Category Archives: Mercedes Benz

At last – an update. Venice (again) and the new car

Even the not-so-eagle-eyed will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a while and the longer it goes between posts, the harder it is to sit down and put anything “on paper”.

But, after a couple of months and with a hint last week, there must be something to share.

Firstly, there has been another trip to Venice – our fourth. I have said in the past that once the city gets under your skin, it’s the kind of place that you just have to go back to. As “old hands”, we are now familiar with where to go and where to eat, etc., but even this time we did at least three things that we hadn’t done before on previous trips.

We went out to Torcello, the first island inhabited in the lagoon – quite a strange, quiet place now that there are only a couple of hundred people living there rather than the 20,000 that used to fill the island. Lots of silted up small canals, a couple of restaurants for the tourists walking from the vaporetto to the ancient church with its amazing fresco. And that’s about it. Worth the short ride from Burano though.

Torcello

Secondly, we went to the Doges’ Palace, the magnificent seat of power for the Venetian empire. Quite why we haven’t been there before I don’t know, but it’s well worth a visit, if only to walk across the Bridge of Sighs.

Sighs

Thirdly, we decided to go to Harry’s Bar to sample a Bellini, a peach and prosecco cocktail invented there. Sitting at the bar, these two short drinks set us back 45€, but it was an experience – that doesn’t need to be repeated.

Finally, we decided to try the cicchetti at the little wine shop near to the gondola workshop. We had been there before, but just to try the coffee. This time, we braved the 2€ glass of prosecco (much more reasonable, I am sure you will agree…) and their small canape-like cicchetti on a slice of “french” bread. Some had smoked salmon on cream cheese, others had dried and salted cod. They were all delicious and again, bargains at 1.50€ each. Enough lunch could be had for two for only 13€. Highly recommended.

Cantine

And, here are some random snaps from the rest of the few days

Calle-dei-mortiDon't-Look-NowGondola-panoramaGondola-workshopMoon-over-Grand-Canal

I have had the new car just over a week now. Mercedes are, unsurprisingly, buggering me about over the collection of the old one. The car itself is also making life difficult, by throwing up a “you need to have your brakes checked” warning on the dashboard. You cannot hand a car back with such warnings, so I will have those sorted this week

The new BMW is simply astonishing. It’s difficult to describe how different it is from the Mercedes, in just about every way.

It has an unbelievable amount of power, and loads of torque right across the rev range. The acceleration is astonishing and almost addictive – but that is what needs to be kept in check, for the sake of the fuel consumption, the tyres and of course, my licence!

Unlike the Merc, it goes round corners, with the car going where you point it, rather than some random destination outside of the curve. It’s also surprisingly quiet, unless you have it in Sport mode where some flaps in the exhaust open up to make it a bit louder – I don’t do that.

Going back to real leather seats, as opposed to Mercedes’ vinyl ones is good and the BMW ones are very nice indeed.

And, the sat nav works… See, it can be done.

And, I have been getting well over 30 mpg, which is excellent.

This past week, I attended another NCRI Committee Meeting and have volunteered to join a sub-group, rather than just stay on the main committee. I haven’t had much direct involvement or requests for assistance from the committee in the year I have been involved, but it transpires that all of the real work is done in sub-committees. Hopefully, there will be more for me to do and assist with at that level.

At the forthcoming local Lymphoma Association meeting in Manchester, I have been asked to give a talk about my NCRI experiences and what it is that they do. It’s a shame that I haven’t a huge amount to tell regarding the “everyday” but I will give it a go in May.

Just before heading off to Venice (literally the same morning, but that’s another story) we had the bathroom refitted. This means that only 569 days after moving into the bungalow, every room in the place has been renewed, redecorated, upgraded and finished. Now, it’s the garden’s turn and as that gets weeded and cleared and replanted, I cannot take any credit. It’s starting to come together, in the back garden now, as well as the front and as it grows and matures, it’s going to look really lovely. Ann does a fantastic job.

Finally, Easter is upon us once again. Let’s hope that the weather next weekend is as good as it has been these last two – one can live in hope…

It’s not too late to say “Happy New Year”

Is it?

Happy New Year. It’s going to be a good one this year.

As I sit here with a stinking cold – not flu, obviously, as I had the jab – I have a little time to reflect on a very good Christmas and New Year.

