What can we do as the aftermarket to fight the manufacturers continued price increases?

Sam Mobile Technician Michigan Posted   Latest  

The announcement that I saw yesterday that Chrysler is now going to an additional charge per VIN for programming has got me thinking. I am a mobile programmer and pride myself in using legitimate software for programming. It seems to me the manufacturers are attempting to drive us to aftermarket solutions. 

What can we do as the aftermarket to help with these costs? It seems the manufacturers do not want our business. 

I think we have 2 options. 

  1. Come up with a cost effective aftermarket solution
  2. Have someone like NASTF go to the manufacturers and assist us in keeping costs down. Help write some guidelines for aftermarket costs. 

I understand that the manufacturers should be charging for this. As a mobile programmer I am going to have to raise my prices again. about 35% of our business is Chrysler. SO to me this is a huge problem. 

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Allan Owner
Virginia
Allan Default
 

I see no way to stop them. And honestly it’s their right to do as they want unless there is some legislation stating otherwise. You’ll never get to sleep with your law makers because they’re already in bed with the people you want to fight. Other than recommending a different brand we dont have many options and I doubt there is enough of us to make a difference. Push a little like with the 2018…

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John Owner
New York
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Allan, So true. When R2R was the buzz I was one of the few that said be careful what you wish for you just may get it. Hope all is well.

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Keith Instructor
New York
Keith Default
 

R2R had one idea that was lost in the mix , that I believe should be brought back to the forefront, You get the vehicle owners involved! Make posters and place them in waiting rooms with links to the "law makers" explaining the situation. Show some of what the manufacturer refuses to give , or even show what things like this topic are doing to their purse. If you get the customers involved in…

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Robert Engineer
North Carolina
Robert Default
 

Bingo Keith! Once industry let Volvo get away with selling incomplete parts, then adding a line item on the repair order for software we got beat. Every manufacturer is looking for revenue. They all have pretty crappy software infrastructure when it comes to service. So they look for easy ways to add a toll booth. R2R and paying per vin is not the major problem. Its consumers who don't…

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Jaime Diagnostician
Florida
Jaime Default
 

Although I don't believe we'll be successful in getting the majority of vehicle-owners to step up and help "fight", it really is them who are being charged in the end (Ahem). I would be billing what needs to be billed for me to still make a profit. If that price is higher than the dealers, too bad, it's what I need to make to keep my business afloat. If the car-owner's upset, it's time to…

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Terry Diagnostician
Florida
Terry Default
 

Sam, I’m with you on this! I just saw yesterday the increase in cost per vin, starting in July. I, too use legitimate factory tooling for 90% of my mobile programming business. The way that business owners (shops) are starting to think, at least around here( Pensacola, Fl) area, is they are calling me more, as they do not want their “A” techs tied up on programming. Plus they are watching their…

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Mike Technician
Missouri
Mike Default
 

Hi Terry. Could you give me a buzz when you have time, have a question . Thanks Mike. Three one four six zero 5 two seven three nine

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John Owner
New York
John Default
 

Sam, Allan is correct 100%. I have been trying to level the playing field for us for the last 10 years. I am tired of fighting. It has been fruitless and frustrating. I would suggest adapt and overcome. Because in the end can you afford the legal team GM or FCA could put up?

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Allan Owner
Virginia
Allan Default
 

And who I really have a problem with is the remote programming services that either the manufacturers have back door deals with or they’re just ignoring them but they get away with things we can’t. If I had 5 vans on the road and needed to do 5 Mopars I would need 5 Micropods, 5 TA accounts and 5 WiTech licenses. “Blank” I assume has one and they’re doing them. And FCA knows what they’re doing…

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Robert Mobile Technician
Michigan
Robert Default
 

Allan, You are correct about the companies who do remote programming. Back a year or so ago some friends if my be work at Chrysler said FCA didn't really like the way these companies operates with one subscription and multiple devices. They were going to clamp down on these companies as they were taking advantage of the service. This, when they had the one update here a few months back that…

