I think warranty work is the key to bad service at most dealerships. If your under warranty you will take your car back to the dealer regardless of the level of service. The local shops in my area that cater to Mercedes and other foreign autos are packed. I think the reason is obvious; many people who's cars are no longer under warranty flee from the assembly line mentality at most dealerships. I recently took my 98 C class in for an A/C problem that was still under warranty. I took the car to the dealership because of the warranty and ONLY because of the warranty. For any work that's not under warranty I take my car into the shop that I've come to trust. The A/C repair was a job that should have taken an hour. It took 2 days. Had I taken the car into my local shop it would have taken an hour and only and hour. The service reps at my dealership are always polite but they are still a huge operation and I've yet to speak to the person who actually works on my car. Any repair or service, no matter how minor, takes at least one full day. The loaner cars they give out are terrible. My last was a Toyota Tercell that smelled like a combination of cigar butts and air freshener.
My local shop is an entirely different story. I actually get to speak to the person working on my car. And they speak to you like you SHOULD be told what's going on. Unlike my dealer, they don't act as though they are doing you a favor just to explain what they did or will do. A few months ago I dropped a hanger on my Brabus muffler. I called my local shop on my cell phone from about 10 minutes away. They told me to come right in. When I arrived they put the car on the lift, took a long look at the muffler and made a few adjustments so I wouldn't lose any more hangers. They replaced the hanger and I was off in less than 10 minutes. They charged me $3 for the hanger, nothing more. This kind of service builds customer loyalty. Not to mention their hourly rates are already lower than my dealership. Had I brought my car in to my dealer, I would have left it there for a day and I'm sure the bill would have been north of $50 to $100. My warranty is up in a few months. Assuming I don't get an extended, I don't have to tell you who will be getting my business. I haven't had any major problems with my dealership. But the hassle of dealing with such a large and impersonal operation just isn't worth it. If your Benz is no longer under warranty, finding a good independent shop can save you time, money and hassles. Without warranty work, independent shops actually have to earn their customers business.