In case you’re already aware of the history of this fiasco and the underlying issues, please feel free to skip this article and directly sign the Change.org petition over here. I believe the more the number of signatures, the better leverage we have with Kawasaki, but it’s important to know what you’re fighting for, and why.
It’s a glorious day
You’re getting a gift
Something you can call “mine”.
You’ve waited too long
Dreamed too much
The hair standing down your spine.
You’ve spent your days
Thinking of her
Looking at all the pictures.
You’ve spent your nights
Waiting for her
Waiting for all the adventures.
There she is
Yours for the taking
It’s hard to believe that you can.
Better than your dreams
Faster than your thoughts
She makes you feel like a man.
It’s all a lie
It’s all a farce
It’s all a dream gone wrong.
She’s not yours
She’s not “mine”?
Then what of all the songs?
So do people
All you can do is scream.
You can scream
You can cry
Just give me back my dream.
This is the story of 11 riders who paid for machines at SNK Kawasaki, some cash, others with a loan, and haven’t got anything since 6 months. The dealer has fled, Kawasaki doesn’t care, and our respected auto websites are far too busy talking about new colors, tire shops, and exactly how many combi-brake system equipped scooters have been sold by Honda.
There’s no denying the fact that Kawasaki makes great motorcycles. For a bike starved country like India, their portfolio of machines serves every kind of rider there is, and their partnership with Bajaj/KTM has provided access to a huge network of dealerships and service centers.
Having said that, buying a motorcycle is less than 1% of the ownership experience, the rest 99% is living with it, and in that department Kawasaki India has had a disastrous reputation. With this latest fiasco, which you can read about in detail here, they have fucked up even the 1% they were good at.
Why am I never buying a Kawasaki?
Because the way they’ve handled paying customers for half a year completely destroys your confidence in them.
Here’s a timeline of how the events unfolded, starting way back before the SNK Kawasaki Navi Mumbai dealership even existed.
The Pune connection
Back in 2014, SNK had a Kawasaki dealership in Pune, through which they launched a number of superbikes in India. Within a year though, that dealership was silently taken away from SNK and handed over to Khivraj Motors. Why was this done? There is no information available online, no articles in any papers, but rumor has it that financial irregularities was the reason behind it.
The Palm Beach beginning
In June 2015, for some inexplicable reason, Kawasaki India decided to partner with the same dealer to create SNK Kawasaki Palm Beach, Navi Mumbai. Why did they trust them with a new, “Premium” dealership when they already had a sour experience with them in the past? Nobody knows, their motives remain unclear.
What’s even more interesting is the fact that Y.Tamura, Managing Director of India Kawasaki Motors, personally inaugurated the showroom and gave the following statement.
“I would like to congratulate everyone on the opening of Kawasaki Palm Beach Showroom the new strategic base of further expanding our business to Mumbai area. I know all staffs are very thoroughly, well prepared, hardworking and knowledgeable. I have no doubt that we will be outstandingly successful to provide excellent service to the customers. India Kawasaki Motors will be in full support for you and am glad to share the same destination”.
The funny thing is that the dealership was actually functioning since February 2015. I know that since I went there and test rode the Z800 and the Z1000. People had already booked motorcycles with them, and a few were waiting for deliveries, which happened in the following months. The dealership itself was under construction, with just a table and few chairs in the reception area, and one mechanic and a few tools in the service one, but business was going on.
I find it weird that the dealership was already in operation 5 months before the official inauguration, but maybe that’s jut me.
The tip of the iceberg
Flash forward to April 2016, and we have the first signs that something is wrong. The first thing that I noticed is that SNK Kawasaki had demanded full payment from all customers, in written, before they would be allotted motorcycles. Not only is this illogical, it’s also illegal. Dealers are supposed to take a small amount as initial payment, provide the customer with details of vehicle allotted, then take part of the payment, with full payment happening on the day of delivery.
Below are the photos of a booking form from SNK Kawasaki.
Notice the first line in the close-up photo?
SNK was forcing customers to pay full amounts to get their bikes, using caveats like “quick delivery” if paid in full. Even some of the loans disbursed by the bank are problematic, since there’s no bike hypothecated against the amount.
Around this time, a few customers who paid up to book a variety of different bikes were told that they’d get their machines within a month or so. Soon afterwards, big problems started to appear.
- Kawasaki India had unofficially instructed Kawasaki Palm Beach NOT to take any more booking from May 2016 onward, but this was never intimated to the public, so none of the customers knew.
