A quick background - I love Mercedes cars. As a kid my dad had one for a few years (incidentally, he hated it) and I always liked riding it. When we went to the dealership I would be drawn in by the pro-Mercedes anti-BMW propaganda.
When I bought my first car with my own money, it was a 1985 Mercedes 380SE. It was ten years old at the time, was the first car I'd even test driven, but I really loved the car. Even though it was so old it had good features and was fun to drive. Two months later, it broke.
Several years later I bought my second Mercedes, a 1994 E320 Coupe. I've always been a huge fan of the Mercedes Coupes. For one they have really cool four place seating, so instead of three squished seats in the back you have two full ones with a console in the middle. Their lines are beautiful, and they're fairly rare. I actually still have that car, although my brother, Devon, drives it right now.
When I was in LA browsing craigslist I saw a 1994 S600 Coupe for sale. For reference, 1995 is my favorite year for Mercedes, followed by 1994. Those two years are marked as the last years that Mercedes was known to build the highest quality cars with the most features. After that they must have decided there wasn't a demand for a car built with no regard for price, and they started skimping. Even today the 1994 S600 has features that you can't get (although there have been many technological improvements that the 1994 doesn't have as well).
I had always wanted a 94-95 Coupe. The S500 is the 5 liter V8 and the S600 is the 6 liter V12. I didn't really have any intention of buying the car, but I'd always wanted to test drive one, and I knew that I could afford it if I really wanted it. Of course I drove it and loved it. The coupes made in those two years use a very rare body style that looks so modern that most people assume that it is much newer. I had to have it. It had a warranty, so I figured that I would buy it and then sell it if the warranty ran out.
For a long time I drove the car happily with no problems. Occasionally something small would go wrong and I would have it serviced at the dealer. I'd heard that the Austin Mercedes Dealership was horrible, but my experience was ok at first. They gave me a free rental car, and I didn't have to pay for the repairs because of the warranty, so I was happy.
Then my wiring harness broke. The one major pitfall of nearly every 1994-1995 Mercedes is that they replaced the wire sheathings with biodegradable rubber. It's a noble cause and all, but under the heat of the engine, the sheathing deteriorates and the wires short each other out, causing electrical havoc. I knew that this would happen to my car, and was very glad it happened under warranty.
First of all, for some reason my "service advisor" doesn't like it when I get a free rental car. I have no idea why. I told her I'd be bringing it in the following day and she said she'd have a car for me. I called at 1:30 to let her know I was coming in.
"Hi, I'm bringing the car in now."
"Ok, great. We're ready for you."
"Do you have the rental ready?"
"Well, I thought you were going to come in early. It's really late now."
"It's only 1:30."
"Well, I already gave your car to someone else."
"Don't you have another one you can rent me?"
"No. We don't like to rent cars over the weekend."
WHAT? They don't like to rent cars over the weekend? What do they like doing with the cars over the weekend? Is there some underground mercedes employee-only rally race that's going down with these things every weekend?
I continued, but it became clear that there was no way I was going to get a rental car. Fine. The car needed to be repaired anyway, so I brought it in.
A few days later a rental car was available, and I somehow was permitted to go get it. This is extremely fortunate, because the repair took FOREVER.
For literally over two weeks in a row (every business day) I would call in and be assured that I could have my car the next day. It was a huge joke by the end, because I would ask about it but I knew I wouldn't actually have it the next day.
Anyway... I finally got my car back. I was a little upset at the delay, but didn't really care because I got a $4,000 repair for free.
The next time I went back was because my windshield was broken. Ironically it broke on the way home from the wiring repair. They fixed it quickly.
Then two weeks later a guy in front of me had a blowout. A huge chunk of tire goes flying in the air and lands directly in front of my face. I really thought that it was going to go through the glass and kill me. Instead it destroyed my windshield.
I called back in to the mercedes dealership and the service lady actually laughed at me. We made an appointment for me to bring it in that Friday. I call Friday and guess what? She forgot to order the winshield. She must have felt bad because when it finally got fixed, she didn't charge me. This is good because they charge $700 for these suckers.
I won't even get into the debacle with the new tires I got. Yeah, actually I will. I needed lug bolts for them, and she claimed that they didn't have the right size. Could they order the right size? No. Did she check with anyone who knew? No.
