Of late, there has been so much controversy surrounding Volkswagen that it’s sometimes hard to separate the truth from fiction as each telling of a story gets so much added salt, one wonders if they haven’t died of hypertension and cardiac arrest. It gets so bad to the point where even automotive journos sometimes gets confused. In case you have no idea what’s being talked about here, here’s a brief summary:-
March 2014, a group of Volkswagen owners staged a protest at Wisma Volkswagen Malaysia in Bangsar (article HERE)
April 2014, Volkswagen Malaysia initiates some changes in the extended warranty program, EWP (article HERE)
July 2014, kensomuse wrote an account of being a VW owner (article HERE)
As it happens, the Golf has encountered a malfunction that called for a visit to the service center. The problem? This:-
The front passenger seat belt buckle has malfunction and is no longer able to hold the belt clip. The picture above shows the eject component being extended beyond its housing and no matter how hard I try to push it down, it refuses to budge. Thinking that the service centers have the necessary tools to do a quick fix, I decided to drop by one of the SCs.
Turns out it wasn’t as easy as we thought. They could not open the buckle and said it needed to be replaced. And here’s how the process worked:-
But first, allow me to clarify that Volkswagen’s warranty is 2+3 years where the first 2 years are manufacturer’s warranty whereas the remaining three is insurance covered. Mine has entered the 3rd year, hence it’s subject to the EWP
- Bring car to SC and be clear about the issue
- SC does preliminary check and tries to identify the component
- Determine if faulty item is claimable under warranty. At this point, they need to do a more thorough investigation for their report and may require the vehicle to be left longer in the workshop.
- Determine if vehicle still under warranty. All service record(s) are required and if you have been using that same SC since the day your vehicle rolled out, they would have a copy of each invoice. If not (like in my case where my first service was done in another authorized SC), they will need to contact the other SC to request for a copy of the invoice (which may result in delays again). Once it is confirmed that you have been diligent in your servicing (within stipulated time frame or mileage), it goes to the next phase
- Submit complete report to Volkswagen Group Malaysia. Confirmation of repair is done within 24 hours of report submission.
- Wait for parts. They had no buckle stock so had to order from Singapore which is expected to take between 1-2 weeks.
- Bring the vehicle back in once parts are here and complete the repair process.
So, the centralized repair approval has indeed sped up the process of repairs and this would undoubtedly help provide a better ownership experience than before when insurance adjusters take their own sweet time to visit the SC to confirm the part(s) that needs to be changed which may result in horrible delays. So it now boils down to dealing with the service centers and better QC from the CKD packs here in Malaysia. Perhaps it’s time to give this marque a second chance?
UPDATE 5 NOVEMBER 2014
After waiting 3 weeks for the buckle to arrive, the Golf has gone back into the SC and is now awaiting repair. As far as I can tell, here’s the work process of Volkswagen Glenmarie (owned by FA Wagan)
The most peculiar thing about the steps above is the Repair Order and diagnostic data which has to be done on the same day. Although the service advisor here didn’t say, I would hazard the reason why the RO and diagnostic data (which captures vehicle parameters such as engine mapping) has to be done on the same day is to prevent others tampering with it (ie remapping once claims are in) and to build a historical database on the vehicle for future reference. Also, this same-day requirement requires parts to be available before work can be carried out – which is logical since no parts = no repair.
This process is far better than involving insurance adjusters since that would slow the whole process down to the point by the time you car is ready, you’ll be in time to drive it to the next Malaysian general elections.
Nevertheless, I do not recall them taking diagnostic data on the day I first lodged my complaint and this would mean a few things to owners. You can potentially have problems with your claim when:-
- You failed to adhere to the stipulated service mileage or periodic maintenance date
- The part is not covered under warranty (ie wear and tear)
- After wait weeks upon weeks for the parts to come only to discover your car is no longer covered under warranty because of unusual diagnostic data collected (ie remapping). Granted that remapping would be entirely YOUR fault for doing something not authorized by the principal but it’s also bad for the SC because they incurred cost for ordering a component in and can’t claim the part due to warranty issue.
It’s is probably best that SCs revise their processes to be more customer focused and protect themselves. Think about it; if I’m a service centre owner, I’d be pissed to have to service, maintain and be shouted at by owners who didn’t buy their cars from me in the first place! The Golf was purchased from Volkswagen Old Klang Road (OKR) but because of the appalling level of service and facilities there (read about it HERE when the mechatronic failed), I had to go to another SC (namely Glenmarie). Some owners complain of the service here but seriously, if you read my experience in Veemer (now known as CCB) OKR, the people here are so much better trained. But to set up an SC is not cheap – far more than a showroom with all the equipment needed to carry out their jobs and add the cost of manpower, electricity, inventory, it’s freaking expensive.
But auto makers know that without after sales, sales will be limited, hence new dealerships would need to commit to having the ability to set up a 3S (or 1S+2S) centre. The SCs would need to make money and while the cars are under warranty, they are obliged to accept any and all models under the marque. So for Glenmarie to deal with a product I bought from OKR, I can understand how frustrating it is to deal with irate customers whom you cannot charge – like me. And this is also one of the key reasons why the 10-year warranty request by the DSG complaints community cannot be granted; either VGM pay huge amounts of money to sell about 10,000 vehicles a year to compensate the loss of revenue by the SCs or the SCs leave en masse or reduce its servicing commitment (ie Glenmarie belongs to FA Wagan who also services Volvos) due financial loss.
Bad enough that there is a backlog of minimum 1 month in some SCs for technical repairs and owners are starting to fume again. For everyone’s sakes, I hope they’ll get their act right soon.