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Mercedes Benz India secrecy and allegations: Cama Motors, whistleblower or rogue ex dealer?

Cama Motors of Ahmedabad have been in the auto dealership business for long, having been associated with Mercedes Benz previously. Currently, Benchmark Cars, Landmark Cars Pvt. Ltd., undertakes their dealership responsibility in the city. The past week has undoubtedly been one of washing dirty linen in public placing the customer in a place where they haven’t oft treaded, especially in India. The company’s exclusive dealership ties with Mercedes-Benz India ended back in 2009, when Cama Motors’ ventured into the new and pre-owned luxury and super luxury cars market.

With power of choice vested in customers, it’s important to not get carried away. At first glance, the seriousness of the allegations of Mercedes Benz India engaging in hiding car defects, criminal procedures, and secret replacement of defective parts and software may hit hard, but Cama Motors goes a step further to allege that MB India has misrepresented facts to dealers who are forced to undertake customer satisfaction campaigns to make good wrongdoings.

Now, how is that even possible? Mercedes Benz has 70 touchpoints in 31 cities across India, and such a claim points to each of them being a cover up. For those of you, who are happy MB customers, clearly your dealership is not a dubious den. The allegation points to one-sided agreements that in this case are immoral and unethical. Also, there are non-disclosure pacts, putting dealers in the spot in any situation. If truth be told, these are global norms for any automaker in any country, and hardly form a basis of contention.

On second thought, this could be a case of an ex dealer gone rogue after being unceremoniously dropped. The separation, lead to claims, and now, a few years later, the big online expose. Since Cama Motors had all the facts, and proof in the form of pdf files, why were these claims not made public earlier? While parts of their MB expose website, ‘TheTruthAboutMercedes’ are still under construction, their Facebook page has only cropped up on the 17th of August, 2012.

The plausible explanation for this can be that letters were written to Competition Commission of India, German Embassy in India, Govt. Ministries, Min. of Heavy Industries, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), Road Transport Ministry, Daimler AG, Ministry of surface transport, US Ambassador to India, Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations of India (FADA), SIAM and to Peter Honegg, Head, Mercedes Benz India. It appears there has been no real response from any of the abovementioned bodies regarding malpractices at Mercedes Benz in India, especially in relation to aftermarket services.

Cama Motors have listed MB quality, failure in relation to Air suspension, sudden collapse in acceleration and braking, AC problems, and airbag replacement. They suggest scrutiny of clutch pedals of various models known to stick when driving, updates to software with new code in secrecy, and corrosion of cars in production between 2000 and 2005. Crank Shaft, Wheel speed, Steering angle and other sensor failures too have been listed. This apart, issues with engine idler pulley, fuel leakage, and water seepage, SBC brake, and transmission failure, and turbocharger issues too have been mentioned.

It is the service measure discussion that tweaks one’s interest the most. Listed here is an assortment of silent/ secret service measures with an after note that the company is in possession of only partial Mercedes Benz documents from 1999 – 2008. On this note, it may be mentioned that if there were vehicles that needed to be recalled in good stead, most likely no company in India would have resorted to it. Truth is the Indian auto industry steers clear of recalls, and a serious thought was never given to putting a recall policy in place. With such a crucial guideline missing, it’s left to be seen who is to be blamed. In India, the “Voluntary Code on Vehicle Recall” came into being w.e.f. 1st July 2012. A statement regarding the recent development is awaited from Mercedes Benz India.

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