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Anton Dekker
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Individual vs Corporation - only one loser

18 December 2013, 14:02

We are the, now not so proud owners, of a Suzuki Jimny.

All unsuspecting vehicle buyers, please note. Suzuki is poor quality vehicles that fall apart after 50 000 km. The dealer you will deal with in the attempt of trying to get your vehicle fixed, in our case Suzuki Northcliff will be rude and extremely arrogant, and most certainly doesn't care a damn about you and your problems once they have your money in their pockets.

Suzuki South Africa is an enigma of a company. They do not communicate with the public! They are phantom strangers that hide behind corporate walls, treating their customers as the enemy, to be avoided at all cost! I called their head office on 17 December for instance, to be told all the directors and managers are on leave. When I asked the telephonist who is running the company, her response was, “I'm the only one here”. So it seems that Suzuki South Africa is currently managed by one telephonist. I wasn't sure that this was possible so I called again and this time she simply dropped my call. Well, that is it, these people obviously do not wish to talk to the public. Suzuki dealers are all still selling cars, this time of the year, yet nobody takes any responsibility for the brand. The head office is manned by a telephonist, and all decision makers are lying on a beach somewhere. No wonder we have problems with our vehicle.

To set the scene here is the story: At approximately 50 000 km our Suzuki Jimny's gearbox decided to consume its bearings. This is a very expensive repair. We were promised by the dealer, Northcliff Suzuki, that they will approach Suzuki South Africa and ask them if they are willing to help us with a goodwill gratuity seeing that the vehicle is still basically new, but out of guarantee. This was the first of a long list of lies told by this deceitful lot. I have subsequently ascertained that they only mentioned our problem to Suzuki head office about 3 weeks later.

This is supposed to be a 4x4, but our vehicle hasn't ever been on an off road trip. It was serviced regularly, since purchase, by Suzuki Northcliff. Here’s the thing though...the vehicle was in their workshop for a service just before the gearbox packed up. Makes you think doesn't it? Whatever you do, do not go off-road with this piece of shit! What are you going to do if your gearbox disintegrate somewhere in the Namib?

Anyway, after the first week without the vehicle, I phoned the workshop manager, and surprise-surprise, he couldn't tell me what is wrong with our vehicle, how much this is going to cost, nor when the repairs would be done. After a bit of ranting and raving on our side, they suddenly could give us a quote and a timeline. That was the second of a long list of lies. We were promised our vehicle will be repaired within 3 to 4 days. Guess what? 10 days later we were still without the vehicle. Highly inconvenienced without transport, they offered us a courtesy car, at a daily rental rate (not sure where courtesy comes in here!) Anyway, this was not even a Suzuki product, but an ancient Ford Fiesta, which had an expired licence disc and eventually overheated and packed-up on my wife, leaving her stranded. Makes one wonder why they give their Suzuki customers a Ford to drive? Do they secretly want us to rather drive a Ford?

The workshop manager eventually called us and told us he has all the bits and bobs to repair our car. Unfortunately the clutch, now all of a sudden, also packed up and has to be replaced. On advice, we agreed to pay for the clutch, since it is a ‘wear-and-tear” part. Once confirmed, it was agreed that they will go ahead with the job and they, Suzuki Northcliff, will continue to contact Suzuki South Africa in terms of a “goodwill” payment!

Eventually, in a telephone communication between the workshop manager and us, we were told the Jimny is ready and, oh by the way we need you to pay the full amount, including the gearbox. We were of course surprised and a bit gob-smacked, especially when we were told this is because Suzuki South Africa hasn't responded to our goodwill request. (Another lie it seems as the dates on the communication from Suzuki Northcliff to their head-office tell a different story.)

Any further discussion about this proved fruitless as the super arrogant dealer principal at Suzuki Northcliff simply responded with “If you want your car, pay your bill!” This is despite our discussion and the agreement with the workshop manager. Our vehicle was simply held to ransom until we paid the bill in full. We had no choice, we were desperate for the vehicle, since we now had no transport thanks to the death of their Ford Fiesta!