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Tim Owner/Technician
Oregon
Tim Default
 

I charge the subscription fee as a part item,

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Jeff Technician
South Carolina
Jeff Default
 

Pass the cost Increase on to the customer. I hear a lot about people wanting to create legislation to cap big business profits so little business can survive and that isn’t a good idea in my opinion. First of all, it isn’t how things work in America and do you really want to give big brother that much power? How long before they want to open your books and start telling you how much profit you…

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Jamey Owner/Technician
California
Jamey Default
 

Well said. I see the Mobil Programmer much like taxi drivers. They all freaked out over Uber and Lyft. Law suits were filed. The taxi was the way it was done for several generations! Now along comes an App that sends a near new car to your location, usually in less than 10 minutes. The drivers are (in my experience) much more friendly and presentable than any taxi driver I have ever ridden with…

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Jeff Technician
South Carolina
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Some of us were old enough and been in the business long enough that the fast and the furious franchise didn’t impress us too much Jamey, no doubt the cinematography was great and the stunt driving was pretty cool but the technical aspects of the cars..... well those of us that were already professional Technicians knew it was just a movie lol

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Geoff Diagnostician
Hawaii
Geoff Default
   

JT, Perhaps the "mobile programmer" business will go away as fast as it started. Never even really quite existed out here. (One guy, part time, after hours at his F/T job is it.)

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John Owner
New York
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Geoff, I have had my mobile diagnostics/programming long before it was in "vogue". It is a viable and essential business model. It helps professional shops keep their customers. I network with 30 or so mobile guys almost daily and our businesses are strong despite the daily hurdles we face. It is a strong professional brotherhood. But, it is not for everyone. What I tell shop owners is if you…

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Geoff Diagnostician
Hawaii
Geoff Default
 

That's neat that it works in your area, but try it here and you'd have nothing but bills. I have never turned away diag, and there is simply no programming to do, more than once or twice a year. As I stated, the one and only guy doing it part time ONLY out here, does so, because the amount of work doesn't exist for it to be a F/T gig. Maybe he does one car a week, or two. I haven't asked him in…

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Bruce Owner/Technician
Texas
Bruce Default
 

John, where do you network? Local or on a Forum?

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Donny Manager
Colorado
Donny Default
 

Geoff, I would like to give a different perspective on that. I think the mobile IT guy - cause that is really what you are. You occasionally get to work on a car too - is going to be a very viable business. There are several problems that are due to it's somewhat "new" nature (at least against the repair shop model) Insurance companies still don't get it; It is hard to get a good policy that…

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Geoff Diagnostician
Hawaii
Geoff Default
 

That only works if the car count in that market supports it, and the typical car isn't 15+ years old. e.g. almost nobody around here fixes ABS or SRS now, they won't fix all that ADAS stuff either. They'll ask me to look at it, and MIGHT buy a sensor or bearing, but tell them they further diag and possibly a module, they just say "thanks, see ya!" I think the mail-order pre-programmed, and…

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Robert Mobile Technician
Michigan
Robert Default
 

Hi Donny! Thanks for being proactive in our concerns and taking the time to reply. You mention the mobile IT guy which in fact your implying "Mobile Diagnostic Technicians". Granted years ago there were fewer of us mobile techs on the road but times have changed and our numbers have grown over the years as we provide a service to our customers whom can not afford the tooling or lack the…

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Phillip Diagnostician
Alaska
Phillip Default
 

Unfortunately I believe that it may be a way to make it too expensive to be a reasonable option to clients/customer so they will want to go to dealers. Or have it so aftermarket tries to stay competitive to the point they decide well we aren't going to do it cause their is no profit in it anymore. So yes aftermarket tooling can make big friends of us if they step with a reasonable solution. Till…

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Scott Owner
California
Scott Default
 

Hi Sam, I believe for us to survive as an industry we're going to have to attract and retain intelligent young people into this field. There's a lot to stimulate an inquisitive young mind, but the elephant in the room is US and an outdated model that goes back to the early 20th. century. I don't need to rehash what has been happening to cars and the amount of money needed to run a PROFESSIONAL…

