Booked a Toyota Camry Hybrid | Strange booking experience

Not only this, when I told him that he had told me something else all together when I met him at the showroom, he flatly denied saying I must be mistaken and there is no way his dealership would accept a Camry booking like that.

BHPian Chanakya recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I have just booked a Camry and would like to share my decision process as well as the strange booking experience I had.

Present Scenario: I have a 35 km (one way) commute to work. Half city and half highway. I am mostly driven to work in my September 2013 Innova. The car is running smooth and has clocked 1.95 lakh km already. Logically, there is no need to change the car, as with my driving style and maintenance, I am sure it could go for 1.95 kms more!

In addition to this, we have a Nissan Micra and Honda Amaze Automatic, which are driven by my young sons. Finally, we have an fourteen year old Chevrolet Spark, which is well maintained by the friendly neighbourhood mechanic, which my wife uses for her 1 km commute to work!

Reason to buy a new car: A mix of YOLO feeling, wanting to break the ennui induced by these lockdowns and the midlife realisation of ‘If not now, when?’. Family egged me on with comments like ‘you deserve this’ and ‘gift yourself something nice for once’!

Choices: Instead of model specific choice making, my sons and I started with the type of vehicle. Did we want a Sedan, SUV or MPV?

Requirements were, in descending order:

  • Safety.
  • Ride Comfort.
  • Luxury.
  • No hassle ownership experience.
  • Low cost of ownership for at least eight-nine years.

With this, SUV of any type was ruled out. I drive and like to be driven sedately. Not big on dominating the road and pushing the vehicle. No chance of going off road ever. So, on grounds of back seat comfort and body roll issues, SUVs were not considered.

The only MPV we gave thought to was an Innova Crysta ZX-AT. It almost made the cut for me, but sons were reluctant to have the same (though massively upgraded and AT) vehicle again. It was proposed by wife that we could retain the present INNOVA for the times an MPV was needed and get rid of the Spark. That settled it in favour of a luxury sedan.

After reading reviews and comparisons on this forum for Camry, Superb and the newly launched Octavia, the list was shortened to Camry and Superb. However, a few ASS horrors narrated in this forum and experiences of friends who own Skoda vehicles finally made us choose the Toyota Camry.

Booking experience: There are two Toyota dealerships in Vadodara. One, Narmada Toyota, is very close to my home and that’s the one from where I got my Innova eight years ago. That also is where my Innova is serviced regularly. The other is Infinium Toyota, at the other end of the town, some fifteen kms away

I went to Narmada Toyota first. They arranged a TD for me too, bringing the owner’s Camry one day for that! Needless to say, the car stole our hearts as it ticked all our boxes. I sat down with the sales rep to figure out a final deal. I was given a printed price-list and as is my habit, as I talked to the sales rep and asked him questions, I kept noting down his responses on the price-list. Any discount ? He just smiled. How much RTO? How about standard warranty? Extended warranty? Booking amount? I noted down all his responses. The booking amount was told to be one lakh and since the delivery would take 90 days, the cost at the time of delivery would apply. All fine. Also, if I change my mind, the booking amount would be refunded.

Imagine my surprise, when I messaged him after a couple of days, on Whatsapp, that I would be swinging by with a cheque of Rs. One lakh later in the day and booking my car; the sales rep responded by writing that the booking amount would be 5 lakhs, the price at the time of delivery would apply and the booking amount was not refundable. Not only this, when I told him that he had told me something else all together when I met him at the showroom, he flatly denied saying I must be mistaken and there is no way his dealership would accept a Camry booking like that. This was like presenting a fait accomply to me – if after paying five lakhs, if Toyota increases the price by say three lakhs and it’s not acceptable to me, I would either have to willy-nilly pay the extra price or forfeit my five lakh booking amount.

I was too riled to think straight and so, didn’t think of the price-list with my notes which I had with me. But when I checked later, I saw my notes said one lakh and refundable!

Anyway, I called the other dealership. The lady there told me the booking amount would be one lakh only, was refundable if I cancelled for whatever reason (in my case, the only reason would be a huge increase in price as I was already stretching my budget) and that the price at the time of delivery would be final; which was understandable. In any case, if there was a modest price rise of upto a lakh of rupees, I would grudgingly pay.

I went down the same afternoon with my cheque for one lakh. Worked out the extra charge for extended warranty, cleared all doubts again regarding the refundability of the booking amount and booked my vehicle.

It’s been a month now and I await the delivery of my new vehicle. So, my queries for the good folk here :

Aren’t booking amounts refundable? Or is it the prerogative of the dealership? How can two dealerships insist on different booking amounts? If the price prevailing at the time of delivery is payable, how can a dealer say essentially that ‘pay this price or your booking amount is gone’?

Here's what BHPian CEF_Beasts had to say on the matter:

I believe the first dealer must have thought the facelifted Camry is on the way so let’s push the booking amount to 5 Lakhs and deliver the pre-facelift Camry to the customer so that he doesn’t back out of the deal!

Yes, booking amount is refundable but do write a mail to Toyota India about this particular dealer, I am sure the next day you will get a phone call from them saying the booking amount is indeed 1 lakh and please book the car with us!!

Here's what BHPian Raghu M had to say on the matter:

To answer the question directly - Yes, booking amounts are refundable. Generally they keep 10% for processing and credit the rest of the money to your account. The general booking amounts for crossovers is between 25K to 50K. I have seen friends book cars for as low as 5K for MSIL cars. Legally, no dealership can hold our money and say it is non refundable. When you don't buy a product, the booking amount has to be returned. Congratulations for selecting such a gem of a car. Look forward to some pics after you take the delivery of the car.

Here's what BHPian libranof1987 had to say on the matter:

Booking amounts are generally set by the manufacturer but given that very few manufacturers reign in their dealers hard and very few people bother to make some noise when dealers deviate, dealers tend to make their own rules. I doubt every manufacturer has an unconditionally refundable booking amount policy. Always best to drop Toyota Customer Care an email to get things straight.

For instance, the BMW Motorrad dealer in Pune also has a non-refundable booking amount and charges a significant "handling charge", and is more than happy to let go of a booking if you resist. Perks of being the sole dealer of an aspirational and popular brand.

Sad that Narmada Toyota chose to fool around with you, especially given your ongoing business to them and that you're booking a premium car.

Here's what BHPian audioholic had to say on the matter:

I think this is nothing but usual dealer crap when they arent interested to make the sale. Instead of telling a direct 'No we arent interested', they throw all such statements at you to discourage you from booking the car. Since the Camry is a slow moving product, they would want a confirmed booking from your end so that in case you cancel it when the car is almost in their yard, they need not undergo the pain of having to get that car off their hands. Hence, instead of that, the salesman would have been told to not go ahead with your booking and he would give such excuses.

I think even with the Innova Petrol, dealers wont order the car until you fully make the payment so that they are more sure about you going ahead with the car, if not they would need to deal with it somehow.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

Power to the people