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Hello everyone,

I was thinking where to post this topic and ended up posting it here. A friend of mine who lives overseas in one of the Easter European countries has got 2004 C-class. He recently asked me to check prices for shock absorbers in US as he was looking to replace his but with genuine original MB parts and not expensive. Where he lives they have original MB parts but they are very expensive. Long story short I checked two sources: local dealership and online store. Dealer asked $680 and online price was $175. Dealer is claiming that they are selling original MB part, online is OEM.
My friend was surprised and he ended up ordering original shock absorbers from Dubai for $200. My question is why there is such a big difference/spread in the prices? Do you really think he bought original parts from Dubai market, because if original MB part costs $680 in US I have hard time believing that the same part will be only $200. Is there a way to check if he really purchased original. Because sometimes I think he may have been misled. Please can you share your thoughts here.
Thank you.
 

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Part of a serious problem that is now being addressed worlwide is that there are many knock-off parts in the market that say they are Mercedes-Benz parts, many made in CHINA. Mercedes-Benz is diligently correcting this problem by limiting certain OEM parts made available outside of dealer stock. Did he buy from a dealer? Was it in sealed box with the laser etched security tape on the ends? Did it contain the original part numbers on the invoice? These are questions to consider.
 

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I experienced that my local MB dealer is charging about 4 times markup on some parts.
I can find an air filter for $19 at Autohousaz and the exact same filter is $56 at the dealer. Than I have another dealer 10 miles other direction and their prices are about 30% lower than the first dealer.
You have to pay for the neighborhood ;)
Than understand OEM. Mercedes is using several supplies for the same parts. When I was checking flex discs for my car, the internet seller had 3 or 4 brands on stock. All OEM. Prices were from $80 to $220 from what I remember.
Europa has tricky prices. I shipped ML trip computer to Poland. The local price was above $1000 while ebay dealer in US had old stock for $80 or so.
 

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The answer is actually quite simple and comes in 2 forms.

1. The dealer will always charge you more than any online site for the same part. Simply because it is the dealer.

2. MB doesn't necessarily manufacture their own parts. These parts are made by different manufacturers and are sold in two different channels. The same exact part is packaged in a MB box and is sold to dealers. And the same exact part, by the same manufacturer is packaged in either a white box with no logos or a box with the manufacturer logo and sold to retail stores and warehouses for much cheaper, simply because it doesn't have a MB box. Most online sites, including Auto Parts, Auto Part - Buy Auto Parts Online sell parts obtained from both channels. Some parts are not available in the white box therefore we sell them in the MB box. We still sell them cheaper than the dealer, simply because the dealer puts a huge markup on the parts and we only sell at 10% above cost. As for the white or manufacturer box parts, which again is the same exact part, we sell them at up to 80% off what the dealer will charge you for the exact same thing. These simply cost us less because of the distribution channel and we sell them at 10% above cost.

So to answer your question, yes, it is very possible that part your friend bought in Dubai is the original MB part, just not in the MB box.

You can compare some of these prices by checking out our Mercedes-Benz Parts section.

 

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W124
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My dealer is very competitive on parts prices and can sometimes be cheaper than a generic car parts house. They sometimes are more expensive too but overall, I get a great deal from them. For example, there are those parts you can not get in the Aftermarket that are only available from MB dealers. When I need one of those parts my dealer works with me to keep the price as low as he can. This is atypical of the normal dealer model but then again, this dealer is atypical of car dealers. They are the biggest in the NY area and will probably stay that way because of how they treat customers.

As far as OEM manufacturers selling parts out one door to Mercedes and out the other door to wholesalers and it being the same part Mercedes spec'd out, enjoy yourselves while you can because MB won't settle for that if they can stop it. If they are providing/approving the tooling, they have the ability to do it.

Bottom line anyway is that Mercedes stands behind their parts long after the UPS truck delivers the part from an online supplier.
 

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I completely agree that there are good dealers that will work with you in giving you a good price, especially if you continue to come back to them for all your service. There is no doubt that many dealers want your business and work for it. I have nothing against dealers.

As for the selling model, even the original in box MB parts that we sell are priced below what MOST dealers will sell at, and definitely for less then the dealer will quote you originally before you ask for a better deal. It is simply how e-business works. Most online companies work on a small margin, smaller than physical stores and dealers because they can.

In many cases we cater to do-it-yourselfers who purchase parts from us and install themselves. We also have many customers who buy the part from us and take it to their local mechanic. Many people put in their mechanics address as the ship to address directly. We also sell to many mechanic shops directly everyday, not in bulk, but them simply using our site, simply because they know that when they order form us they will get the right part, quickly and at a good price and in the event that something is wrong, there is always the warranty that we offer. I'm not saying that the dealer will not offer you warranty, they will, I'm just saying it all depends on what you like to do and what you find convenient. If you do your own work on the car, I highly doubt it will be easier and cheaper to go to the dealer than to get the part online.
 

