Published February 20, 2021 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

My horrible BMW registration experience

As you would all know I booked a BMW 310GS bike the experience of which I had detailed here.




At the time of writing that article, way back in mid November, I did not have the bike registered to my name. From there on a series of wrong steps happened and screwed my happiness for nearly four months, leaving me running from pillar to post. I am detailing a few of the things I would want every buyer to understand while buying the bike.

Understanding how things are done helps you in going about logically and completing an incomplete and frustration-raising job.

Temporary registration for one week

Usually the dealer has the authority to grant under “his” showroom quota, a temporary registration with a leeway of 1 or 2 days usage of the bike while in the meanwhile he will put the case forward for the permanent registration number to be allotted. And that step was done for me.

I was told I could take the bike home since I had paid for it. So I got it home. This is mistake #1

Never take the bike out of the showroom even if you have paid for it and it is not registered fully yet.

Temporary registration for one month

Since the registration for the bike did not happen even after a week, dealer decided to issue me a separate temporary registration number against just my name after paying a fee and a fine that I noticed (perhaps for not having registered the bike) which I could use for a month from that date.

This was mistake #2, which was a consequence of mistake #1. I started using the temporary registration number.

Must visit clause for actual registration

Since now the bike was with me but was not registered and it was beyond couple of weeks, the RTO had a condition that I had to personally take the bike there to prove that I was indeed the owner. So I went to Jayanagar RTO and waited half a day for just the inspector to come over and see my bike. This whole thing was done because the online registration of the new vehicle did not go through properly.

The reason was that the dealer got a payment error on the gateway while paying my tax amount. This further introduced a delay of one week while the dealer waited for the money to come back into the account from which he paid failing which he would not pay again. To avoid this occurrence again I was told to do this manually and hence had to visit the RTO.

Post the visit, I was told the registration was done. But I never got my registration number even after a week. This was unfortunate part #3

Allotment of registration number

After putting much pressure my number was allotted and I asked the dealer for the number plate since the number was allotted. Here is where things went terribly wrong. The online data fed into the system by the dealer ended up with the chassis number reflecting properly but engine number showed “0”.

Since the HSRP number plate procedure involves having both engine number and chassis number to be entered properly for the request to go through - now the dealer was stuck with this procedure. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Dealer initiated a correction request for my record online along with 8-10 other owners who had other errors with the RTO software. This was screw up #4

Running around to the RTO

After much hassle and seeing nothing happening even after three months, I spoke with the dealer and with BMW and also visited the RTO to ascertain what was the issue. Dealer said RTO goofed up the engine number entry, RTO said they can never do any editing and its entered wrongly by the dealer. So I had to go back to the dealer and challenge them that they had entered something wrong and faulted my record. They denied it.

The reason for me to believe they could have gone wrong is due to the fact that my insurance for my bike was goofed up with the wrong bike model number leading to a cancellation and reissuance of insurance on day of delivery which itself was an unpleasant experience.

Screwed up RTO software

In the meanwhile I applied for DL renewal for a relative of mine and when sourcing the records from the system it showed him as a female - which was a basic mistake. It is only then I understood from the agents and friends that the RTO software is all botched up and was taken to production because of time pressures from the higher ups without validating it properly. It makes me think even the vendor is questionable in the quality aspects.

This is what made me strongly believe that the software and its mapping for entered fields to actual tables in the database was going wrong for many people and I was not the only one. This I realised is the next major shit #5

Dealer application to RTO for correction and procedure

So the dealer started seriously following up on the letter issued to RTO for correction in their software after four months - yes four frickinn months - of me waiting. They probably had the company talk to the RTO, and dealer spoke to RTO agents mutliple times and after some strong escalation the RTO finally fixed the issue of the proper engine number being entered.

In this time, I had gone to nearly eight different rides, and covered 4000 kilometers on the bike, the bike underwent first service for 1000km without even having proper registration or RC card. . As though to add insult to injury my bike battery died within 1500km and from what I understand they have replaced it with an exide battery as it works equivalent to the BMW battery. I had to tow the bike to the showroom at my own cost since it would not start no matter what paying towing charges from my own pocket since I had no RSA which would otherwise cost me 10000 bucks as high costs - the perks of owning a BMW I assume.

Finally after hundreds of phone calls, tens of visits to the RTO, hundreds of whatsapp messages and even the cops catching me for fining me for various reasons post COVID - this whole purchase has left a bitter taste in my mouth.