- Kawasaki India finally sent a letter to SNK Palm beach on June 16th officially instructing them not to take any more bookings, by which time it was far too late.
- The dealer kept circumventing this detail by taking payment from customers, and then changing the date of receipt to April.
- Their sales guy quit the next month, by which time the customers were already fed up of the excuses that he had to give.
- A few of the demo/test-ride bikes were sold off by June.
- More and more customers kept booking bikes, unaware of the issues.
- All Emails/Phone calls to Kawasaki India were either left unanswered, or given false assurances of “We are looking into it”.
- Customers who were too vocal in their protest against Kawasaki on their social media accounts were blocked, and their posts deleted.
- Customers who were somehow able to speak with Kawasaki India officials were told that they want to give them the bikes and get this resolved, but their legal department says it’ll set a “bad example” for future fraudulent dealerships.
- The owner of SNK kept claiming that the issue will be resolved soon.
- On June 7, the bikes became even more expensive as the RTO tax was increased to 13%, but SNK promised they would bear the extra cost.
- After a few days, they changed their stance, and asked the customers to pay 6.5% of it.
- Checks issued by the owner of SNK to a few customers dated 7th July bounced. Others were given post-dated cheques with instructions to deposit them when told, which never happened.
Here’s a complete list of the affected customers with all the relevant details.
The plot thickens
When The Golden Sparrow reached out to India Kawasaki Motors, Sukhad Sangamnerkar, Manager, Marketing, had this to say:
“Our customers are always our first priority. Several customers and banks have reached out to us regarding this issue. IKM also has certain claims on the dealer that remain unresolved. Our MD, Yutaka Yamashita is currently in Japan and will be back next week, but we are working night and day to resolve the situation.”
Who the fuck cares where your MD is? Has he heard of laptops or phones? Are you still using ravens or carrier pigeons to communicate with your office in Japan?
SNK on the other hand kept belching out one dishonest statement after another. This is what he said on 12th August.
“We are expecting a final decision from India Kawasaki Motors between in the coming week, and I assure all customers that their bikes will be delivered by the end of August, or they may opt for a full refund, including interest. We will also absorb any additional taxes that have become applicable for those customers who have insisted on this. As for the dealership, it continues to be open and we have an LOI with India Kawasaki Motors valid till 31 March 2017. We have had some challenges but we will bounce back,”
And this is what he said on 15th August.
“It is my dealership’s fault. We could not fulfill the commitment given to our buyers, as the registration process for the dealership took longer than expected because of government formalities. In business, there are ups and down, but we are almost on the verge of solving this problem.”
It’s important here to note that the dealership was shut down around 10th August, with all the boards torn away, furniture removed, and bikes gone.
On the other hand, Kawasaki India made a statement on their website on 10th August, confirming that SNK was an authorized dealer, and they are working to resolve the issue.
Another interesting thing to note is that a 12th customer had booked an H2, but the payment for that was done directly to Kawasaki India, since they felt it to be a “high-value” item. He will be getting his bike as all others wait, and apparently, a senior IKM team will be flying down to “grace” the occasion too.
The damage continues
What followed was silence. SNK owners absconded, Kawasaki India avoided calls and Emails, and nothing much happened until on 1st September, Kawasaki India released the following statement in the newspaper.
Not only was this too little, too late, it was basically an attempt by Kawasaki India to wash their hands off this situation. Initially they were happy to concede that SNK was their dealer and they would help to resolve the issue, but once they realized this was not going to work out, they tried to blame it all on the dealer. This notice is just an attempt to gain legal leverage over the customers, for when they inevitably file a case against Kawasaki India.
Naturally, the customers were shocked. After this statement was released, all they heard from Kawasaki India was
“You are on your own, this is not our problem anymore”.
While this was going on, another customer came forward with a hilariously interesting story. Chennai resident Mohammed Mubarak had booked a ZX14R with SNK, and he was given the same treatment as the rest.
“I wanted to get the latest edition of the Kawasaki ZX14R — also known as the Ohlins edition. This model was not available at any showroom in the country, except for SNK Palm Beach. Along with me, another Chennai resident, Irfan, had also booked the same bike. We contacted Satyen at SNK, and he promised to have the bike delivered within 20 days, but only if we paid him the full amount in advance”.
This guy however, wasn’t going to let things take their due course.
“They kept bluffing for some days. Finally, I flew down from Chennai to Mumbai, where I found the exact same bike that I had ordered, lying idle at the showroom. I caught hold of the staff and threatened to file a case against them. I made it clear that they had two options: either refund the money, or give me the bike”.
