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.


Joshi said...

Oh God! I just cant believe this.A vehicle from SUV segment, promoted as rough and tough, breaks down just after 7 months after driving out of the showroom. I'm glad u shared this experience, cos I was about to pick up a Safari and now...No ways I would do that!!Thanks for saving me from a disaster

Anonymous said...

Reminds and makes me draw parallel to the good old Ambassador.. for what its worth ... sell the piece of junk .. or give of it off for the tons of whatever its made of .

Thanks for leaving this comment.. will definitely not even look at the Safari as an option any more.. what a piece of @#$%

Thanks bro for posting this ..I wish you luck in getting a new SUV.

Sugumar said...

I wanted a rough and tough, true utility car. I started with Bolero Sportz, and slowly for family & comfort (spoil) reasons I am thinking about Tata Safari. Thanks for your blog, I need to rethink.

Anonymous said...

i love the look of the car n was seriously contemplatng buyng one...tks to u...i'm doin a re think....i can only imagine wot u n ur family went thru

Ramesh Balasundaram said...

It was a nightmare...
I have now written to the HQ of TATA Motors. Will keep you'll updated about the same.

But from what I hear - the issue I faced is not a one-off case. There have been other owners who have faced similar issues. Surprisingly they have gone unreported.

Vijay said...

Thanks for putting this comment! I was planning to pick up a safari in about 6 months time. I will safely sta away from them now!


Allan said...

Hey Ramesh,

Thats a bummer, being a car enthusiast myself i would not suggest the dicor..and you have added fuel to that burning fire of mine i must say, harsh words i know, however thats the state of the dicor....Im glad that you made it through safely..i know that a car is an extension of one's personal space and it hurts when these things happen..All said and done hope you have the last laugh in this case and recover what was spent...


Reji Thomas said...

Yo Ramesh, Sorry to hear about your car man. Was talking to Joshi. Dunno if I should empathize or sympathize. Hope TATA gives you a full refund - You should probably get a Bolero. So is this what they keep talking about in their advertisements?! RECLAIM YOUR LIFE? Always wondered what that meant. I'll steer away from buying a Safari; so much for TATAisdom in the automobile industry.

Vishal said...

Thanx a lot dear for sharing your experience here. well me was thinking of buying safri in cuming december discount season... but i am thankful to orkut.. safari commu via which i was able to reach this blog.....will now never even think for a seconf for safari

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable(but true) and unfortunate.

Have you faced the problem again.??

what did TATA say was the cause of this massive failure ??

It seems like a rare problem since there are lakhs of TATA cars running in India itself, including the most tortured indica/sumo taxis.

And you got caught in it, unfortunately.

Anup said...

You obviously failed to do your homework before you decided on a Safari. Any damn fool could have told you how notoriously unreliable they are. Within a similar budget, go for a Mahindra. Not that there is an earth-shattering difference, but there certainly is a BIG difference.

Anonymous said...

Both are same, you just have to be lucky enough not to fall into it.

Both have their success and failure tales.

Mysorean said...

Hi Ramesh,

This is not unexpected. I have been doing a small ptivate research on small cars because i intend to buy one - the feedback on Tata's SUVs is something I just seem to stumble over wherever I go. Even their first few models - Sierra, Estate, Sumo, etc. were never really good. Sumo was an exception though.

Coming to Safari, I believe the first batch was transparent to rain. So if you drove out under rain you were as good as walking out naked! And to top it all, it was known to be extremely painful during long rides.

Going by this history of TATA Motors, I am not surprised by your experience though I am sad that you and your family had to undergo this bad experience. But I would rather have you dragging TATA motors to the consumer court for the following reasons:
1. Bad product.
2. Pathetic service and support.
3. Worst response system to distress complaints.
4. Mental trauma, distress and physical discomfort caused to you and your family because of all the above things.

Spare nobody. This is not how people who buy their products are treated. And they need to know this.

Holyghost said...

Hi Ramesh,
Any update on this? Did you get any reply from Tata Motors? I'm very anxious on this as i have booked a Safari last week. I'm planning to go for a long trip (Blr-Trivandrum) once I get the vehicle.

Ramesh Balasundaram said...

