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Old 09-09-2004, 01:15 PM
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MB to do away with free maintenance during warranty - Scathing Editorial!

Reprinted without permission from

The Most Clueless Car Company in the World.

Detroit. After the relentless spate of bad news coming from Mercedes-Benz over the last three years - led by a seemingly unending series of Juergen Shrempp-orchestrated management blunders that almost forced the company into serious financial jeopardy - you'd think that somewhere, somehow, they'd finally start to get it. That after all the marketing and product miscues - including the perilous journey down-market in the U.S., the horrendous warranty costs due to the company's blind infatuation with electronic gadgetry, which contributed exactly zero to the overall driving experience and did nothing but alienate longtime M-B loyalists, resulting in dismal, historically all-time-low quality ratings, all topped off by that wildly unremarkable attempt at building a "hyper-luxury" car (the Maybach), which landed with a resounding thud in the marketplace after deservingly being written-off as an S-Class on steroids - you'd think that some common sense and reason would finally begin to penetrate through the traditional Fog of Arrogance that hangs over M-B management like a sodden shroud.

But no, after all, we are talking about Mercedes-Benz, the one car company in the world that continues to function as if locked in a time-warped fantasy land where shiny, happy people continue to pay through the nose just for the "privilege" of guiding a glittering example of German industrial might (adorned with the majestic three-pointed star, of course) down the road. The Mercedes-Benz management mindset is so locked in to the past and guided by its "What, us worry?" mantra that even when confronted with the truth about their deteriorating place in the automotive world and how they had to change if they wanted to remain a force in the 21st century, they instead shot the messenger - which led to the forced departure of the best and brightest young car executive in the business, Wolfgang Bernhard.

Mercedes-Benz is so screwed up that they're beginning to conjure up memories of the bad old days of GM - only worse. And that's saying something.

The latest evidence that Mercedes-Benz has lost it? They've decided to do away with their free maintenance program during the warranty period starting with the 2005 model year.

Let me repeat that. The company that managed to piss off legions of its customers over the last three years by launching a series of cars with myriad massive electronic failures, interminable waits for replacement parts and a shrug from dealer service managers that suggested that, "We're sorry but there's nothing we can do - they all do that," is now going to ask its customers (at least the ones who haven't permanently defected to Lexus, BMW and even Cadillac) to pay for their own maintenance.


Mercedes-Benz executives, of course, are falling all over themselves trying to explain that under the old service program maintenance wasn't totally free, that customers did have to pay for parts that had to be replaced because of normal wear and tear - things like disc brake pads and windshield wiper blades, for example. But I'm quite certain that distinction will be lost on Mercedes-Benz owners, especially when they will now be asked to purchase maintenance packages that start at $576 for just two years on a C-Class.

If this move weren't so outrageously ill advised, it would be comical, and it's proof positive that Mercedes is operating in a vacuum where the real world isn't allowed to intrude - a real world with formidable competitors like BMW, which covers all service costs for its customers, for four years or 50,000 miles, or Lexus, which leads the industry in the comprehensive way it takes care of its customers. It's no wonder that these two companies have blown by Mercedes in the market, leaving it in the dust.

And the real reason behind this?

Mercedes-Benz warranty costs were so huge over the last few years that Juergen Schrempp is now riding herd on Juergen Hubbert, the departing chief of the Mercedes-Benz division, to stop the bleeding and extract profits from wherever he can find them. And if that means docking its customers even more for the "privilege" of driving a Mercedes, then so be it.

Note that there's nothing in there about building better cars that are screwed together properly and that don't break to begin with, which would negate high warranty costs before they become an issue. Didn't anyone bother to raise their hand back at headquarters and say, "Gee, we've pissed off so many of our loyal customers in recent years with our horrible quality performance, and we've seen our quality scores plummet to new depths - don't you think it might be a good idea to go out of our way to take care of the customers we have, and do everything in our power to attract new customers with the most comprehensive customer service program in the industry?"

I'm sure if that perspective was raised it was summarily dismissed as bordering on insubordination. After all, the executive branch at Mercedes is all about maintaining protocol and adhering to the pecking order - not about doing the Right Thing.