On the way back from visiting my folks in Maidenhead over Christmas, we avoided the horrendous nonsense that is the motorway network at a holiday time and returned via the Cotswolds. We stopped in Broadway and, on finding that The Lygon Arms is dog-friendly, we cancelled a planned trip to edinburgh on New Year’s Day, and returned there instead.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. Very friendly, very comfortable room, excellent food and breakfast and nothing too much trouble. They even offered to defrost my car for me in the morning… You don’t get that in a Premier Inn. Not cheap, but a proper treat.

While there, we popped in to Robert Welch’s shop in Chipping Campden and ended up coming away with some kit for the new bathroom (more shortly) and a fantastic kitchen knife. One of those shops where you really could spend an absolute fortune.

The bathroom, the last remaining room in the bungalow to be refurbished, is to be done in the last week of February. Since it is the only bathroom we have, it’s going to be a bit of a pain for a week (no shower in the office either), so I can see us making use of the local swimming pool showers for the duration. Still, it’s great that it’s finally going to be done as the existing one is pretty horrible. We gave up on Porcelanosa’s recommended fitters, none of whom would respond to my enquiry, and went with a family-run local company. Will probably have spent more money than the alternative, but at least it’s ordered and on its way. It’s going to make a big difference.

The postman also brought a surprise today… what a joke!

time-to-change

Yes, due to my loyalty to Mercedes-Benz (ha ha!), they are offering me a personal discount of £1,500, which would be nice, if I hadn’t already told them that I never wanted another one and had a new BMW on order. Clearly they really don’t read their correspondence files, or any history of their customers or cars. They don’t deserve any loyalty, and have had none from me. This discount is also in lieu of any other dealer incentives, which might well have been more than this in any case. I am thinking of ringing them up, but actually wonder whether it’s worth the bother. Probably not, but I have nothing else to do this afternoon.

So, here are few shots taken over Christmas and the New Year, either in Broadway (no prizes) or south of the Cat and Fiddle road, between Macclesfield and Buxton, a part of England that never fails to deliver.

broadway

peak-district-bw

dane-valley-tree

road-across-the-misty-valley

Update: The dealership both liked my Tweet (that gets posted with this blog) and replied! What a laugh!

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-14-39-30

And so this is Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this blog. Here’s to a happy and peaceful end of the year and a prosperous and safe 2017.

The blog has been going a long time now and I have picked up some loyal readers along the way, so many thanks as always for staying with me and reading the inane ramblings.

I am pleased to report that my biannual checkup with my consultant has been and gone and as has become routine, there is nothing to report. Which is excellent news. He did cancel an appointment on me as I was walking into the clinic though, which wasn’t very good news, but he had been delayed in the US by aircraft problems, and was still on the airport tarmac in Philadelphia when he should have been seeing me. I don’t mind that, though. I’d rather have a consultant important enough to present at conferences in the US, and be delayed over there, than one who wasn’t such an expert. So barring anything untoward, that’s that until mid June again.

I am also pleased to say that the end is in sight for my dalliance with Mercedes. I know when I can leave my contract with them for no penalty and it coincides with the delivery date of its replacement. I don’t need a car the size of the Merc, so I have decided to be sensible and have ordered a three door hatchback from BMW.

When I say “sensible”, that’s almost completely true, but not quite. Thinking that we are in the last-chance saloon for larger engined small cars, and having coveted a six cylinder petrol BMW since I was at school, I have decided to go for the 3-litre version. Next time, we will be all plug-in hybrid, so cars like this will no longer exist. I know that I don’t need a car with such power. I know that the fuel costs will be significantly more than the Mercedes, or the diesel BMWs I have had in the past, but I am really looking forward to it. I drove an example of last year’s version on the way back from Kent in October and it was just incredible. Also incredibly, despite the specification, including the options list being fairly well visited, it is around £130 per month cheaper to rent than the Merc – which will keep the shareholders of Shell and BP happy…

I promise that I will drive it very carefully.

It should arrive in plenty of time for us to take it to Islay in July. We are renting a house with some very good friends so we are looking forward to revisiting old haunts and showing them around.

Right – time to make the stuffing balls.

