9 January 2006,
Four days before the car’s Warranty expired and six weeks after the car’s arrival at the workshop, Sidney Turner, Workshop Receptionist, telephoned me to let me know that my car had been repaired and was ready for collection. He asked by which method I was going to settle the outstanding amount of £6,640. This was a shock as I had believed that the repair work was covered under the terms of the Warranty. He replied that this was “customer damage” and therefore was not covered under the terms of the Warranty.
As I never had received a detailed invoice, I have no idea how this outrageous figure was arrived at and I declined to pay this money.
However, please note that no authority had ever been requested from me to carry out any work at my cost.
Why did it take six weeks before informing me of my responsibility to pay for this repair?
Why was I only informed four days before the Warranty expired?
I was most certainly not informed by anyone on 30 November 2005, the day the car was taken to the Wandsworth workshop, that any damage to my car was my responsibility. The car had been driven into the workshop’s car-park with no damage to it other than the continuing electrical fault, which was the reason for its being recovered to M B.
Had I been informed at the time that damage to my car had been “discovered” on 30 November 2005 which they considered to be my responsibility and for which I was expected to pay, I would have immediately inspected this alleged damage, especially if I had been informed that I was expected to pay for its repair. I would have spoken to the recovery driver to confirm the condition of my car when it had been delivered to M B Chelsea’s workshop and demanded to see the CCTV footage of M-B’s car park showing my car being pushed into it.
However, in his letter of 20 September 2007 Stuart Buckle, Legal Executive, M B Head Office UK, maintained that I had been notified of this alleged damage. I know that I had not received any notification.
However, by 20 September 2007 the Court-ordered Mediation had taken place more than a year earlier on 20 October 2006 when Stuart Buckle and Jon Burgess of Mondial were present both representing M B. Jon Burges from Mondial knew of Olympic Recovery’s report that my car had been driven into M B Chelsea’s workshop’s car-park, as Mondial had commissioned it. Even if Stuart Buckle had not been aware of these two reports before mediation, which I doubt, he most certainly should have been, for as a legal officer it would have been his responsibility to M B to make investigations to ascertain the true events long before matters came to a Court-ordered mediation, before permitting the hounding one of its customers. I cannot believe that Jon Burgess never mentioned to Stuart Buckle at mediation the existence of Olympic Recovery’s report and therefore I believe that Stuart Buckle, a DaimlerChrysler legal executive, knowingly lied in his letter to me of 20 September 20007. I cannot think why on earth he chose this path, as he had it in his power to ascertain very easily just what had occurred, rather than take the course of natural justice and follow Mercedes Benz’s highly-publicised commitment to “Champion the highest quality customer service”.
Therefore, in view of this proof of Stuart Buckle’s lie in this case, I would question the veracity of Stuart Buckle’s allegation that I had been notified of the alleged damaged. He never provided details of by whom or when I was told.
12 January 2006 – Click here to read: Bodywork quotation
I received a quotation from M-B for £588.72p, a total of 45 hours’ work, for repairs to the right-hand front side of my car. Olympic Recovery’s Collection Sheet dated 30 November 2005 mentions no damage to the vehicle. Therefore, I also declined to pay for this damage. This damage had not been caused by me.
It appears to me that Martin Buhagiar, M B Chelsea’s Workshop Manager, rather than admit that the damage had occurred in his workshop, and therefore was the responsibility of M B, had chosen to insist that the damage had occurred before the car had arrived in his workshop and that I, therefore, was responsible for the £6,640 repair costs and for the bodywork damage. Martin Buhagiar informed me in a telephone conversation that unless the money was paid in full, he would not release the car to me. He also informed me during this conversation that my car had been driven into MB’s car park.
He also spoke of a report provided by Olympic Recovery but, unsurprisingly, he did not disclose to me its contents because I now know that the report stated quite clearly: “We drove it into a parking space …”. Would he refer to a report which he had not read? No, of course not. This was the beginning of this complete, farcical tragedy. Martin Bahagiar was lying to protect a member of his staff. Whilst his action is more understandable, it is nevertheless inexcusable that yet another member of DaimlerChryler staff chose to lie rather than take the course of natural justice and follow Mercedes Benz’s highly-publicised commitment to “Champion the highest quality customer service”. Why was this not nipped in the bud at this stage when investigations could have been made by DaimlerChrysler Customer Assistance Centre in Maastricht or DaimerChrysler UK Head Office in Milton Keynes, both of whom got involved? Surely this is not Company policy?
