Benz Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Our new W203 sedan came with a fixed (and forced) license plate assembly, which while offering free advertising for the dealership, also detracted from the front fascia appearance of the car. (At least in our perception.) Here in Florida, front plates are not required.

I use the term "forced," because the item was drilled into the front bumper with some degree of effort, as it left four (4) huge drill holes which forced the bumper material outwardly to make room for the screws. It is a two-piece device and the bumper must have been somewhat resistant to this process. I also use the term “forced” because even though I did not request the plate assembly, they inserted this into our car (not theirs) and then stated they could not remove it unless I was willing to pay $150 dollars worth of body-shop expenses to fill and resurface the large drilled holes!

We paid plenty for the car and ordered every option available for it. We were perfect customers for the dealership as they gained a relatively easy sale because my wife was emotionally affixed onto the particular car. What’s more, because the salesman and his superiors claimed that MBUSA would come down on “him personally” (not the dealership as a whole), and that any negative report would affect the salesman’s status with the corporate offices, we did not make too big of an issue about this at the time. I told them that I would be back to discuss this further, and would be still willing to take this to the corporate offices if I had to thereafter (the bill of sale survey and report that day). I have also had other things brought to my attention about the car that the dealership neglected to cover (like cruise-control break-in, etc.), which will be reflected upon any future reports.

Nevertheless, has this happened to anyone else and has anyone countered the alleged added expense of having to pay for the removal? Is this a part of the dealership “property” rights to affix license plate advertisements that the customer cannot offset? Funny, I don’t see everyone else’s MB vehicles with front license plates on their attached photos in this forum, nor out and abroad, unless they’re in a state that mandates as much. I’m going to take this up with the dealership and institute a tempered insistence upon the removal. The screws are even starting to rust already (car is only three weeks old). The dealership said they could replace the screws with “stainless steel” ones.

The car was a special order and they (dealership) were proud to display the car while it was there. Perhaps the forced plate ordeal is related to this factor. They also know we belong to several auto clubs, including MBCA, in which the advertising may aid them. I wonder if all their cars come this way. I did not notice this elsewhere. Any suggestions?

I’ll post my progress.

Thanks.

Christopher
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
175 Posts
Delaware also does not require the front plates, and my dealership is nice enough not to mutalate the car with them. I feel your pain though, and I would be most upset. Too bad you didn't refuse delivery right then and there. In the past we ordered a car from a dealer that was known to put the plates on (even though un-needed) and I told them when ordering that if they did that I would refuse delivery.

Even if you like your salesman, you should spare no mercy on your rating or complaint. That will teach him to be more thorough next time. Trust me, you are just a paycheck to him. You paid a lot of money for your car and you should be completely happy. Keep pushing your complaint to MBUSA, and be firm. Let us know how you make out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
c2jones said:
What’s more, because the salesman and his superiors claimed that MBUSA would come down on “him personally” (not the dealership as a whole), and that any negative report would affect the salesman’s status with the corporate offices, we did not make too big of an issue about this at the time. I told them that I would be back to discuss this further, and would be still willing to take this to the corporate offices if I had to thereafter (the bill of sale survey and report that day). I have also had other things brought to my attention about the car that the dealership neglected to cover (like cruise-control break-in, etc.), which will be reflected upon any future reports.
I think you should demand a new bumper, or at least a fixed one. You obviously didn't order the plate in the front. They basically damaged the automobile(in my opinion). My sedan(with only 2 options) was delivered to me with just the rear license FRAME attached as advertisement. I took it off immediately. The screws were very cheap and stripped. Like you, I was not informed of the proper break-in procedures. Luckily, I found this board and mbworld.org quickly enough to correct my mistakes. But I know exactly how you feel. Whether you buy a base C-class or a fully loaded S-class, you have the right to expect the car you pay for to look the way you want. I'd definitely take this up with the salesperson and then the manager/owner of the dealership. I'm quite sure they'll have to take care of it.

You have a beautiful looking car by the way. I'm sorry to hear about the incident. Please keep us updated.

-Thach
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Both of you have made very valid points that I will take heed to fully digest. I should have done some things differently. This forum, and commentary like yours, has and will continue to help educate me toward better steps in the future, on this and others matters alike.

Yes, it appears, despite my business savvy elsewhere, that I might have been duped by the aspect of what pressure the salesman might receive from MBUSA and allowed this to hinder my judgment. I pushed (and I can be very firm), but I didn't push the issue far enough this time.

