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What is the benifit of using an Independent garage?

Discussion in 'General Mercedes-Benz Related Discussion' started by jamesryan.snr, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. jamesryan.snr

    jamesryan.snr Active Member

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    I have a 3 year old E-class and am asking myself the question than many other owners must have asked themselves? Should I continue to use my very reliable main dealer or should I start using an independent garage? what are the pro's and con's? is it just cost?
     
  2. Alex M Grieve

    Alex M Grieve Senior Member

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    Welcome to the Forum James.

    There is tons of stuff written on this, and it has tended to polarize opinion. Use "Search" and you will find lots.

    In essence the advantages of a dealership for servicing are: recall and upgrade work will proceed seamlessly, Mobilo Life will be continuous, future claims for the rectification of defects out of warranty may be more likely to enjoy "good will" contributions either by MB or the dealer.

    Those with reservations feel that: front of house staff do not always seem to understand the nature of faults to be rectified, or communicate them well to the engineers, there is a lot of "overhead" to be paid for so hourly rates are much higher, feedback on what has been done may be lacking. People in this group tend to prefer to talk directly to the engineer who will be doing the work, and are probably more mechanically savvy.

    Some of us use Indies from day one, even during the first 3 years of warranty.

    Others use dealerships throughout the life of the car, and in addition feel that a Full Mercedes Benz Service History (FMBSH) will enable them to attract a higher price when selling their car.

    A middle course which many follow is dealerships for the warranty period, then Indies. Some will use dealerships for servicing after the warranty expires, to preserve Mobilo Life and "good will", but have repairs done elsewhere (some feel that is an expensive way to pay for roadside assistance, should they need it).

    So, you pays your money and you takes your choice, but whatever you do, there will be someone else out there doing it too!
     
  3. antijam

    antijam Senior Member

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    The basic answer is yes, it comes down to cost.

    While I have no doubt there are are some excellent main dealers around (and you seem to have found one) there is a constantly growing trend among the franchised trade to solve problems by replacing parts (at your expense) until the symptoms go away. The independents do tend to take a more considered and analytical attitude, and are generally keen to make you aware of the costs and effort in sorting out problems, adopting where possible a repair rather than replace approach.

    And coming back to cost, the labour rates of the indies are generally a fraction of those of the main dealers.
     
  4. 100%Bitch

    100%Bitch Senior Member

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    I think it boils down to: -

    1. The amount you pay
    2. The relationship you can build with whoever you use.

    I am using an Independant from now on because of price and the service I receive from them.
     
  5. littlebrooklyn

    littlebrooklyn Senior Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I agree with what has already been said. It sounds like you are happy with your current Main Dealer, so for that reason alone you may prefer to stay with them. Many of us on here are not happy with our local Main Dealers, so we find a good Indie instead. You will obviously pay more for the Main Dealer, so I guess you have to ask yourself if it's worth the extra cost.

    We had our first service done at our Main Dealer as it was only the cheaper service, but when it came to the next one we decided to use an Indie and were pleased we made that decision.
     
  6. television

    television Always remembered RIP

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    Antijams post spells it all out for me :D
     
  7. The Hooded Claw

    The Hooded Claw Senior Member

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    it's cheaper, end of!!!
     
  8. eGuru

    eGuru Senior Member

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    And more knowledgeable in my experience.
     
  9. OP
    jamesryan.snr

    jamesryan.snr Active Member

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    The worry I had is that the indi I spoke to (merc-tech orpington) was £65ph + vat and my dealer offer £95ph + vat and £30ph is a diffrence so I challenged the dealer of this and there responce was:
    "Our technicians are guaranteed to have up-to-the minute training and are of a specified quality for diagnosis, service or repair and have to maintain high standards of knowledge and expertise that are set by the engineers at Mercedes-Benz factories.
    They are part of the Motor Industry Code of Practice for Service and Repair, guaranteeing commitment to an open, fair and reasonable way of doing business and ensuring the best possible customer experience + loan cars, collection and delivery service, mobilo-life and goodwill should a major item fail after warranty".

    The indi I spoke to was a great guy when he was telling me about his 20 year MB dealer and his cost but the conversation changed when I asked what was included in the service? he missed half of the things the dealer had told me were required for my vehicles age and mileage (via MB's ESS service system), I then enquired when he last went on an MB training course!?! Then I asked about other benifits, like loan cars!?! he put the phone down as I was becoming a pain.

    I'm concerned there are indi's out there that are taking us for a ride on the promise that they have experiance and are trained. I will stick with paying £30ph more in my case, and seriously think other owners should start to ask questions of there independent garage.

    Thanks for your views.
     
  10. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

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    My MB dealer regaled me with great lists of work that needed doing, then when he asked how I'd be paying and I said "Mercedes ServicePlus" (their maintenance contact) he visibly slumped. Amazingly it turned out that very little of that work was really required on my car, so it didn't get done. Funny that.

