How it all started? I decided to buy a car (a hatchback) and started my research sometime in September 2009. Somehow, punto seemed to be the matching my preferences and I really cannot exactly pinpoint when, where, what or why I decided to pursue my idea to buy Punto for a car. So Punto it was. The research gathered momentum gradually in the next few months. There was a Swift (Vdi) and Honda City (ANHC) at my disposal. So I wasn't in a hurry to buy one and had other important work (involving various government offices) to be taken care of. And we all know how horrible it was/is/will (be) to deal with the great government offices in India. Less said the better. Moving on, various options like buying a used car was also analysed. Finally, I decided it is Punto MJD E Pack or a used Ford Fiesta Zxi with ABS or Sxi. The latter was not so easily available in the used car market. The ones available were base variants. As the crow flies, it is February 2010 and I had reached a point that I'm turning to be an insomniac reading reviews after reviews on Punto and also on whatever that runs on four wheels. And the sleepless nights events were thoroughly sponsered by forums like indianautosblog, t-bhp, zigwheels, autocar, etc. Honestly, I lost count of them. What car? I was not interested in the following alternatives and brief reasons why: Swift DDiS My friend owns one. Driven a lot in city and highways. Like the responsive throttle, maneuverability but still no. Too little boot space and I felt the suspension not too comfortable even as a driver and I have no idea how it feels to be a rear seater. Dzire DDiS Never driven but must be the same as Swift. Heard it has very long waiting period. Fabia Expensive to what is on offer and the after sales service horror stories heard through the forums killed the appeal. It is well-built and Fiat's reputation on the service front was also not receiving any laurels, though. Manza More car for almost the same price but still I don't want it. It never appealed. i20 Never given a thought and didn't know that a CRDi version existed. Anyway found it too pricey. Figo About to be launched, looked value for money but lacked what i'm looking for or Punto has to offer. Polo Yet to be launched. Could not wait anymore because I decided that "that's it". Why Punto? For the record, let me say that the features on/in Punto did the trick and I liked the fact that there was no compromise on the safety aspect. So I asked myself one question and answered it favourably. Am I ready to spend the extra money to avail these features that makes me confident and safe during my drives that might prove to be life-saving than rue painfully, "I should have done that" just in case such a situation happens for real? Of course, YES. I must admit that the interiors (plastic quality and the way things are put into place) is a big turnoff. Here I am, buying a supposedly premium hatchback, second only to i20 in terms of price at that time and what they dish out could not be justified. But being Indian, I am conditioned to accept and compromise inferior quality offerings from almost all walks of life and how could a car be any different. So I conveniently forgot what's on offer as car inetriors. As an aside, I have never been very appreciative of Yuvraj Singh either. Which Colour? I was not very much hung on any colour. My personal take on the colour thing is that the more you look at a colour in Punto, the more you start liking it. There were options and one doesn't get too many options in many matters in this part of the world. So what's the harm in exercising the option if I am presented with. Black - Always liked it but thought it is not suitable to Indian conditions to maintain. Red - Attractive but don't want to be a cynosure all the time. Blue - Not to my personal preference, so ruled out. Medium Grey - I thought this would do real fine. So my first choice. White - If medium grey doesn't look attractive in person, I thought I would go with this. My cousin brother's like, "let's take white". My 10yr girlfriend turned (two months)wife said all her life it's always white car in their family as well as their immediate relatives. So she was reluctant. Minimal Grey - Every other car on road is in this colour. Kind of national colour. So no. Not this colour. I eventually ended up with this. It's a different matter altogether. Which dealer? I knew that in Bangalore Concorde, Prerana, and Manipal motors used to be the TATA dealers. I checked the Fiat India website and found that Manipal motors wasn't there anymore. While doing car research, I came across KHT motors that is about to open and by the time I bought a car, they were a few weeks into functioning. Why Concorde Motors was not a choice? Anyway, I lived in Domlur and my nearest dealer is Concorde, Dairy Circle. Long before, I test drove a diesel version at Concorde motors, Dairy Circle. But the person there told me that he could allow only a 2km drive as it is a sunday. People and their reasons just suck. I just could not understand what other day of the week they expect their prospective customer to visit. Anyway, by that time I knew by heart all I had to know about Punto, its features, its drawbacks, through the hundreds of reviews that I read like millions of times. And they never bothered to follow up on me. However, due to a previous "irritating" Tata Indica buying experience in 2006, I decided to give them a skip this time around. I knew very well that my Concorde rejection would mean