The moment of truth

After four months of buying the bike - one fine day I got a call that the corrections have been done and number plate has been requested and after a couple of days I finally got them installed on the bike. At the time of writing my digital RC still shows engine number as zero and I do not have my physical RC card. I am not even sure of how long that is going to take now and what all errors it would have.

I am now skeptical of anything to do with RTO itself. I had to tag BMW and the RTO multiple times on twitter for help to even get this far. In all of this the dealer did not even bother to refund me the “handling charges” - the scam going on everywhere in the city these days. If I had to take the bike for inspection myself, what handling did the dealer do? At best they have manhandled my case for four months. So what happens to the money I have paid the dealer for this? - Simple, no refunds.

Lessons I learnt from this whole episode

  1. Don’t take the bike home until its registered properly
  2. Check the application posted online - dealer has full control over what he is entering - take a printout of what he submitted
  3. Check insurance details before submissions
  4. Pray to god that there is no error on RTO software for your case
  5. Escalate on twitter - its a powerful platform for brands to notice
  6. High end bike buyers will get customer service only until bike is out of showroom, beyond that even a TVS scooty owner will get better respect.
  7. Go to the RTO - spend few days talking to officials there to understand what is going on with your case, if you don’t go no one is going to do anything.
  8. Consider the option of going to joint commissioner as a customer and logging your case
  9. If you are caught for such issues on the road, explain politely to the police about your situation and they will understand it as they know the fate of their own software
  10. Be happy this software is not Income Tax software.
  11. Keep your calm and go about logically even though you may be utterly frustrated
  12. Every bike brand will have issues with their new bikes - some or the other parts will screw up - this is because of diminishing quality checks due to urgency of bike launches. No one has control over this. Just pray that nothing is wrong with your bike.
  13. You can register the bike yourself - it is absolutely a choice you can take with an agent of your choice.
  14. You can insure a bike with an insurer of your choice - no one can dictate or mandate who you need to go with
  15. Everything is now online - so internet first, physical visit next

Conclusion

In all of this mess, the bike has stood up to its quality and has performed well so long. If this means some consolation I will go with it.

It is not in my intention to throw my anger at anyone. But dealers need to treat customers better with respect to the communication of being honest about what they are trying to do. If situation goes out of hand they need to talk daily to assure customer that issues will be solved. Empty promises of “Sir this will get sorted in one week” when in reality it took four months is absolutely unnecessary and shows the maturity of dealers and their communication aspects. Brands need to reach out directly to customers if they have to sell more models next.

The brand connect with customers is a powerful aspect and people won’t take all this lying down if brands decide to ignore customers. Finally the government needs to take these shoddy software vendors to task for bringing them a bad name all over the place.

As for now, my amazing rides shall continue with a bit more peace of mind, that this issue is hopefully sorted and assuming my RC card shall arrive soon.

Written with StackEdit.

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Published November 16, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

BMW GS 310 purchase and initial ownership experience

  




After 20 years of driving a car, I decided to get back to biking again. My criteria was clear, easy to sit, easy to use, good height for seating to reduce back pain and reasonable power and torque. I really wanted it to be as lightweight as possible. I am a bit leaner than most heavy weight people so wanted a bike I could push and shove if it came to that on the road.

 

 



 

 

Shortlist & showroom visit

 

A few bikes impressed me. Friend got a Harley and from a long time I was eyeing a Ninja as well. Couple of friends had RE Himalayan and Yamaha FZ so those were under purview as well. In addition BMW caught my fancy for its brand name, looks etc and also the fact it ticked few of the boxes that I had for myself. KTM was a contender too though I felt it was too sporty and too dangerous as it picks up speed way too fast.

 

I preferred the pedals being right below my leg rather than the fact I have to angle forward and keep my legs a bit backward (sporty seating stance). So bikes such as Avenger, or bikes such as Honda CBRs were out of scope because of their extreme cruising or extreme sporty stance. I wanted a relaxed seating and relaxed driving posture. KTM was out because of it being too aggressive for a started like me (although I may have wanted to consider the duke).. That left the RE, Yamaha, and BMW though for some reason I never decided to check out Honda.

