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Old 17th November 2013, 05:02   #16
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Yes, this one reinforces all those fears I have had about German cars. One thing, why don't they out-source their service, they can easily do that and it will be a win-win for everybody. They do not have to pay for out-sourcing it, just sell the rights to service German cars, that way they can also create another source of cash flow
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Old 17th November 2013, 07:07   #17
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You have read a lot of threads about the bad service experience with German Cars be it a BMW, Merc, Audi or a VW.
Very interesting observations but in the era of cut throat competition how long can ASS be ignored?. IPhone is superbly engineerd product, it too had some issues and many times Apple was proactive in replacing the phone itself. This made huge difference and created millions of loyal customers, Germany companies need to understand that.
Life of cars are very long and due to wear and tear it can become unreliable and unsafe if not serviced properly.
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Old 17th November 2013, 07:21   #18
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

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Originally Posted by VeyronSuperSprt View Post
You have read a lot of threads about the bad service experience with German Cars be it a BMW, Merc, Audi or a VW. This thread is about why the Germans are bad at providing service and why they will always will be bad at providing service thereby helping in a small way to manage your expectations when you buy a German car.

7. Future Speak: You can wait for another 10 years but don’t ever think that german service will change. German Service WAS, IS AND WILL ALWAYS BE BAD. So if you’re buying a german car go in with your eyes wide open and be prepared to trade off your service expectation for technology, design, driving pleasure and your need to make a statement.

You have been warned!
This makes pretty stark reading. I guess that is why I do not think of VW at the time of changing my car.
But maybe things are changing, at least in the advanced markets. A couple of links, both recent, that hopefully are a harbinger to changes in their attitudes?

The first link talks about Mercedes offering bonuses to dealers with better customer service in the USA.
http://www.autoevolution.com/mercede...ice-70387.html



The second one is a 2013 JD Power UK Dealer survey that shows Mercedes at No 4 (yes, behind Honda & Lexus) but ahead of Toyota. And the joker in the pack in that one is that Skoda is at No 7, high up on the list. Now isn't that a jaw-dropper?
And at the top of the list there is Jaguar.
Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel for Indian luxury/German car buyers? In about 10 years?
http://www.whatcar.com/car-news/car-...survey/1207988

Last edited by wilful : 17th November 2013 at 07:26.
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Old 17th November 2013, 09:06   #19
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

I think 'better service' involves capital costs in warehousing large critical spares stocks and logistics. The cost involved therein could be equivalent to setting up a new plant, is not a high visibility feature and requires significant energy and devoting money & material for maintaining this feature. If companies can save on this aspect then they can report more profits and repatriate the proceeds to their parent companies. So they have to depend on costly couriers for sending in spares from their warehouses in Germany or wherever on demand from their Indian subsidiaries. Now, to save costs on these they may have a system of once in a fortnight bulk spares shipment as a numbered order list from all their Indian dealers. So this is what takes time to service and obtain spares.
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Old 17th November 2013, 10:19   #20
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Nice write up. You've summarised it pretty well.

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Originally Posted by VeyronSuperSprt View Post
Even if you put up threads , blogs or even manage an article in a newspaper do you think that other potential BMW buyers will not buy a BMW ? They will buy one regardless of your experience. This is the harsh reality.
This is probably one of the main reasons why German car makers don't think their poor service attitude is a problem area. People continue to buy their products no matter how many harassed customers post negative feedback. Its the way they have positioned their products. They don't go to town claiming to be the most reliable or providing the best service. All they say is that their products are the most advanced and cutting edge, which makes them desirable.

Though they get so much negative publicity about the poor reliability, bad service and expensive repairs, you can't deny the fact that there are a lot of very delighted customers as well. You have BMW/ Audi/ Merc fanboys who can't stop talking about their steeds. They must be doing something right to keep these folks hooked on. They do deliver on their promise of technological superiority and brand exclusivity. If you want good service, they'll say "please contact the Asians".
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Old 17th November 2013, 10:26   #21
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Post re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Hi VeyronSuperSprt,

A fantastic article and an unparalleled observation. I just loved the way you have put things together to make us understand or warn us about the harsh reality of German cars. And as you have said this article is not going to make any significant change in the mindset of us customers.

To own a BMW or an Audi you need to earn it regardless of whatever the consequence are later on. These are not just some other cars to say leave them they do not provide good service. And to enjoy the pure pleasure of the German engineering we are forced to elide factors such as servicing or the problems we may encounter in the future.

My brother's friend who works a manager in Skoda sales department says that Skoda has taken enormous measures to improve the service quality and to eliminate the bad ASS image but after reading this article I am doubt that this could happen any time soon.

