A couple of months ago, a friend caught up with me and said that he wanted to buy an AT SUV for himself. After discussing the basics (requirement, budget, AWD/4WD/2WD etc), the 2 choices were the Fortuner & the Endeavour, both in their AT 4WD versions.
My friend works for the US shift and has been having 6 day weeks (yeah, life is unfair to some of us..at times..!!!)
, and hence the responsibility of of arranging a TD on a Sunday fell upon me. Phew, the burden of being a good friend..!!
I decided to split this operation into three sections; Mystery shopping, Online enquiry & Test Drive experience.
We would discuss the discounts and financing after these stages had been cleared.
I had some free time on the Sunday after that and decided to kick start the mystery shopping. Mystery Shopping:
Both the dealerships have multiple branches, and I drove to their branches on Hosur Road around 1730hrs, wanting to experience their late Sunday service.
They are separated by each other by around 300 metres and hence, I was confident of visting both of them before they close. Here is the summary of both the showrooms: - Nandi Toyota:
The showroom had turned its lights off and I was pretty sure of not being able to meet anyone, but as soon as I asked the security guard if the showroom was closed, a gentleman who was signing out for the day presented himself to me and offered to show me the Fortuner.
It felt really nice.
As we walked towards the display area, he courteously informed me that he would not be able to offer me water or any other refreshments since everyone else had left for the day. Pleased.
After he showed me the vehicle, he took my contact details and asked me a convenient date for a test drive. I asked him to come next Sunday in the morning. JSP Ford:
This used to be called Lathangi Ford earlier and the group has now shut down and owe the banks a lot of money too. JSP is apparently a large Honda two wheeler dealer in AP and this is their first foray into the 4 wheeler segment.
Anyway, I reached the brightly lit up showroom and while there was no security guard, what slightly surprised me was the absence of anyone at the reception desk.
I spent a good 15 minutes opening and closing the doors of Endy, sitting in it, opened the hood as well, and yet, nobody walked up. It is then that I could see one staff member keenly watching TV in the customer lounge.
I left the place and told my friend of the experience. It looked like Toyota had won the first round.
Online Enquiry: Toyota:
Put in my details on their website and got a call the same day. Told them that I needed a test drive and was asked for a date. Gave it and was then asked to choose a dealer. Chose Nandi and was informed that someone from there would give me call.
Nothing happened for 15 days. I didnt follow up since I had informed the sales rep already and was expecting a drive from him anyway. Ford:
Put in my details on their website and got a call in an hour. Told them that I needed a test drive and was asked for a date. Gave it and was then asked to choose a dealer. Chose JSP and was informed that someone from there would give me call.
Got a call the same evening from someone who sounded mature and he took down my address and very professionally assured me that someone would come down on Sunday. Toyota lost this round, and some more, miserably. Will tell you. Test Drive Experience: Toyota:
The vehicle turned up 2 hours late.
There was hardly any fuel in it. When I asked the rep, he said,"You drive Sir, don't worry." When I told him that the range says 0km, he said "Then let us take a short drive Sir, it will tough if it stops without fuel."
Once on the move, he began to explain the vehicle to me and this statement takes the cake. He said "The Fortuner is the only SUV in India to be Sigma 4 certified."
I controlled my laughter and asked him what is Sigma 4 and he replied "Sir, it is an institute like ISO, which certifies SUVs."
I asked him if he knew some offroad track/area where I could take it to check how it performs and he didn't.
I was anyway careful of not going too far(we drove for 3-4km) since there was barely any fuel, and came back. He promised to get the vehicle the next Sunday with sufficient fuel.
Needless to say, no feedback form was provided. Hasn't happened for the past 1 month. ZERO followups as well.
Thursday before last, I received a call from Toyota about my enquiry and gave them dealer feedback and told them that I am still waiting for the promised test drive with fuel. Someone who identified himself as the GM of Nandi Toyota called me and asked me the name of the sales rep and I gave it to him.
In 30 minutes, someone claiming to be a team leader called me and asked me for a convenient date again, I gave him last Sunday's date, nothing has happened yet. Ford:
The vehicle came home 10 mins before time.
The vehicle had more than half a tank of fuel. The rep explained the features as and when I used them. He was also smart enough to focus on the steering, ride, insulation & Sync. When I asked him about the FE, he admitted that the Fortuner is the better vehicle in that dept by 15%.
What impressed me further was he had charted a detailed test drive route which included city, highway and a good 10ish km of offroad tracks which had articulation patches and gravel tracks.
After a 1.5 hour test drive, I was given a feedback form and asked a follow up appointment.
Followups were reasonably good, not pushy, but not on the time requested. This round: - Toyota- Minus 10, Ford - Plus 10. Needless to say, my friend has booked the Endeavour.