In case you don’t already know, 11 people booked bikes from SNK Kawasaki, Palm Beach, Navi Mumbai. None of them got anything, the dealer isn’t returning the money, and Kawasaki India says they can’t do shit. As always, all the useful stuff is on Team-BHP.
If you are wondering why none of this was reported on any of our esteemed automotive websites, who never miss an opportunity to write about that shiny new paint scheme or that slightly more bent exhaust, the reason is rather obvious. At some level, this is Kawasaki’s fault, and there’s no way they can put those words on their front page.
Can’t make daddy angry, or he’ll not let you play with that next toy.
This is not a new development, the troubles had started around April 2016. However, the combination of the sheer balls of the Palm Beach dealer, and the sheer lack of them with Kawasaki India, meant that far more people were affected than they should have been, and the issue has dragged on till now, which it absolutely shouldn’t have.
Here are some of my observations about the entire scenario. Please keep in mind that this is not a piece of investigative journalism, there are no new facts here that aren’t in the Team-BHP thread. The following 2000 words are my interpretation of the situation, based in the wider scope of past events.
1. Kawasaki is making the same mistake that Triumph and RE did
I have no idea what the hell is wrong with these big brands, what kind of morons work there, and what kind of supermorons own the establishment. When Triumph destroyed their brand image in that fiery detuning nuclear explosion, they made exactly the same mistake. A few months ago when Royal Enfield made a recall of their Himalayans, they did it too.
The worst thing Kawasaki can do right now is be silent.
There are a number of reasons for pulling your balls out of your ass, going online, and making things perfectly clear to your customers.
- You have nothing to lose, the damage is already done. Moreover, you’ve got a bunch of people who’ve paid you crores of Rupees, some of them with bank loans whose EMIs have already begun. They are yours, by the neck.
- Imagine paying lacs for your dream motorcycle, and then spending the next few months fighting on never-ending calls and Email chains. These dudes are desperate, they want nothing more than their motorcycles. You give them clear-cut, honest, and most importantly, public answers to their questions, and they’ll be patient with you. If not, they’ll do the only thing they can, rant.
- You’ll of course need to handle them individually as well, but it’s important to go public so that the customers don’t feel that someone is getting preferential treatment. Remember the fuckfest after the Triumph fiasco? Or more recently, remember the vague and illogical handling of the Himalayan recalls by RE? The customers need to know that they are all in the same boat, not one guy on a cruise and another in a dingy.
- If Kawasaki India had made things clear when they started to go bad around April, the customers who ended up pouring their money into the shredder around June-July would’ve been spared all the tension and agony. How hard could it have been? You know your dealer has gone rogue, put up a Facebook post warning people not to buy anything from there, and you are done. Not only did Kawasaki not give a rat’s ass, they haven’t even bothered to remove the dealer from their website, even now.
- More than anything else, taking responsibility, making the waters clear, and plotting out a future course of action stops all the negative rumors that a brand attracts in such a case. Look at this fucking article, it’s basically just a bunch of expletives interspaced by some other less vulgar expletives that make Kawasaki look bad. If they had put up a post on Facebook making the situation clear, I would have nothing to write over here.
Man up, accept your mistakes, tell them it’ll all be OK, and make sure it is. Don’t hide behind phones and Emails, all that does is make you look guilty, and gives a chance to others to imagine things and concoct damaging rumours.
2. I can’t believe Kawasaki India thinks it’s not at fault
If you go through the replies by the Kawasaki India representatives in the Team-BHP thread, you’ll notice 2 things.
First off, they are hilariously stupid. The customer doesn’t give 2 shits about the dealer, for him the dealer IS Kawasaki, that’s the entire point of a dealer. Kawasaki makes the bikes, they don’t open showrooms or hire the service staff. If Kawasaki is God, then their Palm Beach dealer is Jesus.
Second, all the replies seem to be done by people who have no real power, all they can do is parrot away in different ways what they’ve been told to say.
