WUSA 9 Call For Action untangles dealership crash

SILVER SPRING, Md., (WUSA9) -- "When I took the car to the dealership, they said that I needed new tires. So, I bought four new tires," Annette Palmer says.

She did that back in December of last year. But, when she picked up her 2009 C Class sedan from Mercedes Benz of Silver Spring, she still had the same problem. So, in January of this year, the mechanics there took another look. Then, she got a call from her service adviser.

Palmer says, "He told me he had two things to tell me. The first was they had fixed the problem. The second thing was that they had crashed the car."

Mercedes Benz of Silver Spring and its insurance company, Zurich, accepted blame for the accident. Insurance documents show the driver who took her car out for a test drive wasn't fully paying attention on that ride when he wrecked it. Zurich initially offered 18 grand, then just over 19 and finally close to $21,000 to settle the claim.

But, Palmer wanted more than just an insurance check. She wanted her car replaced. The car she had just finished paying off weeks before bringing it here for service.

"I tried to negotiate. I said you destroyed my car. I have no car," says Annette Palmer.

And for more than five months, this was her accident dilemma. No car. No insurance check. And, thousands racked up in rental car fees. Ms. Palmer says she couldn't get anywhere with the dealership.

We went with her to Mercedes Benz of Silver Spring to try and get her some help.

"Do we really need the camera? Mrs Palmer. Is this really what you want?," says Division President Dennis Turnbaugh.

Turnbaugh initially agreed to speak with us off camera, but the meeting was brief and the result was the still the same.

"Why did you need a camera here to try and get a result?," said WUSA 9 Anchor and Consumer correspondent Lesli Foster.

"I needed somebody else because it seemed as though nobody was listening to me," Annette Palmer said.

But the CEO of the company, Steve Fader, did listen. And, in the weeks after our initial visit, the dealer found a 2010 C Class, with fewer miles, to replace Palmer's car.

"Quite understandably, Mrs. Palmer just wanted a replacement vehicle similar to, or just a bit nicer, than the one she had before. So, we added some funds to the insurance settlement to try to bring it to a conclusion," said Dennis Turnbaugh.

Normally in these types of cases, there's an insurance settlement paid out for the fair market value of the car. The customer gets the check and can then decide whether to put that money toward a new car. Mrs. Palmer wanted the dealer to do something they aren't typically asked to do.

Turnbaugh says, "Whenever something goes wrong, certainly the best thing to do is to come to as quick a resolution as possible. And yes, this took a little longer to get there than it should."

Mrs. Palmer is finally happy to be whole again.

"I was desperate. I am very grateful that you were able to help me. Thank you very much WUSA 9 Call For Action.

Mercedes Benz of Silver Spring tells us part of the reason why it took so long to find a replacement car is because there just aren't a lot of 2009 C Class vehicles still out there.

Mrs. Palmer ended up pay $3,000 for a rental car during the time it took to resolve her issue. Mercedes Benz of Silver Spring gave her a check this week with a donation in the amount for her church.

Now if you have a consumer issue, contact our WUSA 9 Call For Action team, just click here, to file a complaint. Or call our hot line at 301-652 HELP (4357).


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