Short of watching the auto shop worker with a knowledgeable third party present, customers can safeguard themselves from inflated labor times by demanding detailed estimates and explanations, along with bills itemized at length. Asking for auto shop workers to explain every part of their process holds them accountable.
AutoMD recommends customers clear up any questions upfront, before work is done to their cars. To avoid inflated labor times, they recommend getting the mechanic to write down, in clear and certain terminology, everything they will do, along with individual time estimates for every step. Some shops try to start labor without disclosing their labor rate to a customer, which can make deducing individual costs from the bill difficult. Customers ought to be wary of tactics like a labor matrix, which some auto shops use to retroactively change labor costs depending on some arbitrary system. Customers can avoid any sort of labor time inflation by asking for flat rates for defined time estimates.
AutoMD also provides a tool, called the Shop Finder, to estimate times for certain procedures in any given area. The tool compares other shops' times for a given procedure, giving customers an accurate picture of the standard amount of time in their area.