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Mercedes case will encourage Chinese consumers to protect legal rights

By Li Xiang (People's Daily Online)    13:51, April 20, 2019

The recent Mercedes-Benz oil leak scandal in Xi’an, capital of northwestern China’s Shaanxi province, has settled down after the 4S dealership Xi’an Lizhixing Auto agreed to provide a replacement car and refund the 15,000-yuan financial service fee.

Mercedes-Benz apologized to Wang Qian, the new car owner, for her unpleasant experience, and suspended sales operations at the dealership pending an official investigation.

It seems that the incident is approaching a happy ending with the buyer's rights respected, the dealership investigated and hidden rules disclosed. However, the settlement deal didn’t bring Chinese customers confidence in protecting their legal rights and interests.

The unhappy customer reportedly raised eight requests to the investigation team, including an investigation into the car's history, qualifications of pre-delivery inspection technicians, and independent inspection of the vehicle.

However, the settlement agreement included no response to the above requests.

Hearing the solution to the recent dispute, many Mercedes car owners went to the Xi’an Lizhixing Auto dealership to have their financial service fees refunded, but all requests were denied.

It's not the first time that Mercedes-Benz has found itself at the center of a scandal.

In Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan province, a customer bought a Mercedes-Benz from a local dealership, but it malfunctioned within 24 hours of purchase. However, on her return, the dealership wouldn't replace the defective car.

Proper solutions to such cases will not only safeguard the market order, but will also protect interests on all sides.

Beyond the settlement deal between the car seller and customer, an investigation is required to find out who is legally responsible and whether there was any misconduct in this case.

In 1990, BMW was sued by Gore, a purchaser of a new car which had been painted to cover minor damage which occurred during shipping. It was later revealed that around 1,000 vehicles were sold in the US under similar circumstances.

Gore won $2 million in punitive damages, and the case, which has been listed a classic example by the US Supreme Court, slammed car dealers and manufacturers and protected customers.

Local authorities in Xi’an have launched a thorough investigation involving all car dealerships in the city, to crack down on illegal conduct and unfair competition that violate the rights and interests of the customer. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liu Ning, Bianji)

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