Documentation for a new vehicle becomes one mighty ordeal if not handled properly
A few weeks ago, we brought another new car into the family. This time around, the vehicle was bought using the operational leasing route: this means the involvement of the manufacturer, a dealer, a bank, an operational leasing company and corporate owner; the usage of the vehicle being with a company employee. Add to that, the various papers relating to the regional transport office (RTO), the insurance policy and various excise as well as other taxes—and the document trail becomes a nightmare if not handled properly.
There exists a huge scope for errors in handling three important numbers—VIN or vehicle identification number, the chassis number and the engine number. All three are combinations of alpha-numerics and hyphens. In our case, along with the car on a temporary registration plate, we received a car of which the VIN and other details had been entered wrongly in the temporary registration certificate, the insurance policy, the invoice and the warranty booklet. The dealer’s attitude was unhelpful, until I escalated the matter to the manufacturer.
If not caught at the very first stage, such documentation errors can become a nightmare for the owner at every step. From formal registration to insurance claims to on road re-verifications to release from lease agreement to re-sale. The VIN number can be found on the windscreen, on a sticker in a side window and at other locations inside the car which will also be mentioned in the warranty booklet.
Double-check it right now!
Broadly, there are three levels of ‘control’ that a new car or bike or truck or anything similar has. And this is how it flows:
The owner-driver has the first level of operational control and the power to effect very minor changes and repairs to keep the vehicle going. Other than regularly filling fuel, there is often no need to have any more control. Yes, remember to lock it at night or don’t leave the keys inside—if you still want it there next morning.
The dealer-authorised service station has the next level of control which includes regular updates as well as running repairs and servicing. In this, the model is often tweaked to maximise benefit to the dealers themselves, while the owner-operator (unless he is very competent) loses control over anything other than the final bill.
The highest level vests with the manufacturer, who may let most of these controls filter down to the Indian subsidiary, which may or may not implement it at the dealer level, which, in turn, may or may not let the poor customer owner-operator get the full benefit of such changes.
In other countries, this flow of information is an open book and available to the last man in the chain, the owner-operator. In India, the warranty booklet and the owner’s manual, which should have much of this information, does not even have a provision for letting the customer know about changes and updates.
Which brings me to the main part of this piece—have you taken a close look at the warranty and owner’s manual in your set of wheels lately?
The one in our new car is a crying shame. The binding is already coming off; the prose inside is a reader’s nightmare; it is available only in English and, worst of all, it is full of references to ‘not for India version’ or ‘only for Africa version’ or ‘for version 22.0 B only’ and similar stuff which is bound to confuse rather than educate.
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.