Mercedes Culemborg Sweet and Paarl Motors Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to Mercedes Culemborg, and was nominated by Eamon Mack, for the service recovery, after the appalling customer service he received when he went to collect his car.  “It had been towed in to Culemborg a week ago as it would not start. The fault was speculated to be the key or the ignition system. I was told my car will be ready at 4pm today. I took a taxi to the Foreshore and met the service advisor who was dealing with me. After a lot of hanging around she found the key for me, and presented me with a bill for R2300. I said fine, looking at it, and said that I’d pay 30% as I had one of those mobi plans. She said no, that I was due to pay 100%. I said, no, that I had spoken to a number of Mercedes people over the phone and they all had said 30% only was due.  She went into the Service Manager Peter Kruger who loudly said, “Tell him no, he must pay 100%, he has no cover as we do not pay for lost keys”. The service advisor came out and told me this and I stood my ground, explaining that I had not lost the key, but that it had malfunctioned.  At this stage Mr.Kruger appeared from his office with a bunch of files in his hand. I asked him what was going on.”You lost the key, you must pay 100%” he said. I said I had not. He asked where it was then, that they did not have it. I said it had gone in to Culemborg with the car. He denied this, saying that they never got the key. I protested and he said that the issue was between me and the towing company and that I had to pay 100%. He then turned his back on me and walked off.  At this stage I was left standing with the service advisor and a young woman who had spent the time while I was there ringing customers asking them if they had been happy with the service they had received, and to rate Mercedes on a scale of one to ten. How ironic.  She asked me what the issue was and I quickly explained, my blood pressure rising.   I recommended that they all sort it out amongst themselves and call me when they had a solution. I was offering to pay 30% of the bill and that was that. The service assistant said I must pay the full 100%, or I would not be allowed to drive the car away. I looked at her and reminded her that it was my car, and that I was going to drive away. She said I couldn’t as they were going to trap me in the garage by not raising the boom. I said I was going, and if they did not raise the boom I would drive through it. I couldn’t believe it!  Held hostage by Mercedes for a bill I did not owe. Incredible stuff.  I saw my car through the window, out in the garage and went over to it. I unlocked it and climbed in, started the motor, and drove towards the boom. Nothing happened. I wound down the window to ask the gateman to open the boom. I was prepared to give them one last chance. He didn’t budge.  I drove towards the boom, fully intent on escape.  Suddenly the customer services assistant appeared like magic at my window. ” Oh we’re going to let you go……..blah blah” I cut her off.  “I am very angry, young lady” I said, “and I am not going to finish this conversation with you now. Get your attorney to send me a letter”.  She raised the boom, and I drove off.  This is the worst customer service experience I have ever had in my entire life, bar none. I am still shaking with anger. Threatened with being trapped in Mercedes Culemborg with my car for a bill I did not owe.  Totally and completely outrageous and unacceptable.”  Eamon has since written, to say that the bill has been written off in full by Mercedes Culemborg, and an apology made to him.

The Sour Service Award goes to Paarl Motors, who have previously received three Sweet Service Awards.  The dealership’s Debtor’s Clerk Marietjie Brits handed a matter related to a cheque for a service to their lawyer, which had been rejected by their bank (Nedbank).  The Dealer Principal Jaco Kotze and the Workshop Manager did not try to intervene and resolve the matter.   The service from the Workshop has been outstanding over the past 5 years, and therefore the poor service received was disappointing.   Even more shocking was the attitude of Mr Kotze, who did the “my staff are perfect” customer alienation routine when called by the customer, without having taken the trouble to contact the customer proactively.   The client’s ABSA bank approved the banking of the cheque. No apology has been received from Paarl Motors.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the website

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