Quality of Car Servicing

I switched my car servicing company a couple of weeks ago, simply because (a) I was tired of going to the same company / same location for the past 5 years ; and, (b) the customer database is apparently shared amongst all Toyota service partners so that they can entice new customers with some special offers, and I got two invitations from two new companies.

So, I thought why not try. After some dilly dallying, I finally found my way one Saturday to the new Toyota partner in a really mushy area of a Western Suburb of Mumbai. There were hardly any cars waiting to be serviced, may be two or three cars, so I rightfully assumed my car will be serviced in a short span of time.

Such assumptions usually go wrong, and in this case it did very badly. I gave the car at 11 AM, but got it really in my hands only by 7 PM. It was very surprising to me. It further taught me that marketing is way ahead of actual delivery in most consumer-related products in India. I have time and again seen such gaps in other product areas – such as telephone/broadband services, handyman services to fix things at home, car washing service in my apartment block, et al. I thought any car servicing partner would take care in handling first time customers, so that the guy stays on for future servicing at least say for the next couple of years.

But it was not to be. First the company took way too long to give back my car. Secondly, the car was not washed properly at the end of the service. Thirdly I could not find the service advisor who handled me when I gave my car in the morning. Fourthly, there was no detailed explanation of what was wrong with the car and what needs to be done further.

All this experience gives me the sense that India is way behind other countries in handling the consumers and providing satisfaction for the work performed / money paid. Eventually, the company which provides a combination of better servicing and quality advice is going to win. The other important thing is the billing for servicing – this is only better than telephone billing ! A lot of line items, sometimes not explained, is listed out and rates appear to be adhoc. At the end, a total figure looms over you and there is nothing you can do of course, except to pay and collect the car !

Not only all this, the very next day you get a telemarketing/service call from the same car service company, asking you how was the service, do you have any feedback, etc., When the call came, I used the opportunity to provide a detailed dissatisfaction index to the person on the other end, who was a bit taken aback. At the end of the call, she did not offer anything. I thought the idea was a feedback session which should be actioned off by the management. Nothing happened, is it surprising ? Somebody trying to fill up a form and that is her task, nobody cares really.

Well, that is the continuing saga of poor quality customer service in India.


Vijay Srinivasan
28th August 2011

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