Nearly 50 disgruntled Volkswagen owners gathered at the steps of Volkswagen Group Malaysia’s (VGM) headquarters in Bangsar earlier today to voice their complaints about the poor after sales experience and unreliability of their Volkswagen cars. Executives from the company were present at the lobby to listen to the complaints brought forth by the group.
According to the co-organiser of the gathering, Ben Yeo, the group is demanding that VGM would be able to deliver a product that is safe and reliable, as well as improve their after sales service. “We feel cheated about the warranty and safety, a number of Volkswagen owners have had to change the engines and replace the clutch pack in their cars in the span of less than two years,” said Yeo. “Furthermore some of us had our warranty voided by the manufacturer due to minor overruns in the car’s service interval.”
Co-organiser Leon Loke claims that his warranty for his Volkswagen Passat CC was voided for exceeding it service interval by a margin of around 1,000km. "A lot of customers including myself would have to book our cars in for service a month in advanced as there are no available slots for me to do so earlier," said Loke.
Another owner who identified himself as Mr Low claims that his2012 Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI has been experiencing a multitude of problems ranging from improper replacement parts to unsatisfactory repairs done by his car’s service centre operated by Wing Hin.
The group of owners also handed over a list of requests to the Volkswagen management. Their list of requests includes a warranty extension to 10 years for the engine and gearbox, and no voiding of the warranty for mileage overruns under the tolerance of 3,000km. “The reliability issues of the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox are already acknowledged by Volkswagen in China and they have extended their warranty coverage to 10 years. We on the other hand are still left with a 5-year warranty coverage,” explained Yeo. “All we are asking for is a fair treatment from VGM.”
The owner demonstration was started and organised on the “VW DSG 7 Defects Community” Facebook group. The group was started by disgruntled Volkswagen owners in May last year, and has so far attracted more than 2,000 followers to date.
Yesterday VGM released a statement on steps the company would be taking to improve its after-sales service, whereas its new managing director, Christoph Aringer, is well aware of issues on reliability and after-sales service plaguing Volkswagen owners in Malaysia. According to Aringer, the company are already taking steps to address to improve the company’s after-sales support both in terms of customer care and warranty claims.
Volkswagen says issues related to the 7-speed DSG transmission have already been addressed by last year's recall in Malaysia, and assures its customers that all new Volkswagen models are not affected by any transmission reliability issues.
The after-sales grievances experienced by Volkswagen customers aren’t exclusive to the German brand. We would also like to point out that fast growing brands such as Ford and Peugeot also experienced similar customer complaints alluding to the lack of after-sales capacity during their period of growth a number of years back. With a fast growing number of new customers, an unprepared after-sales network would be easily overwhelmed by the higher number of customers looking to send their cars in for routine service. Only in the past few years did Ford and Peugeot managed to turn their situation around after expanding their service network and hiring better trained after-sales personnel to meet the needs of their new customers.
The question of whether VGM would be able to finally address its customer complaints would depend on the company’s actions and its relationship with its network of dealers. Those steps would take time to bear fruit, but it is crucial steps of the utmost priority nevertheless.