nothing much to them but the immense self-satisfaction I had attained from the fact that I used my choice to reject them was really gratifying. Why Prerana Motors was a choice? One and only reason that it was the only alternative. So I decided to try Prerana motors thinking that the lesser of the devil would do. During a visit to my friend's place at HSR Layout, we (my friend, wife, and I) went to Prerana motors at Agara. I met this sales guy by name Venkatesh. There was a red Punto(1.4 petrol) emotion pack on display and I looked at it for the umpteenth time. At Prerana motors, MJD is not available for a test drive that day. But who cares really? I usually expect any establishment in this country to be inefficient and so I would be surprised only if anything remotely efficeint happens. So there they were, a Tata-Fiat dealer who has a customer in front of them ready to book a car without them having ever spent any effort, time, or a test-drive to make this deal go through. Which car loan? He then introduced me to the finance person and I had a chat with him about the finance options and decided to go with HDFC insisting on arrears EMI. He said no arrears EMI and only advance EMI. I said that I would take care of the finance part myself and immediately he agrees afte a phone call with his HDFC representative but at an additional 0.5% interest. I did a quick math and found that I still save a few thousands even if it is 0.5% more in case of arrears EMI. What are my conditions? We sit with the sales guy and told him that my colour would be either medium grey or bossa nova white and he said, "Medium grey is available. You can take delivery in a week's time". That sounded sweet. I went on to explain that why I chose Prerana over Concorde and told him my conditions. That I would like to get a 2010 model and NOT 2009. That I would like to see the car in their stockyard or showroom, do an inspection and only when I say yes that they were to proceed with registration. All agreed without a hesitation. I know it is going to be "yes" all the way as I was yet to handover my cheque to make a booking confirmation. So I insist the above points once again. The usual freebies were promised: car cover, mats, mud flaps, 3M sunscreen, and an idol. About inspecting the car, he said that their stockyard is in Peenya, quite a distance from their showroom. I said I don't mind if they can take me there. Finally, he said he would confirm it the next day and I was like, I would confirm my booking the next day as well. Nothing happens the next day but nothing was expected to happen. He called the day after to tell that I should do a booking if I need the car quickly. This happens in mid-march. And there was news that the road-tax is going to increase from April in Karnataka. I said I would come and there were calls from him the next few days (twice a day) enquiring if I am booking that day. So I go there one fine day, give a cheque for Rs.25,000 and confirm the booking. Still no word about seeing the car in person or its VIN. He promised me to text the VIN as soon as he gets it. Loan processing Meanwhile, the loan from HDFC was quite straight forward. I spoke directly to the bank and they offered me a rate 0.25% less than what the finance option through the dealer was quoting. I called up this guy from Prerana and he immediately agreed to the same percent. Two of them were calling relentlessly every other hour, matching each other's offer and finally I decided to go with the person from the dealer itself. Next day, all loan documents were submitted, signed, and verfied. Two days from that the loan was approved and ready for disbursement. Why Prerana went out of contention? Still no text on the VIN or car inspection. It's March 28 now. I have got 4 more days to register the new car or I would come under the new raod-tax regime from April 1, 2010. Next day, on 29 March, I received an SMS with the VIN for the car. I decode it to find that it is a Nov 2009 model. I called the sales guy and tell him that it is a 2009 model. He insists that it is 2010 model once and again. I stopped him in his track and asked him not to bluff and made it very clear that both of us know that it is a 2009 model. He agreed and said he would call shortly after having a word with his manager. He called again saying that it would be better if I could come over to their showroom to take it up with his manager. So I was there again and it is 1130 hrs. I told that sales person that I was not happy with the way things are proceeding. Not at all. After a while, I was in the cabin with the manager. I explained what has been happening over the last fifteen days and the current situation. The following conversation ensued. Manager: But it is a 2010 car. Me: No. The VIN clearly says it is of Nov 2009 make. Him: But then we're registering the car in 2010, so it is a 2010 model. Me: Of course anything registered in 2010 will be obviously a 2010 registration. We are not talking about registration but year of make. I stated this as clearly as I could when I made the booking. Why did you not inform me if you don't have a 2010 stock of medium grey. You had enough time to check your stock and let me know. Him: (now shifts the blame to the sales guy) I agree but he made a mistake. I never knew this. But according to us this is a 2010 car. Me: (pressure building up inside) It is none of my concern whose mistake it is. You are the sales manager. It is your duty to keep your representatives updated. I hold