Originally Posted by Monoblanco
Thanks for an excellent writeup.
An honest inquiry - can you offer any theories as to why in customer satisfaction surveys, independent repair shops almost always score, on average, quite a bit higher than dealer service departments?
After being charged $330.00 by a high profile local Dodge dealer to have the camshaft position sensor changed on a Dodge Neon, whose SA had been unwilling to let me talk directly to the mechanic, feeling both 'processed' and overcharged, I resolved that thenceforth I would exhaust my DIY resources first, then if necessary turn to a good local independent, and only as a last resort ever deal with a dealership again. This was a small part of the reason that I got rid of the Neon and replaced it with a Focus, a car with which I have been much happier.
Thanks for allowing a small vent, and,yes, the initial question was serious.
My best guess would be the overall higher price and typical size difference between independents and dealers. Given two "equally satisfactory" visits between a dealer and an independent I'd expect the owner of the vehicle to slightly favor the independent simply because the independent will likely have a lower overhead, which will allow them to be more flexible on their labor rates and part markups. Given two equal services I'll favor the one less affecting my wallet.
Although I'm absolutely certain dealership technicians are generally more competent, their competency is generally limited to the product they service. Think of it like "Independents know a little about a LOT of stuff but dealers know a LOT about only a few things". Of course this generalization is broad and almost sarcastic but it gets the point across.
Also, most dealerships exist primarily to sell vehicles so their capital is typically focused more on the front end of the building than the back end. Large dealerships used to intimidate me as a customer while the smaller "Mom & Pop" independents always seemed easier to communicate and do business with. Once I became familiar with the differences in equipment standards, information networks, training requirements and part sources it was evident to me that despite the large, intimidating nature of the big dealer on the corner they really do have better techs, better equipment, more information and much better quality parts that are generally located faster than the independent.