This decision confirms that the Fog of Arrogance that has defined Mercedes-Benz as a company from the very beginning is very much alive and well. It impedes Mercedes executives' ability to think rationally, and it prevents them from seeing the automotive world as it is today, instead of how it was in their "glory days."

By doing away with its maintenance program, Mercedes-Benz is not only refusing to acknowledge its recent dismal performance in the marketplace, or the fact that the world's automotive landscape has changed forever, it's sending the unmistakable message that it couldn't care less - about its competition, and most important, about its customers.

Mercedes-Benz has now officially gone from being "Engineered Like No Other Car in the World" to being "The Most Clueless Car Company in the World" - in no time flat.
Thanks for listening, see you next Wednesday.

Peter M. DeLorenzo

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Old 09-09-2004, 03:13 PM
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Old 09-09-2004, 06:20 PM
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The article is absolutely correct. In the past, Mercedes would take responsibility for their engineering/manufacturing screw-ups. Often they would cover items even if the vehicle was well out of warranty. They now seem to think that major problems after a car hits 50,000 miles is the price one must pay for driving a Mercedes. With all of the other choices out there, this attitude can lead cutomers to look at other makes. The article mentioned General Motors who also thought they could blame the customer when the vehicles proved defective. As a result, GM's market share fell from around 60% in 1960 to 48% in 1980 and to less than 29% now. Mercedes Benz should take note.
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Old 09-09-2004, 06:46 PM
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Thank god I own a near mint condition 126 from MB's golden era. Anyone want to start the bidding? I'll take $25,000. to start.
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Old 09-09-2004, 06:59 PM
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Need I mention the campaign done for ALL 6 cylinder diesels produced from '86 -'87 replacing the trap oxidizer with an oxidation catalyst, and fabricating brand new exhaust systems some extending from front to back issued in '96 - '97?

Labor, and parts were absolutely free from the new car dealer, no questions asked. Didn't matter how many miles on the car, what condition the engine was in. If something was damaged by the TO(turbo, head) it was replaced with a brand new updated unit no matter what.

That's the Mercedes I used to know.

Then came the era of the 350 diesels. In the early days, MB stood by the rod-bending engines, and if they broke, they'd replace the engine with a new longblock(with modified rods). Mine went at 88K miles according to records, and Mercedes took full responsibility for it in '95 despite the fact it was well off warranty. Now if an engine went prematurely, Mercedes would most likely never stand behind it(especially a 350).
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Old 09-09-2004, 07:07 PM
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If everything is as most believe, it saddens me deepest.
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Old 09-09-2004, 07:23 PM
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Makes me like my W123/W126 all the more.

You mean maintenance was free? The problem with warrenty BS and free maintenance, to me, is that I would be inconvienced all to heck and back having to take my MB's to have someone else turn wrenches on them. Anybody that works on them around here are a long way from the house.

The Honda is a different matter. Over the past 20 years, other than wheel alignments, the only work I have paid for is two timing belt replacements on Hondas. Both times the service experience at the dealer was nothing less first class.
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Old 09-09-2004, 10:40 PM
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Someone is going to make a lot of money restoring W126/W123/W124's etc to like new condition and selling them for $30k-$60k. Although a lot of the new model's are still nice.

Btw did the author of that artical every take a look at what BMW is doing to itself? Last I heard the 7 is failing the 5 is getting luke warm acceptance and the Z4 is not doing much. I see many older 7 series but very few new ones. You can't throw a rock around here without hitting an old 5 series. I have seen only a handfull of the new ones. But M3's are everywhere, previous 7 buyers I guess.

Not to mention Lexus are great for 10 years, after that you out of luck.
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Old 09-10-2004, 05:10 AM
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Whew, good thing I already finished my coffee. It really helped me through those run-on sentences. Even as a relatively new MB owner I'd have to agree with the article, though.
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Old 09-10-2004, 09:48 AM
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Sad Mercedes, correction DaimlerChrysler, is like watching a car wreck in super slow mo You don't Know whats going to be left after its all said and done but in the meantime its painful to watch.

Last edited by yal; 09-10-2004 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 09-10-2004, 10:21 AM
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The DC board has got to be taking notice...when it starts to hurt the investors and stockholders, only THEN will there be some REAL pushbroom housecleaning at the executive offices!
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Old 09-10-2004, 11:28 AM
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Whew! let me chime in here.