Indeed, I should have refused delivery, at least until they resolved the issue. Perhaps it was exaggeration by the dealership that the corporate office would personally come down on the salesman “for even the hint of anything negative on the survey.” Perhaps this is just an artsy way of boosting their own ratings. The “Mercedes-Benz Experience,” as they put it, had its pros and cons. On the con side, the “close the sale” aspect was very apparent while many of the service aspects they neglected have only now come to me (like many unmentioned details about the break-in period of the car, etc.). Perhaps they feel they made up for this elsewhere...

I will demand either a new bumper, or insist they repair this one free of charge. If not, I’ll take the issue to corporate. The salesman seemed to have the price to repair the holes handy, and well-remembered. It seems they have been through this before. I just hope they don’t have a “property rights” on the car while its in their possession, and the car then comes as it is.

I’ll step up the firmness and report back. Thanks for your support and insight.

PS, Looking at the attached photo, would most agree that the plate hinders the appearance? Or, do some actually like it? Personally, the sharpest C-Classes that I have seen, both coupes and sedans were without any front plate. Others may differ with this assessment, of course.

Christopher
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12 Posts
When I ordered the car (checked almost everything but options like NAV. & rear folding seat), I told the dealership that I wanted no front license plate bracket on the bumper, the dealer had me sign a waiver. I thought to myself, it's a done deal. When the car arrives 2+ months later, I got a call stating that the general manager didn't approved the no-front-license-plate-bracket request, he insisted on installing the bracket even though the waiver was signed when the car was ordered, they told me to bring it to a bodyshop if I want to have the holes covered & painted, they were fined too many times... So, I told them that I'll have to cancelled my order. Few days later, the car was delivered without the bracket.

In a BMW, you simply replace the front bumper trim to get that clean look. Hope Mercedes think of something like that soon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Christopher,

There are a few more points which makes me 99% sure that you should and will get this situation resolved. First off, my sales person made it abunduntly clear that she would do anything that is reasonable in order to keep me happy with the car. The reason being that BAD word-of-mouth spreads quicker than any advertising she could do in newspapers/radio/tv. Second of all, is that $150 or so really worth making a customer unhappy?? For all they know, in a couple of years you and your wife could be shopping for another MB. Or you will have friends who asks "Where'd you buy that Benz from? Should I go there?" What would this dealership want you to say? Is $150 worth losing all these potential buyers? And just take a look at how far reaching this forum is. You can make them look very bad very quickly. You also mentioned you were in other automobile clubs... I think you see a pattern here. Good luck. You are not being unreasonable at all.

-Thach

P.S. You should not have to advertise for them for free. I really prefer the car without a front plate. Here in California, they require it. But for some reason, the police only bother fixed up rice rockets with this rule. I know because I owned a rice rocket for a while.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
I got mine in FL too

I told the dealer "and I'd appreciate you not putting a front plate on it when I come to pick it up", he seemed surprised that one wasn't already on, but said "no problem", and there was no problem.
Scott in Tampa
'03 C230k
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
175 Posts
c2jones said:
Perhaps it was exaggeration by the dealership that the corporate office would personally come down on the salesman “for even the hint of anything negative on the survey.”

Christopher
I think that part is true. The saleswoman who sold me my car told me the same, although she was great and I had no reason to complain. However, if a salesperson does not want negative feedback, that is up to them to keep you happy (within reason of course). The "hey, you got me in trouble" attitude is what's wrong with our society. Reporting your experience to MBUSA is your right. Car salesmen are a dime a dozen, customers are not. You don't think MB knows that?

Stick to your guns!

P.S. If MB thought the front plate looked so great, why don't they shoot their add photos with it on? 'nuff said.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
in california, i'm not sure if "not" having a license plates in the front is illegal. but if i get a ticket from the police (which i haven't heard anyone get one yet - cuz i know that some people with bmws -instead of having the license number, they have the bmw sign there instead) what am i suppose to tell the policeman? Or is it my fault that i am suppose to know the law (which i didn't as you can tell) before i buy it and then get my car "fixed"? How much do it cost to get the license plates in the front, which i particularly don't like either
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31 Posts
1) in california "not" having a front license plate is illegal and you may be cited for same, whether you put quotes around it or not. ignorance of the law is no excuse, not even for something this seemingly trivial.

2) if front plates are not required in florida, take your salesperson to the mat. i wouldn't accept a car with neon underneath it, regardless of the trouble it might get the salesman who wasn't alert enough to stop the installation ex ante. what he says about negative feedback seems to be true, given the free things i've gotten from my dealership in exchange for providing its personnel with flawless (yet deserved) reviews. make him WORK for your favor and continued business! jesus, if my calculations are correct, he should be paying the paltry 150 bucks for your body work himself. he'll make more than that simply as a result of your perfect score of your experience with him and the dealership. don't let him off so easy, especially since he tried to play on your goodwill and decency in such a blatant and manipulative way.

