OLA Hyper Sunday: Marketing gimmick, followed by bad dealer experience

Quite disheartening to see how the entire day unfurled while booking a Rs 1.45 lakh vehicle.

BHPian FURY_44 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

OLA Experience Center

Hey everybody, I am sharing my experience about how we fell for a clever marketing plot by OLA and about the disconnected booking process we had yesterday at the Ola Experience Center. Ola recently launched a campaign "Ola Hyper Sunday", as the name suggests, they run exclusive campaigns and offers only on Sundays across all their showrooms in India. I am attaching details about the offer below as received in the email.

Upto 14,000 Off*, 0 Processing Fee, 0 Down Payment

18/12/2022: One of my friends was seriously considering the S1 Pro and we thought Hyper Sunday was a good time to book one. We were among the 1st customers to reach the showroom by 9:50 AM, to check out the offer they were running and also to book the S1 Pro. No questions asked test ride was provided to us by the OLA staff who were ready outside the premises with the bikes. This was my 1st experience riding an EV scooter and it was a very good feeling. The bike worked as it should, and I simply loved the pull of the Hyper mode, I think product-wise, OLA has done an ok job, so far.

Error On The Brochure

We then made our way into the showroom to know more about the costs involved and the offers they were running. They had printed brochures on the table, which had the same details as the above image attached, but the brochure had mentioned 14,000 Off and Rs.5000 as cashback. Let me break down the offer, 10,000 is the discount from the on-road price and Rs 4,000 will be credited as OLA Money. So the printed brochure had the mistake of mentioning it as Rs.5000 cashback and also had additional info mentioning 0% interest. When we pointed this out to the OLA staff, they hushed away the Rs.5000 cashback as a printing error and it indeed was R.4000, they were quick to remove these brochures from the table. Does no one proofread these print materials before approving them?

Disconnected Staff

Not one person, out of let's say 20 - 30 OLA staff present at the premises could give us a piece of combined information about how the offer would work, the loan process, and the bike exchange process. Need information about the loan?, we were pointed to the IDFC and TATA finance team. Need information about the bike exchange policy?, we were pointed to the Credr team. Need service information on the bike?, we were pointed to the OLA service champ. Some would say this is the right process, but we were just asking basic questions which were mentioned in their own promotional material. To book one vehicle we were at any time speaking with 10 different people.

Loan Process With IDFC

At first speaking with a representative, he mentioned the offer is 0% interest with an Rs.15,000 downpayment. We were ready to book the vehicle with a loan tenure of 36 months. But after a couple of phone calls with his Seniors, he came back saying the 0% interest is valid only for a max loan amount of Rs 90,000 with a max tenure of 12 months, we needed to make a downpayment of Rs.53,000 upfront and an Rs 8,000 processing fee. So if you need a 0 processing fee offer, there will be an ROI of 8.9% on the principal amount.

Loan Process With TATA Finance

These guys at least had all the information ready with them and they were clear from the word go. They were offering a 0 downpayment option with a 7.99% ROI for the principal amount, a hypothecation fee, and a processing fee which was an additional Rs 2,500.

0 Downpayment 0 Processing Fee 0% Interest - So both the IDFC and TATA finance teams were not providing this offer combined as advertised. Either of them was just partially servicing the offer. The clever Marketing Team at OLA just combined it together and advertised. Yes, this did help their goal of creating more buzz and increased footfalls in their showrooms on a Sunday, and of course, enquiries were converted to booking also, like in our case. But at the end of the day, we did think of it as a plot.

Booking Process

It was afternoon by the time we had access to all the information. We decided not to take any loans and we booked the vehicle by paying the booking fee on the OLA App. We were informed to register our booking number with a representative, and only then we would receive the Rs 4,000 cashback on OLA Money. The entire booking process is made online, but we need to make a manual entry in an excel sheet so that we receive the cashback since I booked it on the so-called "Hyper Sunday". So those who are booking from the comfort of their homes will not get this additional Rs.4000 cashback as advertised. Facepalm.

Post Booking

A complimentary OLA merchandise was promoted as well on their campaigns for the first 30 walk-ins, refer to the pic above. As I mentioned, we were among the 1st ones to turn up at their showroom. We enquired about the merchandise after we had made our booking. We were pointed to a person who seemed to be the person "in charge". He flatly refused to say the Bangalore showroom is yet to receive those materials and has "nothing to offer" at the moment. Really?, we are not expecting freebies, we were only asking for what was advertised by OLA themselves, and as a customer who just booked one of their products which cost 1.43L, and spent his entire Sunday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, running around to get information from multiple people from different teams, this answer from him, was a complete shock to me. He could have just assured us by saying they could arrange something during the delivery.

