Just one conversation with a surly receptionist in the service department, or a promised return call from the garage which never happens, can turn a driver’s allegiance away from a marque.
And with Mercedes-Benz’s performance in this year’s JD Power Car Customer Satisfaction Index (rated 22nd out of 33 marques, and below the UK industry average) I was keen to experience the level of service offered by our local dealer, Mercedes-Benz of Peterborough.
The reason for our S-class visiting the garage was for a relatively trifling fault – two blown bulbs in the rear numberplate lights.
A call to the service department with a very polite lady resulted in a two-day wait before the car could go in, which is pretty good for a busy city dealership.
The garage also offered, without being prompted, to collect the car from our office and return it later in the day when the fault was fixed.
This is a big plus point in my book as it saves time. While the dealership is only a 10-minute drive away from the office, it can take up nearly an hour of your day once you’ve got there, booked the car in and then got a lift back.
The car was picked up from the office at just after 10am and by midday it was back, not only with the bulbs replaced, but also immaculate after a wash and polish.
This free valet has never happened on previous visits to the garage, so obviously Mercedes-Benz is determined to up its customer satisfaction levels. It is certainly paying dividends as the service offered now matches the exemplary treatment we receive from Peterborough Audi, where our long-term A6 is looked after.
But to be honest, this is what should be offered if you’ve spent more than £55,000 on a prestige car. Obviously customer expectations are higher when this sort of money is involved (you wouldn’t expect your Perodua Kelisa to be valeted when it goes in for a service), but nevertheless things are improving. The bill for the work came to £30.
If our experience is replicated at other Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the UK, then the marque should perform a lot better in next year’s JD Power survey.
Other than the garage visit, life with the S-class remains as pleasurable as ever.
Much of my travelling at work involves motorways, and the M25 in particular, and I can’t think of a better car in which to contend with the stop-start slog of the rush hour.
Simply select drive, relax into the ultra-comfortable seat (especially nice in the winter as they are heated) and go with the flow. And with average fuel economy of 31.1mpg, visits to the petrol station are few and far between. With a huge tank, the S320 will cover around 450 miles between fill-ups.
Model: Mercedes-Benz S320 CDI
Price (OTR): £51,632 (£55,432 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 209
Company car tax bill (2005): 40% tax-payer £482 a month
Insurance group: 16E
Combined mpg: 36.7
Test mpg: 31.1
CAP Monitor residual value: £17,475/34%
Typical contract hire rate: £970
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles