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Old 21st October 2004, 18:24   #1
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A very very long description of my car buying experience, thought for someone planning to buy a new car without any previous experience, this might be helpful.

CRITERIA: Comfort, Cost, Options, Power, Performance, approx in that order. Basically I wanted a sedan with max comfort and low cost as biggest factors with some points for power and options also. I was looking for a stop gap car for long city commutes and occasional highway trips, for 3-4 years of use, at about 1200 kms per month.

CHOICE: After researching a lot (basically hanging out on Team BHP site!) I decided on a Petra, seconds option was Esteem but some vehement opposition from Team BHPian's convinced me to drop that idea. The VFM factor of Petra, esp with the deal they are running (still in place) was too much on paper atleast.

DEAL: The discount deal was only if you were taking a loan through the
dealer, in which case the on-road price was 4.84 Lac + a JVC music system for free. As NC posted earlier, if you take a 5 year loan, the down payment was 40,000 Rs, monthly installment was aroung 8650 Rs and total cost came to about 5,60,000 Rs. Since i did not want a loan the offer was 4.98 Lac on road and no free music system.

DEALER: Of all the dealers who were listed on an Ad about the discount deal in TOI, Agnad and Fortpoint were the closest. I live near Vashi. No one picked up the phone at Agnad or Fortpoint Thane. However, I managed to get through to FortPoint in city and they scheduled a demo for the next day with a promise to callback to let me know the time. No one called back the next day. When I called them again, it seemed a car
was available on demo close to my work place (near Vashi). I was given the mobile number of the salesperson who showed up with the car at my office in a couple of hours. This theme (of not calling back, but things moving fast if you took the trouble of co-ordinating and nagging everyone) was to repeat many times in my dealings with FortPoint.

TEST DRIVE: The salesperson (Sachin) came to my office with a driver. Me and my friend took it for a spin along Palm Beach road and some side roads and found the ride quality and handling to be very good. The only minor complaints were too much body roll in curves (curable with slightly wider/low profile tyres ?), a bit of hesitation for power to kick in when you press accelerator (may be due to unfamiliar clutch ratios) and low driver position, esp for shorter people (like myself). At 100 kmph, the ride was smooth and uneventful that one had to look at the speedo to check. This car can go fast but make it seem boring unlike the 'thrill' of an Esteem about to take off..

Sachin was very friendly and helpful, but not very informed beyond the price list and brochure. Later I called up the dealership to talk about price, to a lady called Anu. Anu was also very friendly and after some haggling offered me a price of 4.9 Lac and another Rs 5000 corporate discount so that the total came to 4.85 Lac and no free music system, since I was paying up in full. I compared the price with other dealerships, including Anuroop, who gave a fairly curt response that 4.98 Lac was their best price. Since I had a good experience in getting a demo car to my office and a good price without much trouble, I decided to go with FortPoint thane. (Actually at this point they had not told me that I won't be getting the free music system. I came to know about this only after Ipaid the full amount prior to regn. At that time I thought they were cheating, but when I checked with other dealerships I realized this was the case with all. Another example of bad communication making Fort Point look bad).

BUYING EXPERIENCE (very long and not a happy one)
Day 1 after purchase decision: (monday)
Anu said she will send Sachin to pick up booking about of 5000 Rs. Sachin came to my house thinking I simply wanted a test drive again, without any paper work. Used the opportunity to take wife for a test drive.

Day 2 (Tuesday) : Nobody showed up

Day 3 (Wednesday) : Sachin showed up with a PO for 4.98 Lac. Had no idea about the price Anu had offered. I had to call Anu and remind her of our earlier conversation and then ask her to talk to Sachin. Had to do this twice before matter got cleared up. Sachin offered to setup tubeless tyres in exchange for stock ones, called up someone at workshop who offered a rate of Rs 10,000 for 5 Michelin Certis in exchange for Bridgestone tubed ones. Later got a deal for Rs 4150 for the same from Saifee in SantaCruz (recommended by NC, Interestingly Sachin remembered the tyre deal though he kept forgetting everything else later.).
Sachin offered to expedite regn process if I gave advance of Rs 50,000 instead of Rs 5000 and I agreed to do so. He also agreed to call me next day to inform when the car will be available for inspection.

Day 4 (Thursday) : No call from FortPoint, called up Sachin in the afternoon was informed that order being placed with Fiat, car will be available next day.

Day 5 (Friday) : No call from FortPoint, called up Sachin who said car will
be available next day. But Saturday was not good for me, so set appointment for Sunday. Asked Anu if the car will be ready after regn on monday since Ihad given 50,000 Advance. She said they will do regn only after full payment. I told her the promise made by Sachin. For a few moments there was fighting in the background, after which Sachin came online to convince me I heard wrong. I let it go since it was obvious each of them worked for themselves and not for the same company.

