Oh Lord, don’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

For the past 14 or 15 years, I have driven BMWs (apart from a dalliance with a VW Golf). Back in the spring, when I changed my car, I decided to have a complete change and bought a Mercedes C-Class estate. Over my million and a half or more miles, I have had VWs, Audis and lots of BMWs, but never a Mercedes. Being in my mid-50s now, despite the advice from the salesman in the BMW shop, who told me I wasn’t old enough yet for a Mercedes, I thought that the time was right.

I wish I hadn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad car. It’s quiet, comfortable, more economical that my last BMW, despite being bigger and more powerful. It is safe and takes the dog cage in the boot easily. It’s well equipped, with, for example, the first sun-roof I have had for decades. But, it has so many annoying niggles that it will be my last one.

For example:

  • The built in satnav will download traffic information to allow the system (and/or me) to choose an alternative route if there is a hold up ahead. The problem is, it takes about 25 minutes for the data to download from wherever it comes from, so I often find myself in an avoidable traffic jam by the time the system says “traffic delays in 0 miles”. No shit Sherlock.
  • The handling around corners is dreadful, with far too much oversteer for my liking and a lot of body roll.
  • There are creaks and groans from the rear nearside interior bodywork or seats. I can’t work out exactly where, but to have a creaking car after so long is a novelty – and not one that I really wanted.
  • The car uses a product called “AdBlue” to clean up the exhaust emissions. The tank, adjacent to the fuel tank, is supposed to hold enough liquid to last between services. But it doesn’t. The dashboard gives a warning that it’s going to run out about 1500 miles before it does. If you don’t refill the tank, the car won’t work. At all.
  • Today, it had its first service. At 15,400 miles, some 3,000 miles less than the BMWs. This service, which is basically an oil and pollen filter change, just cost me £325. Now, if I wanted a car that was cheap to service, I would have bought a Ford Mondeo. But that is just taking the mickey. The BMWs used to be around £220 for a similar oil service.
  • Oh, they check the tyres at the service too. I need all four changing very soon – two are down to 2.5mm tread. This is after 15,400 miles, don’t forget. I don’t drive this car any differently from the BMW I had last time, yet that would give me 30,000 miles or more on a tyre. This is ridiculous. My first Golf GTi would give me more miles than this and I used to throw that around like, erm, a Golf GTi.
  • Then there are the minor niggles, like lack of little cubby-hole spaces in the dashboard, or the really shiny black console trim in the middle that picks up every fingerprint.

So, I have got Mercedes out of my system. I always fancied one and now I drive one. But I won’t be next time. There is a reason why so many people drive BMWs…

Gino in Chester was right. I am not old enough.

Never again. Moving house is just no fun at all.

They say that alongside divorce or the death of a spouse, moving home is one of the most stressful things that you can do, and of the three, it’s often one that is done willingly. Unless you’ve been planning to divorce or kill your husband I suppose…

Never having experienced the other two events, I can concur that moving home is not really a very pleasant experience. Last time, 22 years ago, we “sold” the property four times before actually moving. We had a buyer pull out the day before exchange of contracts. The woman that bought the house gave us an ultimatum to complete, such that we were homeless with two young children for a fortnight (she was a teacher too…). Part of our contents that had been in storage never quite made it to the new house, taken away from the storage in my Granddad’s old wheelbarrow.

This time, however, is on a whole new level of complete nonsense.

The house will have been on the market a year in August. The couple buying it first saw it in November and made an offer in the spring. We viewed the property we are buying at the beginning of April – 4 months ago – after receiving a second offer from our buyers, the first offer only lasting 2 days.

We have only just exchanged contracts.

At the request of the people at the very bottom of the chain, we agreed to a completion and move date in August. I was pushing for a mid-July completion, but others in the chain were not willing to accede to that. We have been in a position to exchange contracts for over three weeks now. It could have been done if the will were there, but we agreed to go with the August date.

It is difficult to describe the stress that this ridiculous situation puts you through. There is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. You have to let the chain move at the pace of the slowest member, even if that appears to be deliberately slowed for reasons that our solicitor cannot understand. He has never known anything like it in nearly 20 years of conveyancing.

We have now put in motion all the necessary arrangements with removal companies, gas people, electricity people etc. and started to put valuable items in boxes. But to have got to a fortnight from completion and actually moving home and only just having the contract in place strikes me as a completely unacceptable situation.

This will be our last move. Next time, I will be the one in the box.