There is also such a huge image associated with German's that we can hardly ignore.
A small story how my aunt finalized Vento: My aunt who is a DGM of united india insurance wanted to buy a car and had asked for my opinion. Since she wanted only a petrol car I wanted her to check out Honda City. Since most of her colleagues had Honda City she did not want to go for Honda City. Finally the decision was between Hyundai Verna and Volkswagen Vento. Since Volkswagen had a bigger image than Hyundai she immediately decided on Vento even without test driving or checking out Verna. This is how Germans make their sales and attract customers. Image, quality and brilliant engineering is all they need for customers who are not worried about ASS.
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Old 17th November 2013, 11:35   #22
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

As a German living in India I would like to say that I wouldn't want to drive a German car in India.

Yes you got the brand value. I am serious. Jumping in a Benz after your business meeting in a five star hotel and people just see you in a different light. So I believe that for most Indians a German car means that they have reached that "high position" in life.

German cars are made for German roads on which one can drive with insane speed and no disturbance, potholes or any other freak incidences (I always say that I am getting bored on German highways...nothing happens).

Anyway the one issue is that the cars from today are fully of technology. Just imagine when your VW Golfs light bulb don't work the first thing the mechanic in Germany does is check the status by plugging in a computer which tells him exactly what has to be done (like exchange light bulb!). Service in Germany works on a different level. When you have a breakdown you ll have some road side assistance in about 30 minutes anywhere in Germany. Most Germans are members of the ADAC (car club) which gives road side assistance, towing, quick repair for a nominal fee (like Rs. 2000 p. year)

Coming to the topic.

I truly believe that you cannot run a service center in India by training people in a 2 week crash course and paying them Rs. 8000 a month. A mechanic in Germany has been schooled and trained for 3 years and afterwards he will be trained and updated on each and every car model he is working on specifically.

First and foremost running a service center successfully would mean to truly care for the product. Cars of today are masterpieces of engineering and electronic. Letting untrained and uncaring people handling a 20 Lakh + product is just unjustified.

This whole dealership franchise system doesn't work for premium products. I believe MB, BMW, AUDI, PORSCHE should just run their own dealerships and service centres living up to the high expectations of customers.
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Old 17th November 2013, 11:38   #23
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

There is a bit of psychology behind this. Most 'premium' segment brands tend to have a snobbish attitude associated with it. Value, among other things is dependent on scarcity. By making you jump through hoops, the objective is to make you believe that this product is not something you simply get, but earn. Unlike the flopped bourneville, which merely claimed that it needed to be earned, but was there at every shop, Geman manufacturers have positioned their car in such a way that by making it hard for the customer, the cognitive dissonance of the customer rationalizes it by convincing the customer that since he had to try so much to get the car, it must have been worth it.

And it is not entirely without a backing. evolutionarily, men have used various methods to signal their fitness and status to others. For example, for a male peacock, the plumage has absolutely no practical value, but to attract females, and it is an inconvenience. Yet, the male with the most perfect plumage is selected by females. The logic is assumed to be that, if a male can keep his plumage intact, despite all the problems other peacocks have to contend with, then it is an indicator of it's abilities and fitness.

Similarly, if you look at all sorts of status displays among humans - i mean look no further than cars - giant wings, negative camber wheels, low GC, impossibly loud exhausts, big skirts - despite their impracticality, this is done by those who can afford it (cost/time wise) to differentiate themselves. Most mortals would not even think about it - even it they wanted to , (at least I wouldn't mind), but it is not feasible, hence most of us drive around in rather bland cars. So when someone actually does it, it shouts out to others - look I am rich, I can afford it. Driving around in a german car is a more subtle way of sending across the same message.

By building a prestigious brand, and then making it incredibly expensive to own, these brands have been able to target a very profitable segment of the market - PT Barnum would have been proud - those with enough money, but either don't know or don't care about these issues. Much like apple. And for those of you who ask about marketshare - Their game is margins, not numbers. If they sell too much, they stand in danger of making themselves too common and diluting their brand value. They will sell only to a limited volume, but will extract their pound of flesh from them, and their buyers will protest, but give them - because their rationalization will convince them that it was worth it. As long as it keeps up their basic quality.

However that is their Achilles heel. They have built up their existing image because their cars were well engineered, or over engineered rather. But the new spate of issues that seem to be affecting them - DSG failures and what not, might prove to be their undoing.

Last edited by greenhorn : 17th November 2013 at 12:01.
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Old 17th November 2013, 11:47   #24
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeyronSuperSprt View Post
You have read a lot of threads about the bad service experience with German Cars be it a BMW, Merc, Audi or a VW. This thread is about why the Germans are bad at providing service and why they will always will be bad at providing service thereby helping in a small way to manage your expectations when you buy a German car.
Very well-summarized points albeit some stereotyping.

