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Dealing with motor workshops

POSTED BY CBT Team ON 17 September 2014

Tan Chong & Sons Motor Co

I studied automobile engineering and naturally my first jobs were with the workshops of motor companies around Kuala Lumpur.

I started with Champion Motors in 1969 and they were the distributor for Volkswagen, Audi and Rover.

The workshop was behind the showroom in Campbell Road (renamed Jalan Dang Wangi) and was run by an expatriate manager.

I next worked for Federal Auto, distributor for Volvo. At that time, the Volvo 144 was upgraded from 1.8 to 2.0 litre and the on-the-road price was RM13,200.

Although their showroom was next to Champion Motors, they were renting one end of a warehouse at Old Klang Road for use as the workshop and parts centre.

I then worked for Tan Chong and the workshop was just a shed behind the Ipoh Road showroom. Later, it was relocated to Segambut, occupying a corner of the assembly plant.

I left to be an insurance agent for both life and general, then as a tour guide and tours coordinator for Mayflower Acme Tours.

From 1977 to 1983, I managed a workshop with 20 salaried staff that included spray painters and highly-skilled mechanics for mechanical repairs and bus air-conditioning.

With such experience, I tend to be very critical or complimentary in my dealings with workshops.

Also, while running car rental companies in the 1990s, I enjoyed fleet discount, invitation to concerts such as the Annual Toyota Classics and credit facilities at service centres.

The service provided by UMW Toyota Motor was above all others. I also remember an EON service dealer displaying the fax copy of my complimentary letter on their noticeboard.

At the other end of the scale was the frustrating wait at a service centre operated by USPD, the distributor for Proton Wira Aeroback.

Customers were made to wait as if they were there to apply for their cars to be serviced and the counter was run like those found in many government agencies of yesteryears.

The male receptionists, smartly donned in jackets, gave the impression that they were doing customers a favour and were not at all service-oriented.

They seemed to be busy over nothing and for the time taken to service one customer, I would have completed ten while I was with Tan Chong.

Before my customers could even get out of their cars, I would have approached them with the vehicle’s job card in hand.

I would then quickly determine the job required and gave an estimate of the cost and time so that customers can choose to wait or come back later.

I would then pass the job card to the foreman who supervises the mechanics, fitters and apprentices, or would assign the work if he was out on a test drive.

Last year, I was at the largest 3S centre of a European marque at Glenmarie. The receptionists were customarily courteous but inefficient as they lacked focus and urgency.

Leading motor firms may have invested millions in state-of-the-art facilities and training for their staff but stopped short of the last mile.

They ought to realise that in-house evaluations lose out to professional mystery shoppers who have the advantage of an outsider and customer’s point of view.

If arranging for routine servicing can be irksome, dealing with workshops for body repairs can be very frustrating unless the damaged vehicle is not needed for daily use.

Several months ago, I drove to a Perodua service dealer to have the broken rear windscreen replaced but was told to pay first and then claim from the insurer.

Earlier, the panel beating workshop attached to a Perodua service centre informed that I must send in the car first before they order for the replacement windscreen.

Luckily, I was referred to Kai Windscreen Specialist at Jalan Chan Sow Lin. Their highly skilled workers completed the job within half an hour and I was able to use the car as normal.

There was no need for me to make a police report or pay first and claim later.

Recently, my car was involved in a minor collision. As it was the fault of the other driver, I chose to make an “own damage knock-for-knock” (OD-KFK) claim.

I picked a workshop in my insurance company’s panel and was pleased to see a big sticker on their office door denoting them as “Platinum” graded repairer.

The receptionists were friendly and efficient but they found me troublesome when I wish to arrange for a suitable day to send in the car for repairs.

They had expected me to surrender the car there and then on the first visit and again when I submitted all the signed documents on the second visit.

They did not volunteer any information on approximately how long it will take to complete the repairs or concern about my loss of use of the car.

Leaving my car idled in the workshop when I could be using it was unacceptable. Mercifully, they referred me to their manager Mr Richard Wong, who was friendly and professional.

We agreed that I should send in the car the day after Malaysia Day and he would try to get the car ready at the end of the third day.

Richard’s workshop is located at the tail end of Jalan Dua in Chan Sow Lin. It is easily one of the largest accident repair workshops in the country with towing service 24/7.

It would be wise for motorists to find out in advance who to call and which workshop to use instead of frantically searching for one after an accident.

Including someone like Richard who can be relied upon would save a lot of heartaches and inconveniences.

Depending on the promised service touted by motor distributors or a workshop in the insurer’s panel may not be good enough.

As such, workshops that provide excellent service or graded “Platinum” deserve recognition and promotion.

YS Chan
Kuala Lumpur

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