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Old 13th February 2009, 03:13   #1
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Default Is the average Indian car buyer too tolerant?

Our entire forums is littered with posts talking about complains. some big, some small. However there is a trend in the posts. It goes like this.

"Yup my car has run 1000kms without any problem. There is just a slight rattle from the door. All in all a great experience." So here we have a gentleman, whose brand new car's door rattles, but he calls it good experience.

"Then there are some other posts like. Well there are few niggles, there are a few part failures, but when you buy brand XXX, you got to live with it. After all these are small thing compared to the wonderful power and handling." Ok wait a minute. Somebody spends their years salary on a car, and he should not complain because it handles well?

And then there are posts which really take the cake. "Well my car is doing really well. Its very very reliable. I don't know why people say the reliability is below average. Look at me I have had minor problems. AC failure around 1000kms, Some clutch failure at 7000kms, some ECU issues around 10000, but all sorted under warranty. I have broken down just twice in these 10000kms and the service people always rescue me. I am very happy with my very reliable daily driver"

Now all these are not actual posts. Just some summaries.
Here we have people who visit the service center every month to get their new car fixed, and yet say the car is very nice.
Moreover it appears that by selling the car to you the manufacturer has bestowed a favor on you, rather than the other way round.
When a service van comes in 1 hour, people write "how wonderful experience it was". Well whats so wonderful about breaking down. I remember seeing a Hyundai advert, part of their "Think" Campain.
The tagline went like this

"Think... When a car company offers breakdown service, aren't they really helping themselves"

Somehow on the board, many people have forgotten, that by selling a car, nobody is doing you a favor. Just by owning a tank/beast/pari/angel/bull, its not that some kind of honour or power or blessing has been bestowed upon you. You are doing the favor to the company by buying their car.

How is it okay for a 1000kms car to rattle. How can a vehicle which as clutch issues at 7000kms be termed reliable and good quality.

You buy a 5 lakh car to go on and on, on your daily commutes. Whether it handles well on the race track, why do you even care. How many of you have ever even stood on a race track, or watched a track race in person. Yet somehow the being quicker to 100kmph by 1 second is more important than reaching the destination??

So the question I am asking here is, is the average Indian consumer too tolerant, and is willing to accept poor quality after sale service/poor product quality/lousy service? does the average buyer think that just because the door does not fall of if I close it too hard its a great car, or just because the seats and suspension is very comfortable, its okay to have poor electronics? Or just because the car is "great handler/Built like a tank/looks like a beast/fastest 0-100 in its class", it makes it a great car irrespective of the lousy service that is bestowed at service stations?
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Old 13th February 2009, 03:32   #2
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Nice thread tsk ! Two reasons I can think of -

More often that tolerant, an average Indian customer is egoistic to admit that he paid X lakhs and got a bad product. He would make every lame excuse to justify his investment even though the quality is poor

Partly because of the inefficient judiciary system what we have in India. No one has time to run behind the consumer courts which would take ages to give verdict on a complaint, so no one bother s(or don’t have much choice) incase of not-very-serious quality issues.

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Old 13th February 2009, 03:52   #3
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The unequivocal answer is YES. I think this is also to do with the 'Chalta hai - Hindi' or 'Swalpa Adjust Madkoli - Kannada' approach we seem to have for everything in life.
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Old 13th February 2009, 04:09   #4
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We have this mentality from dealing with the local grocery store all the way leading to our Foreign policies! This 'Its OK' attitude is there in our blood!

We need to change from ground up... but this is more like asking to swim against the tide!

And yes, as mentioned by SuperLeggera, without a proper backing from the judiciary, how long do you think any entity will fight against a system to correct it!
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Old 13th February 2009, 05:04   #5
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tsk, sadly I have to agree with you. We are too tolerant as a community. It's ironic that you posted this thread because the other day I was just thinking of my 2006 Ford Fiesta diesel I had.

As recently as a month ago my fiesta caught on fire [possibly a freak engine fault, it's unrecognizable so it's hard to tell the cause] it completely burned, there was nothing salvageable, the ICE, iPods, everything. There was nothing left in the car but metal [for those who are interested in hearing, I will upload pictures and maybe start a thread when I am able to.

But, the funny thing about this is that now when I am looking at cars to buy, I still find myself at used car lots admiring a Ford Fiesta completely unaware. Mine maybe quite an extreme case but, yes I do still think a Fiesta is the best car for me [monetarily, performance-wise, and practically] even though mine had caught fire.

