Cats are definitely a touchy subject. The factory cat for a number of years lists at around $2330. I have never used one because of the price.
We have always used an aftermarket version and they run from about $400 on up. They are also obviously less of a cat than MB uses. While being warranteed for some long time they won't cover melt downs and they won't handle a car running improperly for a fraction of the time a MB cat will.
I can't imagine any shop would remove a cat these days with all the testing going on. Cars can not be sold in many locations with their emissions systems altered. In test areas the cost for repairs on failed vehicles are often capped to a yearly cost. None of these caps apply to missing parts.
Owner 24 bay BSC
Bosch Master, ASE master L1
26 years MB technician
[This message has been edited by stevebfl (edited 04-05-2000).]