The Internet can be a wonderful, reliable library or a garbage can.
This is what popped into my mind as I read through much of the feedback on my post about the Mercedes-Benz B-Class. The most troubling notes had to with rust.
As David wrote to me, "The car is a rust-bucket." Really?
David goes on to talk about "a number of recall issues." Really?
And does the B-Class really suffer from "poor quality workmanship and sloppy engineering," as David suggests? Really?
Those are nasty accusations and so I went looking for some facts, credible ones, on-the-record ones that I could introduce in a court of law or an arbitration hearing. And I found almost nothing.
Transport Canada's recall database lists exactly three recalls covering precisely 3,386 B-Class cars sold in Canada since 2006. None had anything to do with rust and all were for relatively minor issues – including one that noted the owner's manual has incorrect operating instructions for installing a child seat.
I also did a search of Technical Service Bulletins used to direct service technicians to fixes for common problems in vehicles. The problem here is that Transport Canada does not offer a list of TSB, and it should.
The United States? There are none in the U.S. because the B-Class has not been sold there yet. If the B has rust problems, they are not documented on official government records in Canada and the United States. I also did a search looking for legal action against Mercedes-Benz Canada and found none having to do with rust problems on the B-Class.
At benzworld.org I found some owners complaining about rust problems, but others said they had never had any rust problems at all. But nothing there would admissible in a court of law without further investigation and substantiation.
Mercedes may indeed be doing "goodwill" adjustments to correct rusting on the B. If so, I am sure it is on a case-by-case basis. What I cannot do is suggest there is any "official" evidence, on-the-record evidence, of a rust problem with the B.
I am not saying David is being misleading or untruthful. What I am saying is that the Internet is loaded with hearsay and accusations and it is not always to be trusted. That's the Internet; it's often a garbage can.
What the Globe cannot do, what I cannot do, is publish unsubstantiated accusations. In fact, Canadian law is stricter on this matter than what you'll find in the U.S.
Down south a reporter can publish a claim or an accusation and no matter how false, if the courts find an "absence of malice" the reporter and publication are not liable for damages. Canadian reporters have no such protections. If I or the Globe put out damaging falsehoods, we are both liable whether or not there is an absence of malice.
That's one huge difference between the Globe and the various web sites loaded with hearsay and rumours and unsubstantiated accusations. If we get it wrong, we face potentially serious consequences.
Some B-Class cars may indeed suffer from rust, as David suggests. But Transport Canada has not issued a recall on this matter. Period. If you don't believe me, check for yourself at tc.gc.ca/eng/roadsafety/safevehicles-defectinvestigations-index-76.htm.