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Luxury Performance Sedans

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  • dakorldakorl Posts: 2
    I couldn't agree more about the lousy approach to customer service that pervades Mercedes dealerships and their headquarters.

    Without boring you with gory details of my miserable experience with the service technicians and manager at the Mercedes of South Orlando, suffice it to say that I too, will not buy a Mercedes for the foreseeable future. I will also discourage anyone I know from buying a Mercedes.

    When I called the Mercedes headquarters about my experience, their response was "unfortunately each dealership is independently owned and operated" and that they would input the issue in "their records". From my experience owning 3 BMW's, there is absolutely no comparison between the two companies' customer service. BMW USA holds their dealership accountable for maintaining the corporate reputation.

    Bottom line: Mercedes is company that no longer values its reputation or its customers' satisfaction.
  • greenbeltgreenbelt Posts: 55
    I was at the local coffee shop today in a suburb outside of Boston.

    On the way to the shop, I walked by a gorgeous black, 2006 Lexus 2006 GS 430.

    I was really impressed as to how they have created a definitive style for this car, sharply featured lines, distinctive design ... no compromise everywhere, "camels are horses designed by a committee" here. The GS430 is unique, beautifully styled, and of course, reeks of being Lexus bullet-proof.

    Next on the way back after my appointment, I came across the first Infiniti M35x that I had seen. It didn't take me with quite the presence of the GS but by leaning over to look at the interior, I was struck by what a wonderful job they have done making the interior such a powerful visual part of being near the vehicle - none of bland blackness one sees in the BMW's or JCWhitney gee-gaw look in Mercedes. This is one sophisticated car that conveys it's stature without being geeky or tacky.

    Just my two cents.

    GB
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Mark said that he thought Japanese auto was not passionate about building drivers cars. He didnt say "luxury drivers cars". If he had, I wouldnt have much of an argument.

    Ok, gotcha.

    I don't think Lexus will go for AMG/Motorsport directly I think they'll do it with somewhat less powerful hybrids. The IS500 sounds like a monster if produced.

    M
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,108
    I am struck by some other differences between the German and Japanese "dealer crowd" that have become more evident over the past few weeks.

    Since we have been buying almost nothing but Audis since 1977 -- and from the same dealer, same salesrep all along (although the dealer sold out to a "corporation" a couple of years ago) -- and since my wife recently bought a BMW X3 from a "owned by a person" dealership AND since I have now frequented two Infiniti dealerships, I do note a difference in both the dealerships and the customers at the German and Japanese dealerships.

    First the epitome of passion -- from the sales reps, service and parts reps and customers -- the BMW store. These folks all drank the Kool-aid. Yet, they aren't automatons. Somehow, even the parts guy (in his white lab coat with the BMW blue and white logo) seems "really into" BMWs, really into cars -- really into making certain that the phone cradle we are ordering is the exact right one for the car. Then the service advisor who takes time to introduce us to the other services advisors, "just in case, I'm not here next Saturday when you come in," seems so keen to offer us a loaner car for a 1/2 hour appointment -- "if you change your mind and need to have a car to use to go shopping, please just let me know, we've got plenty. . .would you like a cup of Starbuck's?" Now this is amazing, for the next guy we meet is the "wash tech" -- his job on Saturday's is to wash and vacuum your car (for free, for life) and he takes such pride in asking us to inspect the car after he finishes, you almost feel guilty when he refuses your tip.

    At the Audi store, under new "corporate" ownership, the story -- compared with the BMW experience -- is muted somewhat. Still eager to please but more polite, more standoffish -- somewhat more "restrained." Almost as if they had a little bit of the iRobot syndrom. The cannot violate the three laws of the treatment of Audi customers after all. The differences, in my opinion, are between a "dealer group" and a dealer. The OWNER of the BMW store calls himself "the Service Manager" and can be seen in his white lab coat checking in customers from time to time even though he is now a Munich regular speaker at the factory in Bavaria.

    At the Audi store there is no sight of anyone who actually owns the place, just "managers" and "supervisors" (it makes me wonder if anyone there can order take out pizza without permission). But, still, at the Audi store the employees and customers are all abuzz about the new A6 with the full-on ground effects package and the new A8L with the $7,000 custom wheel package and fully tinted windows looking like a modern Batmobile on the showroom floor.