3) you still have a geat-looking car. seriously, you could put neon under that thing and still have an excellent sled. not that i condone the neon. or the front plate. of course, i have to have one. the plate. not the neon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
49 Posts
what quotes? oh i see, you mean around the "not" . i was just emphasizing the word not becuase i worded my sentence unclearly, so one would be able to see it.
But the question i was asking was how much would it cost to put the plates on. does it differ from dealership to dealership.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
263 Posts
While the salesman is there to make money for the dealership and himself, he is supposed to deliver a vehicle to your specifications. Do not feel sad for this person if MBUSA comes down on him, especially if you made it clear up-front that you did not want a front advertisement on your car. If the salesman is truly scared of MBUSA, he'll get the problem fixed. Otherwise come down hard on any survey received and do a separate communication to US headquarters.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Responses from post originator...

I just wanted to share the same thoughts, sentiment and responses in this forum as I have the other (MBWorld) forum. There has been plenty of contribution and I'm very thankful, even though its not over yet.

Equally, my humble thanks to all of the helpful contributors to this thread. It is surely well-appreciated indeed.

Now, let me address a few issues, based upon some of your responses:

I took delivery of the car (as opposed to refusing it) for several reasons. The car was a special order from Stuttgart that had been two months in the delivery process. When it arrived, I had the dealership perform several additional options to the vehicle. At this point, I felt I had good rapport with the salesman and his superiors. Even at this stage, I have no reason to anticipate any real feud. (Of course, I’ll know this for sure later this Tuesday morning.) With such a long process of regular communication with these personnel, I felt that I would have no real problem with resolving any unlikely issues that might arrive along the way.

After I saw the front plate and I was curious as to why this was attached to the car, I was assured that this could be taken care of. I did not understand just exactly what “taken care of” truly meant. Perhaps the salesman glossed this over until the pertinent paperwork was complete. Later, I went back to the issue. Only then was I told that the removal would require bodywork which would require my funds to complete. This was not mentioned until after I pushed the issue, after the bill of sale surveys were completed. (More on this later.) What I thought they were doing was trying to suck up some otherwise meaningless body shop revenue for a rather trivial matter resulting from some harmless screws or magnet scratches or something (as others have shown were used in their applications.)

I had no idea, however, that when they said bodywork to repair the marks, they really meant it! Did they ever. The screw holes were excessive and a tad shocking to even look at. (I mean they are gaping holes!) But I did not see these holes until after I went outside one day and removed the plate out of curiosity. Yes, I should have removed the plate right at the dealership, but I thought it was a minor issue that I could address myself, instead of being lured in for further dealer expenses. Little did I realize that the dealership had made sure that they were going to get more out of me; one way or another. Either through forced advertising, or by use of my $150 dollars to repair the wound!

They used the car for display until we actually took delivery (only a day and a half as I returned home from business) and having known about my car clubs and other automotive contacts, I’m sure they felt motivated to get some extended advertisement plugs with the car. So, they made a rather significant, drilled installment of their dealer plate to our car as a result.

Now, back to the survey report matter. You see, the salesman, despite us not having picked up the car quite yet, reported the car as sold and sent the message to corporate well ahead of time. This way, the car and the customer survey from MBUSA would arrive at about the same time. In fact, we had the customer survey in-hand at the date-of-delivery. In this manner, the dealership can overwhelm the customer with the “Mercedes-Benz buying experience” and gain positive marks on the survey while one is still in the spell. I have heard of this trend (at least in my area) beginning to take steam.

At this point, we consulted with the salesmen (and his superiors) about some misgivings we had here and there. We were positively told that “any negative remark would greatly affect the status of the salesperson and their standing with the particular dealership as well.” We were asked to “allow the dealership to address any concerns themselves as opposed to making any reflection on the survey of any outstanding issues we might have had, as a courtesy to them.” (This is when I should have had them remove the plate to inspect the damage, but again I thought they were exaggerating the needed bodywork.)

Furthermore, we were told that we “could always address whatever we had on our minds at a later time, without affecting the status of the salesmen (and the orientation/delivery coaches, etc.) to any damaging degree.” (I’ll be taking them up on this!)

Of course, indeed I agree with some of you that as I am the customer, what I say should prevail. Believe it or not, I am a very direct and often quite pointed as a businessman who knows the rules. In this case, however, I allowed some oversights and sympathies to cloud my otherwise sound judgment. It won’t happen again, I can assure you. I will take the issue all the way to corporate if and when I have to, including and not limited to legal actions.

