Researchers at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management wanted to find out why customers receive different price quotes when they call auto-repair shops. Get ready to be very surprised (not): The biggest gap they found was between men and women.
In 2012 [researchers] Meghan Busse, Ayelet Israeli, and Florian Zettelmeyer conducted an experiment where AutoMD's agents called 4,603 auto-repair shops to price a radiator replacement for a 2003 Toyota Camry. The experiment compared three conditions: one where customers indicate they have done research online and know the market rate to replace the radiator; another where customers have no idea how much it should cost; and a third where customers have a too-high price in mind. Not surprisingly, those who thought the repair should cost more than the actual market rate were quoted higher prices than other people. But customers who had done their homework were not offered a lower price than customers who had no clue about what it should cost. Both were offered approximately the market price—at least when the customers were male.
Women were offered the average price of $406, while male callers received a quote of $383. The study authors don't believe this is blatant sexism — male mechanics aren't standing around twirling their mustaches and giggling about how dumb women are — it's just that the shops believe that women know less about cars and car repair, and thus get a higher quote.
"But when you show that stereotype is wrong"—because you reveal yourself to be an informed woman or an uninformed man—"you get treated the same way," says Busse.
So, basically, it's totally unfair, but if you're going to an auto-repair shop, you better figure out what the fuck is up, and know how to Car Talk (tm).