Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oh Lord, DON'T you buy me a Mercedes Benz !

     I'm far from being a car guy, a vehicle, to me,  is something which gets me from here to there, so it was not a decision that was made based on status, I just thought I had a good deal on the car, until lately......

     I have the opportunity to bid on leased cars at my work and I check them out regularly.  I purchased an Equinox from there a few years ago, used it for a year and then sold it to my daughter.  I think it's been a dependable car for all of us with just regular maintenance issues as you might
What my car looks like
expect.  2 years ago while looking at the cars on the site, I happened upon a 2006 Mercedes E350 that was pretty sharp looking and had a reasonable number of miles on it.  I did some quick research on the value of the car, talked with my wife about the purchase and then decided to bid on the car.  A few days later I was informed that my bid was accepted and I found myself the proud owner of a luxury vehicle.  My plan was to use it for 3 years and then to sell it outright and then to purchase another.  I paid close to vehicle wholesale for the car, so it seemed like a good, frugal plan, even if it was a Mercedes, but I was soon to find out that "The Best or Nothing" is a great slogan but hardly describes my experience with the car or with Mercedes Benz.

     I took delivery of the car in March of 2011and I spent my first $1,000 on the car the month after.  It was on brake sensors, disc brakes and pads, an air filter and a decent spare.  As an "on the road" salesman, I couldn't afford to not have a full spare with me, and in fairness the only thing broken on the car at that time and mileage (53,000) was the Keyless Go system that worked intermittently.  The
There was only one Janis.
vehicle was fully inspected by the good folks at Geneva Foreign and Sports (I highly recommend these folks for servicing your foreign autos).  I drove away confident in the reliable German engineering.  I was a little less confident 4 months later when I drove back in to replace an air injection pump and pump relay, which with the oil change that time added another $1,000 to my car upkeep bill.  I got 2 weeks of trouble free driving after that and then the car wouldn't start.  Another trip in and this time I got a new battery and crank position sensor.  I got the back brakes done while there, so it was another $1,000.  Two months later when it was the ignition switch that was replaced, I got out of there for only $800 and that was beginning to feel like a deal.   Most of these repairs were based on the codes that were put out with each malfunction, and a short 3 months later the ME Control unit failed completely (the dealer called it a faulty module) and this time the repair estimate was $2,700.  I plead my case with the nearest dealer (Mercedes Benz of Rochester) and with Mercedes Customer Care, and the result of my pleading was a $269 discount offered by the dealer out of their good faith funds.  I was feeling anything but good faith at this point.  I had put 10,000 miles on the car and the repairs totaled $5,500, and the car had just broken the 63,000 mile mark.

     I had about 6 months of trouble free driving before my next couple of small repairs and they were for a washer pump, and a new thermostat so they are hardly worth mentioning.  Last week's issue is though.  The car went into "Limp Home" mode one day and it's a safety feature to help protect the
engine by only allowing you to go as high as 2nd gear.  I ran it to my good car guys in Geneva, and unfortunately the news was anything but good.  My transmission was shot and they even found metal shavings in the fluid.  A quick search on the Internet told me that this problem was far from rare with this year and model so when I made my case to Mercedes Customer Care this time, I was sure that they would do the reasonable thing and at least split the repair costs with me. I was reminded that the warranty on the car was for 50,000 miles and 4 years, does that seem low to you for a foreign luxury car originally retailing for over $60,000?  Yeah, me too.  It took 2 more calls and 4 more days to finally get the answer that Mercedes would be covering none of the repair.  None of it.  I had called to get the quote from Mercedes Benz of Rochester and they originally quoted the repair price of $4,672 for the transmission, torque converter and labor.  This was far cheaper than my guys in Geneva were allowed to buy the parts, so I had the car towed to Rochester for repairs.  When I called back for the appointment, the dealership informed me that they had misquoted the job and that the total job was
now $6,200.  They then offered the 10% good faith discount again which I accepted of course but now realized by overcharging for parts and labor in the first place, it really meant nothing in the real world.  It meant even less when I picked up my car and the bill with the discount at Mercedes Benz of Rochester was over $6,200 after the discount.  They now claimed that the sales tax wasn't included in the "Total" price.  In essence they had misquoted this job 2 times and took no responsibility for either one.  A short discussion with 2 managers confirmed that they "could do nothing".  Now the new Mercedes Slogan "The Best or Nothing" made sense, because I did not get the best but I did get nothing. This was my "Aha" moment. 

     I have no power over a car company like Mercedes or an mega dealer like Mercedes Benz of Rochester, but I do have my true story, documented to the nines and also the power of free speech.  I
bought the car from a lease company who maintains that all scheduled maintenance was done.  I've got every one of my invoices and I kept the voice mail from the rep at Mercedes Benz of Rochester "accidentally"  but in detail quoting my latest repair at $4,672.  I have no expectations of more contact from either entity again (unless it's a cease and desist letter from a lawyer, which I promise to post so this blog can go viral).  I would appreciate if all of you please share my story every time one of your friends talks about these fine cars or this dealership.  I'm out about $12,000 right now if you want to round it up and nothing has been warrantied on the car so far in spite of being common problems and faulty parts. This blog average about 1,000 hits a month right now, so in a year's time I have the opportunity to affect the purchasing decisions of about 12,000 people.  I don't think it's a sour grapes kind of issue, I do expect companies to stand behind their manufactured products and it took until the $10,000 mark for repairs before I became dissatisfied.  Feel free to share your story on these cars or this dealership and feel free to recommend my next car, which, of course,  will not be a Mercedes.  


Anonymous said...

Show them the written blog before you publish. Move your blog to twitter and build up your following. If you have a high klout score you will influence negotiations. I use it with airlines all the time. http://klout.com/corp/how-it-works

Anonymous said...

I'm not in your geographic area but I've had similar issues with my Mercedes and the same lack of empathy from the company.

Anonymous said...

You figure a company like that that would atleast stand behind its vehicals... To bad they can't take a lesson from Chrysler.. They will stand behind things if you pester them enough and they reimburse some of the repair costs...

Anonymous said...

I get your feed on Facebook, it looks like you hit a nerve there. I think your sister with the Honda has the right idea. That's a lot of money to pay for a car that won't move and shame on Mercedes for ignoring an issue like that.