Mercedes-Benz's Services

Re "Getting About When Your Car Is in the Shop" by Peter Weaver, Jan. 6: I have been contacted by several of our customers concerning the article and whether or not we (Mercedes-Benz dealers) give a loaner car "for as long as it takes to fix your car." After reading Weaver's article, I found several items concerning Mercedes-Benz's warranty that are incorrect. They are as follows:

1. The four-year, 50,000-miles warranty covering 1984 and newer vehicles does not cover "everything but the oil change." It is a limited warranty covering defects in workmanship or materials, but it does not cover normal wear-and-tear items such as brake pads, normal maintenance items, or damage due to accidents, misuse or negligence.

2. Some dealers may provide a loaner vehicle when a vehicle is being prepared, but generally only to an owner who has purchased a vehicle from the dealer and has a written agreement to that arrangement. The warranty specifically states that it does not cover payment for loss of use of vehicle, car rentals, personal expenses, etc.

3. There is an 800 telephone number a Mercedes-Benz owner can call for assistance between 5 a.m. and midnight Mondays through Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight on weekends and holidays. They would reach a Roadside Assistance Program dispatcher who would assist the owner to try and resolve the problem, or dispatch a specially equipped Mercedes-Benz station wagon manned by a factory-trained service technician from the closest dealer to help. It is not the policy of Mercedes-Benz or dealerships "to pick up your car and give you another one to use." There is a charge for the Roadside Assistance call, but if the problem was caused by a warrantable defect, the owner is later reimbursed for the roadside call.

We have had several Mercedes-Benz owners calling to ask if we do or why we are not providing the services described in your article. Thank you for your help in straightening out this matter.

CLIFF WONG Director of Service, W. I. Simonson Inc., Mercedes-Benz, Santa Monica Infant Swimming Classes Recently, the California Medical Assn. issued "strong warnings" against infant swimming because of "water intoxication" and other "hazards" of baby swim classes ("Warnings Issued About Infant Swim Classes" by Mary Schnack, Jan. 3). There is no documentation that swimming is harmful to babies, but an abundance of evidence that babies who swim are healthier and stronger than non-swimmers is clearly visible. Throughout the world successful infant swimming programs are plentiful. Namely: Australia, New Zealand, South Sea Islands, Japan, Hong Kong, Sweden, Russia, East Germany, West Germany, Spain, Italy, France, England, the Netherlands, Mexico and Canada.

There has been no research here in the United States, but a longitudinal study was done at the University of Cologne in West Germany. It established that children who started to swim in infancy showed higher observable and measurable test scores in the areas of intelligence, motor development, social behavior and personality. The CMA is either unaware of this research or chooses to ignore it.

For the latest year of statistics the National Safety Council recorded 600 drownings of children under the age of 4. How many more little children must drown before critics will recognize the real problem, which is the desperate need for the training and certification of instructors in this highly specialized field of aquatics?

VIRGINIA HUNT NEWMAN Executive Director, U.S. Swimming Foundation I was shocked to see the California Medical Assn. denounce water safety programs for children under 3 years old knowing that they are frequently victims of accidental drowning.

The CMA's statement that children in this age group cannot be "drownproofed" is misleading. Many children in this age group have been trained to swim and take breaths, float on their backs or swim to the edge of a pool and hang on or pull themselves out. This is not to imply they don't need constant supervision. Everyone in or around a pool does.

The CMA also warns against water intoxication during swim lessons. In 12 years of teaching, I had never heard of such a problem, so I immediately called the CMA and requested the studies they based their conclusions on. In both of the cases they sent, the babies (10 and 11 months) described were taking extraordinarily long lessons, 45 to 60 minutes. Most local schools offer 15- to 30-minute lessons for this age.

In one of the cases the child had swallowed nearly a quart of water. I would agree that these cases, though rare and extreme, should not be ignored. But they indicate the need for short lessons, better-trained instructors and perhaps more standardized instruction, not denying lessons for this age group.

ROB DOWNS general partner, Lucile Cowle Swim School, Burbank Taxis Around Los Angeles I'm fascinated by the discussion of current trends in status ("Status for Some Takes on New Meaning as Materialism Waivers" by Bettijane Levine, Jan. 4). I wonder if it means that the mavericks are in and the conformists are on their way out? I wonder, too, if status has become a matter of semantics? I recall how I suddenly acquired instant status because I casually admitted that I often took taxis to get around L.A. That was when I was a newcomer and didn't know how to drive. We were discussing modes of transportation and all I did was to mention a means that is a routine matter to a New Yorker. It may be expensive, but it beats the upkeep of a car. The facts were overlooked but not the words! SHERRY TERZIAN Los Angeles Candles for Hanukkah Please tell Bil Keane that his Dec. 19 Family Circus cartoon should have said "nine candles," if he meant to compare Christmas with Hanukkah. (That's eight candles and the shamus --the lighting candle). . . . Seven candles in the Menorah are used the rest of the year. HYMAN H. HAVES Pacific Palisades A Christmas Gift Our Christmas was immeasurably enhanced by the charming story entitled "A Macy's Santa Recalls the Clalus That Refreshes" (by Dick Roraback, Dec. 25). It evoked both laughter and scarcely concealed tears. Let us hope that there will always be, somewhere in the world , one patitent photographer, one dedicated Santa Claus and one wonderful "World's Tallest Elf." Thank you Dick Roraback. Patricia and Roxy Roth San Juan Capistrano

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