Maybe I am too tolerant of this issue but I think the root cause of our tolerance must stem from the fact that we make excuses for them. For example, I tried justifying it by saying it was a freak accident and not ALL Ford Fiestas will catch fire. I even tried to explain to myself that the chances of it happening are probably one-in-how many ever are on the road today.

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Old 13th February 2009, 08:31   #6
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My Honda, touchwood, has been a trouble free experience for 8 years.
However, I think of it as a good thing - are you going to focused on deriving the pleasure out of the wads of cash you've spent, or destroy your peace for the minor irritants (I'm not including the ECU-failure-on-the-highway kind of situations in this) that you run into a couple of times a year?

As an analogy which has little to do with manufacturers, small nicks and dents are inevitable in our cities. I used to be heartbroken and tried fixing each little one in the first year or so - and was more or less miserable all the time. Made my peace soon, and all that mattered was the feel of the engine through the revs, the comfort inside and the point-and-shoot ability. Now I just smile at the occasional Kinetic that decides to test the rear bumpers
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Old 13th February 2009, 08:52   #7
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Yes we are.

We complain, but we decide to suffer instead of doing something about it.
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Old 13th February 2009, 09:06   #8
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TSK1979, a very nice thread.

You have pinpointed to a very basic problem that is rampant. The problem is cheating. But there are many reasons for this. An average person manages to buy a car after mid 30's of age. At that time the social concern and social pattern make the person overlook many factors. The excitement is too much as owning a car would be an achievement as far as our society goes. More the social patter is such that people offer sympathy but not support. If a person tell his relatives/friends, etc about the problem he has with car, the first reaction will be a sadistic smile and words " dude you got cheated, never do this and that ". This and that are just joking words. This is part of fear of revealing about a defective car or irritating reliability.

Now comes the manufacturer part. They are infact also corrupted it seems. Crash an Accord made in India and one made in US. Do this for all the cars available internationally and we will know the reality. IMO to a very big margin corruption is responsible for this also. Even if the manufacturer wants to make a move, the person/s affected by this move will use contacts. I have heard of this a lot. Very very complex sitution.

Now the dealers. In short, we can say they are people with good contacts and money. An average person cannot go head on with them.

All these factors lead to a situation where the average car buyer will be resilient by force. Inadvertently he accepts the harsh reality and goes on with it.

The final factor is operating conditions. No offence meant to anyone, but here I have seen people call their SUV as truck/bull, etc. Bring them to my area and within a month everything in that will fall off and rattles will come up. The roads are too bad. In monsoon even ambulance does get stuck up here in my area. An example: During our 65K kms with Maruti 800, only once were the lower arms changed in front suspension. After this dad started using car as his daily transport. Last one year and we have 8 lower arms to be thrown away. You get the idea.

I have brought that truck/bull into conversation just to prove that the operating conditions are so bad that even SUV that are well built with good suspensions are not able to cope up with road conditions, how can we expect cars with less suspension travel and not so well built, cope up with our roads. Rattles mostly come up because of operating conditions. A few cars are exception though.

NOTE : I have brought SUVs just to prove that no car can avoid having rattles considering road condition manily. No offence meant to anyone.
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Old 13th February 2009, 09:44   #9
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In a country where running water in household taps is unheard of, where power failures are a daily occurrence, where 'roads' have foot-deep potholes, where pedestrians get run over on a daily basis on National Highways & Expressways, where half the nation defecates in the open, where most bureaucrats & elected politicians are horrendously corrupt and are above the law, where court cases come up for a hearing only after decades, ... the list is endless .... why single us out about car-buying tolerance?

We tolerate everything, no matter how gross, no matter how out-of-sync with the rest of the world!
Shrug your shoulders and say, "We are like that only"!

Where do we go from here?
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Old 13th February 2009, 09:45   #10
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It is not just about car, its the general attitude. One of my professors used to say that the greatest strength of Indians is "Swapa Adjust Maadi" (Kannada for "please adjust a bit"). We are very accommodating. According to him, this was one of most important factors behind the success of Indian IT industry. As an example, where else would one be ready to take phone calls and work till midnight and then be ready for calls and work early in the morning, day after day, year after year. I agree with him.

The other aspect the comes into play is that we grow up with the notion that life isn't perfect and we will have to adjust to make ourselves happy. While this allows us to be sane while handling the chaos at work, home and on streets, it makes us a little bit complacent.

Every time, we run into a problem, we tend to find a way to either avoid it, fix it temporarily or assume that it is OK for this to have problem, let us fix this and move on. Taking a stand against it and getting the root cause fixed, is not our strength. This culture is part of the reason that we are good at doing process innovation instead of product innovation. We are very good at finding the best way of using a defective product and work around it instead of getting the product fixed in the first place.