you accountable and not him. Him: Ok. If you insist, then I will make an order for 2010 medium grey but it will take fifteen days to arrive. Me: I don't care. I want 2010 make medium grey or white as a second choice if delivery can be any earlier. Him: But then from April 2010, we can sell only BS4 models and if there is a price rise, you'll have to bear. Also the road-tax is going up, which should also be borne by you. (taps in some numbers on the calculator) So you'll have to pay the difference of approximately Rs.15000 Me: What do I look like? I will not pay a single rupee more. I want a 2010 model and whatever the difference in price and tax, you have to pay. Him: No. That is not at all possible. (mumbles for a few minutes). Ok the best I can do is we'll pay Rs.4000 of whatever the excess amount you will have to pay in April. Me: (I have completely lost it) No. Pay the full difference or I don't want it. You have kept this a secret and telling me on 29th of March so that I'll be pushed to the wall and you can sell me a 2009 model. Him: Sorry. This is the best I can do. (now he's trying to act smart). People don't know about VIN and stuff. When you sell you can sell it as a 2010 and people will only look at registration book. And it will say it is 2010. Ok we'll discuss some discounts if you're taking this 2009. This I have never done but I'm doing it just for you. Me: You made a mistake and now you're trying to make me a party to it. It may be your business to hide things and I would not do that. Him: Only you software people are so fussy about VIN but normal people don't. Even if I had given you a 2010 model, then you would have asked why it is BS3 and not BS4. I know you types. The straw that broke the camel's back has come atlast. Me: I never said I'm in software. And I never asked for BS4. Stop talking to me like that. Give me a few minutes. I'll make a call and come back to you. Should I or shoudln't I? There I was fuming and somewhat helpless. 1300 hrs. I call my wife, explained what was going on and parallely thinking if I could do something. Today is 29th march. Tomorrow is 30th, just one day left to find a car, book, register. 31st is bank holiday. Looks like an impossible task. I thought may be I should agree to that Rs.4000 offer. After all, this is India. You can rant, implode, explode but things will always be the same. I can be objective and save Rs.4000 or stand my point, cancel the booking, buy one from a different dealer and be poorer by Rs.15000. One can only learn lessons never teach one here. Meanwhile, the sales guy Venkatesh was running around and being very apologetic. I actually pitied him. If I am making a point, it's not to him but to higher-up the chain. And then I decided that I was okay to lose the Rs.15000 towards higher road-tax. If I am losing an eye, let Prerana lose both theirs. I'm sure a sale brings them quite some profit. The cheque I gave them as booking confirmation was not realised and I asked my wife to cancel the cheque online. I felt better. The sales guy came to me and asked me to meet his manager again. I said I never want to see him again and whatever the manager has to offer he could shove it on himself wherever he pleases. Why Concorde Motors again? I quickly got the numbers of KHT motors and Concorde motors (back to square one). No one answers the phone at KHT motors. Bugger, so new in business and you guys can't even answer a phone straight away. 1330 hrs. Then I called up Concorde motors, Dairy Circle. I was put through to one Chetan. I quickly explained the whole story at Prerana and asked him to be very forthright. He sounded to the point and said that they do have both 2009 and 2010 models. And if I were to go for a 2009 model, I could avail a cash discount of Rs.15000. And he promised that he would never push a 2009 as a 2010. He quickly checked and said that they have a white, red, and minimal grey available. I said that I would like to take the white and the finance is also ready but it has been processed in favour of Prerana motors and asked him to check if that is tranferable. He said he would call back after talking to his finance division. Shortly, he called back to ask for HDFC representative's phone number. 1400 hrs, I was having my lunch at a restaurant near Prerana motors. 1415 hrs, the HDFC guy called me to inform about the call he had received from Concorde motors and I explained the situation and he said that the loan is transferable. All it needed was a couple of signatures that he would get the next morning. Atleast something positive was happening. I got a call from Chetan informing that I need to make the remaining payment not covered by loan by DD before that evening to confirm the booking. I agreed. Auto was hailed and I was on the way to my bank in Koramangala. There's always a twist in the tale. Again Chetan called and said that the white Punto has been booked by another customer just then through full cash payment. That now I can choose only between minimal grey and red. That I could give the DD later. So the auto was diverted to Concorde motors, Dairy circle and not to ICICI bank. What is the deal? 1530 hrs. I met Chetan at Concorde, Dairy Circle. There was nothing much to talk about. Or was there? The usual freebies were discussed. First year free insurance, extended warranty for a price, floor mats, mud flaps, Garware sunfilms, perfume, and idol were on offer. Instead of Garware, I asked for 3M which was not available and after a little dilly-dallying, we