What Really Grinds My Gears: Mercedes' Missing Mats

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

So I get an email from my Mercedes dealer, one of those “throw a bunch of marketing stuff together and call it a newsletter” deals. Fair enough. Times are tough, even for the upmarket marque. And like many a pistonhead, I like to treat my vee hickle to something nice every now and then. Hmmm. Rubber floor mats. Mercedes-branded, tailored to my GL. As this will be the Guzzler’s first New England winter, yes, please! I know they’ll cost a fortune. But I don’t want to buy them from you-know-who and support Car and Driver more than I have to (which is not at all). And I’m too busy ethical to sleaze some for a review (which I would have to write). So I make the 25-minute trip to Inskip. The parts department’s Mercedes-branded product area is a mess. The shelves are mostly empty and thoroughly uninteresting. There’s a whole case of M-B caps—obscured by their plastic wrappers. The parts guy is on the phone. No eye contact. And I wait. And I wait. And I wonder why a car dealer can treat people like shit and neglect a potential profit center and then blame the economy for lousy business.

When it’s clear that nothing’s going to happen, I ask him if there’s someone else who can help me. He looks like I asked him to make me dinner. Another guy comes out, all smiles. “Mats for my GL, please.” He disappears into the back room. And I wait. And I wait.

“They’re not in stock,” he says, later that same day. “Give me your phone number.”

“Don’t you want my name?” I ask, looking at the scrap of paper in his hand.

“Just the phone number will do. I’ll call you when they’re in.”

Consider my gears finely ground.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Davidbak Davidbak on Sep 14, 2009

    My Honda dealer's service and parts dept is terrific. I didn't buy my car there, but I go there for my infrequent services. The parts dept guy didn't know that though, the last time I showed up and went straight to the parts counter. The battery in my key was dying and I had tried to replace it and I had stripped the teeny little screw. Replacement keys cost $$$ so I asked if he had a way to get it out. He did! He took my key without a word and immediately used a pliers to break the key in two, busting the plastic cover, and exposing the battery! I was in slight shock! Then he took a spare key out of a drawer, opened it up, and used its perfect plastic cover to replace the one he broke off of my key. Then he handed my key back to me, explaining that the factory put way too much lock-tite on their keys. No charge! Oh, and he replaced the battery with a new one of his own, rather than the one I brought with me. Thank you Honda of Seattle!

  • Bryanska Bryanska on Sep 14, 2009

    TWO weathertech girls? Sounds like "Corvette Vicki" all over again...

  • Capdeblu Capdeblu on Sep 14, 2009

    This reminds me of my virgin trip to the Toyota dealership to get an A/C cabin filter. $48 plus installation. No thanks I'll install it myself. Another time I spent an entire afternoon waiting to get a bumper repaired. There is a gift shop in the dealership that sells candles, purses and handicrafts. There is a coffee bar and a big screen TV tuned to Fox "News" with a lot of angry white people seated around it.

  • Pigherder Pigherder on Sep 15, 2009

    Quick lesson in geography: Vancouver, B.C. is an ocean port tightly sandwiched between the U.S. border and ininhabitable mountains. Our prisons are out the Valley. Once released, the convict's first stop, for a hooker, drugs and B&E revenue, is Surrey, the largest municipality in B.C. I worked for J.P., a self made-man with about 19 dealerships in S.W. B.C. On one company boat cruise, in addition to our staff, there was a motley crew present, apparently not oilers from the bilge, judging by their attire, but obviously a notch below our beer-swilling garage gang. (We were banished to the boat, separated from the white-callar sales gang, as our last outing ran up a $6000 bar bill and complaints of blocking the restaurant doors while smoking reefer.) The mystery group was Surrey personified. I queried our staff as to their affiliation: Parole officers? the bosun's buddies? Surrey Hyundai? Response: North Van Lexus Sales i.e. representatives of a sales group carering to the highest per-capita income municipalities in Canada - the country, not the city or the province - the biggest dollars in a nation of 30-odd million people. J.P. got the Lexus ticket because he sells cars. Over several years with J.P. I saw no evidence that Lexus had any further criteria. My wealthy brother drives a Jag, Porsche, and Lincoln, not counting the motorbikes and watercraft. He notes that, if he lived in California, a Lexus would be in the garage, at least for the wife or for dog-walks in the rain. Pretty simple actually - treat staff like shit, recruit from Starbucks, import from the suburban wastelands - obviously the salesperson ain't got a hope in hell of forming relationships with my brother at the P.T.A./19th hole/Terminal City Club/Board of Director's meetings. Put dipshit managers above that, fire the decent - people buy elsewhere. But the bottom line looks great to J.P.: dirt-cheap stoner punk carwasher/detailers, food-bank sales staff, managers that, as one fellow put it so well, "Michael should be in a home where they feed hin steak, mixed with his meds, through a straw."