Taken for a ride by Merc
I have noted with interest your reports on the problems with Mercedes-Benz balance shafts (noses171,173). I own a 2007 model C280 and my company, a 2007 C230; both had the same problem about two years ago. At the time, I tried without success to hold Mercedes liable. Not only did they refuse, they did not even bother to answer my letter. I then wrote to the MD of Mercedes-Benz SA accusing him of being unprofessional and having no concern for his customers. He, too, simply ignored my letter.
The Merc dealership charged me R32,000 for the repairs. I subsequently found that the same job could have been done by a Bosch service centre for about R2,500. I did not pursue the matter further as I thought taking on Mercedes with its huge financial resources would be a fruitless exercise.
Now it sounds like a very worthwhile exercise. – Ed.
♦ Issues raised by “Hugh” in his letter (nose172) sound familiar, in the light of my experiences with the NMI-DSM Mercedes-Benz dealership in Pinetown. I owned a 2002 Merc C230 Coupe. In mid-2012 I experienced some acceleration disjuncture and had the vehicle towed to the dealership. After two days I was told the car had the same problem that Hugh described – and would cost R14,000 to repair.
I paid R650 for the diagnosis and removed the vehicle to a private mechanic. A few days later, he had fixed the problem by replacing the fuel pump with a second-hand unit – at a cost of just R2,650, inclusive.
It seems the dealership either employs non-mechanics to do diagnosis, or is running a money-making racket duping unsuspecting consumers. I will never buy a Mercedes-Benz again.
But I do intend subscribing to Noseweek since I have found it so informative.
New Germany, KwaZulu-Natal
Engen does what Total won’t
I read with interest of Lynda Logie’s problems with Bonjour Total Service Station in Knysna and Total SA. You will find it hard to believe that we have experienced the same petrol-instead-of-diesel problem twice: first it happened to my wife, then to my daughter – both at the Cato Ridge Engen service station in Pietermaritzburg.
On both occasions the franchisee apologised and paid for the repairs to the cars, because their attendants should know better and be trained.
I also had the full support of Engen who told me their franchisees have insurance to cover these eventualities, and that their staff should be trained to tell the difference between petrol and diesel cars.
Does it wash with Palmolive?
Following on from your article (“Toxic wash”, nose173), pointing to the dangers of the routine use of antibacterial soap, I suggest you ask someone from Colgate-Palmolive SA to comment. Protex soap, Colgate’s biggest seller and number 1 soap in South Africa, has Triclosan as its feature ingredient.
See our forthcoming issue. – Ed.
Vodacom does it right
Nose121 reported on how things had gone wrong for a reader who’d taken up a special iPhone offer marketed by Vodacom – or rather, as it later transpired, by a company to which Vodacom had “outsourced” the marketing of its upgrade offers. We concluded by saying we would be treating the case as a litmus test to determine Vodacom’s attitude to customer service: was it “We deliver what we promise”, or “Take what you get or f-off”? It seems Vodacom has responded positively to the challenge. – Ed.
♦ Please accept my gratitude for publishing the report (nose171) on Vodacom’s poor behaviour and treatment of me. Vodacom’s various outsource companies continued to be unable to resolve the matter. In fact one such company employee, Shavorne from Mondo, insinuated that I was lying, as I could not have logged complaints as I had claimed – because I had a faulty phone.
But then Ms Gibralter Makhura, the executive client liaison officer in the Vodacom CEO’s office, contacted me on 24 January. She had read your Noseweek article and enquired whether the matter had been resolved. As a result of her professional and calm approach to the problem, I am pleased to advise that on 6 March Vodacom provided me on with an iPhone 5c phone in exchange for the faulty iPhone 4, on the same terms and conditions as the original contract offer.
I need to add how very disappointed I am with the National Consumer Council (NCC) who are, by government appointment, mandated to deal with consumer complaints and protect the consumer. Since November last year, I have repeatedly written to the NCC, but have received no response whatsoever. It appears the consumer needs to rely on competent and efficient publications like Noseweek to protect them.
Thank you Noseweek for coming to my assistance.
Shange’s dream won’t work
Having lived in a communist country, I don’t believe in Liv Shange’s ideology (Profile, nose173). Perhaps unfortunately, it’s a dream that does not work. It was the Chinese communists who warned Nelson Mandela against nationalisation. They knew more than Liv, who is just helping Malema – is that what she wants?!
Progress on Bar complaints
I was appointed chair of the Professional Committee of the Johannesburg Bar Council in December 2013. One of the matters referred to me in the New Year was the issue of your editorial in January this year, in which it was complained that the Bar Council had failed to act on complaints of misconduct in relation to two of its members, advocates Wickens and Riley. I have investigated the matter and respond to your editorial (nose172) and subsequent reminder (nose173).
Mr Tobias laid a complaint against Wickens early in 2011. Wickens himself reported the matter, as well as the conduct of Riley, also early in 2011. Both matters were referred to a formal inquiry, with a pro forma prosecutor appointed and three senior advocates constituting the panel.
At the hearing in November 2011, the matters were separated. The Wickens inquiry proceeded and was finalised in June 2012. The panel initially advised that it would hold back on the ruling until the Riley matter was finalised, [but circumstances changed, and] a ruling was made and approved by the Bar Council in October 2012. It was to the effect that Wickens was not guilty of professional misconduct.
The complainant, Mr Tobias, was not advised of this outcome, due to the fact that the administrative secretary was still under the impression that the ruling was awaiting the outcome of the Riley matter. This is extremely regrettable, especially in the circumstances. Mr Tobias has now been formally advised of the outcome and that he may seek leave to appeal to the General Council of the Bar.
I also addressed a letter of apology to him [See Barring the way in this issue].
As for the Riley matter, he objected that he had not been given the opportunity of first having a complaint put to him for his response before any decision to convene a hearing. This objection was ultimately upheld and it was determined in August 2013 that the process in respect of Riley had to commence afresh. It has not been finalised.
The matter has taken so long because of this unfortunate procedural history. I trust you will appreciate that it is not appropriate for me to elaborate any further.
Fred Snyckers SC
Johannesburg Bar Council
♦ I have now received a copy of the reply from the Johannesburg Bar Council which has been sent to you.
The facts set out in your article are, by their admission, substantially correct. How sad.
See Barring the way in this issue. – Ed.
Writing on Ukraine’s wall
Lovely to see that Ukraine’s deposed leader Victor Yanukovich was able to spend his country’s public money for his personal benefit on a grander scale and in a shorter time than our own cheating President Zuma.
That says something. He spent $12 million (R131m) on decorating a dining hall and a “tea” room in his house. Then he spent more public money paying bribes totalling $400,000, buying a statue of a wild boar for $115,000 and spending $1.1m on plants and $800,000 (R4.2m) on curtains. (I do wonder if they were bullet-proof like Zuma’s?)
When last heard, Yanukovich’s country was in revolt and he was on the run. How good a runner is our president?
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