Tired of being ripped off by garages, here is at least one in the Lake Geneva region which believes in quality at honest prices.
NYON Stefano Quarta has been a mechanic since he was seven. He first started tinkering with engines and parts on toy models, repairing his own cars and those of his playmates. By 14, his passion began to pay off: Every Wednesday afternoon when school was out, he worked on real automobiles at a garage in Nyon, which services all types of vehicles.
When you step inside “Garage S Quarta” you know Stefano is qualified to work on your automobile. His diploma is hanging on the wall. And you can almost eat off the floor, it‘s so clean. He spends three hours every Friday cleaning and polishing, so one’s face is practically reflected off the gleaming surface.
“I do everything myself,” beams Stefano proudly. Of Swiss-Italian origin, he offers me an expresso (what else?), urging me to sit, while serving sweetener, cream or milk, and pointing to a newspaper. His wife, Sabrina, a qualified accountant, who keeps the garage’s books, is also on hand to help clients who struggle with their French.
In March this year, when my vintage VW cabriolet broke down, I had it towed to Rolle to a brand name garage. Six days later, I received an estimate for nearly CHF 3,300. I contested the diagnosis and the cost for doing it: CHF 358! Frustrated and upset, I retrieved my car, which had been pronounced unfit to drive with a blown gasket, and drove to Stefano’s garage. He quickly discovered that I needed a new fuel pump, which cost less than 25% of the Rolle garage’s estimate. I am still cruising around happily in the same car with the top down in this most welcome Indian Summer.
Stefano, whose “family garage”, as he has dubs it, charges CHF 99 an hour, TVA included, compared to brand name garages charging CHF 160-180. “The first month I opened I was making a profit. Many clients followed me from Peugot, where I worked for 12 years as a mechanic and later co-chief d’atelier. The most important thing for me is receiving customers and satisfying their needs,” he asserts.
“I worked in every job you could in a garage from mechanic to manager by the time I was 33. I had all the cards needed to open a garage in Nyon. That was always my dream ever since becoming an apprentice.” I’d say that Stefano does not play his cards close to his chest and he has a straight flush, Ace high.
A sign hanging in the garage says “you can fix anything.” Is this your motto, I asked him? “Honesty is our motto. We offer first class service at fair prices. Also, women are as respected as men in this garage”.
Suddenly, a customer pulls up in his Peugot Cabriolet and asks Stefano if he has a few minutes to take a look at it. Less than a quarter of an hour later, he is ready for the road. As he slips into the driver’s seat, I ask the happy client how he would describe the garage. Without a moment’s hesitation he declares: “This is the garage with a smile”.
Elizabeth Kemf is an author, journalist and environmental specialist living in the Lake Geneva region.