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Eric Owner/Technician
Wisconsin
Eric Default
 

Hi Scott, I haven't programmed Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep vehicles for years so I don't have any experience with this current issue. My only question about this additional charge is, does the vehicle dealership pay it too? I realize there are differences between a dealership with a contract with the manufacturer and an independent repair shop. If this is just a charge for the aftermarket shops I can…

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Scott Owner
California
Scott Default
 

Hi Eric, That's a valid question as far as if everyone has to pay this, or is it just out of the CDJ network of dealers. I think where we have issues is if there is a level playing field. I can't speak for that manufacturer, but I can for GM. We wouldn't want a level playing field with them/GM, We'd rather go À la carte, or worse yet, just give me a cup of coffee, and keep 'em coming. Yeah…

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Michael Technician
New Jersey
Michael Default
 

Wanted to be sure before chiming in so I asked our warranty admin. She hasnt heard anything about being charged for flashing/programming. Seems like an aftermarket thing.

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Jamey Owner/Technician
California
Jamey Default
 

My local dealer told me they have to pay for key codes. They will give me a key code when I buy a PCM but they still have to pay. I think they get a set number for free, But have to pay once they exceed that number. Or so I’m told.

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Edwin Mobile Technician
South Carolina
Edwin Default
 

Sam...I would say raise your prices but stay under the local dealer price. Remind your customers that you come to them as a convience to them. Also explain to them that this price increase is not under your control. What can you do? nothing really. you cant feasibily fight big business.

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Jeff Technician
South Carolina
Jeff Default
 

You don’t have to stay under anyone’s prices to gain a customers confidence, most aftermarket A techs are smarter and better trained than dealership techs. Fix it right the first time, don’t sell parts that the customer doesn’t need and a quick turnaround time and you can charge what it’s worth. People do business with people, not companies. If it’s more than the dealer wants but the dealer is…

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Edwin Mobile Technician
South Carolina
Edwin Default
 

People price shop...especially down here..People do business with whomever can do the job at the best prices. Eexperience has taught me this over the last 35 years�

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Jeff Technician
South Carolina
Jeff Default
 

Dude I’m in Columbia... West Columbia at that, if I can turn a profit here then I know you can in Charleston. All I’m saying is my customers would rather spend more knowing it’s done right and they don’t have to wait as long as they would at a dealership. And it was the same when I turned wrenches in California. As far as those that would price shop? Let them, I would rather have one of my loyal…

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Edwin Mobile Technician
South Carolina
Edwin Default
 

Block learn and integrator really... you had to bring that up?....lol Even though programming is pretty easy I make more money doing diags than I do programming one good diag job can cover 2 to 3 programming jobs.

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Geoff Diagnostician
Hawaii
Geoff Default
   

"Sam...I would say raise your prices but stay under the local dealer price." - That's not possible. Hence his reason for posting. The only way you could do Chrysler programming, for less than the dealer, is if you actually did more units than they did, and struck a new price deal. Or you could lose money on every flash, but that'd be kinda dumb.

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Bruce Owner/Technician
Texas
Bruce Default
   

Edwin, I disagree with competing with dealer prices. The dealer doesn't send a tech to the aftermarket shop, they usually do not get the job done as fast as an efficiently run mobile company, the dealer doesn't pay for a tow truck to bring the car to them, etc. There is value in using a good mobile company for shops.

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Edwin Mobile Technician
South Carolina
Edwin Default
 

I didnt say the dealer sends a tech to the aftermarket shop. What im saying is stay competetive with the dealer prices. If a shop can send it to the dealer and it could be done for less then "chances" are they will do so. Now if you have a good reputation with the shop chances are you will get the job. As a mobile tech since 1994 i know how to stay competetive.....�

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Caleb Diagnostician
Indiana
Caleb Default
 

I think if the service and reliability that comes with the programming is there the shop is not going to be as worried about the price for the most part. I work for a mobile programming ans diagnostics company and we are not cheap. But I rarely see anyone complain about it. An we have 20+ guys on the road over a few hundred mile stretch.

