Hyderabad: A Hyderabad-based techie who felt he was being “ripped off” by automobile major Hyundai, took them on and won after a resolute two-year-long battle. The victory has led to the cancellation of “handling charges” at all Hyundai showrooms across the country.
Ratan Grandhi, an employee of Infosys, had purchased an Xcent from a Hyundai showroom in the city on December 27, 2014. But even after he had paid the amount as per the invoice, the showroom refused to give him the car’s release order, insisting he pay Rs 6,950 towards “handling charges”. When he asked the showroom authorities for details of these charges, he was told that the post-sale charges and payment “was mandatory” before issuing a release order for any vehicle. When he asked why the showroom was charging that amount towards handling charges, the staff said the bill included fuel charges, labour charges etc.
Mr Grandhi went on to purchase the vehicle after making the payment but vowed to get the amount back. The techie then sent a series of emails to Hyundai but kept receiving unsatisfactory replies. “When I continued sending these emails seeking justice, they got defensive and replied claiming they were not insisting that showroom authorities charge any additional amount for handling,” he said.
Annoyed with all this prevarication, Grandhi lodged a complaint with the Joint Transport Commissioner (JTC) about the charges.
Central Zone Road Transport Officer (RTO) G.P.N. Prasad took up the matter and sought the facts. “When we discovered that handling charges are actually illegal, we warned all the showrooms. We have suspended licenses of two showrooms for similar practices”.
Grandhi’s battle scored a clear victory when Hyundai issued circulars to all their showrooms nationwide, cancelling the handling charges. “Mr. Grandhi’s fight has also led to a massive change in the behaviour of showroom staff,” Mr Prasad added.
And Mr Grandhi also got the Rs 6,950 back (charged additionally against the invoice) from the Hyundai showroom, last month – exactly two years after he started the fight.
“The showroom returned the Rs 6,850 and Rs 3,000 towards registration charges collected along with the invoice. It was almost a two-year-long fight and I’m happy I won it finally,” Mr Grandhi said.
‘Special offers’ for cheating
Transport officials are alerting the general public about the hidden charges imposed by the showroom authorities with regards to the ‘special offers.’
A senior mechanical engineer from a showroom who is not willing to disclose his identity said that most of the showrooms used to offer its customers five to 10 litres free fuel at the nearest petrol outlets. “Showrooms tell the customers that they will give free gifts like dust covers, steering-wheel covers, foot-mats, additional speakers for the car music system etc., but, they collect the same charges indirectly from them by way of handling charges,” he said.
Hyderabad Joint Transport Commis-sioner J. Pandurang Naik said that customers should be careful while purchasing motor vehicles.
“If showroom dealers ask for handling charges or any other hidden charges over and above the actual invoice, the customers can directly lodge a complaint with us. We’ll suspend the authorisation of the showrooms,” he said.