I literally drove all over the place trying to find the right bolts for this thing. I finally found them in HOUSTON. For those of you who live in a better state than Texas, that's a good three hour drive. After two months, I was ready to put the new wheels on.
At a hefty price, Mercedes Benz of Austin put them on with the new bolts and said everything was fine. Was everything fine? Nope. They were too long and one destroyed one of my brakes. At this point the warranty was up, so I was paying for repairs.
I was actually in the garage watching the guy fix it when he says, "Yeah, these aren't the right size bolts. Let me get some."
What? Get some? From where?
From the parts bin. That's right... I drove all over the place and made dozens of calls to get some bolts that THEY HAD ALL ALONG.
Even after all this crap, I was still going with them. I liked that they gave me free rental car, and would pick me up or drop me off if necessary. They gave me a free windshield, so that bought them some slack.
A few days ago my car wouldn't start. I had left the door open by accident for a few hours, so I figured it was a battery issue. I tried jumping it to no avail. I told my friend Nick about the problem over the phone (he lives in Pennsylvania) and he decided that it was a minor problem that would be easily fixed. Mercedes of Austin disagreed. They sent a tech to my house who determined it was a compression problem. Compression problems are expensive, and doubly so with this car.
At this point I wanted to take it to Ben's Workshop, which is a high quality Mercedes only shop that I've dealt with in the past. I've never had a major problem with them.
However, the dealership provides free towing if you have your car repaired there, so I decided to just have it towed there.
Another compression test later and they decided it was definitely a compression problem.
Then they do a third test and they realize it's not compression, but was a simple problem as Nick had diagnosed OVER THE PHONE. How sad is it that my friend over the phone is better at figuring out what's wrong with a car than Mercedes mechanics who are looking at it.
Oh, did I mention that I didn't get a rental car for free? They've changed their policy and don't give them out anymore. Of course, their phone system still tells you about the free towing and free rental car as you're waiting to decide whether or not to have the repair done.
They send a friendly gentleman named John to come pick me up and get my car. I get there and pay my bill, thankful that it's not the thousands of dollars it would have been if there was a compression problem.
I get in my car and notice that there's a huge piece of the front bumper on the back seat. Huh? No one told me that they broke that. Also, the car wasn't washed, as it has been every other time I got it fixed.
On my way home I look at the bill. They charged me for two compression tests. Is that reasonable? I don't know. On one hand, people deserve to be compensated for their time. On the other hand, when I'm paying a gazillion dollars an hour, I expect someone who knows what the hell they're doing to be performing tests on my car.
And the cherry on top? I got charged for towing.
From now on, my business goes to Ben's workshop. I don't actually think this is a very interesting article, but google loves me these days so now it will show up when people search for Mercedes Benz Austin. Victory is mine!
I admire the way you kept going back to the dealership. Unfortunately I kept doing the same thing...until teh day that they found a $4,000 fault...sound familiar to you? Time to vote with my feet! Hopefully I have found an honest person to service my MB...NOT a dealership....just ask questions and check around, there are still some people trying to make an honest living in servicing MBs. Just remember that people on the net do not call them "stealerships" for nothing! Good luck.
No offense, but if you had so many problems shame on you for returning! I say this as I am a service advisor myself although not at a high end dealership BUT I am the owner of a Mercedes Benz. It seems you kept going back for all the "free" stuff and when it wasn't free you complained and bitched. If you cant afford the car, don't get one. If you had a problem with the advisor who obviously was incapable and unwilling to DO HER JOB, you should have asked for a service director or foreman. Also I laughed so hard when you said your friend diagnosed it on the phone, you should have went there in the first place. If I had a penny every time a customer stated they "read on the internet" or "their friend said" I'd be friggen loaded!! On a final note, a courtesy car is just that, a COURTESY. Should have bought an extended warranty that provided one.
To Eric: You must be joking regarding
"It seems you kept going back for all the "free" stuff and when it wasn't free you complained and bitched. If you cant afford the car, don't get one. If you had a problem with the advisor who obviously was incapable and unwilling to DO HER JOB, you should have asked for a service director or foreman." My personal experience is that they DO NOT return calls, are not there when you call in personally to see them.....in fact it has been my unfortunate experience to find out that the whole MB service areas are crap. (3 different dealerships have proved to be incompetent, arrogant and stupid). I have recently talked to 3 other MB owners who do not go back to the dealerships any more. BRAVO!! Sooner or later the people who actually have to pay for their repairs walk right out the mb dealership and NEVER return, got it?