Day 7 (Sunday): Went to see the car in FortPoint workshop in Thane. Sachin handed me over to another guy who took me to the place. He showed me a black Petra (instead of a Silver Frost one i had ordered) and offered to take me for a test drive!!. He had no idea why he was asked to take me to the workshop. When i patiently explained I came to inspect a Silver one prior to regn, he disappeared for about 15 mins, then resurfaced and pointed me to one in very sad condition. The car was full of dirt, inside and outside and all wheel drums and bolts were highly rusted. I refused to accept the car and went back to dealer's office to meet Sachin. Sachin explained how he is being given too much work and people at workshop are not good. He offered to take me to Fiat (on my request) to select a car from a lineup. Offered to call me next day to fix a time.

Day 8 (Monday): No call from FortPoint, called Sachin and was connected to Shetty the Manager. He tried to explain what happened was quite normal and I should be taking that same car. My advance cheque had cleared only this day, and later I found out that Fortpoint had to deposit full money with Fiat to get the car out. They don't do this unless the cheque from customer is cleared in bank. So obviously the Petra they showed me on Sunday BEFORE MY CHEQUE CLEARED, was already out of the Factory much earlier, hence the extra bad condition of the car. When I refused to accept the car I saw and insisted on going to Factory, Shetty said they have written to Fiat and waiting for reply. I also send email to all addresses available at Fiat website.

Day 9 (Tuesday): No call from FortPoint, no response for emails to Fiat. Called up Sachin/Shetty, they said someone from Fiat will get in touch with me. Called up Sachin/Shetty in the afternoon and asked for the number of the Fiat person so that I can call him myself. Got number of Vivek Rokade, zone leader, western india. Called him up.

FIAT ZONE LEADER: Vivek was smooth but rather dismissive of my idea of visiting factory "ofcourse its not possible", but because of my complaint "steps are beign taken to improve plant quality" yeah right!! Also "Fiat dosen't normally talk to customers but an exception is being made in my case" so another car will be send to dealer's place for me. I reminded him of the J D Powers survery showing Fiat at the bottom for after sales, and mentioned the case of the rusted Palio in ACI. I said I got the dealer's name from the list published by Fiat and if they screw up he better talk to me directly. He reluctantly agreed its ok for me to go and wait outside the gate while the car is being brought out of the factory.

Called Shetty and said Vivek agreed to show me the factory, so please let me know when they are ready to pick up the car.

Day 10 (Wednesday) : No call from anyone. Called Vivek, he said car is ready and he is waiting for FortPoint to pay up to release the car. Called Shetty who said we can go to the factory the next day.

Day 11 (Thursday) : No call from anyone. Called Shetty, he said we can go to the factory in the evening, but once he takes the car out he won't be able to give it back so I have to accept it. Trip postponed

Day 12 (Friday) FACTORY:
Finally went to the factory at Kurla. Outsiders, including dealer's people are not allowed inside the gates. The Fiat dealers use a 'transporter' who is basically someone with a security clearence pass. His (Babu) job is to drive the car from factory to Fiat dealer's workshop all over bombay. Had a good chat with him. He said earlier under 'indian' management rules were lax and people could generally walk in and around the factory, but now the italians have taken over and applied strict laws. Even he can go only to the area from where cars are to be picked up and not to factory or offices. After some waiting the car was ready to be taken out. At that point some factory people talked to the guard and allowed me to walk inside a few meters where the car was parked.

There were 3-4 factory people waiting around the car. As soon as i reached someone opened the hood and the doors. Took a quick check and things looked fine. BUT, there was still rust on the wheel bolts
brake drums and a little bit on the negative side electrical contact of the battery. This was similar to atleast 3 other Petra's and Palio's parked there for delivery. Babu said all cars that come out of the production line are parked in a large open ground before delivery, and since it may take a while before they are send out (with the Sales figures Fiat is getting) its quite 'normal' and nothing to worry about. All the rust is cleaned up and anti-rust coating done at the dealer's workshop during PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection). By that time I was tired of fighting and said ok and left the factory. Could not take photos since i was not permitted to take my cam inside.

DELIVERY: I gave them the cheque the very next day and than had to wait for 7 days to get delivery. They waited for the cheque to clear before applying to RTO. Finally the next friday I went and collected the car. It was in very clean condition, with no rust in any of the places I saw at the factory. Everyone at the dealership was very friendly (by this time i knew everyone by name there!).