Hello Holy Ghost,

I had the TATA folks come over and assure me about any kind of ssistance that I may need.
They took it to the Service Center and did a complete check of the vehicle and have assured me that I shoudl not exp any problems...

I however have the contact numbers of the TATA Folks and the Dealers GM's.
I am hoping that if I do run into such a problem again - def know whom to get in touch with....

Hope u have a great trip.

amritika said...

U and i seem to have similiar problems so why dont we get together and do something for mental harassment that we got

NEW DELHI 110044
PHONE NOS 26959713/984/377,26991111-12
FAX 91-11-26950453
24 HOUR HELP LINE 9811160988

deepa 9212362731

1ST FREE SERVICE 12/01/2008 KM DONE 946



3RD (EMERGENCY) SERVICE 28/05/08 km done 4117

Safari came to a halt near Khan Market red light.Had to be manually pushed to the side of the road. Called Vivek automobiles who gave my wife the phone number of Mr Kalappa Swami 09212362732
Who got my wife to talk to one Mr Ali incharge of towing . He found out my wife’s location and gave my wife’s number to the tow van person who contacted me to again find out location and demand Rs 1000 for towing which my wife refused to pay. Tow van guy threatened not to tow the safari if my wife didn’t pay so again my wife contacted Mr Swami who talked to the tow van person and finally after 1 hour 30 minutes he arrived. He started towing the vehicle with chains to which my wife objected and demanded a tow rod to which his reply was that he regularly towed the safari like this and guaranteed no damage to the vehicle.
My wife followed the tow van to the work shop in another vehicle . On the way the tow van braked abruptly and the safari lights grill and bonnet got damaged.
On arrival at the workshop my wife showed the damage to various concerned people . She was assured the vehicle would be repaired .
2 days later my wife contacted Mr. Bhatnagar workshop manager and Mr. Swami with no decent reply as to the status of my vehicle . My wife finally decided to pay a visit to Vivek Automobiles and Mr. Bhatnagar was very rude and categorically denied any responsibility they had concerning the damage during towing.
My wife immediately went to Mr. O.P.Nanda owner of Vivek automobiles and told him the situation . He told Mr. Bhatnagar 09212362733 to instantly repair all damages at their cost and not to trouble the customer.
My wife was told to pick up the vehicle on 29/05/08……… it was not ready

Parts changed
Timing belt
Poly v6pk 1280 long belt
Timing belt renew(including timing)
For which invoice was given

Parts changed for which no invoice was given
Head lights
Bonnet denting painting

My wife collected the vehicle on 02/06/08 with repeated reassurances that the vehicle was perfect and we would not face any further issues and Mr Swami had personally inspected it

4th (emergency) service km done 4398

On 04/06/08 my wife, her elderly parents 70 years and above and my 2 children both under 17 years set out on a trip for 6 days to Dehradun, Massouri, Haridwar, Rishikesh.
When the vehicle reached khatauli at 2 pm it again came to grinding halt.

My Wife contacted
Mr Bhatnagar 0-9212362733
Mr Swami 0-9212362732
Mr.Vivek Nanda 0-9811033849
24 hour helpline 1-800-2096688

And was given Sri Vasu Motors muzaffarnagar’s phone number
Mr. Kasim Vasu motors mechanic 09319887369 came and opened the bonnet and the plastic engine cover to discover a screw driver and a bolt resting there.

He further tried to fix problems and at 3:30 pm he decided the vehicle needed to be towed back to Meerut for repairs at the workshop

Mr Aslam Khan helpline 09837049133 was contacted to tow the vehicle and he said he would be there as soon as possible
He finally reached the spot at 6 30 pm and towed the vehicle to meerut …. Reaching the workshop at 10 pm.

On 05/06/08 the job card was made and my wife was told they would try to fix the vehicle by 6 pm
At 6 pm after repairing the vehicle Mr Tomar 09837086344and Mr Devindra 09837638611 of Sri Vasu Motors were not satisfied so asked for another day to make sure things were ok

In the mean time my wife contacted Mr.Vivek Nanda who told her to take a taxi for the trip and the cost of the taxi would be borne by Vivek automobiles.She was to keep Mr.Vivek Nanda informed as he was going out of town .