agreed on punto car cover and IND number plates in place of Garware sunfilms. The reason against Garware was nothing from personal experience but from the reports on various car forums. I paid Rs.15000 as cash towards booking confirmation happy with the fact that I saved that Rs.15000 bit if I were to buy it in April. PDI before registration was accepted. If I were to insist on medium grey, one is available but it is an Emotion variant. I said it has to be Emotion Pack, no more no less, even if it is colourless. Now I had to decide between red and minimal grey. One that I thought would be a cynosure of all eyes and the other being the most common Indian car colour. But then my objective mind said that Rs.15000 is well worth over any colour anyday. I convinced myself to let go off medium grey and white. Anyway, I would be inside the car and the colour is after all for the onlookers. Duh, what a wisdom? So the choice between the two would be made by my wife who decided in favour of minimal grey over red on seeing two of them side by side at the showroom next day. PDI The minimal grey turned out to be a BNZ (Feb 2010 model). I checked through the PDI list one after another. 24km on the odometer. The driver seat didn't have the plastic cover, others had. The driver's seat was also not clean. I sought an explanation and got a vague one with a promise that everything would be squeaky clean at the time of delivery. The car was covered with fine dust. There was a very insignificant scratch on the left rear fender, a scratch nonetheless. I was assured that it would be polished off. The bonnet was having an uneven panel gap, which was corrected by adjusting the rubber knobs underneath to make it even. Rest seemed fine or that was what I could make out in the feeble lighting conditions at the basement. I instructed that the blue n me sticker be removed, no concorde stickers on the rear windshied and no ribbons at the time delivery. But the last point was done the exact opposite way. Later, I found that the instruction sheet sticking underneath the bonnet was not there right from the begining, which I found on every other Punto. Delivery I was told that the car is going for registration on 31st March and delivey would be on thursday morning, 1st of April. 29th I booked the car, 30th I decided which colour it was going to be and made the payments, 31st going for registration, delivery on 1st - seemed like I was on a roll or So I thought. So we decided to gift something to this sales guy at Concorde for sticking to most part of his words, But what to give? A little brainstorming later, we decided to present him a formal shirt which we considered to be an useful thing to his profession and promptly giftwrapped and just waiting for him to call informing the time of delivery. The call did come. That the delivery will be not on thurday morning but in the evening and I agreed. Later a call on thursday around noon to inform that the delivery would be possible only on Friday, 2nd April as there were too many cars for registration owing to the last minute rush to beat the road-tax increase. Still fine as we have decided to go to our native only on saturday morning. On friday morning, another call to inform that delivery would be only on saturday. It was getting too much now. Time was ripe for some affirmative action. So I decided to play the "auspicious" day card though I don't care whatever day of the week as long as I could get my hands on the car asap. After a few calls, friday (2nd April 2010) evening 1600hrs was confirmed. we (cousin brother, wife, and myself) were there at 1500 hrs. Too many cars were being delivered that day, not that I know about other days but it seemed so. Some receipts were signed, perfume and idol were handed over to us. Road tax receipt (last word of the last name spelt wrong), Owners manual, Warranty booklet, Service assistance booklet and Blue n me guide were given. The blue n me manual was that of Linea's but that's what he had at that time and I was good as long as there's a manual to do things when intuitive operations fail. I was informed that the car registration has been transformed to a smart card pattern and that I would receive by post directly from the RTO concerned. I have been nodding "ok" to everything. Something was missing. Yeah, the insurance thing. They run around and finally the sales guy gives me a number stating that that was the insurance number and that the actual copy was not available due to some technical error somewhere. "We're facing technical problem", seems to be the new age excuse for half-baked work these days. I was still skeptical but what choice do I have? The key code was not available and the car was without number plates. They have run out of stock on car covers. Again some run-of-the-mill excuse was offered and duly accepted. So we presented the gift to Chetan as a token of appreciation, though his tendency was to get over with us as soon as he could. I was like, whatever. Finally, around 1630 hrs, the car was brought to the front yard. Concorde motors have their own in-house priest who does puja to the new cars. I asked him to do something as briefly as he could and put a 100 rupee note, which I thought is a nominal offering. He seemed quite happy and continued with his puja. He did ask me to perform one godly act. He asked me that I enter with my right foot. I imagined entering the car from the driver's side by stepping in the right foot first and I just wanted to laugh. I politely