Thursday, July 08, 2010

True Story

My fiance and I are in the process of trading in one delightful urban hellhole for another, and this past weekend all the driving earned me a cracked windshield on my pickup truck. A couple days ago I called a local dealer (yeah I know, dealer) in my former city, where the truck was but I wasn't, and got an estimate for replacing the windshield at $250-$300. Fair enough; they hire a glass contractor to do it for $150 and charge me for the privilege of their customer service.

So imagine my surprise when my fiance dropped it off and called me to say that they gave her an estimate of $450-$500. Same car. Same windshield. 24 hours apart. Now, I'm not quick to assume bad faith or nefarious motive, but I'm pretty damn sure some pig in the service department thinks it's ok to try to rip off women.

When I called this morning to speak with the manager the woman who handled my call seemed genuinely appalled that this was going on where she worked. I'm sure it made her feel good to know what at least one of her coworkers thinks of women. Speaking to the manager only furthered my suspicions. The repair had already been done, and the bill had come to about $425 total, but there was little attempt on his end to justify the price. As soon as I said I wanted to see the invoice from the glass contractor he told me he would see what he could do, and five minutes later he called me back to say he had "fixed the problem with my bill," with a state inspection thrown in to sweeten the deal.

It's an indication of my blindness to my privilege that this episode shocked me. It seemed like an antiquated cliche, but I guess it's really not rare at all. The fact that the manager seemed more sheepish about being caught than surprised at the behavior of his employees is enough to make me realize how common the practice must be. And the really crazy/depressing thing is that in a global context getting ripped off by mechanics is pretty far down on the list of pressing issues women face.