16 January 2006
I had no option but to instruct a solicitor to address this surprising and outrageous conduct of Mercedes-Benz. My solicitor, Peter Laskey, requested from M B, time and again, copies of all correspondence between Olympic Recovery and M B but none was ever forthcoming from M B UK. Had it been, then the story would have ended it here. I needed an Injunction from the Court to obtain these documents and finally on 7 August 2009, three-and-a-half years later, I received not one, as I had anticipated, but two reports written by Olympic Recovery confirming that my car had been driven into M B Chelsea’s workshop’s car-park. I again ask the question what was their reason for not supplying this information which proved that I was not liable for any damage to my car.
17 January 2006 – Click here to read: Solicitors letter to MB
My solicitor wrote to M-B rejecting the vehicle. He also detailed what had occurred and asked M-B to re-purchase the vehicle.
24 January 2006 – Click here to read: Letter from MB with reports
However, a letter was received from Lisa Shannon, Case Manager, DaimlerChrysler Customer Assistance Centre, Maastricht, which enclosed the technicians’ reports of the breakdown assistance provided.
Amongst the reports dated 11 January 2006 was the first paragraph of the first report from Olympic Recovery written on 30 December 2005. This paragraph was on a print-out from M B Maastricht. This report confirms that my vehicle was started by Olympic Recovery and that therefore the damage which subsequently occurred was not my responsibility. This document proves that at this stage at least someone else in the M B hierarchy was aware that I was not responsible for the damage to my vehicle but it was never drawn to the attention of someone who could have stopped this farcical illegal act from the very beginning. Yet again I ask why not? Whom or what were they protecting when DaimlerChryler’s commitment to “Champion the highest quality customer service” was clear. But, instead, M B did not admit that I had not been responsible for the disputed damage until before the Court on 11 November 2008, three years after my car had gone into, and still remained in, M B Chelsea’s workshop. And then to add insult to injury M B at all levels chose to be obstructive and malicious towards me Why?
In an Attendance Note of my solicitor’s telephone conversation with Martin Buhagiar, Martin Bahagiar stated to my solicitor that either the Olympic Recovery employee or I was lying. He said that in the circumstances M B’s position was that all the costs of repairing the vehicle were the customer’s responsibility and that they were not prepared to make any allowances or offer any compromises. He was in fact wrong in this statement because Olympic Recovery was an agent of M B and therefore any damage caused by their agent makes M B responsible under Vicarious Liability.
However this was a continuation of Martin Buhagiar’s initial lie. His confirmation to me of having received the report by Olympic Recovery, the provision to me of part of Olympic Recovery’s report on a print-out from the computer of DaimlerChryler Customer Assistance Centre Maastricht and Olympic Recovery’s collection documents all confirming that my car had been driven into M B Chelsea’s workshop, all proved that M B’s statements that my car had arrived in an already broken-down condition, and to claim that I or somebody known to me had caused the massive electrical damage to the car, were knowingly false.
30 January 2006
My solicitor wrote to Martin Buhagiar informing him that I had had 20 years’ experience in the motor trade and was well aware of the terms and conditions of a Warranty. He requested from Martin Buhagiar:
a complete record of all work undertaken on each occasion the car had been worked on by Mercedes-Benz after 11 November 2005;
a complete list of all faults;
a list of all parts;
the Olympic Recovery technician’s reports made at the time of collection on 30 November 2005;
a copy of any statement made by the M B recovery service employee when he had been interviewed recently, together with any hand-written or other notes taken by the person who interviewed that employee during the recent investigation;
all other notes, documents or records created within M B relating to the faults experienced with this vehicle since 11 November 2005, including all records created by the M B Recovery service as well as from the workshop where the fault analysis had taken place and any work to rectify the damage which had been undertaken.