said that the puja's enough and my wife would step in with her right foot. Another guy (with whom i test drove the Punto, the only time), came on explained the working of features and I cut them short as soon as I saw that the function was working. Getting home Once the demo was over and I was sure that everything was in working condition, I quickly removed the plastic seat covers and the blue ribbon on bonnet top and gave it to the demo guy to dispose them off. 1800hrs. I started off with a coupon for 5 lts of diesel and a paper with the registration number sticking to the windshield. The traffic was a typical friday evening Bangalore traffic inching off. The fuel station is close by and I availed the free diesel and some more. Checked air pressure and slowly started driving into the Bangalore sunset. Joy and relief were two words I could use to describe though I was not happy about the registration plates not in place. Driving through the inner ring road, near EGL a traffic cop pulled me over. Wondering what could be the reason, I pulled over to the side, alighted the car and approached him. Guess what, I paid a fine of Rs.100 for not having proper registration plates. I started to tell him that I just took the delivery of the car but stopped midway and promptly paid the fine for he's doing his duty. It's the hopeless people at Concord who should have done a complete job. The whole evening was spent trying to find a sticker shop nearby who could get a decent number plate on. Because, the next morning I have planned to go to my native, which is like 200kms and I don't want to be explaining or paying fine to every cop who cares to stop me over. But couldn't find one. So I moved over to the owners manual and from the next day moved on to various places with the Fiat Grand Punto 1.3 MJD Emotion Pack. And it has done 13750kms in its seven months of operation. Follow up The pending things like the key codes, insurance copy, RC smart card, car cover needed calls after calls. The insurance thing turned out to be a shock story. A few day after delivery and a few phone calls later, I was asked to come over to collect the pending items. I received the key codes and the original insurance copy. Therein lied the shock. The insurance started from 6th April 2010. I took delivery of the car on 2nd April and I was quoted an insurance number that was different from the one I was seeing on the actual copy. I asked the sales guy to bring his superiors immediately and they offered their apologies, which wasn't worth a penny. So I had been duped to believe that I was driving an insured car that I had been driving for the past four days doing about 600km in the process while not having an insurance. The managers are like, "we accept our mistake. This has never happened. We're really sorry." I wrote to Fiat-India about this and how a Prerana motors sales manager tried to push a 2009 model as 2010 model. I have never received any reply in the last seven months of ownership. After a feedback call from Pune wherein I had mentioned about the remaining pending things, I received the car cover delivered at my place but the RC smart card still proved elusive even after three months. Whenever I called Chetan at Concorde, Dairy Circle I got the standard reply, "sir, we checked up with the RTO and the RC is not ready yet." This happened well into the fourth month when one day Chetan announced that he has quit Concorde and joined some Mahindra dealership. So I called the reception and somebody put me on hold forever. When I called again, the same lady answered and promised to call back in five minutes that never came. I tested my endurance further to call again and this time it was a different girl. There again I started, "once upon a time..." the story from the beginning. But this one turned out to be a helpful soul, who promised to call back in five minutes and did. So it was found that the RC smart card has been delivered to Concorde, Diary Circle and some super-intelligent being sent it to Concorde motors, Rajarajeswari Nagar. This girl finally got me the RC smart card and then I am trying to live happily ever after. Hits n misses The car has braved names scratched on it, scratch lines on the sides by people walking by who derive great pleasure to run along some sharp objects when passing by leaving indelible marks, an auto that hit it at the rear right fender while trying to squeeze through on an innocently waiting car at a signal in Chennai, the same spot scratched a bit more by god-knows-who while being parked and when I wasn't around. A bike hit the front left fender and scratched intermittently all way till the rear left door causing the dents. Very recently a Getz with a senile behind the wheel hit from behind while waiting at Hope Farm Junction signal and it was such a loud sound. Fortunately, I found small paint peel off near the rear number plate area and one of the number plate lights popped out of position that again clicked back to position on pushing and working fine. On my part, I scratched very superficially on the left rear fender on the iron pole while taking out of my apartment parking. All these later, still the car looks new and only on closer inspection these anomalies reveal themselves. Hail the minimal grey as this colour turned out to be a blessing in hiding these. All these works will be done in a few weeks time as I could not keep things in this way, car or otherwise. And the car and I are eagerly looking forward to the 15000km service.