Mercedes responsiveness (or lack of) to calls for urgent service

Car: 1998 ML320 Miles 63K
A year ago my car underwent a rountine service at Mercedez-Benz of Morristown (NJ). They told me that "down the road" I would need some work done on my
brakes (presumably pads..), but that they had "life still in them" so they had taken no immediate action.."likely they would need action during my next service".
By May 2003 I felt the brakes needed service, but as is standard for MBM they could not fit my car in for 3-4 weeks. Because of my concerns I took the car to a NON MB Garage where I stayed and watched them work on the car. It needed NEW Rotors and Pads in the REAR. These were purchased from MB and I watched them replaced on the car. I also had some small jobs done around the same time including oil change etc., again not done by MB, but prety rountine stuff and not worth while waiting 4 weeks for a MBM appointment.
Early December 2003 I telephoned MBM and requested an early appointment. because of a undulating brake pedal, when braking. My thinking was that the front brakes now needed service and while NO warning light had come on, I requested as early an appointment as possible because the braking issue was very unpleasant. I was told that I could NOT be accommodated before January 5th 2004. (By the way this is the garge where I bought the car and they have done 90% of all service work). I was quite disappointed by the considerable delay and their inability to inspect the brakes earlier. I expressed this quite clearly as I attempted to gwet them to take some action earlier.
Fast forward to today, Jan 5th 2004.
I drop the car off at MBM at 8:15 a.m. By 11:30 a.m. MBM telephone me to tell me I MUST have NEW brake pads and Rotors on ALL 4 wheels (noting the service record of a year ago). I tell them that the rear brakes are only about 6 months old. I am told that maybe the garage which did the work did not use MB parts. I tell them I inspected the parts prior to their being fitted and watched the entire service of the rear brakes. MBM then tell me that either the car had undergone severe braking, causing overheating and rotor distortion, OR the front brake issue had gone on too long and created the problems with the rear brakes. I, of course, mention that I had strongly requested a more early appointment to check the brakes some 4 weeks ago and MBM had declined this. I also tell them I only went o/s of MB in May 2003 because they could not see the call early enough and had not wanted to "risk" the brakes any further at that time. Of course now we go round in circles..... and I the owner will be paying ALL the Bills no matter what went wrong.
I call up MBNA and ask their customer service people what is their quality standard re the time taken from request to an actual service. They tell me the dealerships are independent and decide their own schedules. I ask why a dealership would not attempt to schedule a "brake" appointment as early as possible when a customer strongly requests it, because of the performance of the brakes even when no warning light comes on? All the satisfaction I get from MBNA is that they will "consider my feedback along with all other feedback they recaive". i.e. no specific action.
What have I done?
I have authorized MBM to replace the Front Rotors and pads and NOT to touch the rear brakes. This way I can independently check IF they really need attention. I really hate this, but I have lost confidence in MBM because of their unresponsiveness and have that nagging feeling I may be getting a run around. Of course when I told MBNA I was going this route they advised me to replace all 4 Rotors and Pads. I in turn pointed out that if I followed their suggestion I could not check if MBM were giving me a run around.
But the silliest thing was MBM telling me that the rear brake problem could have been caused by my using the car for too long, with a front brake problem (even though no warning light came on). Well IF MBM had been decent they could have taken some time to inspect the car earlier to see if the car was in desperate need of attention. But of course they steadfastly refused to see the car w/o a 4 week delay.
Seems if you follow the time schedule of the MBM dealership you risk extra expense and damage to ones car. But IF you dare go o/s of a MB service dept they immediately tell you that improper parts were used. Heads they win, tails I lose. I have lost trust in MBM and MBNA.
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On 5 Jan 2004 10:02:35 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@jardine.net (Ian) wrote:

Find a different dealer or repair shop to use.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- Because of the current email spam attacks my email account is not included, reply via the newsgroups or ask for a valid email address.
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Find an independent repair shop. I had the same problems with the Stealership in Grand Rapids.
****Dennis Wyatt*****

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Ditto on finding another dealer.
The only time I've been put off for more than a day or two for scheduled repairs was when they had no loaner cars available. Unscheduled (ie: emergency) repairs are handled immediately! But...
Re the brake problem: is it possible that some exuberant wiener-dog Tire-Town type mechanic mis-torqued the lug bolts when re-installing the wheels? Good way to warp a rotor (or three, or four!)
Paul
--- http://www.astro-nut.com ---