    At the two Infiniti dealers, the experience is even more sanitized and less emotional than at the "corporate-like" Audi store. Walk in and the handsome woman behind the semi-cirular bent-wood desk greets you, "welcome to Infiniti, would you care for some bottled water?" More Kool-aid drinkers, for sure -- but this time it is completely proper, darn near sterile. The look is ultra modern, pretty, high tech, devoid of warmth (yet not cold), distant -- almost museum like. The talk is of "the deal" -- some of the cars on the showroom floor even have the "deal" painted on the windshield "G35 with Premium Package $499 down, $499 month, 42 months/12,000 miles" and so forth. The sales people are in suits and one wears a cowboy hat. The German dealership reps looked like they were ready for a round of golf at the nearest private club, in contrast. The Inifiniti reps want to get right to business -- "wanna test drive one of these?" I happened to be standing next to a huge SUV like thing (not the FX) and the salesman didn't even stop to ask what I was interested in. "Let's get down to dickerin'" was the next thing I expected to hear. At Infiniti dealership #2, the greeter was there, also asking about my thirst and the reps wore dress shirts with open collars and blazers (not uniforms, not Infiniti issue, but blazers or sport coats). Again the talk was about the process "the test drive" or "what color would you like to see this in."

    I dunno, the experience is different -- I most prefer the BMW experience and least the Infiniti. But perhaps this is more of a function of ownership. The Audi and Infiniti dealerships were "corporate" owned, the BMW store was owned by a guy named "Tom" -- the differences may be totally attributable to this.

    I can't say the same about the customers though -- the customers at the Audi and BMW dealerships were "into cars." As I peered into the last remaining 2005 S4 on the showroom floor someone came up to me and struck up a conversation about his (older) S4 and I shared my 1995 S6 experience with him and, well, "we had a moment." Much the same thing at the BMW store -- strangers asked if they could see my wife's X3 becuase they were interested in the Terracotta interior.

    I fully expect that the G35 coupe and the M's will (already are) attracting customers who are "into cars" -- at this point, however, the Infiniti showrooms seem to only have folks who are "into cars" in the minority. Of course this is not to claim that one type is superior to the other type -- it is simply meant to indicate my preference and my observations. Your BMW dealership may be sterile and your Infiniti dealership may be full of passionate car people.
  • drtraveldrtravel Posts: 395
    While I was replacing my break pads for the seventh time (only 81.5K miles) I started talking to a service guy over at the largest MB dealership in Southern California. Seems that 75% of their service revenue is paid for by MB which means it was warranty work. Technically MB is paying the dealer for this work but we all know who is actually paying for this work - the customer. Looks like MB has to charge $10-15K more for their cars (as compared to the Japanese models) just to cover their warranty repair costs.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 31,186
    Match up the salesperson with the like-minded buyer... hmmmm... this must be why I get all the slimy jerks... ;)

    MODERATOR
    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • richcreamrichcream Posts: 205
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,108
    . . .at any of the dealerships, Audi, Acura, BMW, Infiniti or Mercedes. At the auto show the Lexus guy (showing me the new GS300 AWD) was clearly into cars, into Lexus and very enthusiastic. He could sell for Audi or BMW (based on the dealers I have visited) he was so into cars -- he made a great auto show ambassador, for certain.

    Even the Infiniti guys seemed to have a deeper enthusiasm once I didn't immediately start talking price. I actually took two DVD-Audio discs with me to the Infiniti dealer and the salesperson I spoke with actually got in the car with my wife and me and listened to my DVD's and seemed to almost relax and chat about the sound system and the benefits of the M35X -- he also offered that he used to be a BMW salesperson. He seemed not at all in a hurry to return to his post -- and this was the "backup" sales person, since I had already ordered the car from his colleague "the Internet Sales Manager" (whom I have never even met face to face.)

    Don't take my observations as any indictment against Japanese LPS sales people -- indeed, I like the sentiment of matching the salesperson and the "like-minded" buyer. I'll bet there are people who would hate our BMW sales rep since she seems to just "gush" about the products she represents (she used to be an Infiniti salesperson, in fact she drives a G35) without dissing any other products. She is the person who is just goo-goo ga-ga about Bimmers.

    Just finding the differences "fascinating."

    Must be off to the new BMW orientation soiree tonight -- free food.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I think part of the Infiniti "experience" at the dealership can be attributed to Infiniti not having a single fun car before 2003. The G20, I30, and QX4 were just rebadged and slightly restyled versions of the highest trim level of the Nissan version, and the Q45 post the "demotion" to the smaller 4.1L V8 was no longer a driver's car in any sense of the word. While the QX56 and Armada are still a little too close for comfort in the classic Infiniti way, the G, M, and FX are all Infiniti, and real enthusiast cars. If the Infiniti GT-R doesnt get the sales people excited about the car and not just getting you into one so you might buy it, I dont know what will.
  • Saw an article sitting in my dentists office Tuesday that had Mecedes rated number 1 of 35 based on "Perceived Prestige" of ownership versus being 32nd out of 35 for "customer satisfaction". Those charts had it behind Daewoos and Isuzus and Chevys etc. Some of those cars don't cost $15k IN TOTAL!!!

