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  #16  
Old 05-10-2002, 03:45 PM
Lebenz's Avatar
backwoods member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862
BTW

There is a really nice article in this months Star magazine that covers installing brakes on a 124 chassis, for 2 types of brakes. It is worth the read and will tell you pretty much everything you want to know about doing a brake job at least on the cars mentoned (300E 400E).
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...Tracy

'00 ML320 "Casper"
'92 400E "Stella"
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  #17  
Old 05-10-2002, 03:57 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
Posts: 154
Steve,

So maybe what you're saying is that although a few like Tracy and I may be the exceptions and bring in the right parts (both in specification and quality), many people won't. So to protect the masses from themselves, it is better to let an expert handle it and reduce the chance of error and get it done right. Am I understanding?

If so, I appreciate and understand your perspective. I hope you can understand mine as well. What I do may not work for everyone, but it seems to work for me as your way seems to work for you. Cheers.
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Thanks,

Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #18  
Old 05-10-2002, 03:58 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
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Lebenz,

Thanks. Now I just wish I got the magazine...Is it what I get if I join the Mercedes Benz owners club of America? If so, Can you comment on the benefits of membership?
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Thanks,

Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #19  
Old 05-10-2002, 05:26 PM
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
Yes this is part of the sentiment I am expressing. For the bulk of business the equation works best if the shop does the whole process.

What I especially wanted you to know was the shops side of the story. This is so you will be fully engaged in your most appropriate behavior when your tech does such a favor for you.

I have worked on cars or pieces-n-parts since I can remember, about 35 years now. I have no problem at all with people doing for themselves. I get a thrill every time we fix one here.
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Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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  #20  
Old 05-10-2002, 06:27 PM
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Just a guy
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
When I was a privateer racer, I used an engine builder. Now, I was a very good customer, and spent about $6-8K a year with this fellow. Well, he didn't carry some specialty parts that I wanted to use, so he saw no problem with installing them for me.

In this case, we had a long term relationship, and a good understanding. He had confidence that I would choose the right stuff, and knew I wouldn't grind him to death on the labor.

But, someone just calling out of the phone book would not have been afforded the same treatment.

It goes back to my example of some customers spending hours of time trying to save $5. No business wants to deal with them, and it deathly afraid of letting them waste your time.

Steve's point is that a shop was just called out of the blue, and someone asked about installing parts they haven't seen.

See my post:

Did my Mechanic try to Rob me?

That'll give you a good idea of developing a good relationship with your shop.
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1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K

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  #21  
Old 05-10-2002, 07:12 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Austin, Tx
Posts: 713
yea... I can see where you guys that don't install customer parts are coming from, if somebody asked me to build them a computer, and then showed up with a craptacular heatsink to put on their shiny new tbred, I could see them holding me responsible when their cpu melts... but, on the flipside, I don't charge commision for parts. If its necessary to keep your books balanced though, it doesn't really matter, cause you would have to make your money someway, and the alternative is charging more for labor, which would definetaly turn off some business... bottom line with me is, I don't have tons of money to throw around, and if it saves me $20, ill go for it. My mech knows me though, and I think he has confidence in my ability to get proper parts for the car...
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  #22  
Old 05-12-2002, 03:05 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
Posts: 154
All's Well that Ends well...

Well, I got my pads, rotors and sensors installed on Saturday by a really nice guy. He worked at a large shop down the street for 10 years and finally saved-up enough to open his own a few months ago. The guy is courteous, professional and seems knowlesgable and trustworthy. He wants to please and has pride in his business. It's really refreshing to see. He went out of his way to be nice. I hope I showed him the same treatment. Oh, and he prefers me to bring the parts so he does not have to deal with it.

I'll use him for more "generic" (oil changes, tranny service, etc.) and use Roxbury Foreign auto (an independant Mercedes specialty shop) for more complex work (timing chain replacement, etc.) and repairs that may not be obvious to the regular "corner" mechanic who does not specialize in MB. And, yes, I always buy the parts from them...

Ideally, I can develop long term working relationships with both to everyone's benefit...
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Thanks,

Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #23  
Old 05-12-2002, 09:13 PM
Jack
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Sugarland, TX
Posts: 285
I am a diyer, I also know a place sell MB part at discount. When I have to drop my cars at the shop, They repair my car with their parts.

Repair shop make money on parts and labor, they also pay overhead when we don't visit them.

I wonder if any resturant will serve us if we bring our meat, and they'll do the cooking.

jack
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  #24  
Old 05-13-2002, 12:47 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
Posts: 154
bribenz - Thanks for getting us back on track. It cost $125 to have rotors, pads and sensors installed on all 4 corners. He also installed new horns for $20 (I bought those from my independent garage who didn't have time to install them - horns are a must in NYC).

Jack - Yes, that analogy was used earlier in the thread. I get it...

