Mercedes Benz: Bad Customer Service, Great Learning Opportunity

This piece is not a slam of Mercedes Benz, but it is a factual account of terrible customer service provided, and a wonderful learning opportunity if they value their customers. Why should you read this? Read on not because you’re thinking of buying a Mercedes but because you too can learn from their mistakes when it comes to providing customer service excellence.

Two weeks ago, I took my car in as there was a problem with the driver’s door lock seizing up and the latch would lock while the door was actually open, making the car immobile until I could free up the lock with some lubricant. Turns out they didn’t have the part in stock,so a follow-up appointment was made. It was this appointment yesterday I reference the rest of the way.

Well the dealership got off to a bad start right at 7:30 a.m. when I dropped off the car. The woman driving me to work couldn’t find the key to the shuttle car, nor could anyone else. Not a major problem, just a delay – turns out someone had that key in their personal possession.

Before I left in the morning, I knew that the guy behind the counter was one of three new Service Advisor’s (that’s right 3 new ones) and so I mentioned to him I’d be requiring a pick up at 4:00 p.m. as per my usual arrangement. “No problem” he said; it would be however. When the shuttle driver dropped me off her last words were, “See you at 4:00 p.m. Have a nice day.” Turns out I would have a great day – right up until 4:00 p.m.

Around noon I returned to my office to hear a voicemail message from the new Service Advisor telling me the car was ready and I could pick it up anytime before 6:00 p.m. I figured a call to confirm the shuttle driver was in order. At 3:00p.m. I called to thank him for the earlier call, and to confirm my pick up at 4:00 p.m. “Who did you make the arrangement with?” he asked. I should have said, “You”, but I told him it was the shuttle driver, and again he said the infamous, “No problem.”

At 4:20 p.m. I was still standing outside waiting for my ride. The ride eventually came at around 4:45 p.m. – 45 minutes late. A call around 4:20 p.m. to ask about the delay only got me a Receptionist who failed on two tries to connect me with the Service Advisor or anyone else at all. The shuttle driver told me she’d been directed to pick up a customer in exactly the opposite direction and had told the Service Advisor that someone else would have to pick me up a 4:00 p.m. and he’d told her, “No problem.” I don’t think he understands that phrase.

Upon arriving at the dealership a full 1 hour past the 4:00 p.m. promised pick-up time, I found no one at the Service Counter at all. No one. So the shuttle driver went and got my Service Advisor. Now knowing he’s new, there are going to be some wrinkles, I get that.

So as he walked towards me I said, “Hi Alex, apparently you and I have a communication problem. I was supposed to be picked up at 4:00 p.m. and it’s now 5:00 p.m.” Here is the response I got…”It’s not a communication problem, it’s a shuttle problem. It’s been a busy day and we had too many people needing a ride.” Word for word, that’s the truth. He actually declined any responsibility for failing to communicate the situation to his customer, and then stood there and blamed the hour delay on too  many of us customers actually using the shuttle service the company provides. He’s just compounded the original problem.

So I thought I’d do Alex a favour. In very direct but respectful language, I told him that the very least he could have done was pick up the phone, advise me of the situation resulting in a delay, he could have offered to send and pay for a cab, but at least I’d be aware of the problem, not standing waiting.

This got the attention of the Service Manager who only a few minutes ago had looked up to see me standing at the empty counter and then told me by gesture it would be a minute. “We seem to have a problem?” he asked of me. So I related all that had happened. And while I explained all this I paid Alex the full amount. The Service Manager apologized and said I caught them on a busy day, there was nothing more he could do but say he was sorry.

Now I appreciate that apology. I told him the whole story in front of Alex. I made sure to tell the Manager how my intent wasn’t to get him in trouble, but that this was a learning opportunity and I hoped it wouldn’t be repeated. I even pointed out to the Manager I hadn’t requested a discount on my bill because I was living up to their expectation of paying it in full. I expected them to live up to theirs to pick me up as agreed.

That’s when I was offered 20% off my next visit. I’d sincerely rather just be picked up on time, but 20% off is his way of retaining good will. I’ll take that.

Customers should never be an inconvenience. When problems happen, communicate them and take responsibility.




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