She called Mr Bhatnagar on 06/06/08 in the evening and told him they were hiring a qualis and carrying on on their vacation. (total cost Rs 8900)
On returning from the trip she went at 11:30 am on 10/06/08 to Shri Vasu automobiles to collect the vehicle which had been finally fixed.

Invoice for the 4th emergency service km done 4398
ASSY HEX SCREWM6X25-Z3-1-8.8-TS17207 (2 PIECES)

As it was missing ( not broken but just not put back by vivek automobiles)

Only two people of Vivek Automobiles who regularly called me were from the sales department and kept intouch with me and were concerned about my wife's welfare were
Mr Sunny Sehgal 0921111992 and
Mr Tanuj Verma 09958202596.
On 15th june she contacted Mr RAvi Aggaral of tatamotors who said he would personally look into the vehicle and asked vivek automobiles to collect the vehicle
ON 16th june Mr Manjit singh Driver of vivek automobiles came in the morning and picked up the vehicle and my wife went along.
they checked the vehicle and took it for a long drive and said it was ok
they kept the bills and promised to courier the cheque.

Then Mr Aggarwal requested the vehicle be picked up again to redo the denting painting work alignment of passenger seat and touching work

on june 20th vivek automobiles picked up the car to redo the denting painting work as the colour didnt match and also remove scratches that were put on the bumper due to towing A head light too needed changing as moisture was getting in also passenger seat goes back at a slant which needed to be fixed
it was delivered back in the evening with only rubbing done on the bonnet and none of the scratches removed on the bumper plus additional scratches were to be seen on the bonnet. only headlight was changed passenger seat still goes back at a slant.


During 3rd emergency service Vivek automobiles never bothered to call us up to inform us of status of vehicle . My wife had to make repeated calls to Mr Bhatnagar and Mr swami. She finally had to go there and deal with unco-operative and rude workers of Vivek automobiles.

When the vehicle broke down near muzaffarnagar and she informed Mr Bhatnagar and Mr Swami they did call back once each to tell her tow people were being arranged. She told Mr bhatnagar to request the tow people to carry water along as their water had finished and there were no shops near by. No water came.

She also called the 24 hours tata motors helpline (wrong number is printed in the book)which she had luckily confirmed from the internet earlier. The lady assured her that she would call her back after contacting the people concerned but no call back was given.

On the 5th of june she called Mr Bhatnagar up and insisted he talk to Mr Tomar of Vasu automobiles.
Her phone was on loud speaker and she heard Mr Bhatnagar being very sarcastic and asking Mr tomar Why she was still in Meerut and hadn’t gone further on her trip. She called him again later to inform him that she had decided to hire a qualis
She tried Mr Swami’s number which kept ringing.... no reply. She tried again and the phone was switched off.
No one from Vivek Automobiles since the 6th of june has bothered to call either her or Shri Vasu Automobiles to find out status of the vehicle or the condition of my family

Mr Ravi 09212508221 from Tata motors called Shri Vasu Automobiles once only.

The all india help line number printed in the booklet is wrong 1 800 225552 it should be 1 800 2096688

They too never bothered to call my wife back to inform her that towing had been arranged.

She was stranded in the middle of nowhere with parents both above 70 years old who had in the recent past both undergone surgeries and of which one is a heart patient.
She had along with her a son 17 years old who had undergone epidural on the 27th may and was having pain in his back and a daughter barely 13 years old ……. Both of whom had to push the vehicle to one side of the road.

They were stranded for 6 hours where there were no shops. The water they carried finished and they were lucky to find a hand pump after 4 hours of sitting in the sun.It took another 4 hours to tow the vehicle to Meerut.
My wife and family have undergone extreme mental and physical
My son on two seperate occasions has had to push the safari off the road
after surgery on his back which has led to severe back pain.

After this experience I feel very unsafe letting my wife take the vehicle anywhere. My wife and family have undergone extreme mental and physical

we feel usafe in the vehicle which has been giving us so many problems in 5 months and only 4500 kms done.
We are having to drive a dented painted vehicle for no fault of ours

so i guess even 6 months later no improvement in tata safari

Anonymous said...

Guys after reading your comments on the safari all I can say is 'Reclaim your money' from Tata motors.

Jay said...

I still would love to buy Safari, This is my dream vehicle........

I still can't believe this all had happened to decent people like you

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