So when one buys a car and it has problems "swalpa adjust maadi" mentality comes into play for most of us and we don't think it is a big deal. Niggles that one faces in some vehicles here would be enough to make people elsewhere not buy them. Yet, we patronize these products.
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Old 13th February 2009, 10:04   #11
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compared to the world , possibly, but my dad says compared to the times when he had to travel to chennai and bribe a dealer 20k in the early 80's to get an ambassador ( and then travel with almost half the car ( including drivetrain) as spares, this is much better.

While we have moved forward from then, we still need to move further . but who will take the game further? Toyota is there , but they dont want to move any further down the value chain. Some other manufacturers still havent ironed out the bugs in their supply chains for sales and service ( and rogue ASC's dont help either)
and then there are some "premium" brands who are quite happy to keep fleecing their customers, and some customers who are willing to pay the premium for the exclusivity, even at the cost of getting an inferior product!
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Old 13th February 2009, 10:32   #12
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Quite some good points there, tsk.

For every 5 Swift owners whose car doesn't rattle, we have 25 whose car would put a rattle-snake to shame. But does this prevent the consumer from falling over themselves to queue up for Swifts ? No way. Infact, for diesels, they are ready to wait for months even. That explains our attitude.

One reason I see is the first time car buyers might think it is normal for a car to have the odd rattle or an occasional breakdown. After all this is a machine with a few hundred parts in it - so they might think this is not a big deal.

But what I found odd on tbhp was when people who have had prior experience with renowned manufacturers (where they never had to visit the service centre for anything other than scheduled services) and are knowledgeable enough to know that a new car in today's age should not have niggles or breakdowns or a/c failures, very matter-of-factly accept such issues in another brand of cars that they own. In some cases these cars happen to be the flagship model of the company costing a million rupees and more.

And yes, when someone terms these cars as unreliable, it is not accepted.

Originally Posted by greenhorn
and then there are some "premium" brands who are quite happy to keep fleecing their customers, and some customers who are willing to pay the premium for the exclusivity, even at the cost of getting an inferior product!
What brand and product are you talking about ? When you said 'premium' I thought you were mentioning Honda, but I dont think their product can be called inferior. When you say 'fleecing' mind thinks of Skoda, but again the product is not bad, only the A.S.S.. So confused.

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 13th February 2009 at 10:36.
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Old 13th February 2009, 10:39   #13
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This attitude maybe because there is no faith in our Judicial system in India. Even if you wanted to, lets say sue the manufacturer do you think its easy?

For smaller niggles like rattles etc the conditions of our roads are also lot responsible. I think more than cars, the general condition of roads in cities (and even highways), traffic patterns (no respect to rules, there are no concept of traffic lights in most smaller places even), vehicle abuse (e.g. bad quality of petrol/diesel, no quality control of replacement parts, excessive use of clutch/brakes/accelerator etc) are much more of a problem. In comparison, cars nowdays are without doubt much better than ever!

I would say bad roads contribute to a lot of problems with cars (things like squeaks or rattles or probably even parts breaking apart.) It probably is not possible to design a reliable/rattle-free car for India. I negotiate 100+ craters of various shapes and sizes in my daily 10 KM commute to my office in Noida (this when all roads were laid brand new last year! One month of rains and its all patches of tar here and there!)
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Old 13th February 2009, 10:47   #14
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Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
What brand and product are you talking about ? When you said 'premium' I thought you were mentioning Honda, but I dont think their product can be called inferior. When you say 'fleecing' mind thinks of Skoda, but again the product is not bad, only the A.S.S.. So confused.
I had the fabia in mind . A friend had his neighbour buy a fabia diesel. though the guy extols fabia virtues in public, he secretly admitted to him that he now wishes he'd bought a swift/getz diesel instead. Even the initial batches of lauras had their share of gremlins.
And then there is the issue of BMW's and RFT's in india

Last edited by greenhorn : 13th February 2009 at 10:51.
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Old 13th February 2009, 10:48   #15
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A very good thread topic. I tend to agree with some of the other members here.

1. This issue of taking consumers for a ride is prevalent in all industries. This is a reflection of the society as well.

The customer who is "adjusting" with a bad quality product is from the same society / conditioning as the car manufacturer's employee in the QC department who is "compromising" with the standards.

2. Just out of curiousity, don't cars breakdown in other countries? Is there a parameter to judge the quality and reliability through different countries?
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