Mercedes "service"

MainMan

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Clarkson wrote a column a couple of weeks ago about how bad Mercedes dealerships are. It was the usual over the top stuff, but there was also a lot of truth in it. He said Mercedes make good cars and as long as you don’t need to interact with their dealers too often you’ll be OK. If you need the services of the dealers you’ll quickly realise that they hate you.

Last week I heard the dreaded rattle that indicates the cat had disintegrated. I took it down to Mercedes at Harpenden. (They’re not very local but I’ve already scrubbed Colindale and Watford off my list because of previous bad experiences). The mechanic confirmed that it needed a new cat so I booked it in. A week before the booking I phoned up and asked if they could confirm that they had the parts. They assured me they had. (I did this because I’ve already been caught with the trick where they don’t do the job because they haven’t got the parts, having previously told you that they have). I took the car in at 8am and asked them to get it ready by lunch time if possible. (It takes less than 2 hours to replace a cat). I phoned at lunch time and was told they were still working on it, but they’d ring me back when it was done. I phoned again at 2.30 pm. (Phoning a Mercedes dealer is always a pain because they take ages to answer the phone and you always have to get put through to someone else who is usually unavailable, so you have to phone again). This time they said the car was ready. However, when I went to pick it up the guy said that they’d checked the car out and I needed a new cat, which they’d have to order. At this point I went completely ballistic. The service rep retreated to find out what had gone wrong. When he returned he said that they did have the parts but there had been confusion over the booking. I would have to book the car in again and they didn’t have a slot available for two weeks. To cut a long story short I had words with the service manager and they did the job a couple of days later.

But it’s the second time I’ve had this problem. The whole episode was a catalogue of incompetence. Why did no one phone back? Why was I told they were working on it when they weren’t. Why do mechanics have to go on extended test drives to check a cat problem? Why do they have to alter every setting in the car and set the radio to Radio 1 at high volume? Why can’t they use their computer systems properly? Why do I get the impression none of them is really very bothered about the shoddy service (with the possible exception of the service manager).

I’ve recently been getting loads of bananas through the letterbox about how Mercedes are changing their dealerships. “The people will be the same but you’ll have a different experience” etc. Wrong. It’s possibly getting worse. There’s all this stuff about having teams of mechanics with a team leader, so that when you phone up you’ll be able to talk to someone who knows exactly what’s being done on your car. Wrong again.

In my extended chat with the service manager he said two things that were interesting – one wrong and one right. He said that Mercedes have a “captive market” – i.e. there are people out their who’ll buy a Merc no matter how badly they’re treated, presumably because of badge snobbery. Well that doesn’t include me. My next car will not be a Merc. He also said the problem is that a few years ago they were selling 25,000 cars a year. They’re now selling 100,000 and the dealer network is no larger. That’s why you can’t park when you take it to the dealer for a service, and why you wait for ages to get served. They could soon be back to 25,000 if they don’t sharpen up.

Edited for content by Shude
 
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GregE240

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Sorry to hear of your misfortune.

Like yourself I've lost my faith in the dealer network, save two very good experiences at MB Coventry last week. The other three dealerships I've had the misfortune of being associated with at some point have treated me with anything ranging from derision to contempt. I don't know if its my youthful looks and that I should be in my mid 50s to be a stereotypical MB owner, but some of the staff are clearly halfway between personality transplants. And they think you won't read your service invoice.

Given I'll be running my car pretty much into the ground I've thought a good specialist service to be as good as an MB one, which will in the long run be cheaper and give me peace of mind that my car will be well looked after.

Again, sorry to hear of your experience.
 

sym

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I've found the parts people at Harpenden to be very helpful - haven't had the need to take it for a service yet though, so giving great consideration at the moment as to whether I want to take it to a dealer at all!! The car is more than 4 years old now, and once the signature warranty expires next march, I think I'll be looking for an aftermarket warranty and using a specialist / independent for servicing.

Sorry to hear of the nightmarish experience though - glad you got it sorted in the end.

S.
 

Aletank

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Road Range - Liverpool

Road Range Liverpool are giving me similar problems, the main one is them not phoning back !!
In March I took my car to them with a paint/rust problem, they said they'll phone me back within 3 days but never did, after a week i went down, there all nice as pie to your face and can't do enough for me.They said it had been refused for warranty work but can't work out why and they will chase it up and definatly get a answer and phone me back !!
But never did !!
So after movin house and stuff nearly 2 weeks back I thought I'd chase them up again.
The Service Manager said he'll see what happened, he came back and said back in March it was ACCEPTED for Warranty work :mad: WHY DIDN'T THEY PHONE ME !
So here we go again he said he'll submit the claim again and seeing it got accepted before, this time should be no problem, He said he'll phone me within 3 days again,But Never Did.
After a week i went down to see whats goin on,There all nice as pie with me, can't be more helpful etc. the guy comes back and says the computers are down but will definatly phone me that day either way, this was Thursday gone and I still haven't heard nothing from them.
I'm going to go down again tomorrow to see whats going on, Because this Thursday is 2 weeks since my first visit and any Warranty claims on paint has to be done within 14 days of the claim being submitted.

