Car dealers in Qatar drive customers up the wall
Only a quarter of the respondents in a JustHere survey on quality of after-sales car services were happy with their car dealerships.
About 48 percent of those surveyed said their after sales experience was either poor or fair, about 30 percent said it was average, and 24 percent that it was excellent. Overpricing, exaggerated quotes, and failing to assess the real problem with the car was some of the most mentioned complaints.
Given that almost all brands have only one dealer, the consumer is left with little or no choice.
Speaking to JustHere about his experience with Al Mana Motors, Shiva S., owner of a Ford Mustang GT ’12, said, “The sales guys are great but the aftersales service is terrible. They’re disorganised, rude, and incompetent. I took my car for the first service and they ended up putting a scratch on the car – the first scratch on it! They then advised they’ll repair it on my next service, but I refused to collect the car. They just applied a touch-up paint and did a bad job on the first go. But only after insisting to repair it properly did they do it.
“It’s the attitude, the level of incompetence and location of after sales (industrial area) that puts me off as a customer.”
Another survey respondent Mazen A.R., owner of a Mercedes-Benz, said it was the “trust factor” that was missing with NBK dealership. “My car’s sensor had to be repaired. I was told it would just take three hours, but it ended up being at the service centre for nearly 30 hours.”
It was only after putting a word out on social media, did Mercedes ME intervene and helped hasten the process. “Such delay affects the trust between the car dealer and the owner.”
“NBK – they never fix the car fully at one go, there is always something missing whether for lack of spare parts or simple forgetfulness,” commented another respondent.
Lagging services has driven many car owners to approach external service centres for repairs. They quote less, and the output is generally quicker.
According to Blake P., who drives a Toyota, dealerships don’t tell you which repairs are urgent and which are minor or unnecessary. “They just look to maximise the invoice on every service.”
“They (Toyota dealership) quoted me QR26,000 the last time I took it to service, and two weeks for repairs. I took it to Japan Auto who said 80 percent of the quoted repairs were exaggerated – it was only a small cosmetic scratch on the radial arm and they (Toyota) wanted to completely replace it.
“They also don’t repair anything. I had a problem with my AC tripping. The AC worked, it just turned off without explanation. Toyota would only replace the entire system: condenser, evaporator, filtration system and electrics, for QR12,000, while Japan Auto repaired the problem by replacing a faulty electrical resistor for QR500. As much as I love Toyota, I’d probably not buy another one, except that all the dealerships have similar or worse reputations.”
Earlier this week, Consumer Protection Department of the Ministry of Economy and Commerce set up an office in Al Mannai’s service centre to inspect the quality of services being delivered. The Department plans to open several such offices at other service centres of other automobile dealers in the country, after receiving repeated complaints from customers about undue delays and poor maintenance.
What has your experience been with car dealers in Qatar?