But there is another slight matter here as well. The dealership was also aware of a recent issue we had with corporate too. I think they may have even tried to take advantage of this. In short recap of the corporate matter, when my dealership was courting the new W203 C230 Sport Sedan to me (which was already on their showroom floors and was listed on various websites around the country), the incompetent customer service reps at MBUSA were telling me repeatedly (9 people in all) that "no such car existed and there is no plans for anything like this anytime soon."

In truth, these people were simply looking on their own website (as anyone could do off the street) and reading what they saw to me, instead of referring to their internal databases. The website did not mention the car, so they simply concluded I was misinformed and/or being scammed by the dealer. It was preposterous and inexcusable! They did not use their insider or specific information consistent with their headquarters; all they had was misinformation as a result of their laziness. The car made a very late debut on their site. This was well after it’s actual arrival. I had mine ordered and well on its way while they said it did not exist! (I had happened to call for further specific details.)

After I complained, the top managerial parties wanted me to conduct tests with them to learn just who was guilty of these terrible oversights, especially as they were telling me that the local dealership were “certainly trying to scam” me. So we did three-way calls to round them all up. That we did. Problem was, there was more guilty than not. The people at the top were forced to accept ultimate responsibility for allowing and harboring these people. The dealer, upon learning this, reacted quickly to offset our concerns and get us the car of our choice. And now, of course, my wife is driving this phantom car corporate claimed did not and would not ever exist. (I have the names, including managers, dates, etc. on record and can demonstrate this to all who would inquire.) The dealer might have felt that we would be reluctant to take matters to corporate again? They thought wrong, nonetheless. I would be only too happy to use my existing contacts there to push this current issue.

The combined factors all had a role. One thing is for certain. This car was not a dealer transfer. The salesman may have been somewhat exaggeratory, but if so, the ringleaders were his superiors. The whole process, from surveys, to comments about the pressure the salesman (etc.) would received for poor marks, to the forced plate and the $150 to remove it, were all perhaps tactics used time and time again. Either this, or we just got a little unlucky with this whole thing.

Yet, despite all this, I have no solid reason to perceive too much resistance to our demands. I just need to be sure what specific demand to make. Is replacing the entire bumper too much to ask for on this matter? Is this highly apart from the ordinary for something like this? Would settling for the repaired bodywork (on their tab, of course) be the only realistic response I could hope for from the dealership? I will try to get the bumper replaced. If this fails, I will go to corporate for their thoughts. If MBUSA is only willing to insure the bodywork is to be done (and not the replacement bumper), then I could take this to my counselors already on retainer to issue a letter of demand. However, if everyone thought that my demands were unreasonable from the onset, it would probably be more fair and equitable, and timely to just go the route of the bodywork.

It was important to me to know how common this was elsewhere. Additionally, I wanted to know whether the dealership had “property rights” on the car while it was in their possession, and the plate assembly would then be legally considered part of the car. After all, they can collect revenue for the plate removal this way, ordinarily.

All contributions have been helpful and again, everything is well-appreciated most indeed. I will report back with what answers I get from the dealership tomorrow, and if it will be necessary to take this to corporate. (Perhaps the top corporate managers who resolved the first issue will feel compelled to contribute to the good here.) I’ll keep you posted.

PS, Update on Tuesday evening. The saleman has not yet returned my call. I'll wait until mid-afternoon tomorrow, and go above him if I hear nothing back.

Thank you kindly.

Most genuinely,

Christopher
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Update from thread-originator

Well, I finally found the time to get the car into the dealer where they agreed to remove the plates and its obtrusive holes and resurface the front bumper fascia. I was going to insist upon a whole new front bumper, but the salesman, who is working hard to establish trust and proper business etiquette, was sure that he’s never seen a car come back with complaints about the integrity of the bodywork, especially in that it may bubble up, etc., and assured me that if this happened they would gladly replace the bumper then.

So, I settled for this and had them do the work. I waited a few weeks to see if in fact there was going to be any early issue with paint adhesion (etc) and to date there has not been. Then, on the 28th of June I took some snapshots at a nearby lake, which includes some close-ups on the front fascia. I’ll let the onlookers be the judge of whether the car appears satisfactory to each person, but for us it has passed the test.

Please see attached (scanned) photo.

Please allow me to thank everyone who unreservedly participated in this thread. The contributions were educational, instrumental, and inspiring toward getting the results desired and now achieved. The forum has been quite helpful for me in this regard. I only hope everyone else is equally fortunate to experience the same said results.

If I can answer any questions or at all be helpful to anyone else, just indicate as much and I will be as cooperative as possible. Once again, thanks to all the contributors to this thread.

Note: The front grill badge is for MBCA. There are plenty of other photo angles upon request.

Most genuinely,

Christopher Jones
 

Attachments

1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top