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Luxury car a million-yuan headache
( 2003-08-19 10:02) (eastday.com)

Xu Chundan is threatening to go to court after the Shanghai Consumers Association was unable to help negotiate a suitable remedy for his on-going problems of a luxury sedan he bought earlier this year.

Xu spent 1.09 million yuan (US$131,325) in March for a Mercedes-Benz S280, but the car has spent more time in the repair shop than on the road, he complains.

He first took the car in to have its steering wheel repaired just one day after picking it up from the car lot.

After putting just 3,000 kilometers on the odometer, Xu said he had to take the car back to the garage due to problems with the ignition.

On July 31, Xu - who owns a private company in Songjiang District - complained to the Pudong branch of the Shanghai Consumers' Association, a nongovernmental organization that helps solve disputes between consumers and sellers.

Since Mercedes no longer makes the S280, Xu is asking for a complete refund for his lemon, but the carmaker has rejected the idea saying it can't find anything wrong with the sedan.

"I never imagine I would get such a disappointing product at the cost of more than 1 million yuan," Xu complained.

Mercedes-Benz China Ltd did offer to increase its free-maintenance coverage by an additional 30,000 kilometers and shoulder all direct repair costs.

"We can hardly give a refund for the car because we have removed the troubles within the guarantee period," said Wang Yan, a spokeswoman for Mercedes-Benz. "Chinese law doesn't say we must offer a refund in such cases."

In fact, China has refund and repair laws for many goods - every-thing from computers to shoes - but not automobiles, making it very difficult to solve the dispute in court.

Such a case can only be solved through negotiations, according to the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision.

"If he sues, it's important to see the final result of the quality test organized by the court," said lawyer Shi Feng. "Unless the test uncovers serious defects in the car, the con-sumer has little hope of winning."

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