What do to? (Car purchase hassles)

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Hardcore MB Enthusiast
Jan 21, 2003
GL63 AMG / SL500 / Porsche 911
Hi everyone,

I’m in the process of purchasing a used car from a garage and would appreciate some advice.

It’s quite a lot of money for me (£25k+) and I’m paying cash for it.

I went and saw the car two weeks ago on the Friday, an hour and half away from where I am. Test drove it, liked the car but it needed a couple of items attending to and was overdue a service by 25 days on the dash (done 2 years ago at MB main dealer, due now on time not mileage). It’s a very low mileage example of a fairly unusual car and everything stacks up including full main dealer history etc.

I made an offer on the car, £2k or about 7% less than it was advertised for to reflect the fact it was overdue a service, and needed a wheel refurb and a couple of tyres etc. To be honest the car wasn’t clean when I viewed it - they don’t seem to have prepped it very well at all but I knew it was a good car underneath so could see past those issues.

Anyway, my offer wasn’t accepted. They would only drop £500 on the advertised price. I wasn’t expecting to get the full amount off, but you’ve got to start somewhere?

I was away on holiday for a few days over the weekend, and had been mulling the car over during that time. Spoke to the garage again on the Monday and the car was still available but they wouldn’t budge on the price. I gave it some more thought that day and decided to buy it, as the car is quite rare and the mileage was very good.

Left a deposit over the phone and arranged with them to collect the car on the Thursday or Friday as I was away until the Wednesday. Was told this was fine and they were going to get the car valeted and ready for collection for me.

I call on the Thursday morning, speak to the guy who I’d been dealing with to check all was okay for collection and to ask how they want paying (ie Bank Transfer or Debit card from my bank account).

Other than him being surprised that I was coming up to collect the car, which still hadn’t been valeted, all seemed okay and I arranged to be there for midday.

A couple of hours later, on route to collect the car I get a phone call out of the blue. Guy tells me that they’re having an issue with their admin team in regards to sorting the paperwork/invoice or whatever out for me to buy/pay for the car. Sounded a bit strange - I queried it and basically didn’t get anywhere. Asked how long this was likely to take to sort out and he said either later that day or if not by the following day.

So headed back home, I was off work that day and so did some shopping etc with the wife and thought I’d call later after lunch to see if there was any update. Got told basically that it wouldn’t be ready until the morning. Bit disappointed (especially as I was a little suspicious) but at least it would be ready on the Friday..

Called on Friday morning to check all was okay before heading down, guy I’d been dealing with wasn’t in. Get passed through to someone a bit more senior he tells me they were having a problem with the car, the passenger headlight wasn’t working (it had failed the recent MOT on that and then passed later the same day). They were waiting on a part (bulb) to fix it hence they couldn’t let me have the car until it was fixed. Makes sense but a bit annoyed the first guy wasn’t honest about this as clearly this was the issue as to why I couldn’t collect the car the previous day...

Guy said it was definitely the bulb (I expressed doubt as to this, but he assured me their in-house techs had checked it all out etc) and the car would definitely be ready on Monday. I explained this was a bit of an inconvenience to me, as I was back at work that week and also mentioned the previous hassle of me heading up there and getting told the story about the admin problems when I was already half way there.

Monday comes, not heard anything from the garage so call them late morning to see if the car is ready for collection. Guy is not there or was busy with a customer etc, get a phone call back later on that afternoon - they have changed the bulb but the light still isn’t working (!) but they know what the problem is it’s an electrical issue (hmm) and they need to order a part.

These guys are not Mercedes dealers. I don’t think they honestly know what they are doing nor do they have the correct diagnostic equipment (STAR/Xentry) to check and replace control units etc.

Guy said to me did I still want the car and I said yes, I just want it fixed ASAP (it’s been over a week since I paid the deposit now)

So he said they would order the part in and get it sorted out. Now it’s Thursday and I’ve heard nothing. Called in the morning for any update, guy is busy with a customer again. Lady on the phone took my details again and promised a call back - nothing. 5pm comes so I call them back, get passed through to the guy who was supposed to call me back 6 hours ago and he says the car is in the workshop now but not ready and they’ll call me tomorrow with good news.

