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Old 3rd December 2009, 12:11   #1
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Default (In)Competent, Gurgaon

Hi All,

This has been a long time coming. I have planning this thread for 3-4 months now but was waiting for the Registration Certificate.

I planned on buying a second hand car in July-August 2009. Being temporarily based in Gurgaon, a natural option was to have a look at all cars on offer at the Maruti True Value outlets. So, off I went with a friend, who is a big car enthusiast. At Competent, Gurgaon, I came across this almost new 2008 Zen Estilo, which had clocked just 10K km. A bit strange for an old car to have only this much. The first suspicions were it either being an accidental case or a demo car. The first suspicion was removed after a detailed look at the car. The body and engine were in excellent condition and the car was beautiful to drive. The sales guy assured us that this was not a demo car. We were anyway curious to know why would such a car be there for sale. We were told that it had been allotted to an employee at Competent, who had recently moved on and so Competent was selling it second hand off its own books. It did sound strange but we did not bother. The new car price was 3,25,000 and we were getting it for 2,55,000 after 10K kms. The test drive confirmed its new condition. The 5th gear had hardly been used, the rear seat polythenes were still on, the suspension was feeling absolutely new and the engine sounded great. No reverberations at all. Over and above that, the sales guy was fantastic, all info provided at first instance, no hard sales talk.

Having taken a round of all True Values, I decided to go for this car and called up the sales guy. We fixed a meeting for the next day and I would deliver a Demand Draft to Competent and take delivery. All going well till now. Good sales guy, terrific car, happy customer.

Next morning, having my breakfast with the same friend, I got a call saying the money needs to be split up into 2,25,000 DD and 30,000 cash. I asked why? The answer was the money needs to go to 2 different accounts within the company. I said 'Let me give 2 DDs, I dont have a problem with that'. Not hard to guess what was happening though. 30,000 was Competent's non-tax paid profit. Well, I did not mind as long as I got a receipt from Competent for the entire amount and all the documents reflected the total price.

So, I went with the DD and with the friend to Competent for making the payment and getting the car. Here is where things started going pear shaped. After taking the DD and the cash, the sales guy says 'Sir, you wont get the true value service booklet for this car.' I was zapped. I asked him why? Pat came the reply, this is a car on competent's books and competent cant sell a car it owns under True value going by Maruti True Value guidelines. He did not know more but I guessed the policy might be to avoid conflict of interest in True Value cars.

Anyway, so the story was no true value booklet and no Maruti warranty. After that came the assurances that I would get a Competent warranty and a competent service booklet blah blah... I said one simple thing to him. 'I am buying the car taking Maruti's risk. I am not ok taking Competent's risk.' After a protracted discussion in which I explained to him what I meant with a straight example of my plight should Competent go down, the convincing came down to arguments about how Competent is a large company. Cutting the long story short, I straight away told him I am not interested. No transaction if I dont get a Maruti warranty. Then came monetary toffees. I refused those as well. He was talking of a discount of 4K odd. I said if you can get me 25K, I can think about it else it is a strict no-no.

So, he went into a long, long discussion with someone he said was his CEO, presumably the dealership manager. The discussion lasted 2 hours and my work was done. I was promised a true value service booklet, a maruti warranty etc. Having been through what I already had been through, I took a written and signed declaration from him to this effect.

Everything in this post till now was facts. Now comes some conjecture. I am trying to rebuild the entire episode at Competent's end given what I observed. This was demo car (which was later confirmed when I took if for service and another employee inadvertently mentioned it) on Competent's books. Being on Competent's books and I guess to avoid conflict of interest, Maruti does not allow dealers to sell these as True Value cars. The car's demo car branding had been removed just the day I visited the dealership first (the sales guy had said this car has come only today) and the sales guy was not informed about this. He sold the car as a normal true value car. In the evening, when he told his boss the car is almost sold, he was told about all the T&Cs. The depreciated value of the car on Competent's books was probably 2,25,000, which I was asked to pay by DD and Competent was making a cash profit of 30,000, no taxes to be paid. It could be that 2,25,000 was the sale price with the profit, the book value being lower than that. I am not even sure if the 30,000 was going to Competent or some individuals at the dealership. Anyway, the illegality of this 30K was confirmed by the receipts I got. The receipt for 2,25,000 was a print out of the financial database system Competent uses and would have left a computerized, auditable trail while the receipt of 30,000 was a letter head printout from a Microsoft word document. Though legal from my point of view, it would leave no audit trail and therefore go unaccounted on Competent's financial systems. Poor guy, came back in the morning and tried to convince me, which did not happen. So, he had to tell his boss about this and the possiblity of forgoing the profit as well. Between them, somehow, they convinced a Maruti engineer to sign the booklet. I hope that is the case and the signature is not a forgery. Quite possible, they did it as an exception by requesting Maruti. Being their largest dealers, Maruti would have found it difficult to refuse this.

Anyway, if I had not been adamant enough, I would have been saddled with a car with only Competent's letter heads, Competent's warranty for parts, which wont stand for much, no records of the car with Maruti and no records of the car's free service on Maruti records. The car has fortunately been doing pretty well till now.

The story would have ended here had I written it the day after getting the car but I have had another brush with Competent's incompetence elsewhere. I recently took the car for a service at Competent, Gutkar, Mandi, HP. During the discussion with the supervisor, we discussed there was no need to change the engine oil. This was in agreement with him. I come back to pick the car and see an additional bill of 858 for the engine oil, no calls or information to me. Engine oil changed, bill slapped to me, no questions asked. And I am told it was necessary! How convenient. Needless to say, I refused to pay, I was then requested, asked to accomodate by paying half the bill, which also I refused to do. I dont even now trust if these guys actually changed the oil, I will need to have it checked.

I just hope there are lessons all of us can learn, atleast while buying a second hand car from reputed dealers and guard against such occurences.

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Old 3rd December 2009, 15:31   #2
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Oops! You are lucky to have a 'no problem' vehicle. Whenever there are big bucks to be made, there are people ready for short cuts. Related to this story, I was wondering:

- What happens to the test drive vehicles after their tenure in the showroom?
- How much margin do these dealerships make on every car they sell? My guess is that it must be huge.
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Old 3rd December 2009, 15:39   #3
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Totally unacceptable behavior from a MUL dealer. I think you should escalate it to MUL directly.

You are lucky it was an estilo which doesnt have many takers in the market and hence might not be as abused like other models.
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Old 3rd December 2009, 23:41   #4
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Originally Posted by Jaggu View Post
Totally unacceptable behavior from a MUL dealer. I think you should escalate it to MUL directly.
Thanks for the suggestion. I have written to MUL on their site and hope to get an answer soon.

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Old 4th December 2009, 12:34   #5
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I have forwarded this thread to my friend who is Dy. Manager, DTS, Zonal office (W), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd . Requested him to forward it to Delhi region.
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Old 16th August 2011, 01:04   #6
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Default Re: (In)Competent, Gurgaon

How are these guys for servicing?

I am planning to take my Zen for some jobs tomorrow morning at the Rajiv Chowk branch.

The car has been serviced once before; wasn't a very good experience. Parts took 2 days to come, spare car was in shabby state so we refused it.

The brakes (pads maybe) need repair/replacement so I am going in tomorrow; need a review or suggestion of a better place. Front suspension bushes might need replacement too.
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