Overall, I felt, the "if you want it, buy it or I don't care attitude" generally from all of the staff at OLA, really disheartening.

The showroom was buzzing with a lot of customers

The questionable offer details

Pleasant Exchanges At Ather Space.

Since we were very close to Ather, I also wanted to test-ride the 450X for a back-to-back comparison with OLA. It seemed like some of their staff were working from the office, they were glued to their laptop. In stark contrast to OLA, the Ather Space was empty, they had no customers. A min later, although late, a person welcomed us and explained about the product, loan information and other basic questions which we had asked, he was patient and knowledgeable to reply back to all of them. The same questions at OLA, and we were speaking to 10 different persons. We were also provided test rides of the 450X, I felt the Ather was better.

He was kind enough to hand out a brochure and a big enough heart to say that the OLA Experience Center was right around the corner. This is how you welcome, greet and manage any customer. If I was in the market for an EV and had the same contrasting experiences between OLA and Ather, I would have picked the Ather. I also feel that the Ather is a better product, not comparing the spec sheets.

A good product with a good customer experience will always be a winning combination.

Here's what BHPian SKC-auto had to say on the matter:

It's a gimmick, the Rs 5,000 off (or cashback) is from last week, Rs 4,000 cashback is from this week. The Tata capital interest was supposed to be 8.99%, there is no 0% processing or 0% interest as mentioned below post.

I got another shock today, the actual interest rate for Tata Capital is 16.5%, not 8.99% as advertised, I asked to cancel my booking.

So, there are no offers, just some marketing drama, beware of their interest rates.

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

Regarding Ola Sunday offers, it seemed more like a marketing ploy to pull the customers to their newly opened experience centres all over the country. Ola started its first experience centres in September and in just 3 months they now have 78 experience centres in 67 cities. They are also planning to expand these to 200 centres by March 2023. So, this seems like a marketing tactic to increase the footfall and awareness of these centres.

Most, if not all the 2-wheeler companies mention the flat interest rate instead of reducing the balancing interest rate for 2-wheelers. The same procedure is done by all other 2-wheeler companies including Ola and Ather. Few banks like SBI mention the interest rate based on the reducing balancing method EMI calculation.

Ather also mentions that their loan interest rate (from IDFC) is 8.5% but the actual interest is around 16%. If the interest rate is actually 8.5% the EMI for the below-highlighted tenure would have been Rs 5,626 instead of Rs 6,034.

You can reverse calculate the interest rate based on the EMI mentioned above to get the true interest rates. Or else you can use the flat EMI calculator. Sharing a screenshot of the interest amount between flat vs reducing balance EMI methods.

All the 2-wheeler loans in the country have at least interest rates of 15% whether from banks or non-banking institutes like Tata capital. This is due to multiple reasons like the smaller size and relatively higher-risk loans, a smaller increase in EMI due to smaller loan amounts, etc... Below is the SBI interest rate on 2-wheelers. It is double that of car loan interest rates.

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

I visited the OLA experience centre at SP road Secunderabad, Hyderabad on Saturday. It was not very crowded and was attended by the Customer representative there. She explained the new features like the party mode and playing music via speakers. I don't feel this feature is relevant on a two-wheeler. If it's a car totally makes sense, but playing loud music while travelling on a two-wheeler, it's a bit overboard.

I took the test drive of the S1 pro for which they were marketing these offers. Liked the vehicle, using Regen was fun but one thing that concerned me was it's the vehicle like a smartphone. Everything is software controlled, if on any given day the vehicle refuses to unlock OR is unable to open the boot, that would be a real headache. Fit and finish cannot match Ather's level yet.

I asked the executive about the zero down payment offer and she smiled and said it's not available and I will have to make at least 10k as a down payment. Thanked her and left. This is indeed a misleading marketing tactic by OLA. If I purchase an electric scooter in future may go for Ather or iQube S. I am doubtful of the fit and finish quality of the OLA scooter in long run. Also if someone wants to sell their OLA EV in 2-3 years let it be for any reason, there is no clarity if the company would buy back like Ather. Time will tell. No OLA for me as of now.

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