Car mechanics and garages have a somewhat-undeserved, somewhat-deserved reputation for using their customers lack of knowledge on their vehicle to their advantage, perhaps charging more than is necessary, or taking longer than the job needs to get it done. OpenBay may help put a stop to that, pitting garages against one another in a bid to provide the cheapest service, at the most convenient time and at a location of the customer's choosing.
It acts like a comparison tool for garages, as well as a review site all in one go. As TechCrunch breaks it down, you go to OpenBay.com and let them know what work you need doing, whether it's a specific fix, or just a service, input your location and when you need it done by. OpenBay then puts together a listing of the most applicable garages for your needed-job and location, with each of them competing on price and even whether they'll be able to do the job at your house or need you to bring the car in.
You as the car owner, can then choose which one works the best for you, letting you pick your garage by offer, price or reviews from past users. This means any companies that are caught out screwing customers over, are much less likely to receive future business. It's a pretty standard practice for a lot of online entities, but much less common for more traditional services like car maintenance. It's worked for hotels, flights and restaurants, so there seems no reason why something like this wouldn't help improve the buying experience for car repair customers.
All orders can also be made through OpenBay's app, which provides the same functionality as the website, but perhaps even more conveniently.
The only downside to the whole thing, is that it's only available to US customers in the Boston area, at the moment. If it works well though, expect international rollouts before long.
KitGuru Says: Currently there are no sign up fees for consumers or service providers, which OpenBay has shown no indication of wanting to change. This is likely to improve uptake, but it would be interesting to learn more about the mechanic vetting procedure and what's to stop them setting up multiple accounts.