Starting to get quite annoyed about the situation - today it’s been two weeks since I saw the car, 12 days since leaving a deposit on it and over a week since I was supposed to have been collecting it. Having not heard anything at all today I called them after 2:30pm to speak to their business manager (the guy who told me the truth about the headlight fault). Apparently busy with a customer, promised a call back - it’s now nearly 5pm - nothing.

If it was any other car I’d probably walk but I’m making an exception as I like the car and think I’d struggle to find another like it, certainly with the mileage and spec/colour combo this one has.

But I’m stumped as to what to do now. I’m wondering if they’re trying to back me into a corner so I cancel on the deal - either so they don’t have to sell it to me (either to sell it elsewhere for higher or to offload it to auction so they haven’t got to warrant the car for any further issues etc). I’m not the sort of person to complain or ask for stuff but after almost two weeks and the inconvenience etc it’s starting to bother me - I moved cash into my current account once I knew I was collecting the car which has obviously been sitting there doing nothing since, wasted time/fuel on the day I was supposed to have been collecting it, have had to do all the chasing as they haven’t bothered keeping me informed at all, etc.

I obviously know until the full balance is paid the car isn’t actually mine but how do I stand at this stage? What would you ask for or would you just walk?

I’ve got it booked in for a service on Monday at my local MB main dealer, which I’ll now have to cancel - which I don’t want to do as the car will now be overdue a service by 42 days already at that point, and will then have to wait another few weeks to get it booked in again :wallbash:

I do still like the car and want to buy it, but this is putting a real dampener on things. You know when you start off looking for problems, eg have they fixed this electrical issue properly etc, have they marked/damaged anything changing the bulb and control units. Rather than enjoying the whole build up to collection, bringing it home and getting to enjoy the experience etc.

Sorry for the lengthy post, any advice welcomed, I genuinely don’t know what I should do now :(

I’ve never had this kind of hassle buying privately!
Sounds like this garage is really messing about with you and I sympathise. I wouldn't be happy either.
I can't advise on what you should do, but I would want the car delivering immediately to a main dealer for them to fix it. Preferrably yesterday!
A really tricky one, if you’re an intelligent and diligent person you’re maybe reading too much into pure lazy and couldn’t give a toss car dealers, maybe they have sold it elsewhere, it happens.

At the first sign of dishonesty I walk
To be honest I'd be getting my deposit back and running away as fast as my little legs could carry me.

If their service is like this before you buy it, what will it be like if it develops a fault on the way home from the dealership? I appreciate the scarcity value but, going by your description and their apparent lack of interest, I wouldn't trust them at all.
^ This.

And with the shenanigans so far, my guess is that you'll never really be happy with it.
Just had a conversation with their Sales Manager - after calling them for an update at 5pm as I’d heard nothing since I called 2 1/2 hours ago - car still not fixed. Guy tells me that the person who I was asking for earlier (who was apparently busy with a customer) isn’t in today (?)

They are sending it in to Mercedes next week to be fixed. Need a control unit + coding, which is what I did say to them on Monday...

I explain my frustration and ask that they arrange and pay for the (overdue) service as (a) it’s well overdue, 42 days on Monday + counting and (b) for the inconvenience and costs that I’ve incurred so far. Have been offered a ‘full tank of fuel’ and that’s it so far. Tells me he’s losing money on the car now etc, I politely explain that’s not my problem - it could have happened on the way home or a month after etc. He said they were going to send it to a specialist auction and pulled it when I wanted the car etc and that they’d been bid £1k more than I’m paying etc - seems strange customer service to me.

This is a *big* motor group, not some back street trader, they themselves aren’t a MB dealer but do have MB main dealers in their network.

I haven’t given up yet but I feel that is the least they can do in the circumstances. I want the car fixed obviously but I think maybe I need to speak to someone higher up the food chain (maybe not from the actual branch/garage) and see what they think - can’t be the way they are supposed to treat customers?