 

At the time of making a decision, the Meteor was not out, so wasn’t the Highness. So it was probably an opportunity lost to test out both. When I visited the showroom in early October, there was no test ride as bike was not launched. So tentatively booked it with 20k bucks. Meanwhile a friend had a BS4 GS 310 and I managed to take a test ride and get convinced. The BS6 version then would be only better if not worse. 

 

Booking experience and test ride at showroom

 

Towards the latter half of October, I got to test ride the motorbike and I felt it was a bit top heavy and bottom light. But all ergonomics were spot on and there was no issue anywhere as such. Post the already done booking I worked out some loan formalities for the bike and that process was rather smooth talking to the bankers and coordination with the showroom.

 

Delivery and first ride home

 

Day of delivery was just one month after prebooking but still one of the earliest bikes delivered in Rallye Kayene blue colour. It was a smooth take over of the bike with pending payments done and bank loans disbursed and there was not much fuss around the delivery itself. 

 

However the staff did make some errors with insurance papers (wrong model specified) which led to cancellation of insurance and need to reinsure the vehicle. One another major issue was the registration not done due to RTO gateway payment error. I had to literally take home the bike on a temporary registration (belonging to showroom).

 

 

 

The ride itself was smooth though the bike is revving a bit at idle more than usual. The design caught a lot of eyeballs on the road, with people asking me how much it costed and what was the engine displacement, complimenting the colour, etc. I was pleasantly surprised at the build quality of this bike. I would have preferred a much better engine grunt, but this sounds a bit lame to my liking. Basically there is no announcement or arrival at signals or places where you get the vehicle to stop. So no notice until the big huge frame gives it away.

 

This bike sits tall. I mean really tall. Among a row of bikes, this bike is like easily visible no matter where this is. Filled some fuel on the way and managed to get it home. I literally had to renovate my gates to fit the bike in. This bike weighs close to 170+ kg and needs 3 feet of clear space to enter a ramp and exit. 

 

 

 

Post sales headaches

 

Post sales support has been a bit on the downside with the showroom. As of writing the article my bike is still not registered. It is 15 days now after taking delivery. Other than being apologetic nothing is being done to logically close the case. I am feeling that I will already reach the first service date of November end and still the vehicle won’t be registered. 

 

Showroom argument is “we have created temp regn for you sir, so what is the issue”, my argument is “bike has been delivered, logically close the case”. I think they need some lessons on managing customer expectations, specially when someone is paying so much for a bike.

 

I will write about the driving experience in further threads, but for now I will leave you with one heck of a looker bike!

 

 

 

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Published August 01, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

Short review of the Lenovo Smart clock


Introduction

I was not looking what I was doing and plugged in my Alexa power supply into my wooden LED digital clock that I purchased from Singapore for above 50 SGD and the next thing I know is the clock was beeping with screwed up display.




I knew that was the end of it. So there began my search to replace that clock. I checked out many websites in India and came across that the same LED clock including shipping would cost me much more than 50SGD. It was not worth it and I was wondering what to do when I came across the Croma web site which was selling the Lenovo Smart clock at a deep discount of 3999/- down sharply from the MRP of 9999/-


At the time it was launched the thought of someone having to pay 10k for that clock astounded me. So I did not for it at that time. However at 3999/- it was a compelling buy.

Unboxing

I made a short video on unboxing this clock. It was a fairly simple unboxing and took very minimal time and less fussy as well. Take a look for yourself.



Salient points about the gadget

The following are worth mentioning about the gadget

  • Quite some decent amounts of clock faces
  • pretty amazing brightness levels almost doubling up the clock as a night lamp for your room
  • Good readable main clock face font
  • Amazing loudness of volume for announcements and google replies
  • Main controls such as brightness, volume etc are neatly placed on the slide up menu on the clock
  • Other widgets such as alarms, weather etc are accessible by swiping left or right
  • Textured cloth finish with volume buttons on top of the clock
  • Triangular shape makes it sit on the desk without an issue
  • Other buttons such as mute, power cable input etc are neatly placed at the rear and are accessible without even seeing them, mute button being a slider is easy to operate
  • Hardware seems rock solid in the hand as well as throughout the operation
  • Since it connects to WiFi, even after a power cycle, it picks up the current time from the network without a fuss unlike other digital LED clocks
  • Integration with devices to cast to, is commendable
  • USB connectivity at the rear

CONS: There are really no points I can take to nitpick on this product. I really do not have much to say on the negatives of the product. In fact in my opinion there are really no negatives. Had it been sold for the original price of 10000 it would have been a huge negative, but that is also not the case now.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Smart Clock is a great buy at 3999/-, the hardware is slick and fuss free, the display is amazing and so is the sound. It does sound a bit tinny since it is not a bass machine like say the HomePod and rightly so. This is not a device built for music but still gives you listening pleasure if you wish to play music.