A few thoughts after reading this:
  • Do all Non-German brands provide Service Excellence? I believe the basic premise of this comparison is the high service standards set by the Japanese brands (and one Korean). But do all non-German brands superior service experience? Or this service excellence is limited to Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Suzuki? For example, a quick glance on the Indian dealership section will reveal some not-so-pleasant experiences with Nissan service centres.
  • Playing it safe by limiting the product portfolio: In my opinion, the big Japanese brands are playing it too safe with the models they choose to sell in India. A problematic BMW have more models on sale in India (almost their entire range), when compared to a Toyota or Honda. The strategy of the latter is safe because big volumes are coming from a few cheap to buy and maintain models. On the flipside they are depriving the Indian customers of many world class products they have in their portfolio. If the GT86 was a BMW product, it should have got on Indian roads by now. At least the Germans provide options to the customers.
  • Why no alternatives? Why is the Japanese holding back from providing alternatives / competition to the big Germans (e.g.; Lexus)? Is it because they donít have the confidence to make it in those segments, or they donít foresee good profit margins?
  • Brand positioning: A VW Polo may not be able to challenge the dominance of a Suzuki Swift in the lower end, but itís the same scenario in the other end, with positions reversed. Why are Japanese not able to penetrate into the premium segments? With their excellent service backup, they ideally should be able to tackle these segments with ease. But in India their presence is almost non-existent from D2 segment. Month-on-month, the so-called problematic Skoda Superb (petrol) sells more than a reliable Camry, Sonata or a Teana.
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Old 17th November 2013, 11:56   #25
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Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
There is a bit of psychology behind this. Most 'premium' segment brands tend to have a snobbish attitude associated with it. Value, among other things is dependent on scarcity. By making you jump through hoops, the objective is to make you believe that this product is not something you simply get, but earn. Unlike the flopped bourneville, which merely claimed that it needed to be earned, but was there at every shop, Geman manufacturers have positioned their car in such a way that by making it hard for the customer, the cognitive dissonance of the customer rationalizes it by convincing the customer that since he had to try so much to get the car, it must have been worth it. And it is not entirely without a backing. evolutionarily, men have used various methods to signal their fitness and status to others. For example, for a male peacock, the plumage has absolutely no practical value, but to attract males, and it is an inconvenience. Yet, the males with the most perfect plumage is selected by females. The logic is assumed to be that, if a male can keep his plumage intact, despite all the problems other peacocks have to contend with, then it is an indicator of it's abilities and fitness. Similarly, if you look at all sorts of status displays among humans - i mean look no further than cars
I used to teach genetics and i would use use similar examples of fancy while teaching mate selection
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Old 17th November 2013, 12:03   #26
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

I have no experience with the service of these brands here in India. But I have owned any number of Audi's, Mercedes, BMWs, and VWs back in Europe. And overall I would rate their services in most cases not just very good, but probably excellent. I spend several years in the USA and although I owned different cars, I know plenty people who owned these cars and where highly satisfied with the services. Americans are very sensitive about services.

In fact I owned a Jaguar. The local dealer was also the local dealer for Landrover,Mercedes, Maserati and Porsche, all three brands together.

http://www.aristocratmotors.com

So I often wandered around the various showrooms and workshops and I would say their service was of similar high quality as I got on my Jaguar.

So, for whatever the reason, but I do believe this appears to be something very specific for India. The whole story about these brands focussing on different matter than after sales, I my opinion, based on what I've seen, heard and experienced, in other parts of the world, simply isn't true.

You try these German brands in Germany. Walk into the showroom, you will be treated as king/queen. Germans are very particular when it comes to car. Trust me their (after sales) service in their home country is of very high quality. As it is in most other countries, I'm familiar with. Except in India

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Old 17th November 2013, 12:13   #27
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

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Originally Posted by urban legend View Post
In my opinion a car has to be engineered with near zero defects and bullet proof reliability. There are so many reports of german cars breaking down or malfunctioning which is un acceptable. How would you feel if you bought a car worth 20-25 lakhs with your hard earned money and it keeps breaking down or leaves you stranded?
I totally agree. Engineering is not about putting hundreds of feature together and shipping the product. One has to build a product that is practically fault-proof. Especially when the said product is an automobile, where a failure can even cause driver fatality.
Honestly I don't think European carmakers have that rigid quality control. I have some experience in consumer electronics and now in Automotive electronics. I have seen the Japanese CE manufacturers being obsessed with not having a defect in their final product. One can see that in regular life in Japan too, they are probably one of the most gizmo loving people in the whole world. But the best part of that obsession is that everything works, I have never seen an out of order board anywhere. Points to quality of product and the attention to service.
In terms of feature and the engineering in cars, I don't find that much of difference between a luxury branded Japanese car vs European cars. Only difference is that for most Japanese cars it is really hassle free ownership, whereas the hassle free ownership for European cars last till the expiration of warranty period. This happens in developed economies, so what chance do we have in India. If we are just happy with resounding "thud" of the door in European cars, then no wonder we will get similar level of service.
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Old 17th November 2013, 12:21   #28
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

The extreme-engineered German cars means one thing: the upkeep of them also needs sound expertise.

