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Old 31.10.2011, 21:58
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Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

First post - be gentle,

I took my 11yr old Seat to a local garage to get an estimate for repairs required by the authorities (auto didn't pass the "expertise").

Longer story short - the garage owner handed me an estimate for CHF1400+ and said that was the minimum and that it would likely be more. I told him I'd discuss with my wife and revert. We returned to the garage the next day and he wasn't in that day. The mechanic that received us told us his boss would call us. He didn't. We took our business across the boarder to France.

Today I received an invoice for CHF156.60 for "controlling the car and preparing an estimate".

Question is ... is this usual / normal / accepted business practice?

many thank in advance
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Old 31.10.2011, 22:00
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

Welcome to Switzerland and to the forum. You might have been Switzerlanded.

Switzerlanded! at the car dealer

Unsure about the transport industry, but in the housing side of things, there is an administrative charge to cover time spent. Perhaps other members can contribute more in explaining this or rebutting it.
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Old 31.10.2011, 22:02
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

Welcome to Swiss

Best to go to Europe for anything involving cars...
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Old 31.10.2011, 23:02
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

@cran

thanks for the tip :-)

my question still stands, however,

IS IT USUAL IN SWITZERLAND TO PAY FOR AN AUTO REPAIR ESTIMATE?
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Old 31.10.2011, 23:10
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

It is usual to pay for everything, unless specifically stated / requested that it should be free of charge.
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Old 31.10.2011, 23:15
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

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@cran

thanks for the tip :-)

my question still stands, however,

IS IT USUAL IN SWITZERLAND TO PAY FOR AN AUTO REPAIR ESTIMATE?
It depends, if you ask somebody to spend maybe an hour of their time, to see whats actually wrong, look up the price of parts, etc & then you go to somewhere else.......

If you go to see a dentist because you need some work doing, I would be surprised if he did not charge for the consultation.

As someone who wastes a huge amount of time prepairing estimates, so the other person can get their brother the work for 100 chf less, they asked me to quote for a 'premium job', their brother will do as cheap as possible.

Do you work in your job for free, or do you expect to be paid for the time you spend working?
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Old 31.10.2011, 23:27
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

Yes it is fairly normal. It is also normal to have this charge waived when you give them the job.
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Old 31.10.2011, 23:54
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

@friendlykiwi - i get paying for everything, not a shock to me, but i'm kinda interested in the notion of cost estimates (from professionals, but particularly from garages in this case)

@fatmanfilms - i went to a garage with a short list of items to be repaired from the authorities. the question to the garage was, "how much?" car was put up on a lift; inspected for circa 10min (MAX); owner and mechanic spent the next 45min figuring out how to use their computer.

going to a dentist to see what's wrong is called a "check-up" and yes, one usually pays for those - agreed - :-)

yes, unless it's part of a consultation, i do not charge my time/effort for preparing a proposal

@sbrinz - thanks, over the years we've had some work done on the car (after estimates have been presented and we've discussed and agreed what work actually gets done) and this is the first time i've received one of these invoices for the cost estimate.

thanks to you all for your inputs ...
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Old 31.10.2011, 23:56
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

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@fatmanfilms - i went to a garage with a short list of items to be repaired from the authorities. the question to the garage was, "how much?" car was put up on a lift; inspected for circa 10min (MAX); owner and mechanic spent the next 45min figuring out how to use their computer.
..
Thats about right for an hour with VAT!
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Old 01.11.2011, 00:12
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

I'd say it was a bit steep: my village garage charged me 120 to fully test a car before I bought it, presenting me a *detailed* list of issues afterwards.
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Old 01.11.2011, 00:14
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

In the US, consumers take their car to a repair shop to get a free estimate. This allows the consumer to make a sound judgement about costs and it also forces mechanics to give decent estimates, otherwise no one would take their cars there. If you had to pay for an estimate, you couldn't afford to shop around and the mechanics could charge whatever the F they wanted. Just like shopping for an insurance quote or a bank loan. Total BS to pay for an estimate.
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Old 01.11.2011, 00:27
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

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In the US,

Total BS to pay for an estimate.
This is not the US, there is not the economies of scale that apply.

