For the past 14 to 15 years, franchised car workshops have evolved into professional maintenance centres that practise a tier system.
Before this tier system, when you visited the authorized service centre to book an appointment, a mechanic was assigned to your car and he handled your case to completion. Somewhat like what you find till today in your neighbourhood car workshop.
In time you build a relationship with the mechanic, you have his cell number, you know if he is married and you probably have had lunch or coffee with him some time.
Now we have a tier system. The franchised workshops have added a new layer in between the mechanic and the car owner.
The Service Advisor or gatekeeper
This person carries the title ‘Service Advisor’ (SA). The SA is commonly known as the “gatekeeper” to your car ownership experience.
DSF’s brief encounter with a number of SA’s for different car brands over the years leads us to believe that the SA’s job function is to stop car owners getting friendly with the mechanic and having a dedicated mechanic for their car whenever they come in.
The SA for the most part is not a technically trained person. They are more a PR person who handles your complaint and their jobs rarely last more than one to two years.
Why is the turnover of SA’s rather high?
They are the “punching bag” for disgruntled customers, a rising phenomenon worldwide in recent years. All and we do mean all car brands have after sales issues today.
DSF’s recent articles highlighting issues with workshops, warranties and after sales service have seen tremendous response from readers expressing their dissatisfaction with almost all car brands on sale in Malaysia.
Only the small volume and super luxury brands get very little complaints.
Even the once hallowed and utterly reliable automotive brands with “excellent” after sales service are facing issues.
Today, the average SA does not last long in the job as they can’t keep taking hits from customers. It is a thankless job when the automotive brand sells trouble prone models that are constantly failing.
A solution is nowhere in sight and it looks like the neighbourhood car workshop will continue to survive as new car workshops fail their customers.
Automotive bankruptcy is a real possibility
Some unfortunate car owners experience their cars returning over and over to the workshop for fixes.
While deprived of the use of their car, they have to continue paying monthly installments to the bank.
After facing too many problems, they try and sell their one to three year old car at a big loss as the market already knows these models are problematic thanks to social media.
For a middle class car owner this loss can be a financial burden for years to come.
Losing money on the sale of a “lemon” means borrowing heavily to settle the remaining car loan on the sold lemon car and then having to pay a down-payment for another new car, hence the automotive bankruptcy.
Car brands are urged to look into this issue and return the smile to car owners faces. Truth be told, it is a tough task to fulfil and will probably never happen in this lifetime.