Study finds women often pay more for auto repair

July 8, 2013 12:00 AM

When it comes to getting the right auto repair, drivers often leave the hard work to the professionals. However, this can be costly, especially if the car owner comes across as uninformed. A recent study from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management found that women are frequently given higher price quotes for auto repair than their male counterparts, and these costs can climb higher if they don't appear as if they know what they're talking about. 

Women are quoted higher prices
The study found that women were consistently quoted higher prices, except in the event they knew the market price point and expressed their knowledge. Men were typically quoted the same price regardless of their knowledge, The Detroit News reports. 

"This comes down to stereotypes and assumptions," said Meghan Busse, an associate professor of management at the Kellogg School. "Our findings suggest that auto shops may assume men know the market price for a given repair, so they automatically grant it. However, they may not expect women to be more knowledgeable in this area, so the perception is they can charge them more." 

The benefits of negotiations
Although women may be quoted at a higher price point, they are given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to negotiating costs down. In fact, about 35 percent of women were able to have their requested price of car repair met, compared to only 25 percent of men, the study found. 

"It's kind of an ironic twist," said Florian Zettelmeyer, a marketing professor affiliated with the study. "The same cultural expectations that cause repair shops to overcharge women are probably also responsible for showing preference toward women in negotiations." 

Do your research
Before you head to an auto repair franchise to get work done on an automobile, do a bit of research to make sure you're versed in what's going on under the hood. Look into potential problems and their average costs so you have a baseline for comparison when you take a car to the garage. 

"When you call each additional shop, 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," Busse said. "And if you get a price that's above that, ask for a discount." 

Of course, another way to put your mind at ease is by taking your car to a reputable shop that is known for fair pricing and quality work. 

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