Kawasaki India and the stupidity behind big brands

By | August 11, 2016

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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  • Shekhar Bandaru

    IMO, prime mistakes done by IKM are
    1. Wrongly Judging their dealer.
    2. Being reactive rather than proactive.
    3. Even being reactive, not reacted appropriately.
    4. Treating the dealer as third party entity or external guy and let more fraud happen on their name.

    What they should have done:
    1. After receiving first or second email from customer, they should have strictly restricted the dealer not to take further bookings.
    2. Temporarily suspend the dealership if they had confidence in him of recovering and alert the prospective customers not to book with this dealership until further notice.

    It’s disgusting that the dealer was doing fraud on the name of IKM, but IKM let that go on and reacting saying they dint received the money from the dealer.

    IKM is fully responsible for this issue. Because customers paid for Kawasaki bikes, not Palm Beach bikes.
    Had they reacted on time, the fraud could have been limited to 2 to 4 customers instead of 11 customers.
    They let more people drown into it in spite of fully aware of what’s happening.

    Legal action by customers is one thing, but even government should take action on both IKM and the dealership.

    Things will move only when our national Presstitutes start covering it.

  • Rohit Sharma

    I had problems with my Bajaj Avenger after4 months of purchase. The service center guys at didn’t take my troubles with the bike seriously neither did the representative on their nation wide helpline.
    Frustrated, I drafted a mail with dates mentioned from the time of purchase to the times I had visited the service centers (yes, multiple) and all the associsted stories. Next day when I went to pickup my bike from the center, they had received a mail from top to rectify all my problems.
    After that incident I had no trouble from my bike at all!
    Somethings do work, somethings don’t for Bajaj a thorough mail to the customer care with all the details possible is the solution.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      You were lucky. Mails generally don’t do shit.

      • Rohit Sharma

        I have found found quite the opposite actually with Dominos, Burger King, and a few other brands. Phone calls, don’t mean shit to them but a strong mail ALWAYS gets the job done.

    • Shekhar Bandaru

      I had some serious issues with my Ford Figo which the dealership issues were shrugging off saying not issues/not reproducible.
      I blasted Ford on their Facebook pages and also mailed to all mail ID’s including Ford India MD, which i could get online. I wrote very bad things like I will burn my car, will sell it under 1 lakh (it was 1 yr old diesel top model worth 7.5 lakhs), etc. Did lot of ranting all over internet and mails. Basically I over-reacted.
      Soon, I was contacted by Ford factory Chennai. They assigned one specialist Automobile Engineer from the dealership on my case. And all the issues were resolved until I was fully satisfied. Still (after 3 yrs) that engineer takes special care of my car whenever I go for service or issues. Having some or the other issues are common in any vehicle. But resolving it upto satisfaction is an art.
      People talk about Maruti, but I experienced best service experience from Ford even compared to my Maruti and Hyundai experiences earlier.

      • Akhil Kalsh

        🙂 Shouldn’t need to overreact go get good service.

        • Shekhar Bandaru

          Yah, but the dealer forced me to react that way. My car’s steering was getting jammed suddenly during taking left turn. And engine was stalling suddenly with all lights on dashboard. And both happened multiple times and were serious security issues, which could lead to accidents. For both the issues, dealer denied having any problems, and saying I was not using the clutch properly. Only on over-reacting, they involved right technical people and investigated properly. And both the issues turned out to be major technical flaws and were corrected properly. Some times things move only on over-reacting. Had they investigated and resolved it promptly, there was no need for me to react in first place.

          • Akhil Kalsh

            True, although Ford’s after-sales service keeps on getting notorious with time.

  • sabi

    See Akhil,the whole point of “customer not doing anything” is the lack of awareness and patience.Most of the population view our legal system lousy and frustating.Yes,it is true.But that doesnt mean u stop fighting for your rights.There is still number of cases lined up in indian court.These cases belongs to the portion of the society who took the initiative to fight against the injustice with a hope that someday the justice system will compensate their damage.Similarly,in both triumph and kawasaki case if the victims,instead of sending mails and negotiating with dealers,they would have filed a civil case in the court then i suppose the situation would have been different and the twat replies from the manufacturer would have some weightage.

    • Akhil Kalsh

      True, but then again I’ve never done it myself, so can’t really question when others don’t.

