Flat rate definition
A pre-determined length of time set down by the manufacturer that a particular repair job will take and is listed in the flat rate manual . If the flat rate is two hours, but the mechanic completes the job in more or less time, you will be charged for two hours. For the shop, flat rate encourages mechanics to work harder to beat the prescribed time, thus earning more for the shop and the mechanic; but it also hurts the shop when the mechanic cannot complete the job because of other contributing factors (i.e., a bolt which should have taken 10 seconds to remove breaks off and requires 30 minutes to remove). For the customer, flat rate means fair pricing for the same job no matter how long it actually took. Thus both Sam's labor bill and my labor bill to do the same work is the same cost. It can be unfair if the mechanic worked faster on my vehicle (because I keep it in excellent shape) than on Sam's vehicle (because his involved a lot more cleaning, etc. to do the job). Also, there is the danger that a mechanic may take shortcuts in order to beat the flat rate, but which may cause mechanical problems later. Charging by the actual time the mechanic takes is called straight time .