- Amazing car
- Horrendous experience (Ongoing) Introduction:
I'd been driving a 2011 Vento TDI (1.6) which was passed on to me by my brother in 2016. The sheer joy of its power alone was enough to bring a smile on my face. The only major issue I had to face was in August 2016, when I had to change 2 injectors each of which cost around 25k. While it is said to be a common issue, the service centre blamed it on adulterated diesel that I might have filled.
For my periodic service that followed 1 lac kilometres on the ODO in 2019, I decided to take it someplace other than an authorised dealer in the hopes of getting a stiffer suspension (As the suspension had already reached the end of its life) and a fairly decent ECU remap to, you know, have more fun. But my brother was strictly against me spending any more money on an already 7-year-old potential white elephant. Despite all my desires to keep the car, I agreed to my brother and the hunt for a new car began (In reality, it had started a year ago as my brother wanted me to do it during the previous service as well). My requirements for the new car:
- Same or more power
- Good handling
- Comparable space
- Solid safety
- Automatic, preferably dual-clutch
- Cruise control
- Under 15 lacs
- Not a Vento again
I test drove a variety of cars, even decided to compromise certain requirements as I could not find any car the met my criteria (Maruti and Hyundai were never in consideration). After a few months, I got frustrated with the hunt and decided to expand my budget. Some of the cars that I test drove are the following, which in all fairness are apples, oranges and probably some watermelons too.
- Mahindra XUV300: Okay-ish power, super cheap interiors, nearly unusable boot. Downgrade from a Vento.
- Jeep Compass: Overpriced, no cruise control, felt the power was too low in comparison to the Vento.
- Honda Civic: This test drive alone warrants for a separate post as I've never been so disappointed in a car before. All my expectations were thrown out as soon as I floored the car because I think the rubber band was invented after taking inspiration from CVT!
- Kia Seltos: Loved the car in terms of looks, features and comfort. DCT was pretty nice, but 20+ lacs for a brand new in the market, which essentially is a Hyundai, didn't feel like the best bet.
- Tata Harrier: One of the best cars I've been in. Spacious, premium, but lacked the power in 2019 and there was no official confirmation about the launch of the automatic. Kept waiting for a few months to see if they'd announce the automatic.
- Skoda Octavia: Well, you all know how it went. I could not stop smiling after the test drive. I probably slept that night smiling, and I'm sure I woke up the next day with a smile.
I knew that if I had to buy a car, it had to be the Octavia even though it was super expensive considering that my budget was 15 lacs. Despite every warning against the horrible Skoda aftersales and unjustified spending on such a depreciating asset, I took the call when my wife said "I've never seen you smile like this. You should buy it. We'll see as it comes."
and a few other friends said "If it makes you that happy, go for it."
Skipping the details about weeks of negotiating between multiple Skoda dealers in Bangalore, Mysore and Kerala in August/September 2019, I decided to go with Vinayak Skoda, Bangalore as they quoted the best price (I'm sure most of you facepalm-ed now). At that point, I was unaware that Vinayak Skoda was taken to court for fraud. Anyway, I booked my Black Octavia L&K, 1.8 TSI which got delivered on 02/October/2019 (Yes, on a public holiday). Everything from the time of delivery until the time of typing this post has been horrendous. The delivery:
I was so excited to drive the car that I decided to let go of the swirl marks they made on the piano black B-pillar, and mostly because I was sure that it's an unavoidable tale of piano black atrocity that the car manufacturers are doing these days. Then they just handed over the key and the car manual and said that the insurance and other documents are inside the pouch. This is where I was a complete idiot. I was so careless that I did not notice several things which I will explain later in this post. There was no basket of goodies. The sales executive I had the entire dealing was not present. There was a person I had never seen before plus some housekeeping staff and security guard. From then, I've been plagues with issues after issues.
Issue 1: Horrible wheel alignment.Things I did right during the delivery
A few days after I took delivery is when I got the chance to drive the car on a highway instead of hay stacked Bangalore traffic. I immediately noticed that the alignment was off. I made sure that the tyre pressure was right before I took the car back to Vinayak Skoda. They asked me to leave the car there for a day. From 9 AM to 7 PM, the alignment could not be fixed. They asked me to go the next day. I took the car on the next weekend. 9 AM to 7 PM, they finally said they fixed the issue. This time, they had lifted my car and had unbolted and adjusted a lot of things on the engine and chassis. I have no idea what they did. It looked like the fix was alright, but the steering was a little tilted while the car went straight. They assured that it won't cause any problem, and I left it as I was super tired of spending 2 full days there.
Issue 2: A stuck passenger side door handle.
