Causes of the impression of poor sales & service

I have also observed that on many instances, people reject cars from certain brands just because the impression in the market is that the brand has poor sales and service. There are various reasons that cause people to have a sour experience.

Sanidhya mukund recently shared this with other BHPians.

I have been reading various car ownership threads over the past few years and have read about both positive and negative dealership experiences. I have also observed that on many instances, people reject cars from certain brands just because the impression in the market is that the brand has poor sales and service. There are various reasons that cause people to have a sour experience, some of which are:

With respect to sales:

  • Not keeping promises- It could be the freebies that they promised but did not give. It could be the delivery date they committed but changed at the last moment. Maybe they promised you a test drive but later gave lame excuses.
  • Changing the SA frequently- While buying a car, one would want to have a single point of contact with the dealership. But in some cases, the SA keeps changing every time you visit. This leads to confusion and chaos.
  • The SAs themselves- The way the SA receives a customer in the first 5 minutes of their visit makes a very crucial first impression. If the SA is rude, disinterested or lacks knowledge, or sometimes all of these, then the customer doesn’t feel like buying a car from that particular dealership.
  • ‘Take it or leave it’ attitude- This commonly occurs when a model is selling too well and the dealership doesn’t care about losing a customer. Refusing a test drive, forcing the customer to buy accessories, overcharging or forcing the customer to buy insurance from them are some common practices.

With respect to service:

  • Poor diagnosis leading to repetitive visits- Most people have work to do and are barely able to squeeze out enough time to get their car fixed. Here, it’s a reasonable expectation that the dealership will diagnose the issue, resolve it and return the car properly fitted in just one visit. However, in reality, this does not seem to be happening. Sometimes, they replace the wrong part. Sometimes they don’t refit everything properly, leaving the owner with a rattling car.
  • Waiting for parts- This generally happens when the car is a flopped model, or the part isn’t one that has to be commonly replaced. While it is understandable that the dealership has to order the parts from the factory and it does take some time. But on many instances, quite a lot of time elapses and the car remains sitting idle at the dealership gathering dust.
  • Overcharging- Most dealerships have this habit. “Sir your car needs ‘Trim enrichment’. It is very important to get this done every 4 years.” Sounds familiar? Also seen that some dealerships tend to quote very high prices for certain parts. I remember that I had had my battery replaced at the MB dealership for merely 22k. But when a fellow BHPian approached them for the same, they quoted him twice the amount!
  • Not honouring warranty or acknowledging defects- Quite a lot of times, I have seen people facing problems that are obviously manufacturing defects, but the dealership either says that it is normal, or refuses to cover it correctly under warranty.

With respect to both sales and services-

  • Fraudulent practices- Covering up accidental damage on a new car, concealing facts, charging unnecessary costs, or replacing parts with defective ones at the service centre.
  • Manufacturing defects- For most of us, a car is the second largest purchase of our lives. Ending up with a lemon after spending a fortune is very disheartening.
  • Poor escalation matrix- At the end of the day, if things go wrong at the dealership level, the customer would want to contact higher authorities I.e the manufacturer for resolution. If the e-mails fall on deaf ears, your calls aren’t answered or simply redirected to the dealership, then there is no other way to resolve the issue other than depending on the dealership or going to court.
  • Unreasonable expectations from customers- We as customers must realise that we are dealing with humans, so mistakes can be made. I have often come across customers with highly unreasonable expectations from the dealership, and when the dealership fails to deliver, they end up getting angry. Once I was at Delhi Ford for servicing my Ikon and there was this one man, who was creating a scene. He was screaming at the staff and disturbing everyone present. His problem? His brand new Figo wasn’t giving the claimed fuel efficiency. He was expecting it to deliver 22 KMPL (or whatever is the claimed mileage), but it was giving him “only” 12-13 KMPL in city driving. Another time, I had seen a guy fighting with his teeth and claws at a Maruti dealership as he wanted them to replace a broken door handle under warranty. The guy simply did not understand that the warranty only covers manufacturing defects.

Now, I may have missed some points but what I am trying to understand is that all of the above can happen at ALL car dealerships, irrespective of who the manufacturer is. People face these issues right from Maruti to Tata dealerships. In fact, there are some groups who operate dealerships of various brands, and I would think that the particular group would deliver similar customer experiences at all their dealerships, irrespective of the brand. Why is it then, that the market has impressions that a particular company has bad sales and services, while another company has great service? Why do people say that Maruti has good service but Tata has bad after-sales?

The customer experience depends on the dealership, which are different for different cities. Then why do we say that XYZ company has bad service? I am sure all companies train their dealership staff to ensure good service, so then why do some companies end up with a general impression of bad after-sales?

As an example, in 2014, I was in the market for a new car, so visited quite a few dealerships. My first experience with a BMW dealership was as bad as it gets. My first visit was to Deutsch motern, and the behaviour and arrogance of the SA was repulsive to say the least! [probably because I went in a 14-year-old Ford Ikon]. On the test drive of the X1, I remarked that the engine noise was a little high. to this, he bluntly responded,'' This is not your TATA. This is BMW.'' I found this to be really offensive. On the other hand, my experience at Bird Automotive, Gurugram was a very pleasant one. The SA was courteous, He explained everything properly, offered multiple test-drives and never came across as arrogant.

So as you can see, I can't make a sweeping statement and say that BMW has bad sales and service. In fact, I cannot even say that Deutsch motern has bad SAs. It was just that one SA who was arrogant, and I know quite a lot of people who are really happy dealing with this dealership. This highlights the fact that not only does the experience vary from deanship to dealership, but it also varies depending on the SA one deals with. So is it fair to paint all dealerships of a particular company with the same brush?

Thanks to Sanidhya mukund once again! Check out BHPian comments for more insights & information.

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