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Ernest Lieb Out as CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA

In one of the more befuddling shakeups, Mercedes-Benz USA has announced that Ernst Lieb is out as CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA. The move comes in the midst of the company enjoying some of its most successful years ever in terms of products and sales.

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The is speculating that Lieb's departure apparently caught even company insiders off guard. The website said, "Company officials issued only a terse formal statement noting, 'Ernst Lieb has been excused from his duties as CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), effective immediately. Daily business operations of MBUSA will be conducted by Herbert Werner (CFO and Vice President Finance, Controlling & IT) until further notice.'"

Lieb is pictured fourth from the left in the picture accompanying this article. He is with Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Dr. Thomas Weber and himself with the SLS AMG E-CELL at Mercedes-Benz press conference at the Detroit Auto Show this year.

“I don’t understand this. It had to be something personal considering they’re gaining share and improving sales,” said analyst Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting, told

The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) said, "The German-born Lieb spent a total of 36 years at Daimler, including five in the top spot at Montvale, N.J.-based Mercedes-Benz USA. Daimler said Lieb remains with the company in an unspecified role.

Lieb first joined Daimler in 1975 as a spare parts specialist and went on to lead Mercedes-Benz Canada in 1995. He was named as the head of DaimlerChrysler's Australian and Pacific operations in 2003, before becoming Mercedes' U.S. president and CEO in 2006. As the head of the brand's U.S. operations, he oversaw the sales, marketing and service of Mercedes and Maybach vehicles, parts and accessories in the U.S. market.

Lieb was a personable man who was reportedly popular with dealers. At the summer launch of the Mercedes-Benz M Class in Montana, he mixed easily with the gathered journalists and even dubbed Western gear at a riverside cookout with a Western theme. (Not to say he looked comfortable necessarily but he got into the spirit of things.)

Mercedes is coming off its best September ever in sales. It reported September sales of 23,897 vehicles, a 15.6% improvement over September 2010 (20,666) and the company’s highest September volume on record. On a year-to-date basis, the 183,711 vehicles sold represent an 11.1% increase over the 165,355 vehicles sold during the same period last year.

The highest volume performers for the month were the C-Class and E-Class model lines. The all-new 2012 sporty C-Class – and gateway to the Mercedes-Benz brand for younger and first-time Mercedes-Benz buyers – led the pack with sales of 6,865, up 32.1% from September 2010. The 9th generation E-Class followed with sales of 5,122 and the full-sized SUV, the GL-Class, finished third in volume with monthly sales of 2,541. Additionally, sales of the newly launched 2012 CLS-Class posted a 399.3% increase for the month and sales of the new SLK roadster were up 50.8% over September 2010.

More details are bound to follow in the coming days about Lieb's sudden departure as CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

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Pauline Bianchi (not verified)    October 23, 2011 - 5:34PM

This letter is a corporate complaint for the unacceptable and costly customer service I experienced by the employees of Mercedes Benz of North Haven and Mercedes Benz Corporate.

Please see below the time line of my experience with your company and Mercedes Benz of North Haven. The individuals involved include Robert Geffert of Mercedes Benz of North Haven, Dina 1800, 367 6372 ext. 7834 and Carol C. ext 4673 from the corporate office. No last names provided when asked.

I purchased my 2003 Mercedes C230 on September 2, 2006. When I decided on purchasing a Mercedes I went (so I thought) to the most respected Mercedes dealership in the area. Mercedes Benz of North Haven. I did not buy the car from a sidewalk used car dealer I went to the best. I paid $21,000.00 which included the extended warranty. I was ensured I would have this car for many years. They failed to mention this car was no longer in production. I feel the dealer misrepresented the car, and the company is not taking accountability for selling a car with a defective engine.

Never did I think a car (a Mercedes) which cost $21,000, would not last 4 years.

On February 21, 2007, 5 months after my purchase the car needed service as the check engine light was on. The issue noted was T/N misfire code for Cylinder’s 2/3. code set P0303 P0302 Testing found to need new valve springs exh valves DC05202H2. Clear codes installed springs performed updated. This work was covered under the warranty. At this time the head was not removed to diagnosed what caused the misfire, and I was not advised the vehicle should not be driven until the cause of the misfire was determined. (see invoice dated 02/21/07)

On July 3, 2008 the check engine light was on again. The diagnostic test determined the issue to be a leak in the purge system, along with a recall of an engine hose. The repair of the leak was not covered under the warranty.

In October 2010, I received notification of a recall. I made arrangements to have the car serviced and took the car to Mercedes Benz of North Haven on October 26, 2010. When the mileage was discussed Robert Geffert of Mercedes Benz of North Haven informed me that this engine is just breaking in. At this point there were no issues with the car, the check engine light was not on. No malfunction alerts displayed.

Please see invoice dated 10/29/10. The recall included, camshaft solenoid/ replaced engine wiring harness, replaced front and rear 02 sensors/ replaced knock sensor, replaced ME control module. No cost as this was covered under the recall. I was provided a loaner vehicle which I had for 5 days for a 30 min job.