And, actually, I have brought both fresh caught fish as well as game to restuarants and they are really excited to cook it. And, last time I brought a special bottle of wine to a restaurant they got so excited the chef cooked a special meal (this was at a place that charges about $100 a head for dinner). In both cases I shared the bounty with both the kitchen and the front house staff...I'm sure that's weird for many of you...It just happens to be normal some places. Different strokes...I've lived either in California or NYC most of my life. I think we all know these places (and people) are a bit unique... Heck, you should see the way we drive here...I don't drive like I do here outside of Manhattan. I'd either be arrested or shot...Here, I have to do it to survive...
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Thanks,

Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #25  
Old 05-13-2002, 12:54 PM
Lebenz's Avatar
backwoods member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: In the fog
Posts: 2,862
Joe,

Thanks for the follow-up. What a GREAT deal you got!

Iíve found another part of the formula for helping to persuade the service shop folks to help me is to remember them at Xmas time with a gift cert for a nice restaurant.. Unfortunately, even with this added encouragement, the last 4 times I had my car in there was always something that wasnít done properly.... Sigh.

And to anyone that wonders, no I did not provide the parts for these last 4 services Ė the dealer did.

Regards
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...Tracy

'00 ML320 "Casper"
'92 400E "Stella"
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  #26  
Old 05-13-2002, 01:17 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
Posts: 154
Tracy,

Yeah seems like a great deal. As I said before, the guy is great. And, yes, I am so glad to have the car working properly. I really hate driving with warped rotors...Now I just need a new ignition wire set. Guess what? I'm buying them from him. It's easier...Like I said before - for me it's often just a logistics thing, not about saving $5... I'm sure everyone that had followed this thread will be relieved...

Yes, I also always try to do extra things for people that deal squarely with me. I also try to frequent the same places. You build a good working relationship and it's a win-win for everyone. Besides, it's nice to walk into a place and know and be known. Trust is priceless...

Living in NYC has been great in that way. People tend to think of Manhattan as a big impersonal place. However, we don't really have malls here or many chain stores. People interact on the street, they're not all isolated in their cars. Most places I go are small business, generally mom and pop places. Like the "good old days"...People know you, remember you and they treat you right...It's refreshing.

Sorry, all, for the tangent...
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Thanks,

Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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  #27  
Old 05-13-2002, 05:05 PM
1992300e
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Business, and car repair business

First,

I am impressed by the level of expertise exhibited on this site, I am new (3 days) to this site and can't get enough.

This, to me, is the typical case of "it's not what you do, but how you do it" A mechanic or shop is no different than any other business, looking for a mutually beneficial relationship. I find, unfortunately, few take the long term approach of a happy customer is a returning and therefore profitable customer. I will drive 30 miles out of my way to get my parts from a Mercedes Dealership who speaks to me politely and who's mechanics treat me with courtesy and respect.

I have always been willling give something "profit margin" if I get something "customer satisfaction".

I find little value in nickle and diming people in negotiations, a deal must have two winners to be a deal.

Be prepaired to give a little to get a little and use common sense.

I believe a mechanic or shop is no different than any other business partner. Good ones are hard to find and you are willing to pay a little extra to preserve that relationship.
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  #28  
Old 05-14-2002, 03:58 AM
NikoE320
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There are exceptions jkazzoun, and i am also one of them. To play both sides of the fence....

As someone who refuses to go to the dealer (and hasn't), I will continue to buy my parts online as I have for a couple years, and take them to my mechanic to put in. He's a one man shop, and used to work for the local MB dealer. He also works on non-german cars so he also works on my passat and other family members cars. Does he complain that I bring my own parts? Nope, as long as they are good quality oem parts(which he knows I always bring).

Sure, I myself know that he makes a tiny bit of money on parts if I was to buy them from him, but it's not enough to lose on the current labor costs that I have spent with him, and as a solid repeat customer beats ANY new person walking in the door.

He also now refuses to advertise and only really takes in referrals. You got new people playing you and calling asking you to do "circuit city" type price matches. Most are tired of playing that game. He get's solid repeats like me and risks not making as much. Like black mercedes said, no one wants to deal with people spending hours trying to save $5. The dam dealer thinks if you buy a benz, then you shouldn't be cheap and try to bring your own parts in. Pay the dam $90 and hour, inflated parts prices, and just deal with it! "You could afford the fancy car to begin with, why you being cheap?" Well there is an alternative and that's the way it goes.

And for the dealer, yes, they do just fine for the specific reason that they know most people won't do what some of us do and that is why both local benz dealers in seattle make enormous amounts of money. And now that I have a benz, I know growing up the folklores that I would hear of benzes costing tremendous amounts of money to maintain and fix. Well my car's parts and labor cost me less to maintain and fix than my ES300, G20, Legend, and even my ford probe. It is possible
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Now as for the dealer, I can only agree on one point. When I used to work for car stereo shops, we outright REFUSED to install parts not bought at our shop(warranty schmorranty). This was at a local one person shop and a retail chain. No way, no how. Who knows where and what the parts have been through. I personally saw bad things happen with "brought in parts". so as for the local mechanics on this forum, I can feel your pain and for this reason solely, respect your policies and feelings on people who want to buy their own parts and bring them in. But don't think people are out to get you and reduce anyones pay. If I knew that the mechanics I was staying away from were starving and couldn't put food on the table(because of a few of us), then I would think a little differently and possibly feel guilty. Sure they don't see as much as the shop does, but me myself is not putting a big dent in your paycheck.. There is so many people who don't have a personal mechanic that works on benzes, and have internet knowledge to buy parts, that the dealer shops are just fine with the little lady who bought her 500SL and takes it into the dealer and pays their prices. This goes on and on and on.....

