Tuesday, November 13, 2007

TATA Safari Dicor - A Bag Full of Woes

I purchased a Safari Dicor from Prerana Motors (Bangalore) in the last week of May 2007 .

I am an extremely unsatisfied customer, thanks to the inefficient team that deals with the Service of a Safari Dicor- I was stranded in the middle of a Highway with my family for over 7 hours.

This was when I was driving back from Tirupati to Bangalore on 1st November 2007; about 75 minutes after I started from Tirumala –I heard a rattling noise and the indicator displayed a ‘Check Engine’ message.

Time: 12:15

I tried to check the physically the connections and everything seemed normal. I tried starting my car- the engine would crank up, but when I tried to accelerate the vehicle it would not move as the engine would not rev up.

Time: 12:25

I was surprised because I was stuck in the middle of a highway with my family in a car that was barely 6 months old. I immediately reached out to my hand phone and called on the ‘24 Hour Help Line’ numbers that were prominently displayed on my Windscreen.

The Service representatives who attended to my calls – after listening to me and understanding that I was stranded in the middle of a high way with my family promptly asked me to call on another number (The other number mentioned on the windscreen)

The little hopes I had, was shattered when the representative who received my call asked me to call the first number listed on the windshield.

It took 2 calls to understand that the numbers listed in my windshield were neither 24-HOUR of support nor had anything to remotely do with HELP, wonder what got them associated with the term 24-HOUR HELP LINE.

I then reached the owners manual to look for the Helpline numbers hoping they may finally be of some help.


I called TATA Motors-Tirupati and was given the number for Chitoor (MGB Motors), the representatives manning the 24-HOUR HELP LINE had apparently gone for Lunch and returned 45minutes later to hear my plight.


They agreed to come over and look at the car – provided I was willing to pay a premium for them having to travel outside their Service Center. I promptly agreed to pay their fee and the Mechanics reached in about 40 mins.


It was quite surprising that the Authorized Dealers from TATA Motors had not been trained on the dynamics of the Safari Dicor and needed instructions to be given by the Mechanics in Bangalore about what to look for - even for a simple sanity check.

The real surprise to me was when I was given to understand that a laptop was needed to diagnose the problem and the mechanics from Chitoor didn’t have a clue about this.

Just when I thought the Mechanics from TATA in Chitoor would fix the Minor issue and help me reach Bangalore – did the struggle to locate a Service Center with a lap top/desktop begin.

Time: 16:15

A series of calls to were made and the most obvious choices were to reach Chitoor(15kms) away who did not have a Laptop to fix the issue and the other most obvious choice to reach Tirupati (55kms) also failed as they also mentioned that they did not have a laptop.

The mechanics from Chitoor were convinced that they could fix my car if I went to their Head Office which was about 250kms away in Nellore. What they were unable to explain is HOW we could reach 250 kms when my car was not in a position to move a single inch.

Time: 16:15

My next obvious move was to call the help line numbers of other towns that were listed on the owner’s manual- I tried calling Vellore (about 55 kms away from where I was stranded)to realize that the agency listed(VST Motors) did not deal with TATA anymore…


Thankfully a passerby who stopped to attend to nature’s call walked up and suggested I call the new showroom in Vellore and mentioned that they may be of help.

He apparently happened to be a local from Tamil Nadu and thankfully happened to be able to source the number of the TATA showroom in Vellore (Vijay Motors) through his acquaintances.

Time: 16:45

I called Vijay Motors (Vellore) to explain the unpleasant situation I was stuck in and mentioned my fear of being stranded in the dark with women in the car.

I would affirm agencies like Vijay Motors (Vellore) are the only saving grace for TATA motors.

The person at the reception was quick to transfer the call to person concerned and got the ball rolling to check how they could be of help.


The team from Vijay Motors (Vellore) called to check with the mechanics from Chitoor about the issue with the Safari; and were prompt in reverting to confirm what they thought may be the cause of breakdown. They agreed to come over to where we were stranded – took directions and promised to reach at the earliest.


