A strange video appeared on a popular car enthusiast website on the Internet on Sept. 11. The video shows a man hitting a Mercedes Benz sedan.
“I judged that it is better to remove a life-threatening defect in the car,” said the man, surnamed Yoo, who destroyed his Mercedes Benz sedan priced at more than 200 million won with a golf club. In the afternoon of Sept. 11, all of a sudden, Yoo began to hit the black Mercedes Benz sedan with a baseball bat and a golf club in front of a Mercedes Benz dealership in Gwangju. Yoo swung the golf club not only at the windows but also at the body of the car and turned the car into a wreck. Yoo claimed that the car’s engine turned off three times while driving, and asked the dealer to replace the car with a new one. But the dealer did not give him a clear answer. According to Yoo, that left him no choice but to destroy the car.
Yoo received the 290 million won (US$246,047) car under a lease contract. But one day, its engine suddenly died during a drive and its brakes did not work. Yoo judged that it was a simple malfunction and sent the car to a service center and had its program updated. The repairs took 20 days.
But the engine trouble did not go away. Yoo asked the service center to look into the trouble for 40 days. “During this process, the dealer company promised me to deliver a new car if the problem occurred again,” Yoo claimed.
But on Sept. 9, the car’s engine turned off again on the way to Gwangju from Busan. “Other cars sped fast by the car in a tense situation,” Yoo claimed. “My pregnant wife and five-year-old son were put into a panic.”
Yoo could not stand it anymore. He went to the dealership and asked them to give him a new car. But the dealership did not give him an answer, saying, “The CEO is out of town on business.” Finally, Yoo began to vandalize the car in front of the dealership.
The sight of Yoo smashing the car had dealership employees report Yoo to the police, claiming that he interrupted their business by parking the car on an entry road to the dealership. Yoo also vowed to take legal action while continuing to protest in front of the car. “The warranty papers tell me that I deserve a new one,” Yoo said. “I will take legal action by appointing a lawyer.”
Controversy grew as Mercendes Benz Korea responded to the situation with a lukewarm attitude, only repeating “We will find solutions.” As the dealer company sued Yoo for interference in its work instead of resolving the situation with the customer, Internet sites and SNS services were flooded with negative reactions and other customer complaints that similar malfunctions happen to their Mercedes Benz cars.
The negative online wave against Mercedes Benz prompted Mercedes Benz Korea to make an official announcement on Sept. 15. “We are making efforts to find a rational and amicable solution with the customer,” Mercedes Benz Korea said in the announcement. “We will meet the customer and carefully listen to him.” Consumers are paying much attention to how much this case will affect the attitudes of import car dealers and companies that have tried to avoid customer complaints.