What ails Tata Motors?
We know their cars are not the best, technically. We also know that they suffer from quality and durability issues. A mere look at the state of the multifarious Indicas and Indigos doing taxi duty around the city would prove that. But why is it that Tata Motors, even after over 10 years in the business, has not been able to get its service aspect right? Why is it that despite being the owner of one of the best technological firms in the game (Jaguar Land Rover), it remains strictly bureaucratic at heart in India?
“Would like to inform you that I visited PAHWA MOTORS on 12.02.2012 to exchange my old Car i.e. Model Maruti Zen, 1998 with TATA NANO. I was interested in the TATA Nano in exchange offer but I think TATA Motors employees do not want to sell their cars. Mr. Rajeev checked my CAR and told me that the value is Rs. 12000 only. I was surprised and shocked and thought he was joking, but he was serious. This kind of behaviour is insulting to all customers. I think if I sell this car in Scrap I will be get around Rs. 20000 to 25000 then how can I give you in Rs. 12000.”
“One of the distributors of Tata Motors Car Division in lucknow delivered me a car which was not a BS-IV . They provided me a bill of B S-IV but the car was found BS-III. They cheated me and now advising me to talk senior officials of TATA after 1 year.”
“Problems in the car from tata motors. They dont even replace or put items. the dealership says its ur mistake that u bought a indica vista.” Sachin Narang Haryana
No, I am not picking on Tata Motors. I have written unsavoury things about them in the past and I stand by all of what I have written. The only intention was to see the company improve and give its customers that world class ownership experience which is now becoming the norm in India. These are not cases fabricated by me but some of the problems that real owners of Tata cars have faced.
Every once in a while, a customer will be angry for some reason or the other. And such cases are not exclusive to Tata alone. It happens with a Maruti, Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and even a BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz as well. But with Tata Motors it is more the norm than an exception.
The malaise starts right from the time you step into a Tata Motors showroom to enquire about a car, to the time when you actually drive out with one. And beyond. How bad Tata Motors dealers are when it comes to servicing, is part of folklore now.
A case in point is my own visit to Rama Motors dealership at Okhla a few days ago. The place was buzzing with activity, which is good to see, and was quite messy (again a good thing, car dealerships should not resemble a church). But only after 20 minutes of general loitering around, did an executive walk up to me. Here is how the conversation went.
Salesperson : “What do you want?”
Me (sheepishly) “A car, ofcourse.”
Salesperson : “Which one?”
Me : “I dont know. I am confused.”
Salesperson (looks at me closely…he has not offered me a seat yet) : “Is this the first time you are buying a car?”
Me : Ahh….yes. Does that matter?
Salesperson : “No. It only means you know little about cars?”
Me : “Do we have to own something to know about it.
Salesperson : Preferably. What is your budget?
Me : Can I sit somewhere, please?
Salesperson : Well, as you can see there is no space available….and we are expecting some customers in the two counters that are vacant.
Me : Hmm….Okie. It does not seem you are interested in selling a car.
Salesperson : I am sorry sir….But it does not seem you are interested in buying one either.
Me : I would have liked to prove you wrong Mr —- (not taking names, else he may get into some trouble. May also get an out of turn promotion as well). But now I actually am not interested in buying your cars.
It could be that I was dressed in rags and the salesperson mistook me for a beggar. And surely, this must have been a one off case. But even then, would you want to visit such a dealership again?
We know their cars are not the best, technically. We also know that they suffer from quality and durability issues. A mere look at the state of the multifarious Indicas and Indigos doing duty as taxis around the city would prove that. But why is it that Tata Motors, even after over 10 years in the business, has not been able to get its customer service aspect right? Why is it that despite being the owner of one of the best technological firms in the game (Jaguar Land Rover), in India it remains strictly bureaucratic at heart?
In the course of writing on cars, I have visited and spent considerable time at all Tata dealerships in Delhi and quite a few in Bombay. The general feeling I get is that the dealers are laggard, lack ambition and at times lack basic courtesy. In short, they are what most babus in North and South block in Delhi is. But while the babu still has the temerity to be so, I dont think Tata dealers have any elbow room to be so high handed in today’s competitive world.
The cars will not turn into technological marvel overnight. Nor will the existing ones start functioning flawlessly. But making the dealerships more inviting to prospective consumers and a rewarding one for existing owners, need not be rocket science. The dealers are the ambassadors to a company in any field and for now, Tata has got the worst of the lot. The day it changes its ambassadors is perhaps the day I would know….that the times are changing.