My solicitor wrote “You will appreciate that all the above documentation will be relevant to any legal proceedings, and would be disclosable by M B should such proceedings be commenced. Accordingly, please provide us with all of the above information as soon as possible”. None of this information was ever received. Yet again I ask why not.
8 February 2006 – Click here to read: 2nd report from Olympic Recovery
Martin Buhagiar had clearly acted, as a second report was provided to M B Assistance (Mondial) by Olympic Recovery which stated:
Vehicle started under its own power
Drove vehicle into (M-B’s) car park
But, this second report was only disclosed by M-B on 7 August 2009 after I had obtained an Injunction from the Court.
9 February 2006 – Click here to read: Solicitors letter to MB
My solicitor requested a reply to his letter of 30 January 2005 as no information had yet been forthcoming.
10 February 2006 – Click here to read: MB reply to solicitor
Sophia Dixon, Dealer Assistant M-B Chelsea, replied to my solicitor’s reminder letter of 9 February 2005 saying: “We are still collating the information”.
20 February 2006 – Click here to read supporting document:
Although Martin Bahagiar had clearly passed on my solicitor’s request, the only response was a telephone call from Martin Buhagiar to inform him that M B wished “to negotiate a settlement”. My solicitor said that “They tell me that without admitting liability (!) the recovery agent has agreed to pay 50% of all costs, and Mercedes themselves will pay a further 25%, leaving you to pay 25%”.
Is this because Martin Bahagiar, realising that his lie had got way out of control, was trying to redeem the situation, because from then onwards my solicitor received a succession of increasingly ‘generous goodwill gestures’?
Martin Buhagiar followed up his telephone call of 20 February 2006 to my solicitor with a letter confirming his offer to pay 75% of the repair costs to date and saying that he would advise “of any further costs during the course of the repairs” but there was no mention of the bodywork damage. My solicitor suggested that any further costs above those already quoted should be M B’s responsibility and enquired what warranty they were prepared to give once the work was completed.
24 February 2006 – Click here to read: reply to MB
My solicitor replied to Martin Buhagiar’s offer: “The damage has been caused by Mercedes-Benz or the recovery service employed by you.” He said that there would be no part payment from me and asked for M B to repurchase the car.
3 March 2006 – Click here to read supporting document
Martin Buhagiar replied that I would need to pay £1,660 and that “no liability is being accepted for the electrical system being incorrectly blown by either Mercedes-Benz or its recovery agent”.
Martin Buhagiar also wrote: “We will therefore give no further consideration in respect of your clients claim to receive his money back for the vehicle or his legal costs.
This goodwill offer will be valid for a period 10 days from the date of this letter after which we will consider commencing action in accordance with the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.”
9 March 2006
My solicitor wrote to Stuart Buckle enquiring what could be done to resolve this matter.
9 March 2006 – Click here to read: Chase letter to MB
Stewart Buckle, Legal Executive, M-B UK Head Office, Milton Keynes, replied to my solicitor that he was “awaiting Instructions”.
13 March 2006 – Click here to read: MB meeting Mondial
Stuart Buckle wrote to my solicitor requesting a 28 day stay of proceedings because they were meeting Mondial, M B’s recovery agent, who would have to be joined into the proceedings if they continued.
21 March 2006
I received a letter from M-B Customer Assistance Centre Maastricht informing me: “we have now closed this case from our end”. This letter had been copied to M B Chelsea.
My solicitor wrote to Martin Buhagiar declining his offer for me to pay £1,660 towards the cost of the repairs.
My solicitor wrote that if the defect had been caused post sale by an incorrect jump-starting of the vehicle, this could not have been caused by his client, who had never jump-started the vehicle. On the other hand the documentation received made clear reference to M B’s recovery agent jump-starting the vehicle on a number of occasions. If, as M B asserted, an incorrect jump-starting of the vehicle had caused the defect and this had occurred post sale, this could only have been caused by M B or its agent’s negligence.
My solicitor went on to ask a number a salient questions including, if I accepted the vehicle, what guarantee would I have that the problem would not recur.
A letter from Martin Buhagiar to my solicitor confirmed that “the recovery agents have investigated this matter with the attending technician and they are satisfied that the technician started the vehicle using the correct procedure”.