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Michael Mobile Technician
Utah
Michael Default
 

Hi Sam, I don't see costs for this going down or our ability to negotiate anything with the OEMs. That is what NASTF was supposed to be. It seems to have become more about security than a liaison between the OEM and aftermarket programmers. Many of the mobile guys like you and I cater to the automotive repair shops. We can charge more than the dealer, but at some point, the straw breaks the…

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Mike Instructor
California
Mike Default
 

I am just very happy I am even able to purchase it. The customer is at the bottom end of the food chain--bill them accordingly.

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Jamey Owner/Technician
California
Jamey Default
 

Brilliant! Mike, I don’t see why this is so hard to figure out.

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Donny Manager
Colorado
Donny Default
 

Gentlemen, I need to give you a quick lesson in what NASTF can do and what we CANNOT do. We are a not for profit we are legally restricted from doing any price negotiation or entering in any discussions about pricing. Of course I tell automakers when I think their policy is going to be unpopular. The core driving reason behind this policy is in two areas. 1. There was a large amount of…

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Sam Mobile Technician
Michigan
Sam Default
 

Donny, I truly appreciate your comments here. I was not looking for nastf to negotiate prices. The problem I see is they keep changing the process and requirements. They are making it extremely difficult just to do programming. Yes I agree there is a problem with sharing accounts. I see this more from dealers sharing with aftermarket shops than I do aftermarket shops sharing with aftermarket…

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Donny Manager
Colorado
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Sorry for the delay in responses. Had to hit the ground running Monday morning. I am participating in an automaker SDRM IT call in a few days. I will ask for those things but frankly these initiatives are usually pretty reactionary to something that has caught the attention of someone at an automaker. I have asked automakers to let NASTF know with more notice so we can socialize what is coming…

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Maynard Technician
Ontario
Maynard Default
 

Thanks Donny, You have covered it very nicely. I can understand people's frustration with complex procedures and seemingly ever increasing costs. However, as someone else stated, at least we can buy the information and tooling if we choose to! That to me is the important thing. It is usually after the fact that hackles get all raised and we think things should be cheaper.... "cause that…

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Rick Diagnostician
Texas
Rick Default
 

Donny, I have a few questions about NASTF's involvement in these type of issues that may help people understand your position. - Isn't NASTF handling the complaint process for Massachusetts Right to repair law and the Federal memorandum of understanding? - Since both laws have a "fair and reasonable pricing" clause within them doesn't this involve you in pricing issues? - When the price to…

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Donny Manager
Colorado
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- Isn't NASTF handling the complaint process for Massachusetts Right to repair law and the Federal memorandum of understanding? We are the complaint department through SIR. The facts are that there has never been a request to NASTF in MA for a Dispute Resolution. Pricing issues still stay out of our jurisdiction and both the law and the MOU did not address that. I can tell you in my experience…

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Rick Diagnostician
Texas
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Thanks for the excellent reply Donny!! I wanted to make sure that people understand that there is no enforcement for pricing from NASTF and that lots of times you can't reveal information you know due to non-disclosure agreements. As you said the EPA is the enforcement body for fair and reasonable pricing at this point and only for certain things but interestingly enough I have been told by the…

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Robert Engineer
North Carolina
Robert Default
 

Does anyone know if a customer in an FCA dealership pays an additional line item on their repair ticket like Volvo started?

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Rick Diagnostician
Texas
Rick Default
 

Bob, As of Tuesday they do not. According to a friend of mine who is a service manager at an FCA dealership they have not heard anything about any price increases on their side at all.

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Dale Diagnostician
South Dakota
Dale Default
 

Just read through this whole thread. Very educational and informative and also a motivator. I have a question though as I'm not fully familiar with the workings of the full site. Is there a private messaging system where one person can reach out to another? Thanks!

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