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Of course you have lost trust - but it was misplaced trust.
IMHO the reason the service salesman's story became so inflated, for that's what it is, is because he tried to "sell" you a 4 wheel brake job on the basis of his prior notes, not the current facts. You rightly challenged this error; I would have as well. He then tried to top you by escalating to a "dire consequences" scenario. Now you have a sour taste about the matter. Don't.
These service writer - salesmen are just that, most don't know a piston ring from a crankshaft. IMHO you should feel good about taking charge of the situation; next time don't trust these hucksters. They're car people - what can one expect.
Since your car is beyond the warranty that independent shop may be the better service facility, especially when they can find time to do the requested work.
Stories like this plus my own 20+ years as a MB owner give me great pause about buying a new M-B.
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It does sound like you were treated poorly, and like others here I'd say your best bet is to find another shop.
I'm curious as to why you didn't inspect the brakes yourself? Its a very easy thing to do, and if you did need to replace the pads, you could do it yourself. Instead you have put yourself at the mercy of others who usually have motives other than your well being.
Steve
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Since I drive a MB, I guess I should learn how to do things like inspect brakes. I don't really have time to. But then again, I don't want to be taken to the cleaners (again) so that ole Jerkin Shrimp can have a better retirement! So how do I inspect brakes?
Even better - do they have this kind of problem with those cheap imitation cars from Japan that begin with an L? You should realize, of course, that the real name of the car is REXUS, but as we all know, Japanese people can not pronounce R collectly, so they misplounced it Lexus the filst time and it stuck!!!!
mcbrue willingtolearnly under the bridge in the trailer down by the river
96 S420
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get yourself a Haynes manual for the car. they have pictures in there and everything. brake inspection pretty straightforward, as is brake servicing/replacement.

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Your words are so true. I also thank everyone for their views. I stuck with the MB garage for the ease of use, the loaner car and the "trust" factor of getting a job done well and didn't mind paying some premium for that confidence. Now trust is gone and I was also disappointed that the 1-800 MB call line did not express any real concern re either the issue or the consistent delays. I pointed out this would affect my buying decision on cars...
SO yup I think I will go back to my early years with cars 9they were simpler then) and get some manuals and have some elbow grease weekends. I have the feeling I will enjoy it and know that job is done properly.
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All of the responses to this thread suggest that the real problem is that the dealerships are independent.
From what I understand, in Europe Mercedes owns many of its dealers and there tends to be more satisfaction with the service.
Is that accurate?
.
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I can say something about GB and DE: yes, tghe corporation owns lots of dealerships. In the UK not long ago a lot of independents were bought out and all the London dealerships, for example, are promoted as "one", holding centralised service records etc.
I have used Merc-owned and independent dealerships in the London region for years with little problem.
The dealership from which I bought my car in Germany is also owned by Merc. It has several outlets in that town and recently acquired a Chrysler dealership which was up for sale.
DAS
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For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
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I've had a similar problem with Lakeview Mercedes in Rockville Center, NY, I've had to switch service shops to Rallye but since I didn't purchase my car from them I don't get a loaner from them. That's why I swtiched to Lexus (LX 470) for my latest purchase.
Munib
--
Dr. Munib Mundia, M.D.
"Ian" < snipped-for-privacy@jardine.net> wrote in message
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no surprise there. MBUSA customer serivice isn't customer service. I bought an 03 G500 with partronic. You can't turn the partonic off like you can in every other model. So as soon as I have my boat hooked up to the truck the partonic screeches at you when you put in reverse. I brought this to the dealers attention. They were concerned. However MBUSA would do nothing. After 9 months of no return phone calls I went and had a heart to heart with teh owner of my dealer. They are putting in a fix since I am valued customer, however I can't tell you how dissapointed I am with MBUSA. No retnrun phone calls and nothing but rude reps.
This is such a huge change from the MB I know from 10 years ago.

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I read all the responses I have to comment on the idea that the dealer mechanics are going to do a good job, or the independent shops for that matter. You have to find a good mechanic just like you have to find a good wife. I did not buy a new MBZ, I bought an older one at an auction that came with a compelete history or repair orders-- work done at the dealer and work done at an independent shop. The common complaints were engine oil leaks, worn out brakes, and the A/C losing it's charge. After I got it, I found the oil leaks the dealer mechanics could never seem to find-- loose bolts holding the oil filter housing to the block, a bad front crankshaft seal, and a bad rear main seal. The A/C kept losing freon from bad connections that needed tightening up. Another thing I found that the mechanics had never found was a ruptured EGR diaphram that had let carbon get into all the vacuum fittings and plug them up so the car had no power.
So, find a good mechanic, don't just trust youir car to a dealer.
--Geoff '84 300D
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Geoff wrote:

or even better BE A GOOD MECHANIC!
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STOP READING HERE!!!!!
DO NOT READ ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE!!!!
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[...]

That's rough. I've only needed to schedule service with my dealer twice. The first time was when my FSS told me I needed an "A" service appointment. Today, I called because FSS told me I needed a "B" service appointment. I called the dealer at about 4:00 pm today and got an appointment for 8:30 am tomorrow. I had a similar experience when I scheduled the "A" service.
I can tell you that not all dealers are created equally. Clearly, yours maintains a huge backlog of service appointments for no discernible reason, and then seems to attempt to sell you service you may not need.
It may not be possible for you to use a different dealer, but I agree with you that MBUSA should have expressed more interest in your complaint about the dealer.
Good luck in the future.
--Paul ** Note "removemunged" in email address and remove to reply. **
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