WHY WON'T THEY PHONE YOU BACK THOUGH AND LET YOU KNOW WHATS GOIN ON :mad:
 
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Maff

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Do a search for greenoaks and your see my dealer dis-satisfaction threads!
 

Steve_Perry

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I read that JC article too. Sorry to hear your tales of woe, seems you're not the only one as Maff and others have stated. However, MB dealerships can offer good service when they want to. Case1 Case2... I'm guessing that after these two exceptions I'll be on the receiving end of crap customer service along with the rest of you. My car has just started flashing that it needs a service in 600 miles, maybe they'll trap me then.

S. (Faith kinda restored until the next dealer encounter)
 

Shude

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I have no complaints with Whitefield, they've always called back when they said they would, they never ran out of parts, they never tried to charge me for things that I didn't expect. The only thing I ever had an issue with is when they washed my car when I asked them not to, no big problem really. I have been to garages that have broken the handbrake so it came on randomly, I have been to garages that have set fire to the car interior so that the backseat was completely burned, the ceiling melted and there was ash everywhere. IMHO the stealership at Whitefield have treated me well!

Besides, have you ever listened to anyone at the stealership? Half of the people walk in there like they own the place and shout at the stealership employees like they're a different species. If you dump on people like that you can expect to be dumped back on I'm afraid, they're only people trying to do their jobs just like you and me!
 

Aletank

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After going down today, Road Range phoned me back twice and I've finally got my car booked in for 18th Aug:)
 

olikea

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Yes, I entirely agree. The situation is appalling. We recently (well 2 years ago) bought a Toyota Yaris as a 3rd car, and I am still amazed at the level of service from the Toyota dealership.

When I book it in for service, if it is a small one, they are happy to do it "while you wait", which Mercedes is only just beginning to introduce. And what is more they offer me a courtesy car, and get this - they even offered to come and collect my car for me from my house! WITH NO CHARGE!! And this is only for a £125 service for which they do not find anything "wrong" with the car.

I am impressed with the red carpet treatment at Toyota, they are alway exceptionally polite, never make mistakes such as what you mentioned, and this only for an £8k car!

I had a similar experience with Nissan too when I owned a 10 year old Nissan Micra - again "would you like a courtesy car?" for a £90 service!

Still it isn't all bad. No Mercedes dealership has ever been as bad as Ford. Ford staff seem to be actually rude. I was told my tyres on a Ford Puma were running a bit low, and I felt like I was being arrested. Another time I turned up at 7:50am (they open at 8), and although there were people there, I was told to wait until they officially "open" ! Then they replaced the wrong tyre, and the complaints go on and on.

I recently had an experience though that showed me how Mercedes dealers should be - I went to Tony Purslow (Basinkstoke 01256464050) because the airbag warning light on my SL had come on.

I was amazed at the experience, true red carpet treatment, they did the work well within the time they estimated to me over the phone (1 hour), and it was only a loose wire so they charged me £16. (yes sixteen!) Any other dealer I reckon there would be an extra zero on that charge!

Soon I will be getting a brand new Mercedes, and I know to maintain the warranty it has to be serviced in the dealer network which I am dreading. Unfortunately Tony Purslow (Basingstoke) is about 60 miles from where I live (nr Crawley) - all motorway mind, so I am contemplating whether it is worth going that way to have it serviced there.

My local Gatwick dealership is a farce. When I went there to buy my new car, I was aiming for the 6.25% discount offered by carfile, plus about £11,500 for my SL (the Parkers "trade" price). First visit, they thought 11.5k would be fine. But when I went back there they claimed there was a "mistake" and they could only "get" £9500 for it! So I told them to screw that, so I sold it on ebay for £14500, and bought the new car through carfile, ie Mercedes Benz Nottingham who offer 6.25% off :)

I do hope things change, because the dealer network really is the chip in the stone of M-B ownership. If Lexus dealers are anything like Toyota's, then I can see attraction!
 

Shude

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Originally posted by olikea
...I know to maintain the warranty it has to be serviced in the dealer network which I am dreading.
Not true anymore, thanks to the "block exemption" lots of garages can now do work and it maintains the warranty, in fact my local garage can do warranty repairs on behalf of MB. This has got to be one of the only good things to come out of European legislation!
Originally posted by olikea
If Lexus dealers are anything like Toyota's, then I can see attraction!
Lexus == Toyota, my nearest Toyota dealer IS my nearest Lexus dealer ;)
 

olikea

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Originally posted by Shude
Not true anymore, thanks to the "block exemption" lots of garages can now do work and it maintains the warranty, in fact my local garage can do warranty repairs on behalf of MB. This has got to be one of the only good things to come out of European legislation!

Lexus == Toyota, my nearest Toyota dealer IS my nearest Lexus dealer ;)

From what I understand, independent garages have to be "inspected" by the official company to be recognised, and the manufacturers are dragging their feet over this. If you do happen to know any good places which are Merc approved in the Gatwick area please let me know!