    I think you're making a mistake trying to directly compare an indie and an MB dealer - they're not the same thing. They're not exactly the same as MB delaers but at a cheaper price. Indie's are for people who know a little bit about cars and understand the work their car needs (but not necessarily how to do it). If you don't have that knowledge, or don't want to be bothered with it, then use the MB dealer.
     
  11. 100%Bitch

    100%Bitch Senior Member

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    The extra things the dealer informed you that were required were probably chargeable anyway, therefore running up your bill. If you're not happy with that Indie, go to another, I did.
     
  12. Miffy

    Miffy Senior Member

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    My friend uses that same Indie (merc tech) and is very pleased with his new lower prices
     
  13. chris0161

    chris0161 Member

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    The way i see it, as i've said before, main dealers should have the most up to date training and everything that should be done, should get done. That said, the person working on your car gets paid a wage, regardless of the quality of work they produce.

    I've had main dealers that wouldn't even put the correct oil in the car, though that wasn't an MB dealer.

    Indie's rely on doing a good job at a reasonable price or you don't go back and they don't earn a living. I've found one that will either take me to work and pick me up again when the car is ready, or will pick my car up, take it to have the work done and then return it. I've just had a B service done, with me supplying my own oil, for £196. Main dealer wants £200 for an A service.

    So for me, i'll save the money and use the indie.
     
  14. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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    Not always, it is worth checking, for exactly the same work my local dealer was quite a bit cheaper than the local independent.
     
  15. Alex M Grieve

    Alex M Grieve Senior Member

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    I think Rory's post above makes the important distinction.

    I would be surprised, in spite of what has been said, if people made their choice purely on price. It is much more a question of knowing what you want and being confident that what you want will be done effectively and accountably.

    If that for you is a dealership, that is absolutely fine.

    It has to be contrasted with a supplier who will change parts well before they need to be changed, or discard and replace lubricants well before the end of their useful life - and charge a premium for so doing.

    Would you throw your toothpaste away when the tube was still half full? Then why change brake pads which are 50% worn, or synthetic engine oil after 1 year/6,000 miles?
     
  16. kebo57

    kebo57 Senior Member

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    Hi my local indie was actually working for MB Blackburn (10yrs approx) till about 6 months ago when he took redundancy and started up on his own

    Kevin
     
  17. rf065

    rf065 Senior Member

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    I think you should have another look at this.
    The extra £30 per hour pales into insignificance when your dealer "advises" you that you require new brakes pads & discs all round, your brake fluid needs changed etc etc.

    If no extra work is carried out, then £30 per hour extra is affordable to some, but there are many posts on here about dealers advising extra work which is not necessary. Your next service may come to £1300, as some have found out, when a good indie will charge less than half of that even if all of the work really is required.

    Just as an aside, despite what your MB dealer tells you about their "tecnicians" training etc, I have had to return my car to MB every time they have worked on it to get them to do it right second time around, and they expect me to pay £30 an hour extra? I don't think so!

    Russ
     
  18. television

    television Always remembered RIP

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    Russ has pointed out this business with MB and things like brakes and other things that can add up. I still think that it very kind of MB to change all of your brakes when they are only 1/3rd of the way through their life,,OK it may add £1k to the bill, but so what ? . The same goes for an injector, if one goes, change them all,,that's what MB do then you are sure that they have changed the right one, and for that safety thing, well £2k will cover that.

    It must be nice to have pots of money
     
  19. PeterCLK

    PeterCLK Senior Member

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    Kevin, where is he, who is he?
    I'll be needing his services in future.
     
  20. teabag

    teabag Senior Member

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    These are certainly valid points, however I do not think you can generalise as there are certainly good and bad main dealers out there as well as good and bad independents.

    The Indie I have used for the last 3 years in NE England is run by 2 guys who have a combined 35 years experience at the local MB dealer as Service Manager and Workshop Foreman; 5 years ago they decided to break away from what they considered was becoming "Factory Farming" after their place of work changed from what was a family run business to became another cog in one of the large conglomerates.

    They operate a menu system similar to that of the dealer's, extra work is generated by the MB ESS system but the labour cost is based on £55ph + VAT as opposed to £110ph + VAT at the dealer; all parts and fluids are MB OEM which are purchased at "trade" and even after mark up are considerably less than the dealer's price to the public. A combination of these factors usually means a total service cost of around 50% less than you would expect to pay at the main dealer.

    They have recently moved to a purpose built modern workshop fully fitted with the latest "STAR" diagnostic equipment and all of the tools required to provide an efficient garage facility.

    They do not provide a loan car but I usually arrive at 8:30am and am then taken to my place of work 6 miles away in my car. This gives me the opportunity to discuss any problems with someone who will be working on the vehicle, the car will be waiting for me at 5:00pm when I can then test drive it back to the garage to drop off the driver and pay my bill.

    I do not have any connection with this garage so I have not disclosed their name or location, however if anyone wants to contact them please PM me and I will send back the details as I believe they can offer a service second to none in the area.
     

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