Gov’t may investigate ‘breaking Benz’ case

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Gov’t may investigate ‘breaking Benz’ case

The “breaking Benz” incident, in which the leaser of a 209 million won ($178,000) Mercedes Benz S63 AMG took a golf club to the car outside a Mercedes dealership to protest bad customer service, has refused to die as the government said it is considering a technical inspection of the bashed up German import.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport on Wednesday, it is considering checking the car to see if there were any technical defects with the model. The leaser of the car, a man surnamed Yoo in Gwangju, smashed the windows, windshield and doors on Friday because the dealership refused to do anything after he complained that the car’s engine cut out on three different occasions, including on Sept. 9, when he was on an overpass with his pregnant wife and 5-year-old son in the car

“Without the submission of a petition from a customer, we have the authority to check a car if we think there is a technical problem, which is guaranteed by the law to protect consumers,” said Kim Yong-seok, spokesman for the Transport Ministry’s motor vehicles management division. “We need to discuss this issue more, but we currently conclude that [an inspection] is necessary.”

The ministry said it has requested Benz Korea submit the necessary
documents.

The company reportedly said there is the possibility of a malfunction in the vehicle’s eco start-stop function, a system that helps save fuel and reduce emissions by pausing the engine when the driver is waiting at a red light or in other idling situations.

After Yoo posted a video of himself trashing the car on YouTube, about 10 people posted messages on an online S63 AMG forum saying they experienced the same engine problem.

But both the ministry and the company said no additional complains were reported to them about such a problem with the model.

“We also have read some news reports about this issue, but no additional cases were acknowledged by the company as of [Wednesday],” a company spokesman told the Korea JoongAng Daily. A total of 614 units of the S63 AMG were sold through August after it was offered on the local market in November 2013, according to the company.

The ministry added it will consider a regulation that forces automakers to refund a customer’s money or provide a replacement when a significant defect is found in a car. “We are considering a regulation that legally puts a heavier responsibility on automakers,” Kim said.


BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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