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Agreement reached in Mercedes-Benz brouhaha

By Yang Yang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-04-17 16:32
A woman fixes a Mercedes star to a car's hood on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class production line in Sindelfingen, Germany on Jan 24, 2018. [Photo/IC]

An agreement was reached between a complainant and Mercedes-Benz dealer Xi'an Lizhixing Co on Tuesday evening, The Paper reported on Wednesday.

A customer going by the pseudonym Wang Qian signed a contract on Feb 25 to buy an imported Mercedes-Benz CLS300 vehicle through installments, and claimed the engine was leaking oil after she picked up the car on March 27.

She asked for a refund or an exchange for another car, but the dealer only agreed to a free replacement of the engine. A video showing the woman sitting on top of the engine cover of a red Mercedes at the dealership and complaining went viral online.

Wang filed complaints with the Shaanxi provincial market regulatory administration and Xi'an municipal government through telephone calls asking for a refund starting April 9.

The market regulatory administration in Gaoxin district of Xi'an — where the company is located — has opened an investigation of the dealer for suspected quality problems, and has authorized a testing institute to examine this particular car.

Wang made eight different demands, including an investigation into the history of the car, an independent inspection of the vehicle, a formal apology from the Mercedes-Benz company and compensation for her psychological damage, Shaanxi Broadcasting Co reported.

Wang also said she paid a "financial service fee" of 15,000 yuan ($2,242.23) to an employee at the dealership when she bought the car, though was not sure what it was for. She demanded an investigation into the fee, according to a voice recording of the negotiation between her and the dealership representative.

Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co apologized for the customer's experience on Saturday in a statement, saying it had launched an investigation and dispatched a special team to Xi'an to negotiate with the woman.

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services denied the company charged such financial service fees to dealers or customers, and implored its dealers to abide by the law and guarantee customers' rights in a statement issued on Sunday.

Germany's Daimler suspended the sales franchise on Xi'an Lizhixing for Mercedes vehicles in China and said the dealership had reached an agreement with the customer in a statement on Tuesday.

A new CLS300 vehicle will be exchanged and the financial service fee of more than 10,000 yuan will be refunded to the customer, according to the agreement.

Company representatives invited the woman to visit the Mercedes factory and assembly line in Germany to learn about the manufacturing process.

The company will also provide free "one-on-one" VIP services for 10 years to the customer, and pay all bills to celebrate Wang's birthday according to the lunar calendar, the report said.

Wang's spirit of safeguarding consumers' legal rights was praised by netizens, and she said no matter how big the company or how small the customer, everyone has the right to pursue equal dialogue.

After seeing documentation, including examination reports, relevant certifications and video clips, Wang felt the vehicle involved was not a problem car or modified.

Inviting her to visit the German factory and celebrating her birthday showcases the company's humanistic treatment of customers, Wang said, adding the result of the agreement was beyond her expectations and thus she was very satisfied.

Representatives apologized again to Wang and promised to actively cooperate with relevant departments in any investigation.

Local market regulators paid great attention to the issue and played an active role in solving the problem, said Liu Lin, deputy director of the Gaoxin Branch of the Xi'an Municipal Market Supervision Bureau.

Based on the agreement, the bureau will continue to strengthen law enforcement and crack down on illegal behavior, Liu said.

The settlement of this issue should not end with the individual case, but should also promote the fundamental improvement of the whole industry, according to a report by CCTV.

Consumption has become the primary driving force for China's economic development, and keeping consumers satisfied in all industries can further promote high-quality development in the country, the report said.

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