And here’s a nice picture for you.

l1008244-pano

 

That’s the One Challenge over and done for another year

If you have never been to Lisbon, I can recommend it wholeheartedly as a really great city for a weekend break. Surprisingly hilly, but really interesting, with very friendly people, excellent prices, even at 1€ = £1, good food and, for us at least, excellent weather in mid-October.

It was a good One Challenge this year, with 30 people about to send me their photographs for judging later and 40 for the dinner on the Saturday evening. A good time was had by all and it was great to see so many “old faces” and new ones. 300€ prize fund up for grabs later in November.

I have a choice of two shots to enter, and think that I have decided which one, but will inevitably change my mind three more times before plumping for the wrong one, but that’s OK.

Here are some shots from Lisbon  – not including any taken during the Challenge period of course!

bethem-bins

Always nice to see the bins and a sign to the toilets in front of an ancient building…

bethem

if-i-had-a-hammer

lift

pigeon

On our return, we spent a couple of days in Kent – where we had to find the Mercedes dealer as I posted last time. Amongst a visit to Chartwell (definitely worth a visit) and Leeds Castle (definitely not at £50 for two adults…), we spent some time on the beautiful Dungeness shingle. Really is a fabulous place.

dungeness-colour

power-station

dungeness

The pub with rooms was all a bit odd. The room was “quirky” in as much as it had a huge copper bath in the middle of the floor and a lit open fire in the corner, together with a door lock that broke on the last morning meaning that we couldn’t return to the room to check out, but the evening food was excellent. Breakfast was a bit chaotic, though, which did detract from the experience, a bit. As did the cost.

Oh well. You only live once.

Following all the buggeration by Olympic Airways and the long lost trip to Milos, I have been advised by our travel insurance company that they are going to pay our claim in full later in the week, which is excellent news. I am also going to pursue a claim for compensation from the airline for the cancelled flights, as is one’s right under EU law. So far, the Greek authorities are not responding to letters, or emails, so I think that I will use one of the “no win no fee” companies that specialise in these cases. 75% of the compensation is better than none.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any further contact from the warden of my friend’s flats, so I fear that I will not have been able to pay my respects as I had wished.

Twitter isn’t the same without him.

A washed out Goodwood and other fun and games

The Goodwood Revival is a really enjoyable event at this time of year. The old motor racing circuit is opened to entries from cars that are contemporaneous to the track’s opening years, from around 1948 to about 1966. So, you can see old F1 cars from the 50s racing (and properly racing) against each other once again. Many people who attend the event dress up in period costume and it really is a fun weekend. Unless it’s raining and you can’t afford the £500 ticket for the corporate bit.

It was a complete washout this year, so much so that we left after lunch. There were few photographs to be had, little racing to be seen due to the rain and lots of people getting upset at clashes of umbrellas. Having now been on five occasions, and with this being the first that was a disaster weather-wise (Friday and Sunday were lovely though…), I have to count myself lucky. We did get to visit Winchester for the first time on that afternoon, though, so that was a bonus. a really nice, livable, city.

The fun with Mercedes continues, I’m afraid. I completed their questionnaire from last week and within an hour or so had an email from their Customer Service Manager at head office, asking why I had only given them 3 out of 5 stars. I explained…

I also had a very nice letter from an assistant to the Chief Exec on Friday, telling me how pleased they were that a resolution to my problems has been found. That’s news to me. Nothing has been done and nothing has been resolved.

The car is now back at the dealer, for an indefinite stay. They have given me a courtesy car and I have explained that they are not having it back until the satnav, broken by them, is put back into full working order, whether this takes a day, a week or a six months. The courtesy car is actually better than mine, so I really don’t care how long they keep mine for, provided I can have it back in May so that I can terminate thew agreement.

This must, however, be costing them a fortune, so it does make me wonder whether they really have their priorities right.

Oh well.

 

The end of the road. Is coming. 

That’s that then.

Have just got off the phone with the dealer principal and there is nothing more that he can do for me with regards to a replacement car. The deal that was offered on Saturday is the very best that they can do, so the car is with me for the duration.

He has promised to get one of his service staff to call me (1) to book the car in to have the sat-nav looked at again. It seems that the problem now lies with the fact that they replaced some hardware in the dashboard and the software that they updated at the same time is incompatible with the new hardware. I have suggested that it would be a good idea to have the software reverted to a previous version and, with a bit of luck, this is what they will be doing.

