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Old 16th November 2013, 22:14   #1
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Default Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

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.

1. Corporate Strategy: In order to be a successful corporate you need to have a differentiating strategy that sets you apart from the rest. The Germans realized this a long ago and their strategy was to focus on their strengths and over look their weaknesses. They realized that their strength was in being able to engineer good products and they also realized their weakness was that they would never be able to provide service as good as the competition. So how did they think through this and overcome their weakness? They decided to come out with outstandingly engineered cars which were ahead in terms of technology, design, driving pleasure etc which were eons ahead of the competition in such a manner that their deficiency in service would be ignored. And believe you me, they’ve really succeeded.

2. Energies focused on product not service: What the germans have done is to focus more than 90% of their total energies in coming out with outstanding cutting edge products. If you look at more than 90% of technological innovations they have all come out initially in german cars. In comparison, they have not done anything innovative in the service area to improve the after sales ownership experience. Read on to know why they needn’t.

3. Take a look at all German car positioning : Audi: “Vorsprung Das Technik” never Vorsrpung Das Service, VW: “German Engineering” Ever heard of anyone talking about “German Service” ? Mercedes Benz – The future of the automobile. BMW – Pure Driving Pleasure. All german car positioning has been to highlight their engineering strengths and downplay their service weakness. Mercedes Benz invented the automobile and after 100+ years they still haven’t got around to providing customer service. Why is it that they can come out with so much of technological innovations they can’t deal with a relatively simple area such as providing good service?

4. No Alternative: The German strategy has worked so well that there is No Alternative if you need to make a statement with your car . Of course, this doesn’t apply to those who can buy A Rolls Royce or a Bentley. Have you noticed that “I drive a Volvo” doesn’t have quite the same ring as “I drive an Audi”. Service be damned. And the germans know this too well. It A few of us post threads on the lack of service by the germans but do you think the vast majority of potential german car buyers could be bothered ? They know they don’t have an option if they have to make a statement with their car and impress their potential customers or their high society friends at the lobby of that 7 star hotel.

5. Targeting Owners of 3 or more cars: Another german strategy has been to position their cars ideally for the owners of 3 or more cars. This helps their cause when the car takes slightly longer in the workshop on account of non availablility of spare parts or service incompetence (read high bills) and is another way that they overcome their service deficiency.

6. Low Cost Variants: However, the more recent strategy necessitated by entry into Asian and other markets with low priced / stripped down corporate/celebration/C versions is targeting the single car owner and these owners will be the most effected by this lack of service. However, this is only a small percentage of their total volumes.

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.

8. Out of Sync with Indian Thinking: The German Strategy is completely out of sync with the mindset of the typical Indian car buying public of buying one car and expecting high levels of service as they get from Maruti or Hyundai. But the Germans don’t care, they will still get their slice of the pie from the Indian market from the customers who have “arrived” and desperately need to make a statement to their neighbours.

9. Escalation - huh? whats that ? : Don’t ever fool yourself that you can get service by complaining or escalating your situation because of the reason “I have paid a lot of money for my BMW”. They will make a sham of responding to you and after a point even that will not be there. Why should they respond to you ? 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.

10. Question: So you are a potential BMW, Audi or Mercedes Benz buyer and after reading this thread will you reconsider your decision to buy any of the three ? NO WAY!! You will still buy one because even after knowing that service will be an issue, once you reach the levels where you have to make a statement with your car, YOU HAVE NO CHOICE, but to grin, fork out your money and bear the bad service!!

You have been warned!

Last edited by VeyronSuperSprt : 16th November 2013 at 22:24.
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Old 16th November 2013, 22:30   #2
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Nice observation there and completely understand your opinion. I would like to ask if you have suffered by owning a german product?

In fact the only reason I would stay away from VW especially is because of the service. I agree that the german cars have fantastic engines/engineering but servicing them can be an issue afterwards (not saying everyone will suffer but I am just too scared of paying huge bills for enjoying their fantastic engines.
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Old 16th November 2013, 22:36   #3
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

A fantastic keeper of an article there. You seem to have researched them deeply. Is maintaining a servicing logistics chain so damn expensive and capital intensive that they had to make a choice between bread and butter and focused on butter. You are right in the opinion that the focus of Germans is elsewhere and not on the customers. They seem to care more about dealers, suppliers, vendors, make a smashing product with hot knife in butter type slick gearbox and few other mechanicals and leave it at that. It is their corporate philosophy and they leave it to the customers to sing praises about the product and create brand differentiation and brand value.

