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Mercedes Benz Is Not A Brand

Submitted by on Friday, 30 May 2008

Sadly, I’m finding out the hard way that Mercedes Benz does not stand behind their product. And, indeed, are quite abusive and dismissive of customers. Indeed, I would never purchase a Mercedes again.

Years ago, I lived on a ranch with no paved roads. An SUV was imperative. Since moving to Austin, I no longer need the car, but it was getting older and had very very low mileage, and I figured it could last for years because it was a Mercedes.

I purchased the SUV (ML320) the year it first came out and the first year Mercedes set up shop in the States. Given the two firsts, it proved to be a bad bad decision: The car turned out to be a lemon.

I’ve owned Mercedes’ before and have a history of them being trouble free, running without incident for well over 150,000 miles. But not this car. And the things wrong with it were all odd. No need for detail here, as I want to get to this current incident.

The problem: My car has been starting perfectly, and then stalling out as soon as the motor engages. It just dies after it starts. But the second time I put the key in to start it, it’s fine. And it doesn’t do it each time I start the car – just sometimes. It was doing that a while, but since it eventually started, I didn’t stop my life long enough to bring the car in – until one day after doing a few errands and started and stopped a few times, the car wouldn’t turn over even after several tries.

I had to call the tow truck; by the time they arrived (and an hour lapse between trying to start it), it kicked in and I could drive it myself. The car went to shop for a week or so.

When they told me that it was going to cost a lot (initial estimate around $5000) I yelled and screamed because this car has cost me so much already (for a Mercedes with 68,000 miles, my bills were mounting).  Finally I ended up paying appx $3000 because they agreed to charge me wholesale prices for the parts. Nice.

They diagnosed, and fixed, an esoteric problem (oil sensor, crank, harness, etc.) that they had seen only rarely,and the head technician worked on it.

Then I went to pick the car up. As I  started it, it did the EXACT same thing it did before I brought it in. The exact same thing.

Given it was Memorial Day weekend, I figured I’d bring the car back after the weekend, and assumed that the ‘fix’ they did would have ‘fixed’ SOMETHING. Once I got home from the Mercedes dealership, I called my service team leader Ron (nice guy) and told him the car was doing the absolute exact same thing. “Get it back in”… Ok. after the weekend.

But the car did the dead thing again later that weekend. I tried about 40 times to start it, waiting between each round of 5 tries. I was there for a couple of hours trying to start the car. I eventually got a ride home from a kind couple in the parking lot, and left the keys with the Chinese owner of a laundromat. Once the car got back to the dealership (it started up the next day, as it did after waiting the hour last time), they looked at it and told me the car had a DIFFERENT PROBLEM. “Not Related” to the original problem, the service manager said in an email (he never picked up the phone to speak with me ever again. Ever again.), and that “since your car is old (10 years old with 68,000 miles),  you should be replacing it. We found someone who will offer you $5500 to buy your car!” ….

The service team leader (who was professional enough to actually call me) said they’d have to get it diagnosed again for the NEW PROBLEM, etc. and they’d have to charge me!!

Now: a Mercedes as a brand should be a good, long life car. At 68,000 miles, the car is just being broken in. But, OK. I’ll even ‘buy’ that it’s ‘old’. But to tell me that with the car doing the same thing when I picked it up that I brought it in for had a DIFFERENT PROBLEM and that I have to pay more when the $3000 I’d just paid did NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM, is crazy-making and illogical. Ron did tell me that they said ‘We fixed the problem we found’. I believe that. But they didn’t fix the car. For all I know, the problem they found could have waited a year to be fixed. But I didn’t bring the car in for the fix that didn’t fix my car!

I contacted the main Mercedes Benz Headquarters in Montvale NJ. Eventually got to speak with Mariano on the Escalation team (after speaking with a very gentle Surik who said he’d ‘be there for me’ and never returned a call after that). Mariano told me that each Mercedes dealership was a franchise, they operated on their own, and – with a deprecating attitude –  there was NOTHING THEY COULD/WOULD DO FROM HEADQUARTERS and I had to take it up with the Dealership (and this is the escalation person??). “Do you know what a brand is” I asked…”What do you mean?” he said. Precisely.

So, with no help from the main US Mercedes folks, I called Daimler in Germany. I’m still waiting to hear from them. And I’m waiting to hear from the Dealership owner here in town whom I finally called. And I’ve contacted Master Card to start the process of not paying the $3000, and I’ve found another Mercedes person to write a note for me saying the Dealer was wrong, take the car to the new guy and get it fixed and stop the payment of the $3000 to the dealer. I’ve also put in a complaint at the Texas Dept. of Motor Vehicle Regulation group.

All is up in the air. Possibly I’ll be able to write another note with good news.

But at this point, the dealership has my car and is doing nothing with it because I won’t give them more money. Not one from there is speaking with me. They will not acknowledge that they didn’t fix my car (“We fixed the problem we found” is not the same as fixing my car.) and they want me to pay more money when the money I paid didn’t do squat. And, best I can tell, there is no brand management, no one, no one, in America that is caring about a customer, willing to help, or making sure that Mercedes stands behind their product. And it’s not even the particular problem I’m having with: it’s the way they are treating me, speaking to me (or not, as the case may be), ignoring me, not attempting to find a solution, etc. No customer should be treated disrespectfully, or as if they are an idiot. The Service folks at my dealership should have just said, “Oops! Sorry. Give us a few days to have another look and get back to you.”

It’s a sad day when I can say, hand on heart, that I will never, ever, purchase a Mercedes again. I do not trust them. They sullied their brand. In this day and age, when there are many cars to choose from, I can do better. And it’s sad for them they have lost a life-long loyal customer.

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  • Frank Smith

    I am going through the exact problem with my 2009 mercedes why in the world do they not stand behind their brand. Yet they can charge large amounts for thier cars. Did you get a call back from Germany?