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I just had my s500 checked out at the dealer (charged me $100 for the diagnosis). they told me that my front shocks are bad. I confirmed that with an indy. all he did was pushed down in front of the car and if the car didn't stop bouncing then the shocks are getting weak - no tension. that could be causing the louder than normal noise when going over bumps that I was experiencing. indy is charging me about $400 including labor for 2 new bilpsteins. dealer quoted me $760. I can't believe they charged me $100 just for looking over the suspension. I also paid them $45 for replace wiper inserts b/c my old one makes noise. Still making a little noise after the replacement - kinda wasted my money and time at the dealer. indy's are just as good as them dealer.
 

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Being an independent shop owner for 13 yrs. and now working back at MB dealer, I cetainly won't argue that some independents can be just as good if not better than the dealer. You're dealing with the owner and he understands that customer service isn't just a rating or bonus for him to hit, it is his lifeblood and paycheck.
But I also have to defend the dealer. How many times have you gone to a doctor and he's said "you have a cold/flu, get some rest" or some other simple diagnosis? You still got a bill right?? The dealer and independents are businesses just like the doc, they have to make a profit to be there for you. You like the Indy? great..stick with him for all of your needs..he'll take better care of you in the long run
 

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Yeah, I've got to chime in here as well. Yes, there are some reputable indy's out there. For sure. And on older, less sophisticated MB's, it's probably the way to go. With that in mind, the greatest indy tech in the world has maybe one quarter of the technical resources the dealership has. These resources cost big money to purchase. Additionally, all of the techs have to continually go to school to learn new products and technology. ASE certification testing really has nothing at all to do with how a German car is put together. It's helpful for Chevy's and Ford's but most of the info is not applicable. This simply creates a much higher overhead. The profit margins are really pretty similar between the two entities. There is a significant amount of dealer bashing that happens on these types of forums. Some of it is deserved, no arguement there. I take a lot of personal offense sometimes as I work for a dealership service department. I am totally honest and up front with my customers, I am fair in what I charge and I know that there is no place in my city of millions that a person can go to get better service at any cost. Having worked on MB's for many years before moving into the business end, I know how indespensible a lot of our technical resources are in fixing the more complicated systems on the cars. I've seen so many indy hack jobs that come in after the customer has already blown a substantial (and needless) amount of money when it's a common issue we see day-to-day and would have had easily rectified. Finally, if one of my techs spends time looking over your car and writes up an estimate on it, it takes his time. These guys are not paid hourly. They are paid for what they do. If you don't pay for diagnosis, he does. Whether something is fixed or not is irrelevant as he still had to stop whatever other job he was doing to look over your car and then not have you buy any of the work.
 

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Really!

Then I should be getting into your business. I prepare quotes all the time, no customer pays for it. Its only if I get the work that I get paid for it. Its called, "The cost of doing business"!
 

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With the amount of money I pay my technicians, this is the only way to guarantee a quality diagnosis. I can't diagnose these cars myself (well i can in most cases, but I don't score any points with my dry cleaner). They don't get paid hourly. They get paid on what they do. If they're to stop whatever paying job they're working on to put a car up on the rack or start chasing wires for nothing, well, you can only make assumptions as to the quality of work going on. Some of my veteran techs make upwards of $40/hr. Their time/knowledge is very valuable. I understand not wanting to pay for something intangible. It's much easier to sell the value of seomthing you can see/touch or at least see a difference in the before and after. This is one of the tough areas of this business.
 
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