Confusion Arises on Hourly Billing in California

Fact or fiction: The California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) does not allow auto glass shops to bill hourly rates using the NAGS labor schedule. The agency, which oversees this area, is very specific that if an hourly rate is charged, it must be actual hours worked and not per any published hourly schedule. Flat rates do not create a problem, as it does not matter if it's 10 minutes or 10 hours, as the consumer knows in advance.

Both. The statement is correct except that a shop is not barred from using the NAGS labor schedule to determine what price it quotes a consumer.

"We don't care where the amount of time for a job quoted on the estimate comes from, but whatever the time quoted to the consumer is that is the amount of time which must be worked. Otherwise, it is fraud," Bob Machado, program manager for BAR, told GlassBytes.

"The same is true for a dollar figure. If you give the consumer a $300 estimate and the consumer agrees to that, fine. But you can't give an estimate of, say, $75 (or three hours of work at $25 an hour) and then charge more if it takes more time," he explained. "What a shop can charge is what the consumer agrees to in the estimate. We have no rules as to where the figures come from, only that the consumer agree to the figures in the estimate and that those figures be the basis for charges."

Bottom line: While there has been some concern expressed that an hourly rate is against BAR policy, Machado said it is not as long as the hour figure quoted to the consumer is the actual amount of time worked.

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