I have decked it up a bit with alloy wheels and tubeless tyres (Michellin Pilot Preceda 185/60), plus a music system + CD changer, dark tint on glasses, piranha + steering lock rod, seat covers + new mats etc. Overall its an excellent car for the money paid. Drives very nicely, and with new tryes the body roll in turns have almost disappeared. Large bumps/speed breakers are hardly felt. The only 'problem' is that in rough patches and the metal girders on bridges, the small sharp bump does filter on to your body through the hard seats. I think this can also be fixed somewhat by adding additional sponge inside the seat covers. Otherwise 1 week into owning it I'm a very happy owner, esp when i remember the on-road cost!!

Also, did you know for an additional 2000 Rs you can add a card that makes your CD changer accept VCDs and a small LCD monitor mountable on roof or behind driver headrest is available for 7500 Rs ? Also, you can get a small 12 volt warmer/cooler to store hot tea/coffee or coke/pepsi cans that can be fitted in the trunk ? One has to do something with all that space..
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Old 21st October 2004, 19:08   #2
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Very patient and very thorough Dovin !

Your experience will be an eye opener for many ppl out here. Just if fiat and their network can realize and take steps for their wonderful product otherwise. Good to know that after all this, you are happy and satisfied with your purchase.

Congrats !

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Old 21st October 2004, 19:10   #3
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sorry to hear about your experiences...
the pre delivery period is the toughest but after that u only have to worry about the routine services...
do post some pictures of the car..
i also naver had plesant experiences with fortpoint...
if u can , i suggest u try shaman or anuroop
they are the best fiat dealers in bombay
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Old 21st October 2004, 19:11   #4
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Hey Dovin. That was a good writeup.

Although, I bought my Palio D during the same period, my experiance was not at all scary. I bought my car from Anuroop, Hyderabad. Atleast you had a chance to visit the factory to rectify your problem. If I had the same problem, I don't have a choice visiting factory all the way from Hyderabad.
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Old 21st October 2004, 19:31   #5
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that was a thourough write up. u got all the points exactly and precisely.

well atleast the car has made up for all the idiotic things u had to endure during the pre delivery period.

i think fort point being a multi car showroom had to get rid of stock and so he offered u tht old rusted car. but now that u have got ur baby , how about a TEST DRIVE on palm beach road?

pal u better give us some pics asap of ur baby maan !!! *


Alls well that ends well .

hope u have many fruitful and enjoyable years with ur car .

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Old 21st October 2004, 20:35   #6
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good write up. going to book santro tomo. hope not to have these problems
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Old 21st October 2004, 23:32   #7
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ok thats a detailed account. good one

So there was one very serious foul play on part of the dealer, when he was giving you the OLD silver petra.

And a lot of communication gap between the dealer's people.

A few things I see which could have speeded up the process.
1) 50,000 advance on first day. (it was unprofessional on part of the dealer not to ask for it on the first day, 5000 for a 5lakh car is.. a joke)
2) final payment by draft!!

just for the record we got the Wagon R in 8 hrs!!...
told the dealer in morning (no booking amount paid)... he got the car ready... handed him the draft... drove away the car.
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Old 22nd October 2004, 00:19   #8
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awesome write up dovin!!
Congrats on ur new purchase! Was a scary experience, hope the Petra lives up to ur expectation!!
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Old 22nd October 2004, 00:32   #9
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Originally Posted by [b
Quote[/b] (Dovin @ Oct. 21 2004,16:54)]I reminded him of the J D Powers survery showing Fiat at the bottom for after sales, and mentioned the case of the rusted Palio in ACI. I said I got the dealer's name from the list published by Fiat and if they screw up he better talk to me directly. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Also, did you know for an additional 2000 Rs you can add a card that makes your CD changer accept VCDs and a small LCD monitor mountable on roof or behind driver headrest is available for 7500 Rs ? Also, you can get a small 12 volt warmer/cooler to store hot tea/coffee or coke/pepsi cans that can be fitted in the trunk ? One has to do something with all that space..
hey dovin could you explain the first para in the quote?

and hey rs 2000 is too much for a converter,at the max for a good one it"s rs 1000, local ones you get for rs 500!
i wanted to do it,but no one on team bhp even noticed my post abt it!(expect rehaan! thx bud)
and the necvox scrren should cost you abt 4500 rs