A representative from Vijay Motors (Vellore) called and confirmed that a rescue team has started from Vellore and gave me the mobile number of a person coming over to help us.

Time: 17:55

The time of day immediately following sunset- fear griped everyone in the car as it was pitch dark and was close to six hours of being stranded with no food and waiting for help. The hand phone number that I use was dying out and the number of the Rescue team was not reachable.

Frantic calls to the Rescue team gave me just one outcome - ‘The Number was not reachable’.

We were left crossing our fingers hoping we remain safe.


The rescue team finally arrived and for the first time that day – I realized that I was dealing with a set of professionals.

The team that arrived knew what they were doing – they quickly did a sanity check on the Safari and then got a few iron chains and began to hook up the Safari to their rescue van – preparing to tow the vehicle.


We finally start moving – after having been stranded for over 7 hours. One member of the rescue team began driving the Safari – while we were asked to sit in the rescue van.

The rescue team from Vellore had apparently been sensitized to handle these situations.

Time: 21:25

We reached Vijay Motors (Vellore) and were happy to be a part of civilization after having spent 7 hours in the middle of a highway. Thanking our stars for being bailed out.
The team was quick in plugging in a desktop to the engine and confirmed the cause of the failure.
We were informed that it would take approximately 15 days to get my car moving.

The components that needed to be replaced were:

  1. Injectors – 4 nos
  2. Common Rail
  3. High Pressure Hose
  4. Cam Sensors
On getting off the rescue vehicle I found the bumper/crash guard/number plate, etc damaged because of having towed my vehicle.

It would be amiss if I do not mention the customer service skills that were exhibited by the team in Vellore – if at all anyone needs to be appreciated during this fiasco- I would strongly recommend Vijay Motors (Vellore).


We made our way to the closest Restaurant available to have our Lunch (yea – after being stranded for over 7 hours) and found a place to rest that night.

During my conversations with executives from the various Centers I was time and again told that several TATA Safari Dicor’s have faced similar situations and this was not the first car to have gone thru this kind of a breakdown.

When stuck, I obviously did not expect the team from Bangalore to drive up to where I was stranded – but the least they could have done is to have escalated the issue to the people concerned who may have had information about new Service Centers that were close to where I was. I would have been less harassed if I didn’t have to stay in the middle of a highway (pitch dark) with women in the car. How I hope people concerned had exhibited some seriousness to HELP.

A few questions that remain unanswered and need clarity:

  • Who will bear the expenses for the failure on the part of TATA motors?
    • The Showroom who sold the car?
    • TATA Motors?
    • TATA Service Centers that dropped the ball?
  • Who will take responsibility for the performance of a brand new vehicle that ends up with a large failure that takes 15 days to repair?
  • Is this vehicle (Safari) made of sub-standard products? Or was my vehicle one of the vehicles in a certain batch that did not go thru a comprehensive quality check?
  • How can I be sure that I will not be stranded in a similar fashion if not worse – because of an issue that is known to officials in TATA motors (little has been done about the same).
  • Will the support provided to customers ever be dialed up by sensitizing the TATA Service Centers and equipping them with adequate tools/support?
  • I have been informed that the crash guard, front bumper, number plate, etc that was broken/damaged while the care was being towed by the TATA motors executives has to be replaced at my own cost.

After the utmost trauma I have gone thru – I am forced to wonder if I made the right decision of buying a TATA Safari.

I have request the officials concerned to take note of the situation and do the needful to refund the charges of a Safari.

I bought a TATA Safari because the advertisements read “Put the Tata Safari to the only test that matters” Little did I know what the team in TATA motors meant when they spoke of a TEST.

Test a person – After a Traumatizing experience

Harass people in the name of a 24 Hour Help Line’s

Inadequate support in the name of Service Centers

Improper- training to the support staff.