For what it has to offer, it is pretty accurate and integrates google tech very well inside what is a right dimension of hardware. The Lenovo Clock is a hardware that would get you to actually use it more than say a Google Home Device. Its understanding of Indian English accent is commendable as well considering how far Google has come with this.

So what are you waiting for, let me know in the comments below if you liked the review and if you are going to get yourself one of these.

Until my next post, Stay safe!

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Published July 13, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

WAHL wired hair clipper - is it a good buy?



So finally I did it. The opportunity came across. COVID. I could not and did not want to go for a haircut to a salon outside due the risks. The only other option was me to have a haircut at home itself. And for my kids as well.

I had a Philips beard trimmer which was unsuitable to cut hair on the head. In fact it is even a wrong tool to use to do that. I had seen a lot of these hair trimmers in the salons that I was interested to see what they were using. And then it came through. I made an Amazon purchase for the WAHL corded clipper.

So was it a good purchase? Read on to find out as I will share interesting snippets about this product.

Features of the product

In short its a corded hair clipper. Period. But with a difference.

  • Very powerful and consistent motor
  • Adjustable blade with a mechanical handle
  • Chrome plated rust proof blades
  • Comes with four attachments for different hair lengths

Talking points

The clipper is heavy. If you do not hold it properly it can give you wrist pain. It is seriously heavy in a good way. It feels solid in the hand. The motor is powerful. Really powerful. You can feel it when you switch it on. Perfect build for the price.

The hair lengths attachments help you adjust how much of hair length you want to clip. It take a bit of getting used to.

Here is a video review of the product unboxing


Utilitarian aspect

This is the real thing about this product. Can you actually use it at home. I used it at home and this is what I found out, read on.

  • You need the person to sit on a bar stool preferably for you to stand upright while trimming hair. If you are bending forward and downward to where the subject is, its not a great position
  • There are tactical ways of running the trimmer on the hair, if you don’t keep the angle right, you are going to snip right upto the scalp. It takes a lot of getting used to get this right
  • You take the longest measurable attachment, move from bottom to top, then the next one move from bottom upto 3/4th of the top, then the next one from bottom upto 1/2 the top and the last one bottom upto 1/4 the top. This is the pattern to leave longer hair at top while having the shortest hair at bottom
  • For the top of the head its best to use comb, your hand and scissors. Weave your hand along the top hair, raise it up and snip a quantum that pops way out of your fingers, keep repeating this until there is no more hair that pops up beyond your hand depth when placed on the top of the head. This is by far the easiest thing to do as its a natural step
  • For all the attachments provided you still need the comb and scissors method too, and its not totally avoidable.
  • There is no magic formula to use this machine. Everything comes by experience. We need to use different mechanisms to get the haircut done.
  • There are other aspects such as lots of hair sticking onto body or falling on the floor at home which needs to be taken care of. We need a good apron preferably satin onto which hair does not stick. Again experience plays the part to find out what suits best
  • For the hair that needs to be completely removed such as edges, we can use beard trimmer without any attachments, but carefully
  • If you are using any of this on children, utmost care is to be taken to accommodate the fact children however old they are will move their head beyond a point as they begin to get frustrated. For an inexperienced user who gives the haircut this process can go on until 45 minutes to an hour and still result in imperfection.
  • There is no way to learn this without humans as that method is expensive requires dealing with wigs to practice, etc

Conclusion

The product is solid for its price. It has none of the efficiency issues that we may have with cordless trimmers. It’s a simple product with not much tech complications, but still can get difficult to use as the process is more about skill than anything about the product usage itself.

The other things it will teach you are patience, care, being slow, and getting to know how difficult a barber’s job really is. This is why everyone cannot be a barber. This is not a lawnmower job, it is a hair trimming job. And if the end result is a disaster you not only lose that customer, you will lose other customers also by word of mouth.

With every lost customer, the skill is hard to master. If you liked this review, leave me your comments below!