Business is a dog eat dog world, and if there was no competition in this sector, imagine EVERYONE having to pay $90-100 hr labor, plus full retail for parts. Scary thought. Then the DOJ would have to investigate :->
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  #29  
Old 05-14-2002, 08:50 AM
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
I am really glad that you all realize that it's a dog eat dog world in the business world. And, I am glad you all realize that you have a right to find the cheapest newcomer that usually avoids numerous business costs (health insurance for employees comes to mind at the head of a long list) to get your business with unrealistic prices and bring your own parts convenience.

But, you also must realize that real techs with real businesses do not have time for such "bottom feeders". I have to listen to your crap all the time or leave. I know at least ten excellent techs who won't deal with this site because they aren't about to give their talents and experience away to a group having individuals with such attitudes.

Before you all jump on me let me tell you how I handle such issues. I tell you about an ongoing condition with my garage door. We have a twenty year old home with a large double garage door. Our house is vertically sided with western cedar planks an inch thick. The design is placed over the door and makes it weigh about 600 lbs.

After a couple repairs by the local big garage door guys where they wanted to sell me a new cheap light weigth fiberglass door, I found a small operator that gives personalized attention and unfortunately , cheap, unrealistic prices. I came home one day to find him 5 hours into a new spring install which he had quoted my wife 1.5 hours on. The man is a hard worker, intelligent, and thoroughly capable. I made him take five hours pay. CAN YOU belive that, I doubt it as the people I am addressing haven't a clue to what I did.

Since that time we have needed him out twice again. The last time I was furious when I found that he had come out and only charged my wife 25 dollars to fix a worn out roller that had jamed the door trapping my wife's ML. I told my wife to send him at least another 50 which is his drive to site fee. He didn't charge me either of the last two times this fee. I presume he feels guilty because the door keeps having problems. From my point of view, I am asking him to be on call to rescue my wife when our special derilict door doesn't work. I like my door and I like his service and I am not going to put up with him treating me this way. I have been in business for 25 years and maybe I just know too much about why he does what he does.

He is the same guy that just got paid the rediculous price of 125 to do a brake job with rotors.

For those that DIY because you love it, I'll do everything I can to help. For those who do this to keep technicians making 20-30k a year, you deserve what you get!!
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Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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  #30  
Old 05-14-2002, 11:19 AM
Registered User
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Austin, TX (OWA)
Posts: 154
Steve,

I think you are making assumptions here. I am the guy that paid $125 to have pads and rotors installed. I am also the guy that paid a $100 tip on a $100 bill for a some yard work becuase I knew the guy was charging way too little. I am also the guy that brought a $2000 bottle of wine to a restaurant and shared 1/2 of it with the staff. I'm also the same guy that went to the same restaurant every day for 6 months even though I got sick of the food because I wanted to support them. The food was great, the ppoel were nice, but they didn't do much business.


The guy that did the brakes also is putting plug wires on for me. I am buying them from him. I could get them for less but I like the guy and there is mutual trust. He diagnosed the wires yesterday, I picked the car up last night to get to work today. I'll go back and have them installed tomorrow. And you know what? He has not charged me cent. Now that I'm certain it's the wire I could buy some on-line and install themmyself. I would never do that. He trusts me to come back, and I absolutley will. He now has my loyalty. I will give him gifts on holidays, I will refer everyone I know to him and I will pay him extra on occasion if I think he is charging me too little. And, by the way, I won't always know if he is becuase I'm not the expert, he is. That's his responsibility. So, all I can do is be a loyal customer. I didn't even know it was a low price. I got two quotes. The other quote I got was for $40. That's seemed way to low, so I did not go there.

In short, categorizing people does not always work. Just because someone pays $125 for a brake job does not define who they are and how they operate in the world. It's not that black and white. I'm not out to rob anyone. For you to say I make the decisions that I do to keep technicians making $20-30k a year is insulting and wrong.

Your handle says you are a moderator. I think your comment was a bit immoderate.

The main point I've continued to make is there are different, fully honest and viable ways to do business - there is no ONE right way. I understand you have a point of view about how it should be done. I fully support you in doing busines your way. But, I cannot accept your judging the way I do business. So, please, don't.
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Thanks,

Joey

'88 560SL Pearl Black/Java 152K
'94 E320 Anthracite/Grey 89K


Previously:
'94 E420 Black/Bamboo
'90 300E
'71 280SEL 4.5
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