At this time I also requested a small dent on the side of the car be repaired. I mention this to show how I have taken care of the car. I have all my receipts for all the oil changes and all work needed.

On October 27th I received a call from the service manager Robert Geffert informing me the check engine light was on. He indicated they check the spark plugs and it was determined the car had greater problems. I informed him that the check engine light was not on when I dropped the car off, and I was not having any issues.. I asked: “if the car displays a malfunction alert when a small parking light is out why would it not display a malfunction alert if there was a serious problem in the engine”? His answer was “I do not know”. He told me a the repair would cost in excess of $2000.00, and I should not drive the car as the engine could seize. He informed me it was a misfire from cylinder 3. (the same issue which was repaired on February 21, 2007). I asked for a written estimate.

The invoice notes misfire from cylinder 3. Diagnosed condition far as we could with the head on, found low compression cylinder 3, Vehicle will need head removed and most likely reworked at machine shop.

I received a tentative estimate per my request, noted without the removal of the head and inspection cannot guarantee the estimate is accurate, is just based on head removal and repair at machine shop. Discussed with me the vehicle should not be driven until repaired. Again noted there may be possible additional repairs needed.

I asked him how I was to get to work every day, Mr Geffert commented that I could not hold the loaner car hostage. I also asked him the name of the distributor and phone number of the corporate office and he replied he does not have that information.. I had to look it up on line. Not the customer service I would expect from Mercedes Benz of North Haven.

Attached I received a hand written estimate for 11 hrs of labor at $116.00 per hour which included R/B head: $1298.00
machine shop repair with ports: $350.00
Total: $2117.88

I would need to approve this work and agree to incur the cost before they would proceed.

Also noted: Head has not been diagnosed completely will need to be removed for inspection last estimate is based on block being okay and head re-usable.

On November 1, 2010 after looking up the phone number for Mercedes Benz Corporate on line I called and spoke to Sedich (sp?) who took all my information and indicated I will receive a call from a customer service representative with regard to my concerns. Dina 1 800 367 6372 ext; 7834 (no last name provided) called back on November 2, 2010. Again took all my concerns and indicated she did not have access to my service records noting the same issue back in Feb, 2007 and she would get back to me after she contacts the service department in North Haven.

I called to follow up with Dina on:

November 4, 2010 (no response)
November 9, 2010 (no response)
November 11, 2010 (no response)
November 19, 2010 (Dina’s voice mail message indicated she was out of the office)

All this time I had to borrow cars, or take my husband to work at 4:30AM to use his car to drive to work everyday. I had to leave work early to pick him up after work. When I had a 2003 Mercedes sitting in my garage. I had to make a decision about transportation as I was ignored by Mercedes Benz Corporate offices and it was effecting my job. Again this was not the customer service I expected.

On November 19, 2010 I placed another call. Dina voice mail message indicated she was out of the office. I called back and asked for her supervisor and was transferred to Carol C. 1800 367 6372 ext. 4673 (no last name proved) . I explained the number of times I called with no response back from her or Dina keeping me informed of what was transpiring. She indicated that my situation was discussed extensively with the corporate managers and Mercedes Benz of North Haven.

I was instructed to bring the car back to Mercedes Benz of North Haven, they will waving the $2117.38 fee and will do a complete diagnostic inspection at no cost to me. I thought they were taking accountability for the way I was treated, the defective engine, and for work I had already had done in 2007. I would not have known this unless I was persistent with my follow up calls. To me this was an admission of the error.

This was too little too late. As I needed reliable transportation to drive 80 miles every day to and from work. I was instructed not to drive my car because the engine could seize, and it was not safe. I was told I could not hold the loaner car hostage and no one from Mercedes Benz was going to pick me up, take me to and from work, and I was not receiving any communication from Mercedes Benz Corporate after the numerous calls to Dina. I made the decision to trade the care in (for a fraction of what I paid for the car). As I mentioned I paid $21,000.00 for a car that did not last me 4 years. I had to incur the cost of a new car, a new loan and I have not yet paid off the Mercedes C230.

I informed Carol of my action she indicated she had to discuss this with the corporate managers and will get back to me. Carol called me back informed me since I no longer had the vehicle there was nothing they could do. However due to the poor customer service I now have 2 loans. One to pay for a car I no longer own and a loan for the new car I may not have needed.

Carol had the nerve to ask if I bought another Mercedes. I absolutely did not buy another Mercedes, I would never again even consider it.

To remedy this issue and to salvage the respect of Mercedes Benz I expect the existing loan of $4000.00 be paid to me. This is equal to the reduction of the trade in value due to the defective engine not acknowledged by Mercedes Benz of North Haven. Mercedes Benz of North Haven misrepresented themselves and as a consumer I have been defrauded. I also expect an apology in writing for the deplorable experience I had dealing with your company.

Pauline A. Bianchi
10 Collett St.
North Haven, CT 06473

A very dissatisfied customer.