Women’s knowledge of cars can often be underestimated and underappreciated by their male counterparts.
Usually, these misconceptions can be put right in a quick conversation. However, certain garages have been found to prey on the fairer sex, charging women more for their car servicing and repairs.
That’s right. A woman going into a repair shop alone is reportedly far more likely to pay over the going rate for work than a man would – a gender excess, if you will. This is an example of information asymmetry.
What is information asymmetry?
The term refers to transactions where one party has more or better information than the other. This creates an imbalance of power in the transaction, which can be used to the better-informed person’s advantage.
In the case of car repairs, it is the mechanic who holds more information than the female customer – or, at least, so they believe.
Therefore, they overcharge for simple jobs, expecting the customer to pay the servicing fees without asking questions.
Are women charged more in garages?
A number of recent surveys have suggested that this is indeed the case.
Mobile tyre fitting specialist TyresOnTheDrive.com decided to investigate the gender imbalance in car maintenance quotes and found that, shockingly, 62 per cent of the 1,000 women quizzed had been excessively quoted for maintenance on their car during a garage visit.
Of those who had been over quoted, another 62 per cent believed that their gender was the reason for this price hike, while 64 per cent felt that the mechanics assumed they didn't know enough about cars.
Thirty-nine per cent, meanwhile, thought that they were deemed as being gullible enough to fall for it.
A recent example is that of Glasgow teacher Susie Henderson. When the 32-year-old took the family Renault Clio to her local Kwik Fit with a slow puncture, she was astonished to be quoted £360 to rectify the issue.
The reason was, mechanics explained, that the tyre couldn't be fixed and the other three would also need replacing, because of one having a tear, another having an illegally low tread and one being a winter tyre.
Luckily, she decided to seek a second opinion and took the vehicle to SMS Tyre & Exhaust Centre in Stirling, where all four tyres were deemed safe and legal and she was charged less than £12 to fix the puncture.
Speaking afterwards, Mrs Henderson commented: 'I think the mechanics saw that I was a woman and thought they could quote me whatever they liked.’
Obviously, her case is an extreme, and the premium can be much subtler for other female motorists – an average of £45 more for a repair than a man, research carried out by ClickMechanic found last year.
The online marketplace used male and female mystery shoppers to request quotes to fix a malfunctioning clutch on a 2011 Ford Focus.
Of the 182 independent car garages across 10 cities surveyed, only six per cent gave the same quote to both genders. On average, a man was quoted £571, while a woman was quoted £616 – an eight per cent increase.
To help you avoid being the victim of gender discrimination and getting charged more at your local garage, here are three tips to help put you at an advantage.
1. Do your research first
To avoid falling victim to a gender-related price rise, research is essential.
Looking up the problem, suggested fixes, and the cost of replacement parts can give you an idea of how much the job should cost.
However, remember to take into account how long it will take to fix, as mechanics’ hours can add up… and while a replacement part may be cheap, it may take a significant amount of time to repair a fault.
Online reviews can also give you an idea as to whether any female customers have experienced problems at an establishment before, and also let you know the quality of the garage’s work.
2. Phone a male friend
If you feel you have been overpriced for a job, consider asking a male friend to phone with a similar inquiry. If the prices quoted differ, you know the garage is trying its luck.
3. Always shop around
And of course, always ask for a second opinion. You are not obliged to take the first quote you are offered, and often garages will attempt to match or better their competitors’ offer in order to secure your custom.
The TyresOnTheDrive.com survey also revealed how, as a result of their experiences, 24 per cent of the overcharged female motorists now take a male friend to avoid getting ripped off, while 34 per cent of the women changed their garage altogether.
Have you experienced sexism at a garage or service centre? Let us know in the comments below.