It is truely sad to see what Schremp is doing to DC. Not unlike American Airlines. Carty took the airline with the best balance sheet in the industry and in 5 years he put it on the brink of bankruptcy. Schremp is a fool who is only concerned with bottom line economics and not long term viabliity.
I have been in love with Mercedes ever since I saw the brand new 107 as a senior in High School. Purchased my first Mercedes in 1980 and have owned one ever since. But I have bought my last one that is newer than 1988. The 99 E300 was a shop queen and the quality is reflected in the J D Powers and Consumers Reports surveys. The 99 E300 was sold due to reliability problems. The newest Mercedes I own is the 88 560SL.
I once leased an Acura and it convinced me that any new car I buy will be a Honda or Toyota. Or another 123, or possibly that 1971 280SE Cabriolet I think of.

"The DC board has got to be taking notice...when it starts to hurt the investors and stockholders, only THEN will there be some REAL pushbroom housecleaning at the executive offices!"

I don't really buy it. Corporate boards are really a "good ol boy" network who do little but sign off on whatever the "boss" wants. Look at Enron, and all of corporate America. Germany is not to far off from this. As long as they get their perks and stock options they go along for the ride. I owned Diamler benz Depository Reciepts ( stock) for quite some time ( since 1988) , but sold them at a loss due to Schremps poor leadership and the stock has never recovered to my purchase level. I bought it with the idea of "buy what you like", which has worked well in general, but the Diamler Benz was destroyed by Schremp and an inefective board.

Your post about the Trap Oxidizer campaign.

It was not Mercedes good nature that covered that. The EPA requires that emission systems last 10 years. Mercedes was forced to fix the poor design by the potential law suits and federal action by the EPA, not out of there concern about thier customers.

It is sad that the fine company that was Mercedes is fading. But so is BMW and Volkswagon. I really think this is a problem for Germany, not just Mercedes. Since the reuniting of Germany, Germany has had its problems and I think this is just a reflection of that. Times are changing in Germany and it just shows up this way.

I also want to corner Schremp and ask what the hell is he doing. But until he shows up on my door. I'm glad to have my 2 123s and the 107, but as I said the next new car will be Honda or Toyota.

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Old 09-10-2004, 03:08 PM
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I think the guy is spot on! I've had many issues with my E55 and it was like pulling teeth for them to cover any of the issues. I had bad catalytic converters that they didn't want to replace. Hell, they flat refused until I spoke to the EPA. The EPA told me how to handle the issue and Mercedes finally gave in after I threatened to have the EPA issue a discovery on all catalytic converter failures on all Mercedes Benz cars of the same model year. It was a bunch of crap! They should have replaced them without a fight. Mercedes is going down the wrong road with all the electronic gizmos. The only thing keeping them in the game are their stylists and the bad-ass AMG engines.
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Old 09-10-2004, 04:30 PM
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Leasing. It's the reason the expensive SUV market thrived, and it's been the saviour of Mercedes. Without it, Mercedes would not have had the rush of customers and also thanks to leasing, no one cared about the out-of-warranty period.

Problem? Many new cars can't make it to the end of the lease without seriously PO'ing the customer. No one likes to be spending their days mucking about with their car, warranty or not. That's why our 98 E300 got punted.

I love the way the new MB's drive. I have to tell you that the air-suspension W211 E-Class is incredible. I hate the SBC brakes, but otherwise, it's the finest sedan I have ever driven. But, so what? The woman that owns the E320 I drove has practically lived at the dealer for repairs. And not simple "break in" problems, but things like the exterior mirror falling off, various interior bits failing, the radio failing, and the "malfunction indicator" coming on almost daily.

It drives great, when it's actually driving. I had thought the W211 would be a leap in quality from the W210. A leap, allrighty, right off the bloody CLIFF!
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Old 09-10-2004, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by dmorrison
Your post about the Trap Oxidizer campaign.

It was not Mercedes good nature that covered that. The EPA requires that emission systems last 10 years. Mercedes was forced to fix the poor design by the potential law suits and federal action by the EPA, not out of there concern about thier customers.
Ahhh..., Thank the man upstairs for the EPA.

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