Raising an odour…about a car

Posted: February 27, 2010 in Swift LXI
Tags: , ,

When Toyota and Honda recalled their cars, the news was splashed across all the TV channels and the front pages of newspapers. A few days ago Maruti recalled one lakh A Stars for a faulty fuel gasket and most of the India media downplayed it. Some didn’t carry it at all.

I wonder what the reason for that is – a misplaced sense of patriotism (heck they’re a Japanese company), or simply a case of succumbing to money power? I guess now you know how powerful the media really is – especially when it comes to deciding between advertising and editorial! Now that’s got me all worked up! Not because I care anymore about how the media carries itself. If I did, I would have still been there! But there’s another reason.

I’ve been complaining to Maruti for the past two and a half years about a smell of fuel that emanates from the AC duct into the car interiors in my Swift LXI (Petrol), and they’ve been fobbing me off with stuff like “something is wrong with your nose” and other such absurd excuses. So ok, I have Eosinophilia, but that does not mean I can’t smell fuel in the enclosed space of my car when I get the tank filled.

Let me step back a little. I bought the Swift in August 27, 2007. A few days after I bought the car I drove into the petrol pump to top my tank. As I drove away I got the distinct smell of fuel wafting in through my AC duct. I called up the service station and told them about it.

I was asked to come there with a near empty tank to get the problem checked. I reached the service station and went along with the engineer to a petrol pump. As we drove out after topping the tank I could smell petrol in my car, but the engineer couldn’t! This was repeated on numerous occasions in the next couple of years and each time they couldn’t smell it, but everyone else who sat in the car could.

Sometime last year, I was dropping a colleague home from work and stopped to refuel the car. We kept our windows rolled up and instructed the attendant to top the tank. As I drove out of the petrol pump, my colleague commented on the smell. It had become so strong in a few seconds that he almost choked on it. He called the service station on my behalf and gave them a piece of his mind! They called me in again, checked the car, traced the pipeline for any leakage and said they had found no problems with car.

It’s been almost three years now and the problem persists and I keep complaining. Every time the car returns from a servicing, I get a Customer Satisfaction form from Maruti. I’ve been complaining to the service station verbally and to Maruti Udyog in writing, but they just can’t (or don’t want to) figure the problem out. When I mentioned this to a journalist friend, his laconic reply was “It’s a waste of time sending that form, because if you complain about the product, they won’t even respond!”

For a Japanese company that prides itself on it six sigma principles, their attitude is pretty shocking. Let me state, that except for the fuel smell, Swift is a great car. Amazing comfort level, pick-up, speed… Everything is perfect, but for the problem I’ve mentioned. And since the company doesn’t care, I am sure about at least one thing. My next car, if and when I get one, will definitely not be a Maruti.

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