May 26, 2019

Why VW won't sell as much in India as it does in Europe

My dad was a fan of Volkswagen cars for as long as I can remember. And later when I had to buy my first car, Polo was a natural choice. 
I love the reassuring way my car glides over terrains good and bad until I turn the ignition off. 

On the 26th of April, while waiting at a traffic junction, a BMTC bus had a fender bender with me and another vehicle ahead of me. Though it wasn't a serious accident, my car suffered damage to the rear bumper, boot door, right quarter panel, and front bumper and bonnet. Despite the extent of the damage, it didn't ground my car. I still drove to work and later made an appointment with Volkswagen Palace Cross's Bangalore Motor's service center since that was the only service station that allowed me to use my insurance. I have a valid comprehensive auto insurance plan from Tata AIG that covers all damages to the car (bumper to bumper). 

This is where my nightmare begins -

On the 27th of April, I filed the first claim (0821416091A: For repair/replace of all the damage to the rear portion), and the surveyor was expected to inspect the car on the 29th April. The mechanic initially told me it would take them a maximum of 10 working days to get the insurance agent visit the car, inspect the damages, approve the repairs, and for the service station folks to repair/replace parts as necessary. 
Sure. 

On the 9th May, when I followed up on the status, I was told the insurance surveyor hadn't approved repairs to the front portion of the car and I had to call and raise a separate claim for the damages on the front portion of the car. I called my insurer, raised a new claim and emailed the bodyshop department of the second claim number (0821439668A: For repair/replace of all the damage to the front portion).
He acknowledged the receipt of the claim number the next morning, only after I called to check on him.

On the 14th of May, when I followed up, I was told the 2nd claim was not approved. I immediately called the surveyor to check on the status and he confirmed the claim was approved on the 13th of May. I tried calling the mechanic to let him know this and he didn't answer my call or return my call. I sent him a message informing him that the claim was approved and if he could let me know when the car would be ready. 
No response. Sure, he must be busy with other work.

On the 22nd of May, I tried calling the mechanic several times during working hours, he refused to answer or return my calls. I had to call the body shop supervisor for a status. The body shop supervisor tells me what is perhaps the most ridiculous excuse I've ever heard - The quarter panel part has not arrived and that is the reason why they haven't been able to repair my car. 
This is after more than 20 days after the car was at the workshop and the claims were approved. When I highlighted this to the supervisor, he was speechless and did agree that it seemed like a very long time and promised to get back to me within a couple of hours. This was around 9:30 am. When I called him at 3 pm on the same day, he told me they are in the process of doing the necessary repairs and promised to have the car ready on the 25th of May.

On the 25th of May, I get a WhatsApp message from the mechanic apologizing for not being able to deliver my car because the insurance surveyor has not confirmed the assessment. This shows a lack of planning and execution.

It has now been 30 days since my car has been at the Bangalore Motors bodyshop.

While this isn't my first experience of poor service, this has been the worst. I am okay with a delay of a day or 2. But a delay of over 20 days is unacceptable. 

My grievance: 
Lack of Communication/Timely updates: At no point was the body shop personnel proactive in informing me about the status. 
No ownership for the issue: When I reached to Harish Varma (Head of Customer Care at Volkswagen Group Sales India Pvt Ltd. on LinkedIn), his response doesn't sound like one that is sincere in fixing a customer's grievance. 

Indians are averse against the VW. 
It's not because of your cars. Your cars are amazing and are one of the reasons we love German engineering. 
Indians are averse towards VW because of your 'beyond pathetic' after-sales service in India. In this age of the internet, bad news travels far and fast. 

Your cars are expensive and rightly so. Because every one of us who buy your car knows exactly what we are buying. We know we are getting our money's worth. We bet our lives and the lives of our loved ones on road-worthy tanks called VW. 

After the manner I was treated, I am seriously reconsidering my decision to upgrading to the Tiguan. Imagine how many months they will take to get that repaired!

I may not be the owner of a luxury car from VW but I am an owner nonetheless. I know I haven't paid for this kind of aggravation.

At this point, I request your intervention to get my car back. Fixed and repaired to my complete satisfaction. I write to you only because I've tried contacting other people in your chain of command and none of them wanted to fix this and everyone has shown a general lack of willingness to deliver on time. 

Thanks
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