Shop around.

That's the advice from a consumer advocate after a Hastings woman's car problem was fixed for $800 less than she was originally quoted.

Georgina Myrtle Carson-Waihi took her car to Hawke's Bay Toyota, Hastings, on June 27 after having trouble using her ignition key.

But she found a much cheaper option with another mechanic - which a consumer advocate says is not unusual when comparing specialist mechanic prices with generalists.

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Carson-Waihi, from Hastings, went to Toyota, as she owns a Toyota Yaris.

"They took a 'scan' of the ignition. They charged me $62 to check it, and quoted $1225 to replace it and said they needed to get the parts sent from Japan and that this would take four weeks."

Shocked at the expense, Carson-Waihi sought a second opinion.

A general mechanic diagnosed the problem as less serious, and charged Carson-Waihi $399.75 for a new key, a WOF, oil filter, engine oil and labour, compared to Toyota's $1225.

Hawke's Bay Toyota director Jared Thompson said he stood by their pricing, which was the "recommended retail price for Toyota".

"Our intention is never to upset anyone and I wish she had come back to us and we could have explained the pricing breakdown further."

He likened the pricing to getting "a gold service".

"In her car's case we wouldn't have just replaced the key, we would replaced the locks on the doors and the ignition locks on the car as well.

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"She would have received a set of three keys, and every lock would be brand new. They would all be genuine brand-new Toyota parts, with a minimum two-year warranty.

"It's like going to a franchise garage versus a backyard garage. There are different expectations with each. Our intention is to offer the best solution for the customer."

Carson-Waihi says she did go back to Toyota after getting the second opinion, and asked for a copy of the scan that led to the $1225 quote.

However, it could not be printed. Toyota staff had reinforced that they were
a reputable business and the quote could be trusted.

"I think people need to be aware of how getting a second opinion from your local mechanic can help," Carson-Waihi said.

Consumer adviser Paul Doocey said discrepancies existed between specialists and local car garages.

"The discrepancy in prices shows that people need to shop around. Don't just accept the first quote you get."