Both of these items are disturbing, especially when combined with their disregard of social media. The entire organisational structure seems to be unhinged, with nobody having any real authority, or any real idea what needs to be done at what time. This type of negative look at the internals of such a giant brand will certainly change the minds of quite a few prospective buyers.
Who in their right mind would want to buy a motorcycle from a company that feels like it’s run by bunnies on meth? Can you imagine the lack of confidence someone would have in your brand? If I had planned to buy a Versys 650 at this point, I’d promptly change it to a CBR650F, with full knowledge of how different the bikes are, how cuckoo Honda is, and the fact that Versys 650 is handled by KTM showrooms.
Your company can’t even give the damn motorcycles to customers who paid you, how can I trust you with after-sales support and service?
3. Indian consumers need to get more organised and aggressive
Like with the Triumph case, the Kawasaki customers also seem to be taking things too nice and easy. I can’t blame them, I’d probably have done the same, but we really need to change our collective behaviour, we just can’t let these big brands walk all over us and then bat their eyelids like nothing went wrong.
Part of the reason why I think many people don’t want to take the legal route is the corruption and a complete lack of transparency of our courts system. It does surprise me though that people who are able to afford such costly motorcycles are afraid of spending some more to hire a lawyer, but the fact is that many of them might just be regular blokes who’ve saved up for years and paid for the bike with a loan. With the taxes already gone up in Maharashtra, paying anything more than what they already have must feel absolutely terrible.
I am not a superbiker, and for a number of reasons – the biggest of which is a complete and total lack of money, I don’t think I’ll ever be one. However, I remember that feeling when I picked up my Duke 390 from the godown, that smile on upgrading from a 150cc to a 375cc. I can only imagine what it must feel to go to a showroom to pick up a motorcycle that’s basically a moving piece of automotive art, especially if you really deserve/have earned that ride, rather than being just a spoilt asshole with a big pocket.
However, when I had to buy my 390, I didn’t pay the entire amount upfront. I thought this was common knowledge, used not only in purchasing motorcycles, but basically anything of real value. If I remember correctly, I paid 5k for the booking amount. A few days later I got an email giving me the details that a bike had been allotted to me, at which point I paid half the amount, with the rest being finished off a few days before delivery. I haven’t bought a lot of motorcycles in my life, so I can’t tell you it works with everyone, but in my opinion it makes logical sense to proceed about such a huge investment in this way, and no dealer should have any problems with it.
If, for some reason, the KTM dealer had created problems for the delivery of my bike, I wouldn’t have wasted much time on social media, phone or Email. As someone who’s been shouting at the top of his lungs for 3 years about the things that are wrong with our motorcycling ecosystem, I know it better than most people that the internet can only do so much. Brands can ignore Twitter hate, can brush off sarcastic articles, or can send legal notices if they feel like it. It doesn’t even matter how popular a website features a negative story about the brand. Look at Triumph, the entire internet was booing them at one point, now nobody remembers, and they got off with nothing more than a slap on the wrists, with their CEO still warming that chair.
Again, I haven’t done it personally, but if I was in this situation, I would have taken legal help. Organisations have nothing to fear, except the law. On top of that, the threat of litigation and the corresponding media coverage in national newspapers will any day be a far bigger deterrent than any number of uncoordinated Facebook posts.
This is the perfect time to do it. All the affected Kawasaki owners could pool their resources together, and file a complaint, I’m sure you’ll have a few lawyers in your friend lists who won’t mind helping at all.
Apart from solving their issues in the short term, it will have a long-term effect, which’ll show these dumb brands that we are not stupid, and if they plan to carelessly fuck with us, we have strap-ons, ball gags, whips, cock rings, the whole deal.
4. Why do big brands behave like bratty babies?
The most curious question here is this, how can these giant money-making machines make such idiotic decisions? At least one higher-up at Kawasaki India must’ve known of these shenanigans when they began, did he just decide to rub one out that evening like he always did, and not bother checking with his seniors about what the hell was going on?