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Actually, I do all my own work and very rarely go outside the local dealership for the parts. I'll give you an example of how it is working with this dealer. I had purchased a rear muffler for my '88 300e a few years ago. 13 months later the pipe leading to the muffler cracked on the weld while I was driving. The muffler dragged on the roadway until I could stop and remove it (luckily I just had the two "donuts" to remove to get the muffler off and to continue on my way). I wasn't terribly happy this happened but figured I must have caused this and never even thought of complaining to the dealer. I went back to the dealer to buy another muffler and was waiting for it to be handed to me when I casually told the parts guy what had happened. He put the muffler down and went into the computer system and found my original invoice. He gave me the new muffler and told me it was covered under warranty and in fact ALL of their parts have a one year warranty. I didn't ask for this treatment although some would have demanded it.

In addition, the price of the OEM muffler was $30 more than what I could have purchased on line. It was a no brainer to buy OEM from the dealer at that price differential. How much would it have cost me to send the muffler back to an on-line parts supplier if they even honored a one year warranty on a part that had been installed by the owner? (I just went round and round with an aftermarket engine pipe for the same car and found the aftermarket part was cheaper than Mercedes's part but it was defective in four ways (cheaper metal, flared fittings were too large, overall assembled length was two inches shorter than the original pipe, and the assembled replacement pipe leaned against the block, preventing proper positioning of it under the car). It was pure junk and it cost me $25 to return it to the place I bought it from. They refunded my purchase price but withheld the cost of shipping it to me. I didn't make the POS, Davco did but I lost over $30 on the situation and a lot of time.

Water pumps is another good example. I can get a water pump from the dealer cheaper or not much more than a local parts supplier. The difference is that I am getting a Benz product not whatever the parts supplier is pushing - and at a reasonable price. There isn't a part that I need that the dealer doesn't have within two days. Most of what I need he has in stock. Agreed, this isn't the case with poser dealers who fly the Mercedes flag but run the dealership as if they were retiring next month; these guys have nothing in stock and you should run from them.

I'm sure the attraction of the cheapest price for a good quality part is a great reason for many people to use on-line suppliers. I might be a "dinosaur" in that I value ease of doing business and service over cost (as long as the cost is reasonable).
 

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You do your homework, and if the price is $30 more at your local dealer, for you it is easier and more convenient. Makes sense and there is nothing wrong with that.

Just a side note, we give you that same 1 year warranty on every part sold. So in your case, had you purchased form us, and contacted us within 1 year of purchase that the part failed, you would have had a free replacement or refund. Many sites don't offer this and don't stand behind their product. This is how we compete in the crowded e-commerce space. Not only on price, but service as well.

 

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You do your homework, and if the price is $30 more at your local dealer, for you it is easier and more convenient. Makes sense and there is nothing wrong with that.

Just a side note, we give you that same 1 year warranty on every part sold. So in your case, had you purchased form us, and contacted us within 1 year of purchase that the part failed, you would have had a free replacement or refund. Many sites don't offer this and don't stand behind their product. This is how we compete in the crowded e-commerce space. Not only on price, but service as well.
Just for reference, would I have had to send the muffler back to you to get a replacement?
 

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You have two options.

First option is to remove the muffler from your car, send it back to us and once we get it, we send out a replacement. We pay return shipping. Pretty inconvenient if you have only one car and need it.

Second option is that we can charge your card for a new one and get it out immediately to you. Once you receive it, you have 30 days to return your old one to us for a full refund. Again, we pay return shipping.

72% of warranty returns are option 2.

Everyone pretty much needs to get the defective one back, otherwise, in todays world, people would claim that something was defective and failed while it didn't and they would end up selling the replacement on eBay or something.
 

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It makes sense that you would need the defective one back. I would require the same thing if it were me running the business. The problem is (and its a growing one) is that UPS and FedEx are giving the on-line vendors deep shipping discounts but they make up for it by overcharging folks who do occasional shipping. Example: the defective pipe I received arrived drop shipped from MA to Long Island at a cost to them of $7.00. When I returned it to the vendor who I bought it from in CT (half the original shipping distance) I had to pay $22.00 to get it back to them. It was the same part and I shipped it the same way, UPS Ground, yet I paid $22.00 for what they paid $7.00 for.

As long as the customer has to pay for some aspect of the shipping with a warranty claim the cost benefit of on-line purchasing becomes erroded by the customer's exposure to return shipping fees. In my example I ended up paying $22.00 for shipping and the vendor subtracted his $7.00 shipping from my refund. It cost me $29.00 on top of my time and labor because the on line parts house shipped me a defective item; ouch!

It would be more attractive if all of the shipping on warranty claims was handled by the vendor. They could incrementally increase their prices to offset the warranty shipping expenses. You (or whoever else adopts this process) would have a differentiator - "no hassle - no cost returns for defective items".
 

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Our UPS discount is not that large as your example. We have a 30% lower shipping than the UPS published rates on UPS.com. Maybe its time our business dev team gave UPS a call.

In any event, since we do have that 30% discount, we offer free shipping on every order with us that is over $75. Sometimes if you are just under the $75 mark we encourage you to get an oil filter, since you always end up needing those, just so you don't pay shipping. And if your order is under $75 we charge you $6 or $7 flat fee for the shipping, which is on average what we end up paying to UPS.

The only time we don't have shipping rates that are lower than published is for international orders, since we use USPS for those and that's very expensive and no discounts are ever given to merchants for USPS international shipping.
 
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