I would dare to say most people in this forum and elsewehere agree to this.
There are extremes in both cases. I am sure, everybody pays for things that a toyota carolla doesn't need for 150K miles but all mercedes cars need. That's not the point. A 150 dollar retail part (probably 30 to 35 dollars on the OEM cost) would cause 2200 to 2800 dollars damage and the Manufcaturer is chosing to stick their head in sand. Most Service Managers like perpetuate this because whether its manufacturer or the client, either way they get paid to fix things . And they get good at it, since the problem , the fix and the price is all too tempting to be a cash cow.
Would you consider not putting ear drops in your kids ear to prevent ear infection, if you knowe, untreated, would cause hearing loss? Obviously, Dr. Diesel's experience is the customer's pent up frustration, for the fact that most 1998 and 199 MLs have multiple problems. I would consider one of the poorest build quality MB that was ever built.
Here is the scenario.. Would everyone of us like to pay 500 to 2500 for the things that we know should have been made better? Even If they reimbruse me, I would still have problem with MB for the fact that, I paid for 100 dollar towing, 3 days of rental car, and a bunch of other intangible time and costs... and the painful feeling of.... Mercedes or not, all Maufacturers have enough money to fix bugs on their cars. Lets make an effort to drive towards that Goal.
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let every other MB owner with these circumstances know and help them lodge their complaint on NHTSA.