A dear john letter to my (former) favorite brand

Dear Brand You Broke My HeartI’ve been a loyal Mercedes Benz driver for nearly 20 years and four different E Class sedans. The last one let me down so hard I won’t go back. The reason: they cut corners and it broke my heart.

Here’s a warning to brands everywhere about the dangers of subbing cheaper materials and snubbing your loyal fans.

Dear Mercedes Benz,
I was a die-hard, loyal customer. We even shared the same initials. I thought we were friends. But you’ve betrayed me and there’s no coming back. You cheapened your product by substituting leather for what you called MB Tex—and what I call thin, cheap plastic. You called it an innovation. You called it “better than leather.” I’m calling it quits. We had a good run, but I'm gone.

So long, Martha Bartlett Piland

Mercedes Benz Tex almost sounds good.
I trusted them on my last car. But just when my warranty was up, the seats started to tear and split. By the time I had them repaired, it cost me a pretty penny.

Check the online forums or ask any upholstery repair expert. They’ll tell you this is what always happens with MB Tex.

So, if this is a pervasive problem, why isn’t there a recall? Why isn’t Mercedes changing what they offer? Why isn’t Mercedes apologizing?

This also leads me to wonder where else they're cutting corners? Is this still a safe, wonderful example of German engineering?

Since they’re an ultra-premium brand, consumers should expect better.

It’s not me, it’s you.
Other brands have fallen from grace in recent years as they’ve tried to improve the bottom line by cutting corners.

  • The so-called upscale restaurant that switches to a cheaper ingredient to cut costs.
  • The retailer who forces me to use self-checkout by not having enough lanes staffed with live people.
  • The software company that changes its terms, costs more and delivers less.
  • The payment system service reps who defend their product and refuse to solve a customer challenge because it's hard.
  • The designer brand who offers a crummy, cheapened version of their products through discount outlets.

Your actions speak louder than words.
If you’re a no-frills brand, customers expect they might have to bring their own tote bag or assume some extra responsibilities in exchange for the savings. That means your actions are aligned with your brand promise—and you're fulfilling customer expectations.

But if you say “the best, or nothing” then you’d better deliver just that. Otherwise, you’re losing lifelong friendships. You devalue your brand and erode your profits. Eventually, you're history.

Good thing I don’t have a tattoo.

 If you need help auditing and evaluating your brand promise, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Martha to schedule time to talk.

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