i got that cooler/heater in my safari, it keeps existing cool/cold things cool(not cold) and hot things hot, over all an ok thing
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Old 22nd October 2004, 00:46   #10
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hey dovin..
Congrats on ur new purchase. Hopefully the Petra will erase all the bad expereinces u had with fortpoint. Do post some pics of ur car for us.
Hope the car gives you many years and miles of joy and comfort. And hopefully the servicing part will not be as painful as the buying part.
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Old 22nd October 2004, 02:00   #11
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thats an excellent detailed write-up of your experience.
i was under the impression that fiat was slowly improving their sales & customer service but i guess they still have miles to go - improving product packaging, dealerships, etc.
an international company with such a poor reputation in india, and who do they have to blame but themselves. i wonder if customers in other countries have to go thro' similar hassles when buying a fiat product.
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Old 22nd October 2004, 02:27   #12
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Hey post some pics , specially would like to see the alloys!
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Old 22nd October 2004, 14:46   #13
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Congrats on the new car...
BTW... 4.84 is the on road price for petra??? *
There is a nuclear bomb exploding inside my stomach. I am ready to go thru all these hassels if it will be available at that price here in bangalore. You can only get a NV ELX at that price here.
That aside, i have driven a NV. Except for that 1.2 engine, its a pure and pure drivers car. I was able to push it much hard *than my sail 1.6. So now with 1.6 engine it should be a breeze to drive it around. Enjoy madi...

And then w.r.t the sales exp... there will be lot of communication gap. And that since i was buying a car for first time, i had lot of problems communicating things. In my case, the abn amro guy completely screwed up the loan process and the delivery got delayed by couple of days. Going thru u r exp, "cheques" seems to be one of the biggest factor in delay. But atleast sundaram conveyed this to me at the begining. Either proceed with a demand draft or a cash payment with proper acknoledgement.

Another exp with ford dealer in bangalore when my friend wanted to buy a flair model. My friend had earlier talked with a ford dealer in coimbatore and found that the price with coimbatore dealer was 30k less than what was quoted by bangalore dealer on the ex-showroom price. When he pointed out this to the sales man, his reply was "okie... then go there and buy..." with a straight face!!! There were several different reason for this price difference. *But this talk, completly put off the pleasure of going out and buying a car for the first time in his life.
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Old 23rd October 2004, 00:39   #14
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We people in India are helpless as far as Consumer rights are concerned.
I am in US at present and hence the difference is noticeable. I recall here one small incidence happened just a week ago. There is a car wash facility near to my place and one Saturday morning I saw a family (husband, wife and two kids) standing in front of the facility and protesting. They had couple of placard with hand written sign saying: “They screwed our car and are not willing to fix it; please stop doing business with them till the issue resolves”, and also there was one more board narrating the incidence in detail. I saw people canceling their car wash appointments with the facility, even taking out their car, which were already in the queue! By afternoon the owner of that car wash facility was on his knees.

This is the power of consumer unity. Dovin suffered today; tomorrow it could be my turn. At least I am aware of what is happening because I use internet and know teambhp, but what about thousands of others?

Can we do something? Perhaps taking help of local consumer forums, auto clubs, auto magazines, car- user groups (Indica, Ford, Santro groups are active). We can pressurize dealers and manufactures to have separate (clearly marked) cars for demo, standardizing car booking process and booking amount, for paying interest if car delivery is delayed for what so ever reasons, having better cancellation terms, allowing and honoring pre delivery inspection rights etc.

One thing really surprises me is that people spend considerable time while researching for a car, in visiting dealerships, in taking test rides, during negotiating for price and finance but start rushing when it comes to delivery. Dealers take disadvantage of this.

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Old 23rd October 2004, 19:50   #15
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So far the car is turning out to be quite a good buy. The only _minor_ complaint is that while it is very smooth over big bumps, the small vibrations on road come through rather hard.. could be the new tyres or even air pressure since i did not notice this so much during test drive. Also its more during night time (cold tyres ?) than day. Otherwise its quite a pleasurable car to drive. Let's you glide smoothly around if you are in a calm mood and still have enough power to cut through traffic when you get irritated or just in the mood.. Keeping the price in mind i'm actually very happy with the car.

aadix: There was a discussion here earlier about a Palio with rusted parts being sold by a Fiat Dealer as reported in AutoCar India mag and Fiat is the last in J D power's surver for after sale support, and that I got the dealer's name from the Fiat Web Site (not really, but its there). I had to say these things to bring the Fiat guy down a notch and start talking to me properly instead of saying 'We do not talk directly to customers normally!!'.

Could you tell me where you got the conversion card and monitor for cheaper prices ?

gkrish: True, the price of 4.84 on road was one reason i stuck with this car instead of taking back my deposit. That leaves me with enough money to deck up the car and still be under the cost of the nearest competitor!!

babalipk: US car dealers are also quite notorious except the law gives more protection to customers. During the H1 visa boom when indians used to land there in ship loads, i remember the story of a few of them (true one) who all wanted to buy honda civic (or toyota corolla were the FOB desi cars) and they went to the dealer and negotiated collectively saying what's your best price if we buy 4-5 cars in one lot

i'll try to post some pictures soon, though i'm not sure i have all the equipment to get them into the computer.
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