After a year and a half in the making, RepairPal is finally live! Had I known how tough it would be to solve this problem, giving consumers the information they need to feel confident about the prices they’re paying to keep their cars running, I’d have long ago tossed it into the dustbin of great but unworkable ideas. Yet with some luck and a fantastic team (and many long weeks and weekends), we’ve created something truly amazing. The list of people who have contributed to its creation is too long to post here, but I am indebted to you all. Thank you!
Why has building RepairPal been so tough in an era when ‘information wants to be free’? Chris Anderson’s notion of the Long Tail provides a starting point – there are billions of combinations of car brand, model, year, repair and geography to accommodate – but computers could put the data together if this was easily done. It’s not. The data in this huge industry is not structured for computers to combine in a way that’s usable by consumers. Hence we’ve had to put dozens of experienced mechanics in front of our computers to put the data together, model by model, procedure by procedure. It’s not a coincidence that every time you bring your car in to the shop, even for a simple oil change, the service writer creates a custom estimate for you.
Customized estimates don’t produce the standardized pricing that consumers have come to expect when they buy things today. The graph below shows the distribution of more than 300 price quotes we received for a set of standard procedures in 3 major metro areas – normalized as % deviation from the mean.
And this explains why so many consumers, literally everyone we’ve surveyed and spoken with, don’t feel confident they’re getting a fair price when they service their car. And many of the technicians and shop owners we've met and worked with during this process are equally frustrated. They hate having their customers doubt their honesty and integrity whenever they present bad news. This is when they most need an independent resource to verify their claims. This information asymmetry breeds uncertainty and mistrust for everyone. But starting today that’s going to change - after all information wants to be free.
We hope you find our site to be as useful and compelling as comparable sites consumers have used to gain confidence in areas where they previously felt helpless. Please use one of the many links on the site to let us know if we’re not achieving this goal and how we can do it better.