I noticed a few days later that the front passenger door handle was stuck and needed heavy force to open it. Took the car in again, they removed the whole panel and lubricated it. It seemed fine, only until I drove long distance in the sun only to realize that the grease oozed out and covered the door on the outside when the car got hot on the highway. I kept wiping the grease every time I drove the car in the sun until there was no more grease to ooze. I didn't want to go back and open the whole panel again as I had lost trust in the service already.
Issue 3: A wiper as good as a log
I noticed that the wiper was as good as rubbing a log over the windshield as it only worsened the visibility. Went to Vinayaka again. They replaced the wiper blades for free.
Issue 4: A random noise
A few weeks later, I started hearing a rattling. I tried my best to understand where the noise was from and suspected the doors to be the issue. But after 2 weeks of diagnosing, I realized that it was coming from the sunroof.
Issue 5: Backseat rattle
Visit i: They said it's the rubber beading noise, I proved them wrong. They said there could be something stuck inside, so cleaning would fix it. They did, it was not fixed. They said they will try lubricating. It was the end of the day.
Visit ii: They lubricated. It was not fixed. They said they need to remove and refit. It was the end of the day.
Visit iii: The removed and refitted. It fixed the issue. It was peaceful in the car once again..............only until I went on a long drive again. Ironically, the sunroof now makes noise if it's in the sun for a few hours. Something gets heated and rattles all the time.
Before I could fix the sunroof noise, a new noise started and I realized that it was from the back seat.
Issue 6: Insurance
Visit iv: By this time, Vinayak Skoda had shut shop so I visited Tafe during the start of the pandemic. Since there wasn't enough sun to heat the car, they could not find the noise from the sunroof and hence were helpless. But they fixed the noise from the seat in record time and I was impressed until I got home and realised that they had just wrapped insulation tape on the seat hook. At least it solved the problem.
Visit v: I moved back to Calicut, my hometown in Kerala by end of June. Took the car to EVM Skoda, Kochi to talk about the sunroof noise. Unfortunately, the weather was not in my favour, so the car was not hot enough to make the noise yet. They cleaned and lubricated it anyway in the hope of getting it done. Drove back to Calicut a few weeks later in the sun and my old friend was back. The noise is as clear as always.
Visit vi: As EVM Skoda, Calicut has started operations in a limited capacity, took the car there last weekend. They drove for a while and heard the noise. Since they are expecting to complete the work of their new service wing sometime next month, I'm planning to take my car there for one final fix.
The entire problems have now completed 1 year. My car is due for its scheduled maintenance, and insurance renewal. This is when I took out the insurance paper Vinayak Skoda had kept in my user manual. And this is when I realized that it was only a cover note, and not the insurance copy itself. I called Bajaj Allianz to get the document sent over, and to my surprise, they had no record of insurance under my car's registration number, chassis number, engine number nor my mobile number. I legit assumed that they cheated. I tried calling every Skoda contact I had, called Skoda India customer care, and none of it mattered. A gazillion calls and no one knew what happened to my insurance. I took a wild chance and called PPS Skoda, Bangalore who opened instead of Vinayaka in the hope of getting some help from there. To my extreme luck, the lady in the insurance department in PPS Skoda is the same lady who signed my cover note from Vinayak Skoda. She finally managed to somehow find my insurance. Apparently, all I needed was the cover note number which 3 Bajaj Allianz executives I spoke to failed to know.
Things I did horribly wrong during the delivery
- Checked the ODO to make sure it was not driven for long.
- Checked the body to check repaints/scratches.
- Checked the chassis number, engine number, mobile number, address etc. on the insurance cover note (Thinking it was the actual insurance copy).
- Checked if all the mentioned accessories like cushions, floor mats, spare wheel, tool kit etc. was present.
- Checked if sunroof, lights, brakes etc. were working.
This is where I was nothing short of a real noob and an idiot. This is my first car, and a lot of basic things I had to check during the delivery did not happen, mostly out or excitement and impatience to start driving.
- I shouldn't have taken delivery on a public holiday. That's probably the reason why the right people were not there.
- I did not pay attention to the fact that they did not do the usual things done during delivery. Like a gift basket, explaining details about the car purchase, talking properly, checking the given documents etc.
- It was like buying vegetable. Went there, they gave the car, I left.
- Failed to notice that they had given only the cover note, and not the insurance. I just blindly believed when they said that I will have all necessary documents sent to my address. Other than the RC, I received nothing.
I have written numerous emails to Skoda India for all the issues I've had. Their responses have been subpar so far. It's been a year of disappointment. That is, except when I'm driving the car. Every time I'm behind the wheel, I almost forget every other hassle that I've had so far. I keep forgetting my pending sunroof issue. I'm hoping that this visit will sort it out once and for all. If it does not happen, the next stop is consumer court.