When an owner of a Mercedes took his car in for a paint job at a local dealership, he didn't expect to be involved in a manhunt for the vehicle hours later, only to track it down to a Mercedes employee who had taken it for a joyride.
The unnamed driver of a Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG took the £45,000 car to a Mercedes dealer in Bolton for a respray, which he was told would be completed off-site 40 miles away in Blackpool.
After leaving the dealership he later decided to check the route his car was taking by logging into the mbrace GPS tracker app on his smartphone. He was shocked to see the car's location was nowhere near its intended destination, and had in fact mysteriously travelled 16 miles in the opposite direction and was cruising around Manchester.
Thinking the app could be faulty, the owner called the Mercedes head office, who told him there was no problem with the tracker and instead confirmed his suspicions that the high-performance car was being taken for a joyride.
The furious owner jumped in his partner's car and spent the next hour tracking down the car, flagging down a police van on the way to help in the search. They eventually zeroed in on an address in South Manchester where the car was parked, finding it on the side of the road along with an employee from the Mercedes dealership.
The individual claimed he was going to take the car to Blackpool the following morning, but the owner decided to take no chances and grabbed the keys to drive it home. Upon starting the vehicle he discovered the car had been set to the performance enhancing Sport+ mode, which further backed his suspicion that it had been taken on a joyride. The employee was not arrested, however, as police claim what he had done was not a crime.
After complaining to the dealership he was allegedly offered a free tank of petrol as an apology, however the irate owner wanted to make his story publicly known and is now seeking an alternative dealer to do the job.
"To say I'm appalled is an understatement. The car was due to be taken to Blackpool for the work - so I would have understood if it had gone north. But it was actually driven further south by a considerable distance," the driver, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Manchester Evening News.
"I don't want any compensation – but I feel my trust has been abused. I just want people to know that they took my car miles away from the dealership. It's adding mileage and using fuel for a start. Who would want that?"
While the incident is enough to make any car owner think twice before handing over their keys, the actions of the employee was not illegal and would have been covered by insurance.
A Mercedes spokesperson told the Manchester Evening News: "We are sorry to hear about the customer's experience with Mercedes-Benz of Bolton.
"We are investigating the circumstances around this case as we expect our retailers and their staff to treat customer cars with the utmost respect."