A woman who paid more than $170,000 for a brand new Mercedes-Benz says it has been in and out of the repair shop more than 20 times in the two years she’s owned it.
The Auckland mum of three, who only wants to be referred to by her surname of Feng, said she has been without the 7-seater GLS400 for up to six weeks at a time.
A faulty seatbelt and other issues Feng describes as “major and minor” have had the luxury SUV back at the Mercedes-Benz repair shop 10 times a year.
“I bought a seven-seater car because I have three children and we often go on vacation with friends so I need all the seatbelts working,” Feng said.
“I worked it out and since owning the car the rear seatbelt has been not working 50 per cent of the time.”
Feng has asked Mercedes-Benz for a full refund or a new car and said the car is not fit-for-purpose under the Consumer Guarantees Act. The company says it has offered to trade the car in for another vehicle, or a refund of the vehicle at current market value, but Feng isn’t happy with the offer.
“I have been told by Mercedes that I have already driven the car for a couple of years, so they will not offer a new replacement or full refund.
“I am not happy with that because I bought a brand new car and I have hardly experienced it.”
On one recent holiday, she says the seatbelt failed just as they were heading away and a five-seater courtesy car was arranged.
Feng said every time the belt does not work she has to make alternative arrangements and take the car into the dealership for inspection before they will order the part.
The part is then ordered and takes months to arrive.
“Even right now one of the third-row seatbelt buckles is still not usable, and it is unlikely to be fixed before May due to the long waiting time for parts.”
Feng said the inconvenience of taking the car to the shop so often was also a problem.
“I had to make different arrangements for my children, get friends to give me a lift or get an Uber.
“My son had to walk in the pouring rain on the day of the floods because I didn’t have the car to collect him.
“Most of the time they do not have a courtesy car available.”
Jon Aldridge at Mercedes-Benz Botany, where the car was purchased, said some of the 20 visits to the workshop were for services under the warranty.
“It is unfair to say they were all for faults. We have tried to do all we can for this customer as we do for all of our customers.”
Aldridge said issues with the car itself were out of his hands and needed to be dealt with by the company’s head office.
Feng laid a formal complaint with Mercedes-Benz but it said most of the issues with the car were minor and had been repaired.
She also went to the Motor Trade Association (MTA) but they viewed most of the faults as minor.
In an email, the MTA said some of the visits were for diagnosis before parts were ordered and then others were for when the parts needed to be fitted, so one repair “makes it look like multiple issues”.
Feng said for a $175,000 brand-new luxury car there should not be any issues at all.
Unless Mercedes-Benz comes back to her with a suitable arrangement, Feng said she will consider going to the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal (MVDT).
The tribunal process involves a court-appointed adjudicator. Any decision is legally binding on both parties.
Mercedes-Benz New Zealand said via email it was committed to ensuring the safety of its customers and takes compliance with the New Zealand Consumer Guarantees Act very seriously.
“We are aware of this customer’s experience and have addressed each of their isolated concerns, some of which were rectified under the terms of the vehicle’s warranty,” the statement read.
“We can confirm that as a gesture of goodwill, the vehicle remains under an extended warranty until September 2025.
“In addition, we have offered multiple options to the customer including; a vehicle replacement, an option to trade into an alternative vehicle, or a refund of the vehicle at current market value.”
Feng said an extended warranty on a car that was constantly needing repair was not a good enough offer.
“I get the extended warranty and what happens? I just go to the repair shop 10 more times. It is not a fair offer.”