    #32nd worst out of 35 for Mercedes. Three more spots to plummet and they can "grab the magic ring".
    The article should be posted on the desk of every person in that company to see if maybe they could get anybody to care and to treat a customer right.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I do believe I would have to argue with you on categorizing BMW owners as "generally younger."
  • karmikankarmikan Posts: 116
    My one experience with Mercedes was when I was in the market for my current car. I shopped the E320, A6 & 530i.

    The Mercedes dealership didn't give me a positive feeling - arrogance reigned, product knowledge was not impressive and when I discussed "dealing" the salesman looked at me as if I was a chimp reciting Shakespeare. I had a negative opinion before I drove the car.
    The Audi dealership was much more knowledgeable but there was a slight sense of "take it or leave it"
    The BMW dealership represented THE best car-buying experience I've ever had (much to my surprise). A "car person" sales lady who drove me to an empty parking lot to put the car through its paces as a demonstration before my test drive (man, could she drive!). They were willing to deal and gave me fair value for my trade first attempt. No silly stuff at all.

    I owned a Passat at the time and mentioned my experience on the VW board. The responses from others with similar stories suggested that the issues are more corporate than dealer-specific. This seems to confirm many of the previous posts on this board.
  • drtraveldrtravel Posts: 395
    Lexus projected they would sell 33,000 (2,750 per month) GSs per year.

    Infiniti projected they would sell 24,000 (2,000 per month) Ms per year.

    So far both are exceeding their projections. If you follow my posts in the Infiniti M forum then you know that I think Infiniti could sell more Ms if they shipped some more over - inventories are lean. If you are looking for a particular color and options you are likely waiting for (or ordering) the car. Don't know about Lexus' inventory.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Perhaps there has been a bit of a shift in the way BMW dealerships operate? Mark also mentioned a very positive experience buying the X3. I remember them being more like the Mercedes experience you were talking about.
  • cmybimmergocmybimmergo Posts: 265
    I think it's a complete crapshoot. I don't patronize the BMW dealer five miles down the road because they treated me like dirt--actually told me to take my business elsewhere if I didn't like their lousy treatment--and in fact, their lousy reputation is well known around here, but I have several acquaintances who have had only positive experiences with them. I take my car to the dealer on the other side of the county because they treat me with respect. But they don't wash or vacuum my car after service, and they charged me to flash my car because I didn't buy it from them and there "wasn't anything wrong with it." Oh, and loaners are obtained from Enterprise, which means Corollas or Grand Ams or something equivalent. Lexus they ain't.
  • bw45sportbw45sport Posts: 151
    and when I discussed "dealing" the salesman looked at me as if I was a chimp reciting Shakespeare

    Because they've never really had to deal. Back in the good ole days some dealers had a preset portion of what was a much larger markup that they would offer as a discount. If you didn't like it you could leave because they had no problems selling their inventories. Until about five years ago, most dealership's allocations were far smaller than what they could have sold. They will deal now but don't expect the normal haggling process you find with other makes.

    Although it always seemed as if you were being "held up" by their pricing, they actually protected their customers to a degree because no heavily discounted cars were getting out to cause fallout on the resale side. Combined with longish product cycles Mercedes was always a resale leader.
  • bw45sportbw45sport Posts: 151
    Saw an article sitting in my dentists office Tuesday that had Mercedes rated number 1 of 35 based on "Perceived Prestige" of ownership versus being 32nd out of 35 for "customer satisfaction".

    Not terribly surprising Mercedesstinks.

    While Mercedes reputation for quality has deservedly taken a tremendous hit I believe that most people still perceive it to be a very prestigious brand. I would venture to guess that in random surveys taken today the most frequently mentioned brand would still be Mercedes if asked "name a prestigious luxury automobile". The interesting angle would be to see what would happen if you surveyed only those who were able to afford the cars.

    There was a day Mercedesstinks where they were not only considered prestigious but were actually great cars too.
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    Interesting. I havent been by BMW lately, mostly because I dont like any of their post Bangle cars. I've always been happy with the service at my Lexus dealer, but they definitely arent even in league with Infiniti (let alone the germans) when it comes to being "car people". I think thats partly why Lexus had trouble with the original IS300, they didnt know quite what to do with it or how to sell it.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    I think it is way too broad of a generalzation to judge a whole auto company by an experience at a particular dealer. Obviously they aren't treating everyone the same, otherwise they wouldn't sell anything. There are many who don't seem to have a problem with an MB dealership or a BMW one. All luxury car dealers have a snob factor, the only difference being where they think you fit in once you enter the showroom.

    M
  • cmybimmergocmybimmergo Posts: 265
    I agree. When I bought my ES, it was all about the ride and safety; nothing about driving experience. But at the time, that's what I needed: a safe car with a real back seat for the two car seats. And a hint of sportiness (my previous cars were a '68 Mustang [289...I still miss it] and '77 and '82 Celica hatchbacks [I don't miss the 82]). Back then, the ES was billed as a sports sedan, but I would more accurately call it a sporty sedan. I don't think anyone still makes the mistake of labeling the ES sporty.