Also you are right, one hears about 'German engineering' from even a layman who never ever bothers about 'German service' which is always pathetic and underequipped.
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Old 16th November 2013, 22:37   #4
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

While your point that the Germans have traditionally been more focused on technology and product development might be or is certainly true, I'd beg to differ on the aspect that they are arrogant and have no intention whatsoever to improve the service standards.

Yes sir I do see the lighter side of your post. However, aren't these German brands competing amongst each other? Being competitive would not only mean developing better products but also offering better customer experience not only in terms of sales but after sales as well.

So definitely they would and should make an attempt at improving the service levels as if Brand X knows that service is a weak point of Brand Y, X would definitely try and capitalize on it and improve their service experience and use it as a USP.

Isn't that's the way competition works?

P.s. These are just my thoughts, I don't own a German car and have no first hand experience with their service.
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Old 16th November 2013, 22:39   #5
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeyronSuperSprt View Post
They decided to come out with outstandingly engineered cars
Then I guess their customers are using all these flatbeds to get out of traffic jams?

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...rman-cars.html (PICS : How flatbed tow trucks would run out of business without German cars!)

Cheers,
Vikram

Last edited by comfortablynumb : 16th November 2013 at 22:43.
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Old 16th November 2013, 22:48   #6
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Default Re: Why The Germans NEED NOT And WILL NOT Giv You Service

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Originally Posted by Bookkeeper View Post
However, aren't these German brands competing amongst each other? Being competitive would not only mean developing better products but also offering better customer experience not only in terms of sales but after sales as well.
That's precisely the reason they still get away with bad service. Customers don't have a choice of getting a German luxury car with good service - all 3 brands are equally bad and hence all of them survive comfortably.

If one of the German trio improves and gets miles ahead in service, customers would start ditching the other two brands but its unlikely to happen! All 3 are safe since its in everyone's interest to keep the status quo with the pathetic service.
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Old 16th November 2013, 22:51   #7
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

That's an interesting perspective. I hope you aren't one of the flatbed customers and aren't using this as another innovative criticism. In any case the article provides some good insight into the German car ownership expectations.

How did you make these observations? Are there any resources online/offline which would point in this direction? Do car owners in Europe, or maybe even Germany, expect (or maybe not expect) the same levels of service?

Surely as consumers they must demand good service? If so, how do they manage this dual mentality as a society?
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Old 16th November 2013, 22:55   #8
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saanil View Post
I would like to ask if you have suffered by owning a german product?
No, I have not suffered by owning a german product. In fact my experience has been very good but my case is different as I have connections at the factory level. This will not be the case with the typical german car buyer and this thread is intended for their benefit.
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Old 16th November 2013, 23:05   #9
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Well your arguements make a lot of sense. The basic premise on which they base there arrogance is lack of alternatives. So may be with the marching of Lexus, Volvo, Jeep and Volvo ( becoming stronger), this might change.
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Old 16th November 2013, 23:05   #10
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Default Re: Why The Germans NEED NOT And WILL NOT Giv You Service

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If one of the German trio improves and gets miles ahead in service, customers would start ditching the other two brands but it is unlikely to happen! All 3 are safe since its in everyone's interest to keep the status quo with the pathetic service.
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?

Yes I agree that it would entail greater costs for these companies which they may be reluctant to incur and can be something in their interest.

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.
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Old 16th November 2013, 23:06   #11
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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
No, I have not suffered by owning a german product. In fact my experience has been very good but my case is different as I have connections at the factory level. This will not be the case with the typical german car buyer and this thread is intended for their benefit.
What I am curious to know is whether people's perception of 'German cars' is the same everywhere (i.e. India vs. the world). If the german service is indeed that bad, it is perhaps not being reflected in their sales numbers (I can see VW/Skoda doing average numbers). Of course VW has been in the market for about 3-4 years so expecting them to be super awesome in service levels is not correct (versus Maruti/Hyundai who have been in India for quite some time now).