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Published July 05, 2020 by Srikanth Eswaran with 0 comment

WWDC - Improvements to OS releases - part 3, Mac OS Big Sur & ARM


In the second of this three part series, I outlined the improvements to WatchOS, Privacy, Smart Home, and Apple TV coming up in iOS14. To conclude in this article we discuss the big daddy of all OSes, Mac OS.


Mac OS Improvements

This time the new operating system is going to be called Big Sur. The focus is on design and power of the OS. Some of the important introductions are as below

User Experience (UX)

  • There is a complete redesign of the user interface and experience meant for rich look and feel, maintaining simplicity and ensuring easy usage and great UX
  • Sidebars and Toolbars are added for most apps
  • Transparent Menu bar which merges with background
  • Soft sliders for controls like volume
  • Control center is now integrated into Big Sur, just like iPhone and its customisable to what you wish to have

Widgets, Messages, Maps & Catalyst

  • Widgets are now available to Big Sur
  • Messages on mac now carries over iPad based updates to memojis and powerful integrations of things like photos, icons, etc directly into messages.
  • MacOS supports all map features discussed previously for iOS 14. On the move though these may not be so useful but just before you leave you can setup a lot of data on your desk and it will all hopefully be there on your phone as well
  • Street level views and look around, points of interest, important locations known to you can now be pinned
  • Catalyst app now available and will support adapting iPhone apps to mac with enabling all the good features of Mac OS with respect to screen size, and lots of other things

Safari browser speed improvements

Big Sur claims that the Safari browser is now 50% faster than Chrome. And we all know that Chrome is going down the drain with its memory hogging functionality. This comes at a time when Microsoft Edge is blazing fast on all platforms. The real competition is now really between Safari and Edge rather than Safari and Chrome

Safari also has improvements to privacy and now will allow users to see how websites are tracking them, using privacy report button. Website passwords have stronger level of encryption within Safari in case of a data breach and Safari is now also allowing developers to port extensions to Safari easily.

The Mac app store will also feature a list of these extensions to find them easily. Being able to give extensions permissions just by the hour or day and giving them specific permissions for specific websites makes Safari very powerful. Safari also has a new look with custom backgrounds, and specific themes.

One of the issues we people have always had is to have multiple tabs open to the point that each tab shows only the icon. It would by then become hard to read and we would not understand which page is on which tab. For this the new browser comes with page preview just by pointing the button at that tab which in my opinion is a great move.

Another feature introduced by Safari also includes the fact that we can now close only tabs to the right or only taps to the left. Safari also comes now with built-in translation where we can translate an entire webpage in real-time contextually while being on the same page. This is especially great if you want to read content written in other languages, but shown in let's say English.

Move to ARM

Perhaps the biggest update in WWDC but still nothing visual is the decision from Apple to move from Intel to ARM. This is by far the most important decision that will let Apple bring about newer tech in near future of at least five years. Every new hardware released hereon will be having ARM chips and it is an exciting time for both Apple and ARM knowing the sophistication of ARMs IPs in terms of performance and the likes.


Some of the key points about the hardware evolution are as below

  • 100x improvement in CPU performance
  • Larger GPU and wider memory subsystem for much better graphics performance over the years
  • 1000x faster performance in graphics in ten years
  • 2 billion devices shipped since ten years is a whopping achievement
  • Focus on devices giving highest performance with lowest power consumption
  • Big Sur is be default having native apps built for the new silicon
  • Universal 2 for converting apps to support native silicon or Intel
  • The real deal would be when users use complex apps like photoshop, final cut pro which would seamlessly provide performance most likely at less power consumption, like for example applying filters on 4k preview videos while editing on a project.
  • Rosetta 2 would help in automatically help translate intel based apps to work on new silicon even though the app is not completely refined
  • Gaming is expected to be super smooth for rendering frames
  • Support for virtualisation and support for iPhone and iPad apps to run seamlessly on Mac’s new chips
  • The SoC kit is available as a mac mini for using Big Sur and Xcode so developers can work with to perfect their apps

Conclusion

The developer betas are already available and the iOS 14 release would be officially available by Fall time (September in India). These OS updates are substantial in their own right and have finally caught up with what Android was offering all the while. But in a more sure footed manner.

It is an exciting time for buying Apple products especially with the very performant and less power hungry ARM cores and it is only anyones imagination how many avenues this will open for Apple in future. The only thing left to do is to wait to savour the new iOS14 for now and some great ARM based hardware in the years to come!

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