On a positive note, I haven’t done a proper advert with photos etc for my E55 wagon yet, so at least I still have transport for the time being! :cool:
Maybe they thought they'd sold it for cheap to a friend and realised they'd have to get out of it when you offered to pay the asking price. - I'd probably walk at this point; you can always come back if it's a genuine car, but you're losing money too... time off work, interest on the deposit you've already paid...
It seems to be a strange situation, and I can understand your frustration Will. I'd certainly have lost patience by now and demanded to talk to the dealer principal, with a veiled threat that it was going higher in the group if I didn't get an answer, pronto. Generally speaking I'm pretty laid back, but p*ss me off and I have no problem going to the top of the chain.

I guess it boils down to how much you want it - it sounds like it could be a long search to find another. I remember when I finally bought my C43, I'd been looking for one for 18 months and it seemed at the time like I'd looked at every one for sale in country. As luck would have it, it turned out to be a good'un (I still regret selling that car), but it sounds like yours could go either way. Either they found an issue, and they want to get rid before it comes back to bite them on the ****, or it's a diamond and somebody's mate wants to buy it, in which case they're wishing they hadn't taken your deposit and they're trying to make you go away..

Best of luck and I hope it works out for you.


Will. What car is it ? R
I’d have got my money back after the first bit of faffing, this level of service really boils my piss.

Unless it’s a Designo E63 or it’s got unicorn specification then I’d wait until another one appears, at least you’ve still got the E55 to drive about in.
Cheers guys.

I just can’t understand their customer service. I’m buying the car for £500 less than the full asking price, not as though I’ve bought it for peanuts and am asking the world of them.

Surely what this car has cost them/their profit margin etc isn’t really any of my concern as anything could and can go wrong with a used car post purchase. They took it in p/x anyway so I’m sure they would have made money at the other end of the deal. And I’d think they’ve sold plenty of other cars for a good amount and not had to do any warranty work etc. Some you win and all that.

It’s an E63 wagon, last of the 6.2s, designo paint, spec is good - okay a couple of options I’d like missing but it’s done 11k from new, 1 private owner and full MB Chelsea history (serviced about every 2k miles)

For me, my logic was it’s a hassle free family car to replace old but trusty E55 wagon. I’m only doing low miles in the family car now so was going to be (or will be..) a keeper :thumb:
Guess I am alone on this one Will, I would perservere with it, as it's really what you want. Have you tried offering to take it off their hands as is, and get it sorted yourself? At least you will know that its been done properly!
Obviously at a renegotiated price of course.
Although the service is not up to standard. The issue makes sense.
Those intelligent light control units are a common failure and can only be coded by someone with online star.

I guess if they had been upfront about the issue and more proactive, the issue would have been sorted by now..

I would give them a few more days.. If not get deposit back and move on.
Trouble is for me, despite the dealer’s incompetence the car itself should be okay :cool:

I’m pretty sure what’s happened is they thought they’d try and fix it themselves rather than paying £££ to send it out to MB for the work. I actually know what they paid for the car in p/x, about £700 less than what I’m paying so their margin is obviously tight (but who knows what they made on the car they sold)

Despite all this, if I were to walk away from the deal I think I’d be worse off as I don’t think another car like this will come up.

Once the car is ready, hopefully get it straight into MB for a health check to make sure all is as it should be and also down to Olly’s for a good checkover too.

The only thing I need to work out is how I stand for any future problems - isn’t there a minimum of 3 or 6 months warranty on used cars from bona fida dealers nowadays?

I’m not unreasonable or unrealistic but if it needs work that they should have done before sale, or something major needs doing then obviously I need to know how I go about getting it sorted out.
Name & Shame.. Call trading standards too..Get your money back..

Think of it as a near miss.. what would happen if after you've picked it up and something major goes wrong, do you think that they'll help, that they'll warrant it? Already I'm thinking no, once you cross the gates of their forecourt Its YOURS..

Nah, definitely walk away from this one.. too much BS from them and that puts me off..
Agree with that too, even a decent low mileage car can have all sorts of problems.

If these guys are not professional now you don't want to find out how they react if it goes wrong.

Bide your time, another one will come along.
Get a mate to call them and enquire if it’s still for sale.
My guess is it’s slready sold

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