The Times They Are A-Changing…But Perhaps Not That Much

Aka – Tata Nano or “Nono”

On the 1st of May, early this year, I had written a piece about the Tata Nano being a herald of changing times. I had raved about the great experience that I had had on the website where I was able not only to choose the model and color, but also to book and pay, all in the comfort of my home, without actually needing to go to a dealership or the company.
The first car deliveries eventually happened sometime in July, accompanied by a lot of media buzz and fanfare. There have even been follow-up stories of the Nano creating a buzz wherever it is seen.
I still haven’t seen one!
Once the allotments were announced, I thought I was lucky to receive a delivery date that fell between 16 August and 30 September. My office called Concorde Motors, the dealership, around 16 August, only to be told that there was no need to call and that they would let us know as soon as the car was ready for delivery.
And so I waited. And waited. And I am still waiting.
My office finally called Concorde Motors on 01 October, only to be told that the car would be delivered after about 15 days. When my secretary called again on 16 October, she was told that there would be a further delay. When she asked for a firm commitment, she was brushed off. I then personally tried to get more information, but when I called and asked for something more tangible, there was no proper reply. When I then asked to speak to someone who had more authority than the sales executive who I was speaking with, I was given the run-around. One thing led to another and then understandably I lost my temper and regrettably used the “f” word. When I threatened to cancel my booking, I was told that I could very well go ahead and do so!
I now really regret the decision to book the Nano; at that time, I was caught up in the excitement and hype around the car, but today, neither the company nor its dealer is able to even give a delivery schedule, forget being in touch with their customers proactively. I even called the Nano helpline and though the call-centre person was very polite, he had no answers, except to say that deliveries were delayed.
The least that I would have expected as a customer, is a call from Concorde / Tata Motors, first on 01 October and then on 16th October, with an apology for the delay and with new timelines and explanations. Schedules in this country can always go haywire, but as long as the customers are kept in the loop, expectations and emotions can be managed. Instead, as far as the Nano is concerned, the onus seems to be entirely on the customer to figure out the status of the deliveries and even then, there are no proper answers.
The current situation reminds me of the frustration of flying Indian Airlines in the past, when it would delay or cancel a flight without any explanation or alternatives. Today, while Indian, as it is now called, has improved considerably, the makers of the Nano and the dealers seem to have regressed to the level of the erstwhile Premier Automobiles.
I am trying to find answers for this attitude; maybe the dealers make small margins or maybe the company thinks that those who buy cheap cars should also be treated cheaply.
I don’t know, but it’s just so sad!

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