I’m not an MBA, but it appears that one of the most important thing that’s taught there is how to be a wimp and cower in a corner every time things go pear shaped. I imagine all the marketing and customer relation heads at Kawasaki India must be MBAs, or at least experienced in their fields, and if they are, they seemed to have learned nothing of use.
I hate brands that indulge in pointless formality. Remember Sid Lal’s sleep-inducing statement about the Himalayan recall? Where do they even come up with these words? Do they live in some alternate dimension where straight talk is a crime punishable by castration?
Here’s a basic flowchart of how the shit goes South with these corporations every time they fuck up.
Step 1: Make a mistake.
Step 2: Keep making that mistake.
Step 3: Realise that hundreds of people are standing outside your door with pitchforks and dildos.
Step 4: Keep the door closed.
Step 5: Keep the door closed, but answer a few random people through the cracks in the wood.
Step 6: Watch as the hundreds of people outside multiply into thousands, and mosh pits and orgies start happening.
Step 7: Keep the door closed, stop answering to the random people that you were doing earlier.
Step 8: Cry innocence as the naked and semen covered masses break the door and enter your castle.
Step 9: Give them all a few cookies, send them away, and close the door again.
Step 10: Make a new mistake
This is literally what happens every time one of these companies flounders. Why don’t they learn? Why don’t they stop at Step 2? Or Step 5 or 6? How hard can it possibly be? That’s the entire reason for the existence of the customer care department, do they not have one?
It’s sad to watch a giant corporation behave like a little kid, someone who broke the window, locked himself into his room, isn’t talking to you, and doesn’t let you help him.
These brands have to understand one thing, at some point they’ll piss off the wrong kind of people, people with money, free time, and the itch to shit in someone’s bowl. The brand that gets stuck with this lot will be made an example of, drawn and quartered into oblivion, destroyed by nothing more than their own indignance and fucktardery.
Pray that is not you.
Update 1 (12th August 2016): Kawasaki released the following statement on their website, which although decidedly vague and powerless, is at least a change of scenery from total silence.
Update 2: It has been pointed out to me that Kawasaki does have a Facebook page, for some reason I couldn’t find it, although strangely they haven’t used it to post the statement about SNK. Also, they have a Twitter and Instagram handle too, but both of them are inactive. The article has been updated accordingly.
Update 3: This article was published on 11th August, today is 31st, and the customers still haven’t received any help from Kawasaki India, let alone the bikes! If anything, the Kawasaki social media people have started banning the customers who are too vocal in their protest against them. What the fuck is going on here! Some customers are thinking of legal action, and I hope it happens soon. If articles on Team-Bhp and Mid-day aren’t enough to change their behavior, nothing will, time to drag them to court.
Update 4 (2nd September 2016): Kawasaki India has finally released this statement in the paper, which not only is far too late, but appears to show that they are still trying to run away from any responsibility. Also, this means that the dealer’s claim of things being close to a resolution is yet another dishonest thing they’ve done.
Update 5 (12th September 2016): The affected bikers sent a legal notice to Kawasaki India and SNK the dealer, both of them have replied.
Kawasaki India has basically brushed aside all responsibility, told the customers to fuck off, and on top of that threatened them with legal action if their name is included in any future legal documents as a guilty party. Their response is so fucking retarded and insinuating that it could send you into a raging anger spree just by reading it.
SNK hasn’t said shit, just acknowledged that he got the notice and denied any wrongdoing. This shit is getting out of hand.
Kawasaki people, listen to me, you’re playing with fire, and you’re going to get burnt real bad! Below are the replies.
Update 6 (15th September 2016):A hilarious story of one more affected customer has come into attention. So looks like this is the way you’ll get the delivery of your next Kawasaki superbike: Pay in full, wait for months, get frustrated, steal the Test Ride bike, and force the dealer to register it in your name.
Update 7 (18th September 2016): One more customer has joined the party. He paid the full amount for a Red Z800 on 16th April 2016, and hasn’t got anything yet. Total number of affected customers: 13