    Coming up with (and selling) a 3 series wannabe had to be a foreign concept to a company that is all about luxury and customer satisfaction. (Remember the Lexus commercial where the car is negotiating a curvy two lane road while the narrator says something about the nice quiet ride, and if you want to feel the road...and the car stops, the door opens, and the driver's hand reaches down to touch the pavement?)
  • lexusguylexusguy Posts: 6,419
    I'm afraid I dont remember that one specifically. The farthest back Lexus TV ad I can recall is the '98 GS400 commercial "something wicked". Lexus' strengths have always been top rated reliability, luxury, and comfort, and thats what still defines the brand. The ES and RX are their core models, and they are still as reliably boring and comfortable as ever. Their newer commercials prior to the '06 GS were about the SC's trick roof and the LS's quietness. No mention of actually driving the car in either.

    The IS300 really wasnt even a 3 series wannable, I think thats what the new 250 and 350 are. The original was an extry sports sedan with a luxury badge on it, but there was really very little in the way of luxury about it. Creature comforts were no where close to what was in a 330i, A4 2.8, or C320 sport. Lexus wanted to create the "anti-Lexus" with the IS300, and they did, but thats not what they need to succeed. You want to keep people coming back to your brand as they move up the corporate ladder and want bigger cars. Most of the IS300 owners on Edmunds cant stand anything else the company makes, so they would most likely move on to a 5 series once they out grow the IS. The new IS at least looks the part of a proper Lexus, but it remains to be seen if the actual driving will be a letdown like the GS.
  • hpowdershpowders Posts: 4,269
    I am a BMW owner who drove the GS 430. It handled great. Excellent steering. Took the curves very well. Please elaborate on the actual driving of the GS being a "letdown."
  • rich545rich545 Posts: 386
    I can only speak with authority on the 2 BMW dealerships I've used (Westchester BMW in NY and Westmont BMW here in IL), and both were very good from a customer service standpoint. My most recent experience was about 2 weeks ago at Westmont BMW, and my salesperson was great. Low pressure, very knowlegeable. He either remembered or took notes when I bought my 545 a year ago that I got married on New Year's Eve last year, what kind of dogs we have, where I moved to IL from, and what both my wife and I do for a living. It was pretty impressive. My salesperson at Westchester BMW was great as well. I don't think that all BMW dealerships could possibly be good, but obviously a lot are good. I will say that Westmont BMW is better than their partner company Westmont Mercedes. All the salesperson there could seem to manage about the new ML is "We're all wondering where this great car came from!" and similar salesy tag lines. Plus they were out of brochures for the car which is pretty lame. I wouldn't say they are a bad dealership, but not as good as the BMW branch of the company. The Audi branch (all three are owned by AutoNation) was pretty good though. If I had to rank the three in terms of how I felt in the dealerships it would be BMW, Audi, Mercedes.
  • tayl0rdtayl0rd Posts: 1,938
    I remember that commercial of the guy touching the road. :P I have no idea what the "something wicked" commercial is. I have seen it referenced countless times, as lexusguy just did, but no one has ever described what the heck the commercial is about. :confuse:

    Does anyone care to enlighten me on what that commercial was? The only GS commercial I remember is the one with the guy driving down the road and they are showing an Xray type image of his body, and he hits the gas and his eyes fall back against his brain. That one was pretty clever. :shades:
  • cmybimmergocmybimmergo Posts: 265
    I vaguely remember something...wasn't it a play on the phrase "something wicked this way comes" (Stephen King)? Wicked, in this case, meaning very good (wicked good). Or maybe I'm delerious.
  • docnukemdocnukem Posts: 485
    "Something Wicked This Way Comes" is a classic Ray Bradbury. I heartily recommend it. I believe the ad was a take-off of the not-up-to-the-book movie. The story is about a travelling circus with very sinister undertones (Wicked with a capital "W"). If I remember correctly, the ad was almost film-noir-like with very dark sets and an approaching storm. Picture a desolate landscape with a winding road, mountains and stormclouds in the background, and approaching headlights.
  • cmybimmergocmybimmergo Posts: 265
    Wow. My bad. I read that book, too. You'd think I could remember the author, especially since I read everything Ray Bradbury wrote. (Of course, that was back in high school, when dinosaurs still ruled the earth.)
  • markcincinnatimarkcincinnati Posts: 5,108
    You mean they don't still rule the earth?
  • sysweisyswei Posts: 1,804
    The original source of the line is act IV, scene 1 of Macbeth:

    By the pricking of my thumbs,
    Something wicked this way comes.
    Open, locks,
    Whoever knocks!


    Only later was it adopted as the title of the Bradbury book.
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