About Lexus - my point was that if they treat Lexus customers as good as or better than they treat Toyota customers then they will be happy bunnies!
 

Kinky

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Well it's good to know that it's not just me that thinks Purslows give the red carpet treatment (ref: Olikea above).

And speaking of Toyota - my neighbour runs 3 cars - one of which is a Toyota - which, because the "outstanding and mindblowing customer service they provide" he will replace his 2 other cars with Toyotas when the time comes.
 

Robbo

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If I stop getting decent service from Greenoaks (they have been pretty good for me so far) then I will definately be giving Purslows a visit. They sound very good.

Robbo
 

rirhill

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I am not going to bore you with my tales of woe with MB Clearwater / Darford or London (the place has changed its name that often).
One thing I would say is if anyone does have much in the good way of customer service from a MB dealer then let us all know. I would travel to a dealer in Wolverhampton if anyone could recommend as I can stay with friends.

Could anyone tell, I have a Signature warranty if a part goes wrong do you have to fight for the right for a free warranty repair or are they forthcoming?

Cheers
Ian
 

simonl

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Originally posted by Shude
Besides, have you ever listened to anyone at the stealership? Half of the people walk in there like they own the place and shout at the stealership employees like they're a different species. If you dump on people like that you can expect to be dumped back on I'm afraid, they're only people trying to do their jobs just like you and me!

Yep, I agree. I have often been at my local dealer and seen the way some customers act - usually (but not always) the the Ladies What Lunch swinging their shopping bags and hissing a lot.

I've had a few problems with my car this year. I'm irritated that phone calls aren't often returned, but I'd never march in the place screaming and shouting.
 
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OP
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MainMan

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If you deal with customers you're always going to encounter a number of difficult people. Unfortunately you have to put up with this and accept that the customer is always right. The vast majority are pretty reasonable anyway. I'm quite prepared to put up with the occasional mistake. It's just when the mistakes recur and are compounded by sloppiness, misinformation and a marked reluctance to try and put things right. I'm a reasonable person but I'm quite prepared to become unreasonable in such circumstances.

My car's 3 years old at the end of the year, so I don't think there'll be much need for me to use the dealers again - touch wood. I guess I'll lose the new 3 year guarantee on the cat but I'll take that chance.

BTW, on the two occasions I took my car in I was given courtesy cars - one a C-class and the other an A-class, both manuals. My SLKs a manual and it took a long time for the box to free up and work like it should. It was initially very stiff and baulky. I was quite surprised to find that the boxes on these two (new) cars were not stiff at all. In particular the 5-speed manual box on the A-class was absolutely superb.
 
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RichardM

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Originally posted by Shude
Lexus == Toyota, my nearest Toyota dealer IS my nearest Lexus dealer ;)
Lexus dealers are having to build dedicated separate show rooms built to Lexus standards if they want to keep the franchise (Lexus specify everything from the design, interior, even the builder to be used). Most have done this now but there are few combined Toyota/Lexus dealers that remain.

I drove a Lexus for three years, the customer service is just excellent, courtesy car available within a week, which was always a brand new Lexus (most of which were higher models than my own), this was even just to investigate something. My MB dealer gave me a 3 year old A140 with no air con and I had to wait 5 weeks for that.
 

RichardM

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Originally posted by MainMan
Clarkson wrote a column a couple of weeks ago about how bad Mercedes dealerships are. It was the usual over the top stuff, but there was also a lot of truth in it. He said Mercedes make good cars and as long as you don’t need to interact with their dealers too often you’ll be OK. If you need the services of the dealers you’ll quickly realise that they hate you.

Last week I heard the dreaded rattle that indicates the cat had disintegrated. I took it down to Mercedes at Harpenden.
I was reading one of the Motoring Magazine's long term report of their own SL55 and they named Harpenden as being especially bad!

Originally posted by sym
I've found the parts people at Harpenden to be very helpful - haven't had the need to take it for a service yet though

They ordered my alloy pedal's in fine, although they didn't bother to call me to say they were in as promised, I had to call them to find they had been sitting there for a while. Harpenden have just been taken over by the same group that took over Hertford (from Lancaster). I saw a real improvement at Hertford so hopefully they will do the same for Harpenden and Bishops Stortford which they have also taken over.
 

S500L

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Have to agree with Shude.
Whitefield are pretty good.
Always an S class courtesy car. They didn't want to do it at first but when I insisted they agreed. It helps to have a fleet of 24 Sprinters. Whitefield might not benefit when I renew but a phone call from DaimlerChrysler UK can work wonders.
Took the S500 for its first MOT in June ( free ). Was a little surprised to be told they won't supply a courtesy car for MOTs but they will take me to wherever I want to go in a taxi and pick me up again when its ready (crazy as I work about 20 miles from Whitefield and it was a £30 fare each way)
Have also taken out a 2 year Signature warranty from them, even though I bought the car a year ago and not from them. Did haggle over the price saying Manchester MB would do it £200 cheaper. They are both part of DaimlerChrysler UK and shouldn't really be any different. MORAL There is room to manoeuvre on MBs prices and service if you are bold enough.
 

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