On the whole I agree with you, If you want future safety in terms of service you will have to give up driving pleasure, and if you opt for driving pleasure, you might have to give up long term reliability.
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Old 17th November 2013, 00:34   #12
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Service in Germany is very good , but expensive . Unlike India, people here have a lot of choices. I think it is the dominance of electronics (mechatronics) in their cars , where the expertise is still lacking.

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Old 17th November 2013, 00:55   #13
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

Good attempt to dig out some reality which is relatively unknown to us or even say developing markets.
VeyronSuperSprt, One thing you forgot to state is the dealer aspect of service, these German companies mostly allow single dealer/operator to operate in multiple cities(Monopoly) even upto in a whole state. This again rules out the 'Advantage of customer to compare costs across the different dealers', hence extracting better service in an area.

Spare european car manufacturers, auto cos from other areas like US(Ford, Chevrolet), Japan(Toyota, Honda, Maruti Suzuki) or even Korea(Hyundai, Daewoo in past) & off course India(TATA, Mahindra, AL) tend to reduce the ownership costs starting from their drawing boards, rather than depending on after-sales network only.
They reduce no. of parts of their products, altering their quality levels as per market needs(as did for Figo, ETIOS, etc) or even re-design to achieve the cost competitiveness at the ground level, which makes product easy to keep even 10 years after its purchase.

Don't know about the Germans though, but FIAT in India is trying to become the latter than typical 'Product oriented', because for long-term sustenance its all about delivering unlimited services support & value.

But even for Japanese or Korean cos, which are best at providing value products, the dealer-based service centres leave no stones unturned to extract the maximum money from the customers by missing the job tasks/activities stated in the cash memo/bills.
As the customer is unaware of technical details of his/her car, it remains the moral responsibility of dealer to deliver the best to them & DUTY OF THE COMPANY IS TO HAVE THE KEEN OBSERVATION ON THE DEALER-SERVICE-SPARE PARTS ACTIVITIES, including some Surprise checks/raids.
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Old 17th November 2013, 02:07   #14
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Default re: Why the Germans NEED NOT and WILL NOT give you Service

After so much brainstorming, with that last point it seemed you've given up! 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).

It all boils down to what the company wants. Each corporate automaker has a different attitude / work ethic / philosophy.

However expensive, if people know how much of a pain it is to own a VW/Skoda/Audi/Merc/BMW wrt the service front, then all they will feel for the owners is pity. Atleast I do. Most people research online to understand which car company serves its customers best.

Toyota is often well regarded for the service, hence, even though their comparatively low-tech offerings (Ex. M-Hawk V/s D4-D) are Extremely SEVERELY overpriced, cars like Innova & Fortuner regularly fly off the shelves in very good numbers. (Even though in reality, Innova has very short service schedules - every 5000kms IIRC?)

So, IMO basically most informed people would take pity at the owners of German cars coz they've read how owners are treated like dirt during service. People may not argue back when challenged by owners that its not so, but we'll always have an inner voice telling us, "...its not yet so".

Cheaters / Slackers, never prosper... not eventually atleast.

Last edited by GrammarNazi : 17th November 2013 at 02:12. Reason: typo
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Old 17th November 2013, 02:26   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPIKE ARRESTOR View Post
Service in Germany is very good , but expensive . Unlike India, people here have a lot of choices. I think it is the dominance of electronics (mechatronics) in their cars , where the expertise is still lacking.

Spike
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? Personally i feel european cars are very well engineered and an absolute pleasure to drive but not well put together and definitely not as reliable as japanese cars. Japanese manufacturers tend to make cars which dont fail, last for years and in case of honda are also good to drive. But they are very rigid in their principles and will never compromise on quality in their vendor base , thats why their cars are over priced. So its a throughly reliable, well engineered but pricey(for its segment and features on offer) japanese car vs a less reliable but extremely well engineered and loaded with features european car which is a drivers delight. Its an individuals choice whats more important for him/her.
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