Why should anybody give anything for free? It's a business not a charity. If you go ahead with the work they wont charge you, it's a 'time wasters' charge.
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Old 01.11.2011, 00:40
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

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@cran

thanks for the tip :-)

my question still stands, however,

IS IT USUAL IN SWITZERLAND TO PAY FOR AN AUTO REPAIR ESTIMATE?
I could answer that for you, but it's going to cost you. My advice ain't free.
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Old 01.11.2011, 00:56
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

I don't know about cars, but... in less than 3 months I was asked to pay for quotations for a computer and a digital camera. Like, if you refuse the quotation, we will charge x amount of CHF. In one case, I was talking to official dealer of the machine, the other directly to the manufacturer. It seems this is becoming an extended practice.
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Old 01.11.2011, 01:34
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

I'm seeing it also in building-related trades - plumbers, electricians, etc. - even for simple jobs, not just for big renovation projects.

(That is, when they can be bothered to respond to your inquiry at all. But I digress...)
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Old 01.11.2011, 08:19
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

Thanks all for your views/experiences. It helps.

I thought about shooting off a letter clearly stating that I will not accept his invoice, but I am going to go speak with the garagist - maybe I am missing something - I've never paid a garage for an estimate - I have paid for checks to find faults and then discussed their estimated costs, but never received an invoice for an estimate.
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Old 01.11.2011, 08:52
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

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Thanks all for your views/experiences. It helps.

I thought about shooting off a letter clearly stating that I will not accept his invoice, but I am going to go speak with the garagist - maybe I am missing something - I've never paid a garage for an estimate - I have paid for checks to find faults and then discussed their estimated costs, but never received an invoice for an estimate.
Well, you have now.

We wanted some landscaping in our garden last spring. Called the local garden landscaping people who sent their rep. round. We asked at the outset what the costs would be the visit. CHF500 for estimate and drawing plans, deducted from the final bill was the answer.

Having been involved in the service industry, I would have loved to be able to charge for having my brains picked on many occasions...
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Old 01.11.2011, 10:01
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

It is standard practice.

To be honest I'm not going to spend and hour, maybe an hour and a half, investigating a fault with something, which turns out to be BER, and then not get paid for my time.

If I issue a quote/estimate for something which is then declined, it will cost the customer 130 francs.
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Old 01.11.2011, 10:11
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

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Thanks all for your views/experiences. It helps.

I thought about shooting off a letter clearly stating that I will not accept his invoice, but I am going to go speak with the garagist - maybe I am missing something - I've never paid a garage for an estimate - I have paid for checks to find faults and then discussed their estimated costs, but never received an invoice for an estimate.
Debating the rights and wrongs of it won't help the OP - its not the point.

In some countries, quotes are given free as a guide. In those countries, the quote is often changed because it is given quickly to win business and then you get a phone call when the engine is on the floor saying "Sorry guv......your x/y/z needs changing too.....its gonna be expensive"

But here, they take the quote seriously and do it properly and expect to be paid for their efforts IF you don't give them the job.

Whether it is right or wrong doesn't matter - but it is fair and it is the way things are done here. You learned a lesson which isn't that expensive.

Suggest you talk to the guy - net off the cost of the estimate against the cost of the work - smile nicely and do a deal
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Old 01.11.2011, 10:34
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Re: Got an invoice for an auto repair estimate...wtf?

I have yet to speak with a garage who hasn't given a "rough quote" over the phone without charging.

For example - telling them what it failed on, how long would they expect that work to take - and their hourly rate. And ask would the parts be expensive?

The quote you got was an accurate Swiss quote - down to the last bolt and washer. You'd pay that amount when you picked the car up.

If he had the car on the lift and went through the system looking for actual prices - you're going to have to pay.
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