Do Mechanics Really Lie to Women About Repairs?
It's a classic tale of sexism we often hear, but do mechanics really lie to women about repairs?
Back when I was in high school, I overheard a radio prank show being played on the bus ride home. This prank show stood out in my mind because it showed me that there is a chance that mechanics really lie to women about repairs — and that they get away with it, too.
The radio host claimed to be a mechanic calling back a woman who had just dropped off her car for a checkup and an oil change.
"Yes, you're going to need headlight fluid, your headlight fluid is pretty low," he said.
She replied, "Oh, dear. That sounds bad. Add that to my price."
"And, you also need a bumper rotation, ma'am," he said.
Once again, she relented and brought up the price. This went on and on, until the host himself had gotten sick of hearing her relenting, stopped the prank, and basically lectured her on being less gullible.
At the time, I was too young to even have a car. Even so, it shook me. It made me wonder — do mechanics really lie to women about repairs, just so they can make more money? Moreover, if they do, do they really get away with it that often?
Recently, a small incident occurred which made me wonder if people do this to ladies at the shop. In order to find out the truth, I did some research and a little asking around. This is what I've found out after researching on the subject.
First things first — do mechanics really lie to women about repairs, or is it just an urban legend?
Before we actually get into the research, I wanted to see proof that there were actual incidents where mechanics were caught lying to women about repairs.
Honestly, I didn't have to look too far. HuffPost did a piece showcasing what happened on a show called The Lookoutwhen women were sent to get repairs in different shops. In a number of instances, the mechanics lied to women — and the fallout was caught on camera.
This is what happened when I asked my friends, "Why do mechanics really lie to women about repairs? Is it about them being female?"
For reasons that no one can really figure out, I have about six people who work as mechanics in my circle of friends. They all work at different shops, and they actually had all had very similar answers about the topic.
Basically, what they told me is that it does happen. However, it's not all mechanics who do it. Those who do lie tend to target people that they don't believe will know about cars.
Most of the time, they will size up a person to look for clues that they might not know fair pricing on repairs, or that they might not know about car repair costs. For most mechanics, women tend to look like easy targets, simply because of how rare it is for women to know about cars.
Additionally, since women often rely on mechanic judgment to determine whether or not a repair is warranted, this makes them particularly profitable targets. Men, on the other hand, tend to buy just what they came in for — not a penny more, even when warned against it.
However, both my male and female mechanic friends were quick to say that the overcharging and upselling attempts quickly end the minute that sketchy mechanics believe you did your homework about cars. (At least, it ends if they're wise and don't want to be called out by you.)
So, do mechanics really lie to women about repairs?
According to my friends, yes — if they're both shady and think that the women in question aren't smart.
Research actually backed this up fairly well, too.
According to a feature piece done by The Atlantic, the biggest indicator that a person will overpay for repairs is that they are female and uninformed about the prices that they should be paying. More interestingly, the analysis of the data that was cited concluded the following:
"Repair shops probably do not inherently dislike women or take pleasure in ripping them off. Instead, the data are more consistent with statistical discrimination. Shops believe, righty or wrongly, that women know less about cars and car repair. In the absence of information to the contrary, they will be offered a higher quote."
In other words, the overcharging is totally an opportunistic issue. If you seem like you aren't schooled, you will be more likely to get ripped off.
HOWEVER, The Atlantic also had another snippet of information that also helped improve the look of mechanics in this article. Women were more likely to get discounts when they asked for them — while men were not.
So, perhaps we shouldn't ask, "Do mechanics really lie to women about repairs?" Rather, we should be asking "Why do so many mechanics feel it's okay to fudge the truth with people?"
Here's how you can prevent yourself from being fleeced...
We now know the answer to the question, "Do mechanics really lie to women about repairs?" We know they do, and why they do it. So, here's how to avoid it...
- Do your homework. Get the Repair Pal app on your phone, so you can tell how much it costs to get repairs done. Getting a second opinion is also really important since many mechanics will fudge the truth if they think you're a one-and-done shopper.
- Go into a shop with as much information about the car's issues as possible. Do you see fluid coming out of the car? Does the car have a sulfuric smell? Telling your mechanic what's wrong with the car with deep detail will show that you're more informed.
- Ask to physically see the problem. If they can't show you in person, chances are that they are lying about it.
- Read up their reviews before you go in. Most people who lie about repairs get found out — and get bad reviews relating to them. By looking up their reviews on sites like Angie's List, you're making sure you don't get ripped off.
- Make a point to go to an ASE-certified specialist, as well as a mechanic that is backed by your insurance. Most insurance companies have very high standards when it comes to the quality of mechanics they offer. Knowing they could fall out of favor with the company that pays their rent will make sure that you never have to ask something like, "Why do mechanics really lie to women about repairs?"
- Use common sense. If your car doesn't smell/look/act bad, you might not have any issues. If you ever get the feeling that the mechanic you're seeing might have lied to you, get a second opinion.