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Chauffeur takes car dealer to court

Adam Litchfield and his 2006 Mercedes Benz S350.

It ranks among the most prestigious car brands in the world, but an Adelaide chauffeur claims that there is nothing luxurious about Mercedes-Benz's after-sales service. Adam Litchfield is suing the car maker's Adelaide dealership, claiming it reneged on its warranty when his S350 sedan's transmission suffered a “massive failure”, costing almost $16,000.

Mercedes-Benz has counter-sued, saying that Mr Litchfield's warranty was never valid and he therefore owes the dealership $1300 for earlier repair jobs. Mr Litchfield, who owns Platinum Car Hire, has filed legal action in the Adelaide Magistrates' Court. He is suing Mercedes-Benz Australia Pty Ltd and BEA Motors on Sir Donald Bradman Drive, Mile End.

BEA Motors has sold Mercedes-Benz vehicles in Adelaide for 60 years, formerly operating from a Flinders St showroom complete with grand marble and chandeliers. In his statement of claim, Mr Litchfield says he bought a pre-owned S350 from BEA Motors on November 15, 2010, for $95,350. He says it came with a Mercedes-Benz approved two-year warranty.

“I am engaged in the business of providing a chauffeured vehicle service to the public at large,” he says. “I informed BEA of the nature of my business… The sales consultant represented that use of the vehicle as a chauffeured car would not cause any problem with the warranty.” 

Mr Litchfield says he took possession of the car on November 26, 2010, and drove it without incident for almost five months. “Prior to April 2011, I identified various works which were required to be performed,” he says.

“BEA performed the works and delivered to me an invoice requiring nil payment.” Mr Litchfield says the car developed extensive problems one month later. “Prior to May 25th, the vehicle suffered massive transmission failure (and) BEA refused to cover the works pursuant to the warranty,” Mr Litchfield says. 

“BEA invoiced me $15,973.35 for the replacement of a faulty automatic transmission...In order to minimise loss to my business, I paid the invoice.” Mr Litchfield asks the court to force BEA and Mercedes-Benz to reimburse the $15,973.35. “(They) made false representations about the warranty (and) their representations were misleading and deceptive,” he says. 

In their defence papers, Mercedes-Benz and BEA say Mr Litchfield's purchase was not covered by its warranties. “The warranty states that it `will be void and automatically cease to operate if the vehicle is being used for hire',” they claim. The dispute has been listed for a conciliation conference.