Ve had issues similar to yours in st Louis. I called mb of north America in new jersey and they worked with me and my dealer, and paid for half
Hello Tynan, I would like to offer a brief response to this blog on behalf of Mercedes-Benz of Austin. We have no problem providing loaner cars to our customers for service or repairs in excess of two hours, however we can only hold cars 30 minutes past the scheduled appointment time. We then try to accommodate clients past that time. Regarding the length of time the car was in the shop it was probably waiting on special ordered parts. Unfortunately in some cases with older cars obtaining parts can take some time. We regret your windshield didn't get ordered and while this type of oversight isn't typical, apparently you received the replacement for free. I don't really have enough information to respond to your other concerns/frustrations but would be happy discuss those with you after we review our service file. We do truly care about our customers and work to exceed expectations. We welcome the opportunity to discuss your comments and hopefully change your opinion of us. My name is Jim McGuane and I can be reached at 406-3323 X-2248.
I agree that some of your experience with MBoA is clearly the dealership's error. Lug bolts are easy to get, but not for non-mb rims.
The loaner car service is a courtesy, as it is at any dealership. It is not required by MB or any other brand that with which I have had personal experience.
Your car is OLD. Anyone who has owned a euro car will tell you similar horror stories about cost, repair and service. Don't feel special.
Had you researched your purchase before buying you would have run away from that crapped out S-class.
Mileage doesn't matter on any euro car. They will be problematic if they sit, more than if they are driven. You know how you constantly have to update your PC? or Mac? The european manufactures build their cars that way. They need attention regularly for improvements.
Next time get a Lexus, they are better ass-kissers.
Thanks for the mortgage payment and the boat.
Luv ya bye.
Mercedes Benz of Austin SUCKS. Period. I've been going to Ben's for years after I bought my car from MBA. They are the best in Austin.
Hey dude im sorry about your experiences, but none the less Mercedes is still the greatest luxury car out there.
and as for mechanics I agree with you, find someone who knows about the vehicle, because the dealership will charge you and arm and a leg for services.....
only the rich can afford to pay for non sense like that.
Do you know of a good collision center that repairs mercedes. My brother's 2008 c280 got hit and bent the hood and bumper and broke the grill.
Seriously. I may not have mentioned this before, but my life revolves around one thing. Tostadas. Whole foods makes them raw, and they are a flax seed cracker with fake beans, avocado, mixed greens, pico de gallo, and fake sour cream. I love these things with most of my heart. Since discovering them I get one every time I go to Whole Foods, and sometimes I take one home with me even though they get soggy.
Tonight I had myself a nice little night planned out. I was going to drive to Whole Foods to meet Todd for Dinner, come back home, get ready, and go hit SXSW with some friends from San Fran.
As usual I took a lesuirely shower and planned it so that I would have JUST enough time to eat dinner there.
Getaround is a car sharing service like Zipcar, except that it uses people's private vehicles instead of a fleet. It's a bit like AirBnB for cars. Getaround is part of the "collaborative consumption" movement, which believes that if we could share things we don't use most of the time it would be better for us in a lot of ways. Sharing cars means less cars on the road, which means less pollution, and generally less "stuff."
I'd never used Getaround and a few weeks ago I was trying to figure out why. I pinged Jessica, one of the founders, and told her that what I'd realized was that I didn't want to have to go to someone's house and "borrow" their car. The thought of actually interacting with the owner of a car was awkward enough that it had kept me from trying the service.
Jessica told me about a new type of rental they now have called "Instant," where I can use the Getaround mobile app to rent a car instantly and unlock it with my phone, meaning I wouldn't have to meet the owner or wait for approval. (This dovetails really well into my recent blogs about the power of mobile and apps to transform businesses, and how Fortune 1000 CEOs are going to get fired for missing it.) Getaround Instant was exactly what I was looking for, so my brother-in-law Dal and I decided to give it a try.
I had a few hiccups that Getaround is still working through (for example, Getaround verifies a driver's driving history with the DMV in real-time, and since my last name has a hyphen in it, but the DMV doesn't account for hyphens, my rental request initially broke Getaround's booking system. But both Jessica and Matt were very proactive at resolving these speed bumps). Overall the process was incredibly smooth: