SWMBO set out to buy a used R171 this weekend. Local MB dealer seems a bit confused as to what cars they actually have in stock and where they are. Phoned before hand to check they had a car SWMBO was interested in. Arrived and no sign of car and they knew nothing about it. Excellent. Just what I wanted. They did have another pricier and newer version in a colour I dislike with a basic spec. But SWMBO was almost tempted - but the merry dance began on whether they'd value her car before she totally committed to buy. This is the 'joy' of buying without finance. They really want to build a monthly plan. We just want to know the gap that needs to be filled. I guess it sort of ended up with them being goaded into valuing her car because we wanted to know how serious they were and they were embarrassed for us to walk away without some attempt at diplomacy given that we're past (long and distant past) customers. The bit that gets me is how graceless every almost interaction we've had with MB Glasgow has been since Stratstone took over. So with SWMBO in a slightly down mood we drive off and while passing the dark side dealership nearby she requests visiting privileges. Me, I can't be fussed (Actually replace fus with ar and it would be more accurate). But I defer and we park. It's late in the afternoon close to closing. And what the hell - the dark side has nothing to buy that SWMBO would want because it has to be a two seater with a metal folding roof. Initial walk round the dark side warehouse and it's busy with staff moving cars and there's a two year old Z4. Nobody is paying attention to us and then I make a revelationary mistake. Somebody opens boot of said Z4 and I spot folded metal roof. (The revelation). Shortly thereafter I brought it to the attention of SWMBO (The mistake). But not to bother it's a manual and I point out to SWMBO that something like 90% of Z4s sold will be manuals as opposed to SLKs which will be almost all autos. She checks with passing younger salesperson who says no - they have no automatics and the car we're next to is the only one stock. Hooray. I'm free. We exit. And as the Z4 was next to the door we're out and almost back at our car. Before disaster then strikes. An older member of the sales team has spotted the Dryce escape manouevre and walks out after us. After some pleasant discourse with SWMBO about what she's after is determined to find her an automatic to try. They don't have one locally but he can get one within a few days. Meanwhile as the dealership is closing I'm figuring he'll want to brush us off with a "I'll get back to you". Worse he's already determined her purchasing and financing strategy and decides her car should be valued to see what he can do. Whoa. This isn't right. For the last three years years I've depended on MB Glasgow Approved Used being my allies in ensuring the SWMBO doesn't change cars. I've been able to tell her what her spending limit is and even drive her in without fear that I'd actually have to go through with it. Stratstone have unwittingly and unfailingly guaranteed that I look like the good guy .... every time. Even the Porsche Centre obliged us on not one but two occasions - on the first at their old location at Westerton they were apologetically too busy to talk to us. Then this year they were quiet and apparently didn't want to be disturbed so simply ignored us. (Which was very nice of them as I hate Boxsters). But BMW broke *my* rules and didn't try and mess with SWMBO's mind with an approach we haven't experienced since she originally bought her MB. Actual engagement with customer. Find out what they want and how much they have to spend. And start trying to actually work a deal. No BS. No merry little dance. Treat the prospective customer like an adult and talk straight. Say 'no' when you have to and listen when the customer says 'no'. That's simply not fair. So this evening I've been stuck, at the behest of SWMBO, learning about E89s and specs and colours and wheel options and 6 pot inline lumps and M Sport packs and lack of cruise control and automatic dimming mirrors and other 'standard' MB stuff that are treated as options plus those evil run flat tyres. The defection isn't guaranteed. But it's close if they turn up with a suitable car (they think they have one). At the start of this weekend I never imagined that the decision would be anything other than juggling one R171 against another R171 depending on age, price, colour, spec.