Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Albuquerque, NM, USA
Vehicle: 2006 SLK 350 Designo (sold)
Other Toys: 2007 GL320CDI
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While I wouldn't deny there can be some pretty poor dealers--not all successful businesses are run by geniuses--I'm nevertheless completely convinced that life is a self-fulfilling prophecy and VERY many times the treatment one receives in business situations is the treatment one asks for.
Agreed also, that although the best way to "succeed" with service personnel is to understand completely in advance what they are going to do for you, that's not always possible and there's a valid expectation that service personnel be able to deal with the uninformed and still treat them fairly.
Here's a cute story: one of the things I do to keep myself informed is to every other month or so spend the $18 to subscribe to Startekinfo and learn of all the latest DTB (dealer tech bulletins) applicable to my cars. I've several times printed one out and brought it in and (always successfully) requested the fix be performed. BUT, the last time our MBCA chapter was having an "event" at the dealer and the deal was have your car inspected for free and I brought by SLK (passed no problems) but also brought a printout of an error message I'd received on the multifunction display on my GL320CDI. My Service Advisor was pretty pleased with himself that he knew of a DTB to fix this problem before I did.
It was pretty interesting--glow plug relay erroneously cycles on during engine operation creating basically a "reboot" of entire electrical system; only occurs at high altitudes and cold weather. It's pretty easy where I live to be driving in areas where there are no signs of civilization visible for 360 degrees and the tens to nearly hundreds of miles to the horizon (and no other traffic) and it's really kind of "no fun" to get a message (in red) "go to dealer and do not shift gears." Following having COMAND reboot.
So, being knowledgeable helps a lot, but so is a willingness to pay for things rather than just go for "free" warranty fixes. So, I've paid my dealer to redirect iPod interface to console to connect to iPhone cradle, install snow tires on eBay wheels, purchased and replaced summer tires, and more. Of course all Service A/B done by dealer. These guys believe you should have them do the basic services and conclude you're doing the right thing by your car when you do and respect you for it. They are, after all, just a bit more trained than you, and it's more than just greed and in fact seldom if ever is.
So, I get treated very well and the work is very competent and they've "gone beyond the call" a couple times to the extent it won't get detailed here.
And, the percentages are way in your favor that your dealer understands that happy customers keep coming back and will treat you pretty well and perhaps even treat you exceptionally well especially if you "ask" to be treated that way. Ask with respect, that is, not as a "whiner." Not as a "know it all," either ... because you without question don't.
Finally--and most important of all--it's really pretty unrealistic to think (fantasize IMHO) that you can have a successful relationship with a car without dealer support. Once that's understood, the next step is to budget for it.
If all you can afford is to own the car and maybe to have some work done by "cheapest guy in town," you've made a mistake and need to own something besides a Mercedes.