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.

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