Unreliable German Cars

I was only thinking the other day how many people I know who have experienced reliability problems with german cars. Once celebrated for their quality of manufacture, BMWs and Volkwagens seem to break down more often
than most, and the repairs are expensive.
We have a Mercedes A Class, which is ideal for driving around London. We use it very little. After more than 3 years the clock shows 17,000 miles. It is well specified, with leather seats, air cooling, and a 1900cc engine. The handling is not too good, but otherwise it is a comfortable car to drive. It is the long wheelbase model, so there is a lot of legroom in the back.
On Sunday I drobe to Winchmore Hill to pick up my 90 year old mother, and take her to look at a retirement apartment in Purley. All was well until the car died in Earl's Court Road. Thank you to the two black guys who pushed us to a side street without being asked. I am grateful to you for your prompt assistance.
My mother and my wife continued their journey in a taxi, leaving me to wait 3 hours for the RAC, who towed the car to Mercedes After-Sales by Wandsworth Bridge South.
On Monday morning at 7.30 Vicky presented herself to the garage - another taxi fare. Later in the day, she was told the car would cost 600 to repair. That was the bad news. The even worse news was the garage would not even consider ordering the part until she returned in person with the vehicle registration document and a photo ID. That would be two more taxi journeys at 16 each way.
Now you might be cross that a spare part cost 400. And you might be cross that this part failed after only 17,000 miles. But you might be even crosser that Mercedes seemed so intransigent.
One might understand their reluctance to order an expensive part with no guarantee we would pay - except that they had our car in their possession.
One might also understand the security aspect. After all, anyone might take our car and present it to the garage for repair. Except that they would have to pay 600 to get it back again, and the car was originally bought from Mercedes Chelsea and was still on their database under our name and address. Oh yes - and Vicky had presented herself in person on Monday morning.
All very strange - but even the General Manager said he had no authority to make any exceptions. As a concession, he did agree to 'break the rules' if we faxed a copy of my wife's passport to him and a copy of the registration document.
Now I used to work for John Lewis as a General Manager, and it was well known by everyone that the General Manager was the one who would do his best to satisfy a customer regardless of what rules might normally apply in general. After all, for the sake of a relatively small amount of money, I could prevent people writing all this stuff on the Net (as I am doing right now) or telling all their friends over dinner how badly they had been treated.
Goodwill expenditure, as it was called, could settle disputes very quickly and turn wrath into something entirely more positive. This is an example many firms would do well to heed.
Including Mercedes Chelsea.
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After only three years and 17K miles this car is out of warranty?
With service (read "attitude") like this I'd have the car towed from this shop to an independent shop or other M-B dealer for the charge couldn't be more than what's being ransomed.
There was just a post about a new UK M-B superdealer (in Brooklands?). Fewer facilities means more "attitude" so perhaps it's time to try another brand's ownership experience.
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As a general point, the car I bought (in 2001) from a dealer in Germany came with a one-year manufacturer's warranty. I learned later that cars bought in the UK had a further two years' dealer's warranty added on.
I can't recollect if there was an extension by German dealers as I was driving the car out of Germany anyway. Still, I had an issue with the mobile phone cradle more than a year into ownership. (My new phone did not fit anymore.) The German dealer found a route to do a free upgrade to the new cradle and software under the guarantee and I found an excuse to drive over... (This could not be honoured in the UK.) (That's customer service...)
DAS
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Car dealers are a shower everywhere. If this was a truck or tractor a service van would have been dispatched to repair it on the spot and it would be odds on that the part would be in stock for instant fitting. Failing the part being in stock it would be ordered for next morning delivery on a scheme called VOR. If too many orders for parts are VOR then the dealer would lose a significant discount on all parts so there is a big incentive on these dealers to hold stock. The vehicle would be back on the road quickly with a minimum of inconvenience and if the customer did not have cash to pay, then he would be invoiced for payment within 28 days, no quibble. Labour and parts prices would also be significantly lower in most cases. So what is the car dealers excuse for not matching this service?
Huw
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