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Old 07-14-2001, 08:54 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 250
I made a post awhile back regarding some work that needed to be done on my 87 300SDL. Well, 8 weeks later, I finally got the car back.

Originally, I was under the impression the Aux cooling pump and a resistor for the secondary cooling fan needed to be replaced at a cost of $500. Then they found the head gasket bad and finally found the head to be cracked.

Turns out, I had a top end rebuild done (new head, new valves, gaskets, etc) since the car has about 230k miles on it. The head was replaced at 165k at a Mercedes dealer, but I believe a recycled part was used at that time (the head was only $750), much less than a rebuilt or new one.

My gripe is not with the work itself, as it appears to be running great. I have a problem with the rest of the dealership experience. The service manager made a half-ditch effort to compensate for taking so long by promising a full car detail.

Total cost of the above job was almost $5200 or about $800 over the original quote. I was not made aware of this until the job was complete. Labor-wise, instead of the quoted 26 hrs, I was billed for 34hrs (8 hrs @ $70/hr = $560 extra). Not certain what the extra parts were, but about they were about $200 over the quote.

*****And they had the audacity to charge $50 for "Repair Order Creation"*****

Obviously, I made quite a few calls to the dealer's service department in the 8 weeks it was there. Every time I called, there was a new excuse as to why the car was not done. Originally, it was supposed to be done in 2 weeks. Then, they pleaded a hard luck story about being short on mechanics, etc. Toward the end, one woman in particular took a tone with me like "how DARE you keep calling us...when we're done, we'll call YOU"

They assured me it would be done at the end of last week. When I called, I reached the service advisor that had been so nasty. She said the part didn't get ordered and it would be here the following Wednesday. She also said normally the parts order gets submitted on Tuesdays and could consider myself lucky the parts manager approved the "special order request".

Finally, I received a message Wednesday morning at the office saying by the time I checked this message, the car should be done. Interesting, since there were well aware of me not working on Wednesdays. I called them back only to be told "well, it may be done on the end of the week"...

About 2:00 on Friday afternoon, I talked to my original service advisor (he was pleasant from the start). He confirmed the car was being cleaned up and would be ready for me when I arrived after work.

I got hung up for about an extra 1/2 hour at the office and ended up getting to the dealership at about 5:05. Since I was uncertain what any of the service advisors looked like, I wasn't sure which ones I worked with. Went over to the cashier counter where the invoice was. Apparently, the advisors didn't want to talk with me. The girl behind the counter simply had me sign the service order and swiped my AMEX for the $5000+ charge without incident. I asked to talk with a service advisor, but they had "all already left for the day" (considering there were no fewer than 4 service writers in the bays.)

There was also no detail job done. The inside was VERY dusty and the outside was hosed down, not sponged off and not dried. All the windows have the big water spots on them representative of what happens when its not dried off.

I need to get my old cylinder head back because I have someone that will pay a core on it. Doesn't look like this will happen.

Thanks for letting me rant. I feel somewhat better now. (Until the AMEX bill arrives)...
Lance Allison

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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Old 07-14-2001, 10:06 AM
BENZ-LGB's Avatar
Strong, silent type
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Southern California
Posts: 1,663

sorry to hear about your dealership expereince. It's almost enough to take the joy out of driving a great car like yours. Regarding the cost of your repair bill. Depending on what state you live, you may not be responsible for the amount of the bill over the original estimate for which the dealer did not get your permission. In california the repair shop must get your approval for repairs over the estimate, or it is "on the house."

Once a dealer tried to charge me $300.00 over the estimate. I would never have authorized the repair because it was not necessary and because I was getting ready to sell the car and had already told th e perspective buyer about the "problem" and the price reflected the condition.

Anyhow, the dealer tried to tell me that they had indeed called me and in fact, the repair bill said that they had called me and received my authorization. I told them that they had NOT called me and when they insisted, I demanded to see their phone bill to prove they had indeed called me. They balked. Then I told them that since I had given them a cell number, I had my own records to prove that no call had come in from them. The service manager's face went blank, they apologized, asked me not to call BAR and told me the repairs were on them.

Anyhow, check your state laws because you may not have to pay for repairs over the original estimate. Good luck.
Current Benzes

1989 300TE "Alice"
1990 300CE "Sam Spade"
1991 300CE "Beowulf" RIP (06.1991 - 10.10.2007)
1998 E320 "Orson"
2002 C320 Wagon "Molly Fox"

Res non semper sunt quae esse videntur

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Not in this weather!
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Old 07-14-2001, 10:31 AM
Lebenz's Avatar
backwoods member
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862

Also, to return their kindless and considerationlessness, you should contact the state attorney general, the local bbb, and a few news stations (radio, tv, print media). Let them know about the kind and courteous service you’ve received. Mention fraud, bad service, being harassed by the members of the dealership, being put off, being over billed. Be sure to tell them this was to maintain you 15 year old car.

