After doing a lot of research online I selected a couple of vehicles that I wanted to test drive. I found a specific car that met my search criteria in Rochester, which is two hours from my home. I called on a Saturday to confirm the availability of the vehicle and spoke with Patrick Natoli. We made an appointment to conduct the test drive at 11:00 the following Monday morning.
After driving two hours through a mix of snow/freezing rain I arrived at Mercedes Benz of Rochester and asked for Patrick at the receptionist. I was pointed to his area and headed in that direction. When I arrived at his desk, Patrick had forgotten of our appointment. However, I noticed my name and phone number on a scrap of paper on his desk, pointed to it and said, "That is me." Things went downhill from there.
When I reminded him of our conversation and the specific reason for my trip to Rochester, he stalled for time. In the course his scrambling we talked about what I did for a living (finance professor now, institutional money manager before that). He told me he wanted to "pick my brain on ways to make money in cannabis stocks". This was not a discussion I wanted to have, even under better circumstances; I was also once a Marine infantry officer. To try to get us back on task I said, "I am not going to be much help to you there. My stance on that issue is on the opposite side of current public opinion. I haven't invested in those stocks."
He finally got the inventory up on his computer only to find that the specific vehicle that I had driven down to see was unavailable. I am still not clear why the car was missing, several different stories were told. Patrick then got up from his desk and disappeared for about five minutes without explaining his departure. I thought about leaving at this point, but having already spent two hours, I set my mind on trying to salvage something of value from this meeting.
Patrick returned with a key and said "This one is pretty close to the one you were looking at, take it for a spin. I can't go with you. We are short staff." Since I was unfamiliar with the area I asked for a brief map reconnaissance and headed out.
At this point the trip finally paid dividends. The car drove like a marshmallow. When I attempted to use the different controls for navigation, sound system, etc., I found the user interface to be illogical and poorly conceived. This is an opinion that reviewers at Edmunds and Consumer Reports happen to share It was so bad that I stopped in the parking lot of the movie theater near the dealership to work through the problem. As a guy who has done some database programming, invested in early stage haptic technology companies and as a member of Mensa, it is my considered opinion that the control system in Mercedes-Benz vehicles is one of the dumbest configurations that mankind has ever produced. OK, that is a bit of hyperbole, but only a little. There are two input devices and they serve partially redundant purposes. The hierarchy of commands does not follow logically. I predict that there will be an overhaul and redesign of this disaster in the next couple years.
Having satisfied myself with the poor quality of the ride and badly designed UI, I drove back to the dealership. When I returned, Patrick asked me for my thoughts. I told him that the ride was soft, the control devices were not intuitive. and that I was pretty sure I did not want to buy a Mercedes. He made a brief attempt to counter my arguments which I did not find persuasive. As I made my way to the door he joked about my four hour round trip.
I bought a BMW yesterday.