I said that I would leave the car with them for as long as it takes to fix it, be that a day, a week or six months. I actually regret collecting the car, unfixed, 10 days ago, but that’s hindsight for you.

I have actually begun to question my sanity over this whole 18 months. Was I being unreasonable in expecting a dealer to tell me the truth about a part of a car, for which I paid extra money? Was it unreasonable to repeatedly take the car back to the dealer for software updates (some of which I am convinced were never done)?

Was it unreasonable to complain about the dashboard crashing? Was it unreasonable to have to wait 9 months before they found a fix?

Was it unreasonable to be annoyed when the dealer actually broke the sat-nav so that they took away the limited traffic information that it actually used to have?

Was it unreasonable to be further annoyed when they said that they couldn’t fix it?

Finally, was it unreasonable to expect a deal from a car salesperson, who fully empathised with my situation and actually said that he would be annoyed with it if he were in my position, which would actually sort out the problem without a great expense to me?

I don’t know.

But I do know this.

Never again will I buy a Mercedes Benz. I will be counting down the days until I can hand it back.

Currently at 268…

 

(1) Edit: No call received 5 hours later

This is not going well

At last, I thought. I have found someone in the organisation who understands my frustration, empathises and is willing to actually do something about it.

I had a good chat on Wednesday with the manager who explained that there were three options open to us (him).

  1. They would take my car back and write off the finance package
  2. They would take my car in part-exchange against a new one, for which they would do the very best deal open to them
  3. I can keep the car until I can hand it back next summer and they would pay me some compensation for my aggravation and the fact that they have broken it.

By Friday afternoon, only two options remained. MB refuse to consider me handing back the car now with no penalty – this I am not surprised at. The difference between the outstanding finance and the trade in value is too great. But, disappointing.

Saturday morning see us sitting with one of their top salesmen – for about two minutes – before he went to deal with other customers. This meeting was pre-arranged with the manager, and the salesman knew most of my history with my car. We were left with a very nice lady who knew the spec of the cars inside and out and we went for a decent test-drive in a saloon version of mine (I no longer need an estate), in a car that had the better spec sat-nav. There was a huge difference in its functionality, display and added benefits. The car also had stiffer suspension, which was an added bonus.

However, when we got back, she went off to the salesman who “ran some numbers” for me. Without leaving me with a quote to examine, their solution to my problem was for me to leave a deposit 3x the size of the one I used to buy my car 18 months ago, rent it for half the number of miles I do at the moment (a mileage which is just about right) and then for me to pay an extra £100 per month in PCP rental. Unfortunately, we were not able to see the actual salesman again as he was “very busy with other customers”. Jeez.

So, it looks like I am stuck with an unfixable faulty car for the next nine months, unless I can speak with the manager and convey my incredulity at what was offered. HE was the one who suggested the spec of the car that I drove. HE was the one who suggested that a deal was possible.

Today, I am going to head Liverpool, to a different MB dealer not in the same group as the first, armed with the spec of the car that was quoted for me yesterday and see what a new PCP would be, if MB were not sorting out my current contract. Somewhere in there, there must have been a hidden charge to deal with the finance shortfall, but without a print of the quote, I cannot tell where. We will see.

Will also pay the BMW dealer next door a call, to get a PCP quote on a similarly spec’d 3-Series saloon.

To add to what has been a highly frustrating weekend, I was texted on Friday to let me know that the flights I have booked for our trip to Milos next month, to take photographs for a friend, had been cancelled. I have had to re-arrange the flights for the following day out and the previous day back, so we have about a day and a half less time on the island. We also have to spend two nights at Athens airport – which does allow us time to visit the city itself, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise – and I have had to re-arrange the flight back to London for a day earlier than planned.

Fortunately, the travel insurance with the bank will cover most if not all of the cost, but this airline has just cost someone about £500. They must have known at the time that we booked that they would be changing their timetable on the weekend before we were to fly.

Just sheer incompetence.

Mercedes – the story continues

This time last year, and in December, I had a mighty whinge about my car and how disappointed I was with it. Twelve months on, it’s still with me – I can’t get rid of it until June 2017 – but the nonsense just keeps on coming.