Then contact AMEX and explain to them that you were strong armed into paying for this amount. AMEX will refuse to pay the entire amount until the dealer settles. If the dealer is anything like the lame brains at the dealership I take my mbs to, your dealer will probably do absolutely nothing. And it will be months before you will be obligated to pay a cent. In the end you will get a deduction of the amount you claim in the dispute. Be sure to add a few hundred for the value of the detailing you were promised but did not receive. Be totally honest, and every bit as thoughtful as were the folks that took your money.

Do this and you will prevail.


'00 ML320 "Casper"
'92 400E "Stella"
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Old 07-14-2001, 10:46 AM
J.HIDALGO's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Jax, FL
Posts: 1,785
Another reason NOT to go to a dealership. Anything that is NOT under warranty is a NO, NO. Believe me, I know. Go to a GOOD independant, you will save money and headaches. Dealerships should be your very last resource, unfortunately...
'86 300E
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Old 07-14-2001, 11:00 AM
pmizell's Avatar
Benz Zealot
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 838
This is a little off topic but....

... I sent MBUSA a complaint email about the failure rate of their head gaskets on 103-104 engines, including mine which has failed once before, and maybe a second time now.

My complaint was based on my experience as well as seeing constant posts about "oil in the coolant" on this forum. Here is the response I received from MB:


Thank you for your e-mail.

We regret to learn of the circumstances which caused you to write. We do,
however, disagree with your comment that the head gasket on our 103/104
engines has been a"common problem".
We have NO known problems with the cylinder head gasket for the 103 and
104 engines. We advise you have your vehicle inspected by an authorize MB

If you would like to discuss this further, our Technical Specialist can be
reached at 1-800-FOR-MERCedes (1-800-367-6372) between the hours of 8 A.M.
and 6 P.M. Eastern Time.


NO known problems eh? I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

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Old 07-14-2001, 04:11 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 115
I had a similarily poor experience at the Mercedes dealership on the SF Peninsula near Oracle. They claimed new parts needed replacing, did incredibly poor diagnostics (if any), gave me the story about "new mechanic, been having trouble with his work" etc, etc. Maybe the economic good times of the last few years made them arrogant and careless. Now that times have changed and deposits for new cars are being cancelled right and left they'll change their tune. The good news is there are two excellent independents in the area: Kirberg Motors in Belmont and MB Garage in San Mateo. There could be more, but these are the two I've found.

'88 300E 265K
'91 300TE 155K
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Old 07-14-2001, 04:45 PM
steve hutson
Posts: n/a
It seems that many employees in the dealership sytem (not only MB) really detest their customers. This has been proven to me by personal experience as well as the many posts on the subject. In my company, when someone abuses a customer, he gets fired. There would be no company without the satisfied customer, but somehow this obvious axiom does not seem to apply to the auto industry. Of course there are disagreements and disputes in any business relationship, but the outright horror stories that I read about leads me to conclude that our dependence on cars in general, and certain marques in particular is partly responsible for the bad customer service we receive. For the most part, we have no alternative to the car and they know that. Therefore there is no incentive from a business standpoint to change things. We are trapped in a mess of our own making. In alot of respects it is a lot like domestic air travel--they don't really like you, and they're going to prove it to you over and over and over again. The advice to seek a good independent tech and to call AMEX to dispute those charges is good advice--you will definately breathe easier.
Best of luck
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Old 07-15-2001, 01:22 AM
Posts: n/a
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.
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Old 07-15-2001, 03:54 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 82

The tone of the various comments on this thread ring so true! My wagon is still under warranty. If it were not under warranty it would never see a dealership ever again. One dealer took 5 working days to find and fix problem in my driver's seat electrical adjustment system. 5 days!!! Then they called me in, told me it was ready to go, I get in the car, and the same failure mode occurs before I can even leave their driveway! 4 working days later the problem is finally fixed and away I go. Meantime I was stuck in their POS "courtesy" car. I think the Starmark warranty means the dealer can put the car on the very bottom of the list of cars to be repaired, and I also think they must get a rebate from M-B for the cost of the loaner car. I took my car to this dealer 5 times for warranty work, and they stuck me in a POS loaner for multiple days 4 out of the 5 times (claiming they had to special order parts). Very, very aggravating!

