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Why many fleets are fed up with service fees

Service-Business-Fees

Everywhere you look, fees are piling up with everything we pay for.

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When was the last time you rented a car? Look at the list of fees—facility fees, battery fee, tire recoup fee and additional recoup fee, local tax, city tax, county state tax, not to mention if you forget to fill it up with gas. 

Now think about hotel fees—a local tax, city tax, state tax, and a resort fee, plus the parking charge.

Repair shop invoices look similar. There’s a section for miscellaneous charges, waste disposal, oil disposal, EPA fee, environmental fee, nuts and bolts fees, rags, pictures and whatever else plus battery and tire disposal fees. All real costs associated with a shop.

Mad yet?

Recently, I was shown an estimated invoice from a manufacturer’s dealer that was asked to provide service to a brand-new construction loader at the port for export. This manufacturer is the exclusive engine supplier for this brand. They were asked to just hook up the computer to check to see why it would not start, checking for the ECM signal. Here was the estimate—not signed. 

  • Estimate of Time $1711.50
  • Travel Labor Charge $171.50
  • Misc $404.13
  • Electronic Tooling Fee $50.00
  • Hazmat Disposal $94.13
  • Road Mileage $100.00
  • Shop Supplies $150.00
  • State Tax $14.65
  • Total $2695.91

All of this was for a simple task: drive to the Export Shipping Port 20 miles away, hook up the computer, wait 10 minutes, and check the results. Keep in mind that this is a zero-hour machine. Prior to the request, the manufacturer’s representative checked all of the electrical components, wiring and electrical contacts, narrowing it down to the ECM, but need verification and or warranty replacement of the ECM.

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As for the hazmat fees and shop supplies? There were no hazmat items used, or any shop supplies beyond maybe a pair of gloves. 

It’s the same in the heavy-duty truck world. 

Maybe all of this is why people are angry at dealers about seemingly high hourly costs for labor. When labor rates were lower, a few fees were part of balancing the customer’s misunderstanding of what the labor truly costs. Now that has become acceptable, the labor rates are through the roof, and customers may be jumping ship to the competition.

Additionally, contract maintenance fees are sky rocketing. If you contract your maintenance service to any degree, know with whom you’re working. Sometimes routine repairs aren’t covered under “general maintenance” contract programs, and that means that those costs that could be above and beyond your contracted program.

Darry Stuart is president and chief executive officer of DWS Fleet Management Services, an independent transportation and fleet management business. For more information, email comments or questions requests to Darry at [email protected]

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