We all know how even trained A.S.S mechanics fumble with diagnosis and finding the exact part to replace in European brands(Fiat, Ford, erstwhile Opel). There would be a parts replacement spree that would happen resulting in huge service bills and still no solution to the original issue reported.

So when they say poor service for BMW, Merc, Audi, VW., it is not entirely surprising.
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Old 17th November 2013, 13:17   #29
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

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Originally Posted by Bookkeeper View Post
How exactly is in everyone's interest to continue to offer horrendous after sales. Won't improving the service levels open up a new front for competition and innovation?

...

My contention is isn't it absurd to say that even in these times of cutthroat competition it would be okay for them to sit back and let the consume suffer rather than sit up and take proactive steps to improve the service.
These companies don't care as long as they meet their targets. They know very well that they are better-off existing as a trinity competing with each other instead of diluting their brand value and having to compete with other players too.

Even for current customers of the Big Three, some of them might actually be enjoying the snob value to show that they are rich enough to afford the maintenance costs of Audi/Merc/BMW. If better service leads to more sales, these customers might drift away to other options since they lose the current exclusivity in owning these brands.

The day these cars become too common on the roads, people would drift away towards more VFM (Lexus, Acura, Infiniti or even higher end VWs instead of low end of Big Three) or more exclusive upmarket choices (likes of Porsche instead of high end Big Three) making these brands struggle to get away with the margins they currently enjoy.

Greenhorn has summed it up pretty well on why it would be better for the 'Big Three' to sell lesser volumes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by greenhorn View Post
There is a bit of psychology behind this. Most 'premium' segment brands tend to have a snobbish attitude associated with it. Value, among other things is dependent on scarcity.

...

Their game is margins, not numbers. If they sell too much, they stand in danger of making themselves too common and diluting their brand value. They will sell only to a limited volume, but will extract their pound of flesh from them, and their buyers will protest, but give them - because their rationalization will convince them that it was worth it. As long as it keeps up their basic quality.
Fully agree on the exclusivity and brand dilution angle.

Some might even ignore the basic quality for the brand. I know a Merc owner whose car spent more time at the work shop than on the road forcing him to use his other cars most of the time. Still, he was a Merc owner and enjoyed that status though he rarely got the chance to enjoy the car. As for the ladies in the family, it gave them a chance to boast in their circles that they own a Merc by narrating the bad experiences with the car. That Merc actually served the purpose for which it was bought - 'social status for the family'.

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Originally Posted by GrammarNazi View Post
AFAIK, Skoda & Volkswagen have barely been able to gain even 1% market share over the past decade in India. Its only Audi thats doing comparatively well over the past 1-2 year(s).
Quote:
VW/Skoda/Audi/Merc/BMW
Every sacrifice comes at a price!

I guess we are getting confused because we are clubbing 2 different segments with totally different perceived values and then generalizing for both.

Audi/Merc/BMW are the German luxury brands across the globe and it carries that aspirational value anywhere. People would be willing to overlook some of the issues with these just to be associated with these brands, be it in any part of the world.

VW/Skoda are just regular cars of German origin. Strictly speaking, Skoda is not even German, they are Czech and can only say that their parent/neighbor is German! Even VW doesn't carry much more image globally than what a Honda/Nissan/Toyota carries. Not many people would be willing to overlook the same issues they would ignore for the German Trinity if the reward is a VW instead.

Last edited by zenren : 17th November 2013 at 13:23.
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Old 17th November 2013, 13:55   #30
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

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Originally Posted by YellowEye View Post
I truly believe that you cannot run a service center in India by training people in a 2 week crash course and paying them Rs. 8000 a month. A mechanic in Germany has been schooled and trained for 3 years and afterwards he will be trained and updated on each and every car model he is working on specifically.

First and foremost running a service center successfully would mean to truly care for the product. Cars of today are masterpieces of engineering and electronic. Letting untrained and uncaring people handling a 20 Lakh + product is just unjustified.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramzsys View Post
The extreme-engineered German cars means one thing: the upkeep of them also needs sound expertise.

We all know how even trained A.S.S mechanics fumble with diagnosis and finding the exact part to replace in European brands(Fiat, Ford, erstwhile Opel).

I think this fact probably goes to the root of this issue, and answers a lot of other points raised here, as in why things are so bad with Germans specifically in India.

Also, who knows, maybe the Japs are smart enough to figure this out and so shy from launching high end products which may have service issues in future and thus cause brand dilution. After all, they have a brand recognition based on providing falwless service, why would they want to jeopardize that!

Excellent stuff supersport, does give a fresh insight into the whole European vs Japanese debate.
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