware of expiry dates. Labour rates, prices and availability of parts change and usually quotes will only be valid for 30 days.
We recommended using a reputable, well-established service provider because, should any disputes arise over repairs once a provider has your car, it can be hard to get it back.
If the company is, however, part of an association, this will give some backing and resolution assistance if a dispute occurs.
A quote is a contract
A quote is a contract between you and the workshop. Ensure the quote is in writing and includes a detailed breakdown of parts and labour.
If extra work is required, the garage needs to have your consent before they carry out the work. This will then be agreed as a variation to the quote and should be put in writing.
If things go wrong
If the bill is more and the workshop hasn’t contacted you to discuss the additional charges and authorise the extra work, you should have to pay only the quoted amount.
If the price was not agreed beforehand all is not lost. Under the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, a tradesperson or professional must complete the work with reasonable care and skill, and in a reasonable time for a reasonable price.
If you can’t agree on a fair price, it might be best to pay in full to get your vehicle back. You can then go to the Disputes Tribunal.