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
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
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
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
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.