Adding insult to injury following the recent incident where a loose engine part blew a quarter-sized hole in the engine block of our Mercedes E320 while my wife was driving my son to his birthday party, the Mercedes dealership launched into a “blame the customer” and “insult their intelligence” routine.
During the conversation where he relayed the news that neither Mercedes nor his dealership would help us the dealer service rep started off by “blaming” us – saying “we (meaning him and the Mercedes factory rep) think it could have been caused by two things. The car overheated because it had no cooling or perhaps “you” did not put oil in it. We can also find no record of changing the oil in the last 20K miles.” As it turns out, we have religiously serviced the car according to the E 320 manual, and always did it with Mercedes dealers. We have the receipts to prove that. But more importantly, we have a receipt dated Feb 28th, 2006, 2 ½ weeks before the car blew up, that specifically states that his dealership did change the oil and the oil filter on that day. So not only did he do the “blame the customer” routine, he actually launched into false accusations!
When my wife rebutted, saying that the reason there was neither oil nor cooling fluid in the engine was because there was a quarter-sized hole in the engine block, he said that he would have to check on that. Check on that?! The other dealer, where we originally had the car towed told us that this is what happened. Would you call this Mercedes-like behavior? Coming out and accusing someone and then “having to check” when asked a pertinent question?
He then told her that this was all just bad luck – and neither the fault of the dealership nor the product. “Everything “looked” good when we serviced the car”, he said. He then proceeded to further insult her intelligence by saying that cars are like people – “some people are healthy and live a long time and some people get sick a lot and die young. You never know!” What is this supposed to mean?
Being flabbergasted at this (hopefully) un-Mercedes-like behavior, I decided to send one more email to register my outrage with their VP of Marketing, their GM for the customer assistance center and a few other folks in their marketing and customer service department. I also decided to copy someone who labels herself as “I am responsible for generating positive press and mitigating negative press on Mercedes-Benz vehicles in the USA” on LinkedIn.
Do you think I got a response? Nope…not a peep from Mercedes land!
For those of you who know me, I am a consummate marketer, and I do know something about marketing, product quality and customer service. I also realize that sometimes things break down, and I was not expecting a call from the CEO or a free upgrade. But this being a $60K consumer product from a company with a reputable brand, and with a proven track-record that we maintained the product according to their specifications, I was also not expecting them to “blame” the customer or to insult the customer’s intelligence in the face a of a premature and catastrophic failure of their product.
That is just unacceptable!
For a follow up – click here