The bike in question was a test-ride one, hence mercilessly raped over months by lots of people who didn’t deserve to ride her. He took the bike away, and decided to ride it back to Chennai. Unsurprisingly, there were multiple problems with the machine, which were only made worse by the pathetic service given by a Kawasaki dealership in Bangalore.
While riding the bike, the clutch started making a weird noise. He took it to the service center in Bangalore, where not only was the issue not resolved, but one of the screws on the engine wasn’t tightened properly, which fell off while he rode on from Bangalore to Chennai.
“Satyen said he would send someone from Delhi to fix it, but till date, no one has come. I have also called Japan Kawasaki, but there is a communication lag between us. This is not the kind of service people expect when they go to a big brand like Kawasaki.”
This guy had to literally force a bike out of a Kawasaki dealership after paying the full amount for it. On top of that, what he got was a demo bike, something that’s obviously going to have problems from the very start, and is generally priced at far lesser than the market value.
The line was crossed
The affected customers filed a legal notice against Kawasaki India and SNK. A few days ago they both replied. SNK denied any wrongdoing, and sought time to file a proper reply. Kawasaki India, on the other hand, broke all codes of decency and outright threatened the customers. Here are a few excerpts from their reply to the legal notice. You can read them in full here by scrolling all the way down.
“At the outset, it is hereby stated without any ambiguity that our Client (India Kawasaki Motors private limited) is under no obligation whatsoever to respond to the Notice based on the principles of privity and locus standi with your client. Your client, through you, has wrongfully and with mala fide intent sent the Notice to our Client, instead of to the right party concerned. However, in order to set the record straight, out of civility and as a good corporate citizen, our client thinks that it is judicious and prudent to address the Notice by way of this reply as follows.”
“Our client (India Kawasaki Motors private limited) cannot be made liable for any dealing by and between, representations made, and assurances given by SNK to any of its customers, including your client. Additionally, our client has terminated the dealership of SNK due to its repeated failures and breaches of the terms and conditions of letter of appointment of dealership and therefore, there is no existing contractual relationship between SNK and our Client on the date of this letter.”
“Lastly, your frivolous and groundless allegations of fraud, cheating, misappropriation of funds and criminal breach of trust against our Client (India Kawasaki Motors private limited) are devoid of merit under facts and/or law and you and your client are hereby directed to refrain from making such false statements and allegations against our client.”
“Our Client (India Kawasaki Motors private limited) shall not act upon or fulfill the demands of or pay any amount to your client as claimed by you in the Notice. Please note that should you choose to proceed any further in pursuance of the Notice, you would be doing so entirely at your own risk, cost and consequence, and our Client would be entitled to not only defend the same but also claim damages/losses that it may suffer and any cost and expense that it may incur due to any such misadventure on your part.”
Have you ever read a more annoying, condescending, illogical piece of bullshit? Kawasaki India has no legal, or moral ground to wash their hands off this situation. Is this the kind of behavior expected of a global MNC?
Think about this, Kawasaki India is a company that’ll threaten to sue you for damages if you ask it for bikes that you paid for, what do you imagine would happen if tomorrow the brand new bike that you bought has a manufacturing defect? What do you think would happen if tomorrow one of their service people fucks up and destroys your bike? What do you think would happen if a fault with your Kawasaki causes an accident?
They had so many chances to make things right, and they chose to ignore all of them.
- They appointed a dealer with whom they already had bad experiences in the past.
- They kept the customers in the dark while the dealer kept taking money from them.
- They ignored customer complaints, ignored calls, ignored emails.
- They released a half-hearted statement on their shitty website, and not on any of their social media accounts, when the issue went viral on Team-bhp.
- They released a bullshit and pointless statement in the paper when they realized they were guilty, and tried to deny responsibility.
- They replied to the legal notice in such an arrogant and threatening way, that you have to wonder what kind of idiotic cowards run the company to begin with.
There no way in hell I’m giving my money to a bunch of thugs like these, and I think it’s safe to say that neither should you.
YOU can make a difference
It’s no secret that I find online petitions to be useless. However, in this particular case I think they can be of some use.
Corporations care about numbers, managers care about numbers. It does not matter how many negative articles there might be in how many different papers/websites, we need one big figure to intimidate Kawasaki into action.
I’ve created a Change.org petition in this regard over here. Take a look, see if it makes sense, sign it if it does, and then forward it to others. We need numbers, at least 50,000, to make sure Kawasaki Japan looks at us and says “Damn, people care”.