Guangzhou owners of luxury marque are angry at the frequent repairs needed Disgruntled car buyers in Guangzhou are locked in a bitter dispute with Mercedes-Benz over the condition of their vehicles. The owners, including developer Guangzhou Heng Da Industrial (Holding), which has bought nine Mercedes since 2001, said their vehicles frequently required trips to the workshop for repairs despite expectations of superior quality. Chen Yilei, assistant to Guangzhou Heng Da's chief executive, said this year alone the company had documented 70 problems with the cars, a fifth of which were engine-related. 'This is supposed to be a high-quality car but the problems have happened to so many of our cars that I think it is a common problem,' Mr Chen said. 'Is it because of the quality or design? Is it because of counterfeit parts or is it an after-sales service problem? We still believe in the car but if they do not give us an answer, we will take other means to handle the issue.' Apart from engine problems, the owners complain that Mercedes-Benz dealers are ignoring their concerns and refusing to lend them cars while their vehicles undergo lengthy repairs, causing them to lose face with associates. Mercedes-Benz China spokeswoman Irene Lo said she had read about the complaints in newspapers and wondered why customers were going to the media instead of approaching the company. She said there had been no formal complaints from Guangzhou Heng Da. '[Heng Da] is a loyal customer. We have been trying to get in touch with them to find out what the problem is,' she said. Representatives from Zungfu Libang, a local maintenance centre appointed by Mercedes-Benz to provide after-sales service, met Mr Chen on Monday but he said his concerns were not addressed. The dispute is compounding the German carmaker's public-relations woes. In 2001, Hubei businessman Wang Sheng and a friend used large hammers to smash up his Mercedes in protest at what he said was poor service and maintenance problems. 'We hope the media will put pressure on them to change and to improve their service,' Mr Chen said. 'We are supportive of Mercedes-Benz so they should reciprocate.' However, Mr Chen said his company would not resort to action as drastic as Mr Wang's. Meanwhile, other unhappy Mercedes owners are giving their business to rival companies. Kingold Group, which has five Mercedes, recently bought a Bentley, said Lin Weitung, the managing director's secretary. 'We have five cars, which all gave us problems. The last one we bought gave us the most problems and it is the boss's car,' he said. 'We expect locally made cars to break down constantly but an imported car is more expensive and we expect it to be problem free.' Nanning-based businessman Cai Guizhong, who has five Mercedes, reported problems ranging from a faulty oil valve, air conditioning and exhaust pipe, to control switches that kept falling off. 'I won't buy a Mercedes-Benz again and I will tell my friends not to buy the car,' he said. Putting his money where his mouth is, Mr Cai said he had just spent 720,000 yuan on a Toyota Land Cruiser. Ms Lo said company officials were meeting distributors in Guangzhou on how to handle the problem.