Regulator probes Mercedes-Benz dealership in Xi’an, raising issues of rights over faulty products

2019-04-15 03:50:19 GMT2019-04-15 11:50:19(Beijing Time) Sina English

A dispute between a Mercedes-Benz 4S dealership and a local customer in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province over a faulty new car that leaked oil is intensifying.

A local market regulator has launched an investigation into the dispute, and Lizhixing, the Mercedes-Benz 4S dealership involved, was asked by the regulator to give a refund to the buyer as soon as possible. 

The 4S dealership apologized to the buyer during a face-to-face meeting on Saturday, saying it would issue the refund immediately, but the buyer refused to accept the refund, according to a statement posted on the official Sina Weibo account called "Xi'an Release" on Sunday.

The customer also demanded further explanation about whether 15,200 yuan ($2,267) charged by the dealership for a "Benz financial service fee" was fraud, as the dealer had not provided any services.

Mercedes-Benz said late Sunday that it has "openly and repeatedly" requested its dealers to be honest and law-abiding in the process of their independent operation to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of consumers, according to Central China Television.

The meeting was arranged by local market regulators after a clip went viral on Thursday showing the customer complaining about her unpleasant experience buying a car that started leaking oil even before she drove it out of the dealership.

The woman, sitting on top of the car and sobbing, said that she had bought it for 660,000 yuan with a down payment of 200,000 yuan. She complained that after the leak was reported to the dealer, her complaint was ignored for 15 days, according to the clip.

"I gave you [the dealer] 15 days, but you only told me you would change the engine. I am not satisfied with the work," the customer said in the clip on Tuesday.

The woman's complaints about consumer rights received sympathy from some netizens. Many lamented that they felt helpless when seeing an educated person forced to lose her temper to safeguard her rights.

"It's sad to see an educated middle-class woman has to sit on a car crying to guard her consumer rights," a netizen named Chongqingtuotuoge posted on Sina Weibo on Sunday.

As the tussle fermented, another customer in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province complained that the electric power steering system of a Mercedes-Benz vehicle she bought in a local 4S dealership had failed during a ride within 24 hours after purchase, saying "Do I have to sit on my car?" thepaper.cn reported on Sunday.

The background of the dealership has also drawn public attention. According to Huxiu, a Chinese business media publication, the legal representative of Xi'an Lizhixing Automobile Co is Yan Jiansheng, who is also a director of Mercedes-Benz (China) Automotive Sales Co.

Yan, also a Datuk in Malaysia, is legal representative for as many as 129 companies that are related to Lizhixing. Among these, an automobile sales company in Wuhu, East China's Anhui Province has links to Chinese actress Zhao Wei, said the Huxiu report on Sunday.

Xi'an Lizhixing Automobile Co was involved in 22 lawsuits from 2015 to March 2019, according to business research platform tianyancha.com.

Mercedes-Benz apologized to the customer Saturday, saying a special work group will head to Xi'an to investigate and work out a solution as soon as possible.

The German car manufacturer said it deeply regrets the buyer's unpleasant experience. "Ensuring consumers' legal rights and interests is always our first priority and is a principle all our dealerships should adhere to," the company said.

There are at least two fraudulent acts in Lizhixing's sales practices based on the disclosed facts, Li Weimin, associate director of the rights and interests of consumers committee at the Beijing Lawyers Association, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"The dealership sold a car that started leaking oil before the customer drove it out of the dealership, which means they should compensate her with three times the full price," Li told the Global Times, citing China's Consumers Rights Law.

"To charge a 'Benz financial service fee' without informing the customer is another obvious fraudulent act," Li said. "It should pay similar compensation in this instance, too."

(Agencies)

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