Kia Motors have made their mark in the Indian Automotive market with their only model so far, the Seltos Midsized SUV. The car went on sale in August this year with record-breaking booking numbers that crossed sixty thousand units in the very first month. Kia has sold more units in the last three months than most brands could not have imagined. Sales, however, is only the beginning of an auto manufacturer’s establishment in any market, and credibility comes at a tough but fair price. It is easy to sell cars in the first few months of their launch owing to the customer curiosity for attempting to bring home a new brand. What decides whether a brand stays or fades away is the part that comes after. For any company to have a sustainable term in the market and industry, it is most important to maintain the trust that they instil. Trust can only be developed by ensuring adequate service support and customer assistance to those who put faith in new market offerings.
Kia has unfortunately failed to provide after-sales customer support and service and has upset a lot of people. Social media and blogs are abuzz with a lot of unhappy Kia customers with issues ranging from lack of meeting delivery timelines, to technical problems with week old cars.
Delayed delivery timelines
Wrong delivery commitment seems to be at the forefront of problems being faced by those who’ve been brave enough to have booked the Seltos. A customer who booked the GTX diesel variant of the car almost three months ago is still waiting on the delivery date despite having been assured a thirty-day waiting period. Many other customers have faced the same issue of dishonoured time commitments. The fore-mentioned gentleman, along with a few others, has already requested a refund of their booking amount.
Lack of spares and serviceability
Another customer has condemned Kia’s poor customer service and lack of availability of parts. He claims that post an unfortunate accident; his damaged car stood in the company authorised workshop for more than two weeks without undergoing any repairs. Another customer complained that his car was unattended for almost two months, owing to the unavailability of spares. He had only driven the car for three days post purchase before it got rear-ended and damaged.
Some owners have claimed shockingly poor mileage figures being returned by the urban SUV. A DCT variant ran an average of 7.7 kilometres to a litre for a 450 km range. On an average speed of 40 kmph, driving on traffic-free roads, left its owner perplexed and confused as to what he was doing wrong with the car.
An Udaipur based owner suffered a malfunctioning infotainment screen, which would abruptly shut down every time the car hit a bump while travelling. After going to three different service centres and spending a few hours at each one of them, the issue got only temporarily fixed and was back merely with the turning of the steering wheel.
In one scenario, smoke started coming out of the engine bay, and through the AC vents into the passenger cabin, when the car was on the highway. The driver of the vehicle felt lucky to have jumped out just in time as the engine almost caught fire. Owing to the company’s lack of a satisfactory and professional response, the owner’s family have decided to approach the consumer court to ask for a full refund. They may also press further charges on the company, on the grounds of potential danger to life and mental harassment.
Faulty cruise control
The Kia Seltos has had many reports of technical faults in the last few weeks. On cruise control, application of brakes led to accidental disengagement of the accelerator pedal and brought the car to an abrupt halt in the middle of a busy road. In another scenario, a customer’s Seltos GTX+ DCT declared a heat warning and upon being contacted, customer service advised the driver to switch to P or N in stationary position. The customer was surprised and shocked; the company’s helpline was clueless and even misguided. Another couple of drivers faced a similar issue when they got an onscreen message claiming that “the transmission temperature was high and that the car must be stopped immediately and safely”. The car seems to have trouble driving in dense traffic areas where successive breaking and acceleration are common ground for countless commuters.
Apart from engine and transmission heating, the infotainment system seems to hang quite often. Another Kia owner has complained that the infotainment unit in his car kept hanging multiple times during a journey of four hundred kilometres despite numerous power on and off attempts.
It is crucial for a company to have the right brand image and to do so, customer satisfaction should be the primary modus operandi. Kia needs to take several leaves out of Maruti’s and Hyundai’s books on sustainable brand building and customer support if they are to survive in the ever-changing market of India.