NO SELF RESPECT: We are our own worst enemies. We don't think of ourselves as skilled professionals. Oh I turn a wrench for a living, I am a grease monkey etc. We let ourselves down so of course this industry kicks us even more.

How many of us have had job times cut by a shop because they are running a special. Yea normal we pay you 1.5 hours for that job but we are running a special on that service so we're only going to pay you 1.0 hour for the same job. Don't worry with the increased traffic in the garage you will make up the difference, if not this week then down the road. Just try to sell something else on the car while it is in, even if it does not need it. They, the shop owners, have a nice little name for this practice it is called (up selling). In fact this is shop policy at a lot of places and if you don't play ball you are out of there!

Then you get automotive parts companies that pay cash under the table to technicians by running a parts special every month. Then the technician saves the parts boxes, lids or caps or some trinket in the bottom of the bottle or in the bottom of the can proving that they have used the manufacturers products. This is kept by the technician. Then when the salespersons from the different companies come in, the technician hands over all that they collected for that month and gets cash. This practice again causes a lot of technicians to sell things to customers that are not needed. Again I have to question the legality of these automotive practices. But I understand that in a lot of these shops it's the only way for the technician to make it pay check to pay check as the shop owners have the cards stacked against the technicians.

Do you think someone at ZXY Manufacturing or store tells their employees they have to take a pay cut this week because they are running a sale? But we just sit back and accept it as normal practice. We sell our souls and soil our trade by doing work that is not needed, that is why so many consumers do not trust us, and think so poorly of the people who fix their vehicles. Unless you are a technician who owns your own garage it should be the owner who bears the cost of the sale not the workers. We should sell parts that are needed, not to sell parts because the parts manufacturer has to many in stock and needs to get rid of them or the shop owner expects you to. Treat the customer like they were you, needing some kind of work done. Would you like spending more on a job that is needed? But we let ourselves fall in to these traps all the time just to survive in this trade.

One of my favorites is how many shops out there the technicians bust there asses of doing 50 to 60+ hours a week and what do you get at the end of that week 10 to 20+ hours of regular pay. Excuse me but in the real word people who produce over 100% usually get some kind of incentives. I realize some shops get some kind of incentives, but not all. I've worked at shops were it was an extra $20.00 thrown in or a chance to draw from a box of envelopes were you might win anything from $5.00 to $100.00 dollars. You turn around and make the owners hundreds or thousands of extra money a week from your hard work and you get anything from a bone thrown at you to nothing.

Then there are those shops that require you to work overtime. But you don't see overtime pay because we are considered to be private contractors. That's why they get away with it and wiggle out of the federal law (FLSA). Excuse me but unless you own your own shop and do your own work, that is the only way to work out deals with the customer on how much you want for every job before you start work on it. This is by definition a private contractor. When you get told this is how much you are going to get for doing a job by someone else and there is no dealing on the job and pay that is not being an independent private contractor. Is this not the same as a person working at a department store being told this is your job and this is how much we will pay you to do it? So how do we not fit in like everyone else out here in the work place and do not get overtime pay for over forty hours worked? We just leave so many things go as the norm in this industry. So many technicians are afraid to ask questions and rock the boat.

I have in recent months had technicians sending me e-mails telling me that their boss has docked them for using to many shop supplies or failed to clean their bay to the owners liking. Plus a couple other creative ways of cutting their paychecks. They wrote can they do this to me? I have answered back with, “if you leave them do it to you”. These unscrupulous shops will do anything to screw technicians to keep more profits for themselves and are constantly creating and looking for new ways. If things like the above or other things happen to you that money is taken from you that is owed, just tell the boss you are calling your lawyer or state labor board to see if this is legal. You have to take the initiative to learn the labor laws that apply to your area and not to be taken.

INDUSTRY IN CHANGE: So much has changed in the last couple of years, brought on by the industry and all of it for the worse. The auto manufacturers have gone out of their way to make these newer vehicles as over complicated as possible. Were it use to be a 12v wire to a switch that would then go to a solenoid to open the fuel door now has to be done through two modules. This is done for a reason.

First it justifies keeping so many engineers on staff. Second they have so many of the buying public convinced that the more buttons and on board modules the better. It's a bragging right among some manufacturers. Third and most important reason is to insure that their new car dealerships keep getting the vehicle back.

All the manufacturers have planned ways to insure that they make the car with priority software or tools needed so that the vehicle comes back to the dealership. Their goal is to put the small, independent shops out of business. This is their goal to force the buying public back to their place of purchase. With Digital Right Management software and special equipment needed to repair vehicles you have to get them back to the dealership. Again for a reason.

First off, anybody who has worked for a new car dealership knows that 60% of the work there is warranty work. In the last couple of years the manufacturers have gone out of their way to cut the times they have to pay to repair their vehicles. The cars have gotten so complicated with the emissions and electronics that a trouble tree for one code for an emission failure can be four or more pages long.

But in order for the manufacturer to increase his profits even more we are only going to pay, say 30 minutes to hook up a scanner,check service bulletins, find the code in a on-line database, run test with the scanner, break out the multimeter and jumpers and start diagnosing. Some times really strange, off the wall, never been seen by anyone in the shop problem happens. Usually on a product so new or recently changed it's not in the books, on-line database, or bulletins. Then you need help from the manufacturer. Well, we are not paying the technicians or the shop for time spent on the phone with our engineers anymore either. Recall forget it. Recall is another word for the manufacturer is really going to screw the technician. What I am trying to get at is when a person brings a vehicle back for repairs under warranty the technician and the shop really don't fare too well. But when the warranty expires and now they have to bring the vehicle back because no other shop can fix it, now it's the dealerships turn to reap the rewards of the manufacturers new policies.

Now most manufacturers feel that training can be better taught by a computer CD or VHS tape than actual hands on instructions at a school. Again we lose as we have to learn new products or features on our time. Which is also a cut in our pay times. If you think about it. Like I said we are the kicking boy for this industry.

Two of the manufacturers are hurting. Why, because profit was job number one priority to them. They skimped on quality and made heavy, performance vehicles with bigger displacement engines. They thought the SUV market would last forever and gas would remain hovering just above a buck a gallon. Why did they like the SUV crazed market? Why did they get into a competition on who can make the biggest, most powerful, highest ground clearance? Because every time a person buys a new sport utility vehicle the manufacturer is making thousands of dollars in profit from what it costs them to build it. Look how many of these manufactures have set up shop in third world countries paying next to nothing to workers and bypassing western safety laws, labor laws, and pollution laws. Has this helped lower the SUV, vehicle prices? NO! But they sure made even more profits. Did they put the huge profit back into research and development of fuel efficient vehicles and hybrids and hydrogen. No we partied and sang songs like "Let The Good Times Roll". Now it is play catch up as the Japanese manufacturers build quality fuel efficient vehicles and lead the market in hybrids and are now actually licensing some of their discoveries back to Detroit. Now Detroit wants us to feel sorry for them. The only people I feel sorry for are the workers who have lost good jobs by the thousands and the damage it has done to the communities where so many plants have closed down. What I would like to have seen is the top 10% of upper management being let go by the share holders to go back to running hamburger restaurants. Because their skills were not up to running a major company.