[LONG] Got burned by an Independent Specialist - Mercedes-Benz Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 08:07 PM Thread Starter
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[LONG] Got burned by an Independent Specialist

So, here's what happened the very first time I paid somebody else to work on my car.

Back on Dec. 28, we took our new-to-us 1995 e320 wagon to Allstar Motors in Edmond, OK for major service, which included a new head gasket, transmission service, and EGR cleaning. I didn't trust the repairs to anyone other than a Mercedes specialist, this shop has an excellent reputation locally, and I was initially pleased with the customer service and the overall air of professionalism at the shop.

My first inkling that all was not as it appeared came the same day that I dropped the car off, when the shop called to inform me that the car had its original (and highly failure-prone) engine wiring harness, and that they recommended I spend $1k to buy a factory MB replacement. Not only does our car already have a replacement harness, but there is a clearly visible tag near the battery that shows the date that the replacement harness was manufactured (2001, in this case). This is an *extremely* common situation with mid-90s MBs, and I would've assumed that any tech worth his salt would know this beforehand. I ended up stopping back by the shop the next day to point out the date code, and they acted like they'd never seen one before.

During this same visit, however, I was very pleased to see that they were already reassembling the top-end of the motor following the head gasket replacement (I'd only dropped the car off the day before). The tech pointed out that only a few small things needed to be reconnected, and that the car should be ready to pick up the following day.

Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon (12/30). I get the call I'm expecting from Allstar, only instead of my car being ready to go, there's now a problem. They tell me that while trying to remove two "petrified" rubber lines from the underside of the (thermoplastic) intake manifold, the tech broke off *both* of the hose barbs. A replacement manifold was only available from MB, and would cost me $500 plus labor. When I protested that THEY broke a perfectly good part, they responded that the part was faulty, the breakage was unavoidable, and I would be responsible for the cost.

What I know now is that the tech was trying to remove the brittle lines after the intake was back in the car (why didn't he remove them when he had the cylinder head out?). They're very difficult to access once the manifold is in place, and the supposed Mercedes specialist clearly didn't know what he was doing. Had I not found a good used replacement manifold elsewhere (delaying the repair for another five days), the tech's carelessness would've cost me more than $800. Instead, they still saw fit to charge me $300 labor to replace a part that they broke.

I wish it had ended here, but it did not.

Fast forward again to 1/17, when I notice that the car is leaking fresh oil in onto the garage floor. I could only ascertain that the leak was coming from the front passenger side of the motor, which pointed to a common leak point at the upper timing cover. Suspicious that the leak was caused by improper repair, I dropped the car back off at Allstar on Monday, 1/19, with written instructions that they investigate the oil leak and to call me before performing any repairs.

I got a call late Monday afternoon, informing me that the front crank seal was leaking ($350), but also that while the tech was under the car he noticed a small coolant leak. Upon "gently tightening the hose clamp," the hose fitting "disintegrated" and caused a massive coolant leak. That would be "at least $150" to repair. So, not only am I on the hook again for something the tech broke, it was something he wasn't even asked or authorized to mess with. Add to the the fact that the tech apparently told the front desk that he expected the part to be brittle prior to attempting to tighten it.

Once again, I protested, and once again I was told the part was faulty, and it was my responsibility. I asked for some sort of relief, and was told that they would "contact the owner" and see if anything could be done. When the car was ready the next day, they told me the repair had actually taken three hours, so their offer was the cost of the part and an hour of labor (which coincidentally totaled at little more than $150). Not wanting to make a scene, I paid the bill and left.

Remember how they told me that the crank seal was leaking? Well, according to the notation on the receipt, the leak is coming from the rear main seal. Needless to say, I declined the repair pending a second opinion.

So, this turned into quite an epic, but I wanted to get this off my chest. The long and short of it is that the ineptitude of the tech who worked on my car cost me $500, on top of the $2k+ I spent on legitimate repairs. If I'd wanted this sort of experience in the first place, I'd have taken the car to Firestone. I think these guys are used to folks with newer cars who have a "fix it no matter the cost" attitude, and I was extremely disappointed with their lack of knowledge where my car was concerned.

Suffice it to say that I won't be returning, but from the way I was treated I suspect that's what Allstar wanted in the first place.

---------------

Note - This is largely what I composed and posted to the service facility's website review, after they sent me an email asking me to "rate my experience." I was only too happy to oblige.

Am I wrong in feeling slighted here?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 08:18 PM
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Savages .. the same reason I won't let anyone detail my car.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 08:28 PM
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That's information I can use as one of my kid's, with a supplied by me Benz, goes to college in that area.

I haven't needed the car to be serviced there (yet), and that vendor had been on my short list.

I was a little put off by their hourly rate. Seems pretty high for a super low cost of living place like Oklahoma. I figured it must be due to all the retirement $ sloshing around Edmond. Housing here is 2X your area, and my indi charges less than them.

In regard to plastic parts falling to pieces on these cars, I have experienced it first hand, many times. On my '91 300D 2.5 Turbo, it got so bad I stopped touching anything plastic under the hood unless it was absolutely necessary.

Once you find a new indi that you are happy with, please send me a PM with the name and number so I can keep it on hand for if/when I need it.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 08:40 PM
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Dogs...They have taken a real liberty here.
Sometimes its hard to confront people without specific knowledge or to avoid making a scene, Hard lesson learned.

Good job bringing them out in the open though, Don't forget BBB and Yelp.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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@LostInTime -

Sent you a PM. And yeah, it's not so much retirement money as a combination of new-oil-money (which may be on its way out), and a high concentration of whitebread doctors and attorneys in this particular 'burb. And I agree – A $90/hr shop rate is a tad on the steep side for an indie shop. Especially one that's prone to snapping plastic bits off my wagon!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-23-2015, 08:49 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by leetyler View Post
Sometimes its hard to confront people without specific knowledge or to avoid making a scene, Hard lesson learned.

Good job bringing them out in the open though, Don't forget BBB and Yelp.
Exactly. It was going to be their word against in mine, and in the end it was just going to add up to me being pissed, my car sitting in the shop, and them going on about their business anyway.

All I can really do is take my business elsewhere, and steer other potential victims toward another shop.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-24-2015, 08:58 AM
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Terrifying story. They sound terrible. All you can do is leave a bad Yelp! review and spread the word.
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