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Consumer Reports: Consumers Prefer Indys Shops to Dealers

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Jan. 30, 2015—Consumer Reports' latest survey of repair service satisfaction found that the majority of consumers will be more satisfied with an independent repair shop than with a franchised new-car dealership.

The survey, conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center in 2014, was based on subscriber satisfaction with repairs on more than 121,000 vehicles—80,000 of which were repaired at franchised dealers and more than 41,000 at independent shops.

The survey found that, in general, independents outscored dealership for overall satisfaction, price, quality, courteousness of the staff, and work being completed when promised. With few exceptions, the entire list of independent shops got high marks on those factors. The same couldn’t be said for franchised new-car dealers.

“To be fair to mechanics at franchised dealerships, our respondents also reported being very satisfied overall with their repairs despite being outscored by independent shops,” said Mark Rechtin, Consumer Reports cars content development team leader.

The one automaker that outscored the independent shops was the electric carmaker Tesla, which earned high praise for its on-time repairs, courtesy, price, quality, and overall satisfaction. But part of Tesla’s current success might be because it’s new to the market, and it has a relatively small number of customers to satisfy compared with the established luxury brands.

There were also some disappointments involving prestige marques. The biggest gripe was about the cost of parts and labor. Mercedes-Benz drivers, in particular, were much more satisfied with the price they paid at independent shops.

The complete repair satisfaction ratings for 32 brands franchise repair centers as well as the independent shops that service those brands is available online today at

The lowest overall satisfaction score came from RAM owners who went to franchise dealerships, but that score was still a 76, which indicates that those consumers are still at least “fairly well-satisfied” with the service they received.

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