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Capitalism - Conflicts of interest

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5/25/2015 1:37:49 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I just took my car in for an alignment. A cheap, routine procedure - quoted $70. When the mechanic called me a few hours later, he said he couldn't perform the repairs because my tie rods and ball joints were loose. He went on to talk about my brakes, tires, and shocks, and said I needed $1900 worth of repairs.

Funny thing was I just had my brakes professionally done recently. Something was wrong... even before I brought my car in, on the phone, he seemed to allude that there might be more than just an alignment needed.

Driving home tonight, I noticed there was a weird wobble that hadn't been there before. Perhaps that was what the mechanic was describing... but what is really getting to me is the fact that he wants my money... he wants my car to need work so he can derive a profit from me. I am just a sucker to him, somebody he can use to make money based on my ignorance of automechanics.

Capitalism is chock-full of conflicts of interests. At work my boss commonly tells me to waste time because he doesn't want another assignment and we get paid by the hour anyway. Public resources, environmental externalities, tragedy of the commons... we try to regulate these conflicts of interest away, but the regulations themselves - as libertarians fairly point out - are also conflicts of interest.

Perhaps the mechanic I brought my car to intentionally loosened those parts so I would have to pay him to fix them. Why not? When our economic system presents us with these conflicts of interest, it is only a matter of time before somebody takes advantage of them...
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5/25/2015 1:48:35 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Just have a franchised dealer do the diagnosis and let them know that all you want is a diagnosis, not a repair. They're usually pretty legit and know their stuff. Groupon can get you an alignment for 40 or 50 bucks usually. You can get Yelp for discounts on labor for specific jobs, but it's usually limit 1 per customer. I'll just use the 1 per customer coupons and go to 3 different mechanics with Yelp coupons if I need 3 different repairs. They usually go by a book that estimates their hours rather than charge for the actual hours they work. It's a PITA but I've found it to be the cheapest way. eBay, craigslist, Amazon, are good places for parts.