Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Yesterday I accompanied my friend and Bidnis Podnuh Barry while he took his car in for an oil change. The dealership - not Barry’s usual place - was running a special, and the price difference was enough to justify the twenty-mile drive down to Buckhead.

Barry usually pays $240 to get his oil changed. This place was only charging $99. Wow, wotta deal!

You may ask, “Is Barry out of his ever-loving mind? $240 is the normal price for an oil change?” Ah, but not just any oil change: Barry (or, more properly, Malka, his wife) drives a Mercedes-Benz 350E SUV.

Going to the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Buckhead - a tony in-town Atlanta neighborhood - gave me an opportunity to see how the Other Half drives. The Other Half meaning the half with money... a boatload more than I have.

For one thing, on the showroom floor in this place, they have cars like the McLaren SLR Roadster 722S, which sells for something north of $550,000 - excluding tax, title, and license. A small problem is that, owing to various regulatory matters, the 722S cannot be registered in Georgia. That poses no problem for the typical McLaren owner, who can buy his own state in which to register his car.

Most car dealerships have a grimy service area, typically featuring an even grimier waiting room in which there is a vending machine that sells stale Oreo cookies and pork rinds, and a guck-encrusted coffee machine that was last run sometime last Thursday. But not here. Not at Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead.

You can eat off the floor in the service bays - that’s how clean everything is. Most people, however, choose to wait for their vehicle in the snazzy Café Benz, a full service coffee spa that would put Starbucks to shame.


Coffee is gratis at the Café Benz, but a goodly portion of the clientele will plump for one of the fancier coffee drinks: cappuccino, espresso, and a full armamentarium of lattés. Pastries and Fancy-Pants desserts? They’ve got them, too.

Cafe Benz Food

While you wait for your car to be serviced, you can be serviced as well. If you’re not content with the library of magazines or the array of flat-screen HD televisions, why not have a hot oil massage with the aroma of your choice? Coconut, mango, passionfruit, and New-Car Smell: take your pick. And every 30,000 miles, they’ll gladly throw in a Happy Ending.

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously observed. “They are different from you and me.” Sure: They have more money... and they get to have coffee and massages while their cars are getting lubed. Sweet.

Barry’s car was ready in about 45 minutes. Not bad... and at a bargain price, too. Because if you’re driving around in a Benz, a $99 for an oil change is chump change. Especially when they throw in a free car wash and coffee.

I’m hoping Barry asks me to join him when he goes back for his 90,000 mile service. I hear that one’s a doozy.

1 comment:

Erin O'Brien said...

I cannot believe that dessert case. HOLY SHIT