Another local dealership seems to take great delight in telling me that my suspension has been modified (and Eibach springs are not M-B approved) and my "aftermarket" Carlsson wheels are not the recommended size. I understand that they may feel an obligation to advise the customer, but if they'd just say it once and drop it I would like it a lot better. They too will never see me again for anything. I didn't come to them to get *****ed out, I came to them to get something fixed (that had nothing to do with the suspension or wheels).

I have found an excellent independent mechanic that I trust, that likes the cars he works on, has reasonable rates, and doesn't insult me as an owner. It would be nice, but apparently unrealistic, for dealers to treat us the same way.

I think nearly everybody out there sympathizes (sp?) with the person that started this thread. Mercedes-Benz, are you listening?

92 300E (Black/Grey interior: wife's car)
94 E320 Wagon (White/Saddle interior, Eibach springs, '96 E420 16 x 7.5 wheels)
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Old 07-15-2001, 10:32 PM
Johnson Chan
Posts: n/a
Lance, whats the name of the dealership, by any chance are you located in St. Louis, MO? I had a very similar expereince with one of the two MB dealers in town and was very pissed, so I know where you are coming from.
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Old 07-15-2001, 10:40 PM
94 E320
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Fairfax, VA
Posts: 437
No wonder MB tried to close down this site...and they said it was over trademark issues! yeah right!

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Old 07-16-2001, 02:37 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Northumberland, UK
Posts: 1,294
You might be interested to know that Mercedes Benz has sacked all of its UK dealers.

To an extent, sales and servicing are going to be split up, which must be good, especially for customers wanting their cars fixed.

One aspect of this is that it is in the servicing that most money is made. Another is that the dealers alienate customers both potential and actual. So many people love the cars but will never buy another one because of the treatment they receive at the dealership. One thing is certain: MB cannot do the job any worse than the existing dealers.
JJ Rodger
1999 SL 500
1993 320 TE
1986 500 SEC
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Old 07-16-2001, 02:43 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
Posts: 856
I am appalled at the prices everyone are quoting for basic work. I have found most basic maintenance issues like brakes to be easier on MB than on most other cars ... it would seem this would lead most to believe that a competent independent could do the work.

I too, over the years, have found no really good dealer in any brand ... the MB stores I have visited have been arrogant and snotty about their product. While MB are very good cars, their repair incidence is actually worse than several Japanese low end models and a couple of American models; so, where is the value?

My worst experiences have been, however, at VW dealerships. Maybe it is the German arrogance of quality coming through?

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Old 07-16-2001, 03:39 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: SW Chicago Suburbs, IL
Posts: 250

I sure know where you are coming from about the VW dealerships. A few years ago I was looking for a VW TDI, preferrably a new Passat. There wasn't a VW dealer in the area willing to help me out. I ended up turning to the internet and found a dealer that had a car similar to what i was looking for, except a Jetta. When I went there, they no longer had the car, but said they could get one like it.

Financing was arranged through VW Credit and I thought all was fine. The car got ordered (located actually) and when it arrived, it didn't have all the options I paid for. After fighting for a few days, they located the exact car, but then tried to get me to pay the difference in sticker prices (about $1200) between the first car they got and the one I actually ordered.

Then to get it serviced...heck, they don't even know what type of oil to use. Good thing I take care of most things myself...
Lance Allison

Sold: 1987 MB 300SDL, 320k miles, Astral Silver, Blue Leather, all books and records from day one.

Totalled: 1998 VW Jetta TDI, 488k miles, Classic Green/Gray Leather, loaded, E-Codes, "Slightly" modded, "Slightly" faster than stock, arrived 11/07/1997.

MBCA Member, Chicago Region
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Old 07-16-2001, 08:13 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 223
I guess that I'm lucky, but my experience here in Charlotte has been to have both a good dealer for my under-warranty C43 AMG (Beck Imports) and a good independent for my daughter's '88 420SEL (Charlotte Star Service).

My dealer experience has been uniformly good (although it does take a week to 10 days to get a routine non-emergency appointment with a loaner and some AMG parts have to be ordered) -- friendly service, clean C230 loaners, my car neatly washed and vacuumed, effective repairs and willingness to go beyond a bit (replaced shocks under warranty for squeek, do various minor repairs which are not warranty-covered without charging, etc.).

While there are certainly bad dealers out there who don't care about their customers, there are also good ones who do.
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