Let me give you some prelude to the story, Friday evening you come home and park the car, everything running fine. Same night you take out the car again for a short spin in the area as your highness wants to have an ice-cream. You have the ice-cream, come back home and park the car. Everything working perfectly fine, whether the interior lights, cluster lights, head lights or even the puddle lamps. No flickering, no signs of any pertinent issue.
Cut to Monday morning, first day of the week, while you are getting ready, you are thinking about the impending tasks and meetings for the day, presentations that need to be reviewed and skip level meetings that you need to be present at. While having those thoughts in the mind and sipping your morning tea, you are also thinking about the dreading Monday morning traffic.
You leave home on scheduled time, come down to the basement, walk up to the car, unlock the car, the car customarily switches on the follow me lights, you sit in the car, press the KESSY the instrument cluster lights up, you depress the brake pedal and viola, the car goes cut-cut-cut-cut and then blank. Probably, I didn’t depress the brake pedal probably I thought to myself, let me give it a second try, I repeat the sequence only to get the same sound, now sounding more gross and that is when I realize, either the battery has konked off or the terminals are probably loose. But then I think, how can battery go kaput in just 15 months of ownership, so probably should be battery terminals going loose. I pop up the bonnet, to check the battery terminals, but they seem just fine. So no issue there, try to crank the car again, and this time the cluster is losing the power too.
I try calling the Skoda RSA, no body responds on the first attempt. Try calling them sometime later, call gets connected, but help is almost 1 hour away. I tell them to send the technician home at 14:30 hrs as I need to rush to office now and will address the car if I get time to come back half day.
While on my way to office, I simultaneously try to call up the Service Manager at JMD Skoda on his official cell, and as I guessed it right, the phone was switched off. While I agree that people have personal lives, but keeping your cell phone switched off is next to be being plain stupid, especially in customer service domain.
Cut to 14:30 hrs, leaving all my assignments and meetings aside, I reach home to address the car, thankfully the RSA guy reached home on time as committed. However, I was expecting Skoda RSA team to send a recovery vehicle to sort the issues, as in case if it’s not a battery issue or any other alternator or Fuse or Mechatronic issue, car would need to be flat-bedded to the service station and funnily here comes a road side looking mechanic on Activa to address customer issues. I mean really Skoda, how you can even tie up with local garages to serve customers in the name of RSA.
Anyways, car jump started, car comes to life, off he goes to his garage and off I go to Skoda Service Station. I reach the service station, shut down the car. Two minutes later, I walk up to the car just to casually crank her up, but then there she is dead already.
I meet the service team, update them about the battery being dead. God knows why at the service station the service team was trying to convince me that the battery was out of warranty. My argument with them was, how can Skoda provide battery which konks off so early in its life cycle. The service manager was for all his time trying to tell me how other car batteries have failed suddenly and how I am not the only one who has suffered from sudden battery failure. To an extent, the service advisor said, “Sir you are lucky, your car konked off at home, another customer of mine who has Rapid was on his way to Mumbai from Pune, he went to a quick loo break at the food court on the expressway; came back and car refused to start as the battery had konked off. Even his car was just 1 year old.”
While listening to his story, I was wondering whether I should feel happy for myself or sad for that other Rapid customer of his.
To cut the story short, I ended up buying the battery from outside, and changed the battery now to Exide Dinn 65 with 4 years warranty (recommended by the service manager). The service manager was blunt enough to tell me that, though I can compensate you by giving 50% discount on the battery if you buy from me, but again, I will give you one year warranty and you will get same battery which you had till date, which can just randomly konk off after a year or so. So I procure the battery from local retailer, he sends his guy to the workshop to replace the battery, I get the car scanned for removing errors on ODIS and leave for home. Phew its 18:00 hrs already.
The reason for posting this here was, in our last 15 years of owning various cars either me or in the family, never have had a situation that the car battery died down in the very first year of ownership. All the other batteries have lasted minimum 3 years if not more. Just December when I had done the health check-up of battery done on my car, it showed battery in perfect health. So what drastically changed in 3 months after service? The car is being run regularly, never handed over to valet, and has a secure basement parking, whether at work or home.
So if all parameters are right, isn’t it safe to say that Skoda has provided or providing batteries with sub-standard quality in their value premium cars, something that even the technician at their service station agreed, coz if he would have been so sure of his battery quality, he would have insisted on replacing the battery from them and would not have recommended a customer to buy a battery from outside. I thank my stars that the car was in my parking, had this happened last week while I was on my way back from Shirdi to Mumbai, I would have been left stranded with 3 year old kiddo on the blazing heat of 44 degrees, just because Skoda has provided sub-standard battery in a premium car.
I have mailed a stinker to Ashutosh Dixit, highlighting the issue. Will keep you guys posted if I get any kind of a reply.
For now, on a Tuesday morning, the car cranked normally.