He wrote: “Mercedes-Benz are not prepared to repurchase the car from your client, Mr Carlyle. However my final offer in this matter is that Mercedes-Benz Chelsea is prepared to pay the total costs of the repair to your client’s vehicle amounting to £1,660.00 as a gesture of our goodwill and this offer will remain open only for a period of 10 days. Therefore your client is able to collect the vehicle without making any payment: however our gesture will not cover any legal expenses … so we can arrange a convenient time for him to collect his vehicle”.
5 April 2006 – Click here to read: Reply to MB
My solicitor wrote to M-B’s Legal Department asking why M B had not produced any statements or document from Olympic Recovery or Mondial that the “vehicle had been started correctly”.
He stated: “We note that you have offered no warranty as to the work undertaken or the parts fitted to our client’s vehicle, merely a vague assurance that if it is used regularly it should start. This is wholly unsatisfactory”.
He also requested photographs of the damage to the front near-side wing but, as so often was the case, none ever arrived.
5 April 2006 Click here to read supporting document
My solicitor wrote to M B’s Legal Department saying that I would expect:
a 12 months’ warranty on the work that had been undertaken, and
a contribution towards my legal costs, at present amounting to between £3,000 and £4,000.
11 April 2006
My solicitor wrote to Simon Popperwell, Barrister at law, with a file of papers and recent correspondence for his advice on the situation.
7 April 2006 – Click here to read: No Warranty
Martin Buhagiar replied:
“1. We do not provide a warranty on work that has been undertaken as goodwill.
2. We are not prepared to contribute towards any legal costs.
3. Storage charges of £25 per day will be levied, if the vehicle is not collected within 7 days of this letter”.
25 April 2006 – Click here to read: Summery from my solicitor
My solicitor made a summary of M B’s latest offer:
whose fault it was (M B says the recovery agents);
their “inability” to offer a warranty as “the manufacturer of the parts will not give one because they are being paid by MB themselves”;
my duty to mitigate my losses;
my solicitors fees;
and the on going storage charges.
My solicitor’s opinion was that he thought that we were close to their limit and that it seemed pretty clear that M B would not give a warranty.
29 April 2006 Click here to read supporting document
DEKRA Vehicle Inspections inspected my vehicle at my request and cost.
16 May 2006 – Click here to read supporting document:
I rejected M-B’s “final offer as a gesture of goodwill” of 3 April 2005 and informed them that I would be proceeding with legal action against them.
22 May 2006 – Click here to read: MB letter
M-B’s Legal Department wrote to my solicitor: “DCR (M-B) have extended generous goodwill to your client, including a goodwill sum of £6,640 towards the non-warranty repairs to the vehicle”. Considering that M B had caused the damage in the first place, the offer is not that ‘generous’.
M-B also stated that it would counterclaim for all the goodwill costs; although in the event this did not happen. They must have realised that any counter-claim could have opened up a hornets’ nest and therefore this was simply the bullying tactic of an international company against the ‘little man’.
28 June 2006 – Click here to read: Court claim form
My solicitor submitted a Claim Form to Bow County Court which began the legal action. There followed one court appearance after another until a Court Order was issued for mediation to take place.
26 July 2006 – Click here to read supporting document
My solicitor received M-B’s defence document which confirmed M-B’s position that “At the time of the repair by MBC [Mercedes-Benz Chelsea] on 30 November 2005, MBC noted that the vehicle had suffered an electrical surge probably by way of incorrect attachment of jump leads”.
20 October 2006 – Click here to read: mediation statement
Jon Burgess, representing M B Assistance (Mondial), attended the Court-ordered mediation with Martin Bahagiar and Stuart Buckle, Legal Executive, UK M B Head Office. This demonstrated a direct link between M B and its agent Mondial, as they were the recipients of the two reports from Olympic Recovery and also Stuart Buckle had written to my solicitor on 13 March 2006 requesting a 28 day stay of proceedings because they were meeting Mondial, M B’s recovery agent, who would have to be joined into the proceedings if they continued.
The mediation meeting is covered by an agreement which precludes me from describing what happened during the discussions, but I give the Mediation Statements.
Stuart Buckle, Legal Executive, M B UK Head Office, now took charge of the dispute.