One of my principle gripes was the performance of the satnav. Now, in the context of most things in the world, this is a trivial matter and there are many who might consider that I should just put up with it. I am after all, driving round in a Mercedes. That is a perfectly valid argument, of course, but somewhat misses the point.

Yes, I am driving round in a Mercedes, but one which is faulty and neither Mercedes nor my dealer can do anything about it. I have a car that does not do what I was promised when I paid for it and I am getting pretty short shrift from those that are supposed to be helping.

The car went to the dealer for its 46,000 mile service two weeks ago. As usual, in addition to the service itself, the dealer always asks whether there is anything else that I would like sorting. I advised that I would like the satnav voice turned off properly, but that I knew that there would be nothing that they could do about the traffic data arriving at the satnav in anything like a useful time frame.

On one of the previous occasions that they had reinstalled the software into the dashboard (getting close to double figures now) they had managed to introduce a bug whereby the woman’s voice that tells you to “Turn left in 300m” could not be turned off permanently. Each and every time the car was started, the voice would come back on, leading to the convoluted procedure via the stupid trackpad thing where the hand brake lever would be, just to silence her for that journey. Stop and buy some diesel, and she’s back. By removing the sound files from the SD card that drives the satnav, they seem to have cured the problem. Hoorah!

Or so I thought.

On putting in my home destination from the dealer, I was stuck in slow M6 southbound traffic. I looked to see whether Herr Benz had managed to let me know what was going on, and there was no traffic there at all. The dealer had, in his infinite wisdom, disabled the whole of the traffic function completely. I returned the car the next day, to an apology and a promise that it would only be a 30 minute fix. 45 minutes later, I was told that they had broken the computer that controls these things and that they would need to order a new one.

They fitted the computer last Monday. When I went to collect the car, I was told that it hadn’t fixed the problem and that they would need yet more software written for my car (unique – one of a million C-Classes sold, yet mine needs unique software apparently). By Friday, they still hadn’t got any fix from Germany, so I now have the car back with me, but still not functioning properly.

This has been the most expensive car I have ever owned. This has also been one of the worst cars I have ever owned, if frustration, annoyance, aggravation and irritation are taken as judging criteria. It’s just one below a Fiat Panda that used to require a can of WD40 per journey squirting on the electrics on the engine to keep it going. But that only cost me about £1500.

I have written to the CEO of Mercedes Benz UK. Not unexpectedly, but very disappointingly, he has just passed the buck back to the dealer, but at least I am now making arrangements to see the Dealer Principal and hope to see him on Tuesday.

Apparently, they want to do everything that they can to “keep me in the Mercedes family“. Really? Why should I give them a second chance, when I have had the car 18 months, driven 46,000 miles, had a dozen or more dealer visits, but they still can’t fix a problem that’s been there from day 1, and have now broken my car, potentially irrevocably?

We have gone way, way beyond that.

What I want is to leave the paperwork and the keys on his desk and walk away with my finance agreement cancelled, but I know that’s not going to happen. Maybe I should seek legal advice?

I should never have left the BMW family. I never had any of this kind of crap from them.

Oh, and the brakes needed doing again. 23,000 miles is obviously the standard life of pads these days. In Mercedes World.

<And relax>

And paint the fence at the bottom of the garden…


I should mention of course, that this fence is only in a position to be painted because Ann previously cleared out the border of all the weeds and bushes so that the dog could see the rabbit.

Good news to end the week

Long term readers may remember that I have entered into a routine of having a CT scan in early December prior to one of my six-monthly meetings with my Consultant.

I am pleased to record that my scan is still completely clear and there has been no progression of the disease this year. I am basically in the same condition, if not better, than when I finished with my Rituximab maintenance 3 1/2 years ago. We will have another scan next December, and a mid-year checkup in June, but that’s it.

I am very happy to see my Consultant twice a year for him to tell me that there’s nothing wrong with me. Long may that continue.

More good news is that I’m working from my Mercedes dealer this morning while they finally install the software in the dashboard again. They never did phone me about it, so they do need to get their CS act together.

The bad news is that they are also changing the rear brake pads. The “Get to your dealer pronto” warning lit on the way to France last week. At 24,500 miles. Completely unacceptable.

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.