Nothing new about Tata, says dad

Many people have bought something defective at one time or another and just tossed it in the bin because it was too much of a bother to return it.

But no one can do that with a brand-new car.

Dipak Bhika, a father of two, has received pathetic customer care service from the Tata dealership at The Glen in Gauteng.

Bhika says he bought a Tata Indica in June 2008 for his daughter who is a student at the University of Johannesburg, and paid R73000 for the car.

"I deposited the money into their bank account and I have no contract documents to show that I bought the car from them except to say that they delivered the car and agreed to replace it when I pointed out the defect," Bhika says.

Before handing the car to his daughter, Bhika discovered that it had been resprayed and that its side lamp on the re-worked side was loose.

"The dealer denied that the car had been re-sprayed or that it was involved in an accident before they sold it to me, but they eventually agreed to exchange it after the motor industry ombudsman intervened," says Bhika.

He also suspects that Tata management was just warding off the ombudsman when they offered to replace the car because they later tried to give him another defective vehicle.

Bhika says he was relieved when the dealership called him in December to tell him they were replacing the car and he should collect it a day later as they were putting anti-smash-and-grab on it.

"Three days later, I found them busy fixing the car.

'Its engine was opened up and the back seat was taken out as it was jerking," he says.

Bhika refused to accept the car and demanded his money back, but Tata management gave him the finger, he said.

"We all have at one time or another bought something that kept on breaking or malfunctioning, like an electric iron, even though it was brand-new, but you cannot do that with a car," says Bhika.

"They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, but I don't think that refers to the sale of a brand-new car.

"I should be able to get a refund since they refuse to give me a new car."

The dealer principal, Ralph Scaffernict, was not available for comment, said Dieter Human, Tata's sales manager.

"We have received the letter you faxed last week, but I cannot comment," said Human when Consumer Line called this week. "You will have to speak to the dealer principal, but he is on leave until next Monday, 27 April.