The test involved both men and women calling multiple independent car-repair shops, asking for quotes on a 2003 Toyota Camry in need of a radiator replacement.
The callers either appeared well informed of the market price for such a repair (US$365), expected a higher-than-average price (US$510), or conveyed no knowledge or price expectation at all.
Of the men and women that appeared to be uninformed, women were consistently quoted higher prices, some up to six per cent higher. When it came to uninformed men, prices were actually quoted at lower than market price.
Unsurprisingly, a caller who expected a higher than average price was quoted just that.
“This comes down to stereotypes and assumptions," said Meghan Busse, associate professor of management and strategy at the school.
"Our findings suggest that auto shops…may not expect women to be knowledgeable in this area, so the perception is they can charge them more.”
But all is not lost for women whose cars are in need of repair. When it comes to negotiating a lower price, the study showed women tend to be more successful, with 35 per cent succeeding in getting the price they wanted, compared to just 25 per cent of men.
The study highlighted the importance of research and knowledge, especially for female customers. We'd suggest getting a feel for the market by calling repair shops and researching online, as well as not shying away from asking for a discount next time your car is less than perfect.