As an unhappy, frustrated and angry consumer, I posted a nasty response on Suzuki South Africa’s website, only because I could not find any contact details or instructions on where customers can direct service complaints. The message that Suzuki doesn’t value their customers or their issues comes through clearly for me. I was therefore delighted when someone from Suzuki's head office contacted me, and after hearing my side of the story as a client of Suzuki, he undertook to look into the matter and come back to me. Within hours he came back to me to advise that Suzuki has decided to reimburse the full invoice amount. WOW! At last someone is taking responsibility for the product and the brand. On request when this refund will be made, I got an email response saying;

I will ask 'the dealer' now to pay you out the money while I sort out the paperwork this side. Liaise with him in the next couple of hours as he will need to arrange the payment through his finance department.”

As advised I called the dealer, but guess what, he couldn't take my call, he was absent, as usual. I spoke to the workshop manager and asked him to please communicate with us regarding the process of this refund. He promised me he will get back to me. I’m still waiting for his call. After this Suzuki Northcliff simply refuses to communicate with me, despite numerous attempts to call and sending emails.

17 December, my wife called and was advised that the dealer principle was at another another, non-Suzuki related business, that he is also managing, and the workshop manager was busy on a call. She then called the dealer principal on his cellphone to find out about the future timeline and process regarding this grossly overdue refund. Unfortunately she was arrogantly rebuffed stating only until Suzuki SA pays him will he pay us. He wasn’t shy to use the opportunity to express his unhappiness about the decision, stating that decisions were made that he doesn’t agree with. And in his mind they incurred a cost and until payment is received from Suzuki SA they will not pay us, despite the instruction from Suzuki head office.

Interesting, this is a first for us. A dealer principle who claims the right to overrule his head office, and negates any undertakings, promises and agreements made by a senior management representative of his head office, in writing. Mind you, there are nobody but a telephonist at Suzuki head office so it doesn't surprise me that this man can behave like this.

I wonder if Suzuki SA realise that brand reputation is the single most important aspect of a successful brand. Customers can choose as and when they want to. And they should start at Suzuki Northcliff where a super-arrogant rude fellow is destroying the brand by airing what seems to be internal office politics. He seems hell-bent on going full out to bad mouth his holding company by disregarding any agreements and promises made. Never mind the shocking customer focus.

Back at Suzuki head office. The person that so professionally and efficiently “solved” our problem is on leave. But I knew that already because he told me he’ll be away. But clearly everyone else is away too, making the telephonist the de-facto CEO of Suzuki South Africa until further notice!

What now? I do not know! Therefore I decided to tell all and sundry about our saga of the Suzuki gearbox and the mystery of the word “service” that should be removed from the lexicon of this company. This is the only recourse left to us, public opinion! Maybe somebody from this strange company will react, although I do not hold my breath. All I can say is, be warned! It is a strange world out there in Suzuki land.

On their website I found the following very ironic creative writing;

"Suzuki promises each Suzuki driver an exciting owning experience, along with total peace of mind. We strive to always be transparent, continuously helpful and to deliver excellent service honestly and professionally. Our Customers Are Really Everything, and this is why we C.A.R.E.”

I think not! Perhaps they need to re-look this statement and get it removed, because Suzuki Northcliff sure proved this to be a blatant lie and gross misrepresentation of the fact around this company! Remember when you want to buy a car, test-drive the vehicle, check the brand reliability, but most importantly, “test-drive” the dealer. No matter what the brand status, the dealer is the your contact with the brand and the company, and it seems in this case, a demi-god in his own right who can make or break as much as he likes.

In the mean time, we are still waiting for the promised refund, or any communication from the Suzuki Northcliff about when, or if at all, they intend to honour their, now long overdue and belated, promises.

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