  • Chetan Mahajan

    I am not surprised. I have an FIR filed against their dealer in haldwani and am 1 year into a legal case because they took my bike for service, crashed it, and then claimed that I had taken delivery and then asked their mechanic to get me pastry, which is when he crashed it. Imagine ! Kawasaki promised to “Monitor the situation”, and two years on they are still “monitoring” but taking absolutely no responsibility. It seems they don’t really care. I intend to write a series about it in my upcoming post on https://uncityblog.wordpress.com/ .

    • Akhil Kalsh

      Damn. 1 year and nothing done?

      • Chetan Mahajan

        Nope. They seem happy to go legal. Actually they seem to not care. I am determined to fight to the finish, and have written my 650 off in my head. Bought a Himalayan (I moved to Kumaon). But the legal process … you know how it is…

        • Akhil Kalsh

          I really don’t, and I would appreciate if you could keep us/me updated on how it goes. You can keep commenting on this thread, or email me at a@riderzone.in

          • Chetan Mahajan

            Will send you the details in a separate email.

          • Virus85

            Chetan i can feel the pain, since i was sailing the same boat with Kawasaki when I bought the Ninja 300.. Long story short after almost filling case in Consumer Court / getting almost 6 major parts replaced (Some 3 times) i decided it’s not worth my time and sold of the bike…

            When it comes to Legal matters Bajaj and their legal Henchmen will provide all their support to Kawasaki but when it comes to supporting customer or providing satisfactory service they wash their hands off

            Wish you the best in your fight and wish you find resolution soon

  • Akhil Kalsh

    Sex!

  • Akshay Sharma

    One of those rare occasions when I agree with everything you have written. A brand can’t just shrug off responsibility like this, not for a 9 lac rupee motorcycle, not for a 40K motorcycle.
    Brands need to put a leash on their dealers and keep poking them with a stick to avoid such instances but that of course works on the assumption that the brand itself is not driven by wimps. Most of the dealers are eager to rob the customer in any way they can. The only exceptions I have seen are the company operated showrooms where the payment is made to the company and they are more about positioning the brand/setting standards. But I think they are present only for few brands.
    Like you highlighted, another surprising thing is the fact that so many customers paid in full even before looking at their motorcycles. I have the experience of buying only two vehicles but i have seen family and friends buy them and they have never paid more than the booking amount, usually 5K for motorcycles and 15K for cars, before the delivery date. I don’t think the buyers of these motorcycle would have been gullible teenagers who are desperate to get hands on their first motorcycle paid for by their dads. There would have been other purchases before this then why this exception?

    • Akhil Kalsh

      I have never seen a company operated showroom, but then again there’s much I haven’t seen.

      I’m also surprised that people paid full amounts before delivery. I guess the system might be a bit complicated for loans? I’ve never taken one so can’t tell, but I always thought involving a bank only made things more foolproof. I was wrong.

      • kanth_f1

        I guess a part of the blame also points to those buyers, who on earth pays up almost the whole sum without even seeing their own bike and it’s not just 1 or 2 cases, but in double digits, I am sure the ones who got cheated first must have warned the others, why let it go out of hand very badly and then rant about it..

        • Akhil Kalsh

          Sometimes it’s hard to make logical decisions when you’re fulfilling your childhood dream 🙂

      • Akshay Sharma

        I had a Royal Enfield for almost one year *hides face* and I bought it from the company operated showroom in Saket, New Delhi. It was the best purchase experience for any vehicle we have in our family. For test ride, they had the entire lineup parked outside even when the all the 350s and all the 500s basically ride the same way. An array of RE helmets in different sizes for use during the test rides.
        They won’t accept money in cash and the cheque made in name of Eicher motors was asked for after the motorcycle arrived (and was inspected by me) and had to be sent for registration. During delivery, the guy spent 60-70 mins briefing me on basic electronic checks, fuses, minor repairs, fluids, service intervals, basic operation, support numbers and had an entire checklist he was ticking off. I had to go around 80-90 kms after taking delivery so he instructed on the running in thing again and called after three hours to ensure there were no issues en route.
        All this might sound too good to be true but that is how good it was. No wonder I recommended that particular showroom to anyone who was willing to buy an RE.

        And about the loan thing, I haven’t taken one either but from what I know, you get a cheque from bank that you have to pass on to the dealer when you get the motorcycle.

        • Akhil Kalsh

          That’s an interesting RE showroom.

          If that’s the case, how come some people’s EMIs for the loan already started?

          • Akshay Sharma

            There are many of them all over India now, two in Delhi. Maybe they are creating reference for other dealerships to follow.

            About the EMI thing, even I am not very clear. Maybe time is also a factor at play there. Didn’t really pay much attention to how the EMI thing works. This is just casual observation.