REPAIR & DESPAIR
Chinese minivan distributor questions claims on defectsBy Tessa R. Salazar |Philippine Daily Inquirer
A freelance photographer and university professor, a cable company, and a European businessman in Pampanga have brought to 16 the total number of the same brand of Chinese minivans that have been subject of complaints featured for the past three weeks in this section.
On April 15, Haima Automobiles Philippines, the local distributor of these minivans, sent a statement to this writer through its general manager Donald T. Calma:
“We would like to set the record straight on the one-sided issues/complaints given wide latitude in your highly read motoring section in a series of three articles published on Feb. 26, April 2, and April 10, 2013.
“It is regrettable that those articles unfairly and unnecessarily cast our brand, product and company in bad light.”
The statement continued: “Banal brought his F Star Hunda unit to Haima Cars Pampanga on Jan. 10, 2013, for various problems encountered with the said unit. Based on our records, the unit was brought to our dealership for periodic maintenance service [PMS] only twice: On Oct. 14, 2011, and Feb. 14, 2012.”
‘Lack of regular PMS’
“Of the eight complaints/concerns he brought to our attention, seven were due to the lack of regular periodic maintenance service. These include engine performance, clutch performance, battery charging system, windshield washer nozzle malfunction, coolant leak, hard-to-open hood and air-con problem.
“The last one, noise on door lock actuator, simply needed replacements which could also have been detected if the regular PMS was strictly followed.
“In any case, we fixed six of the above-mentioned problems free of charge, despite the fact that the unit was already out of the warranty coverage. The remaining two problems, aircon and door lock actuator, required maintenance and replacement of spare parts, respectively and to which we offered our services but were declined by Banal.
“Banal would have been spared such problems if he only adhered strictly to the required PMS every 5,000 km,” dismissed Calma.
Banal, a freelance photographer and university professor, bought a Haima minivan worth about P500,000 in San Fernando, Pampanga, through a bank loan in 2011.
Banal said that in less than three months after purchase, the engine developed a major problem. In one incident, he said the engine died while he was driving about 90 kph on the highway. This happened several times, which would take him 10 to 15 attempts for the engine to restart. The clutch, which Banal said was another problem altogether, made the vehicle stutter “like a horse” every time he started the engine or shifted to first gear.
Haima’s statement read: “The issue of alleged poor workmanship on the minivan purchased by the cable company is highly disputable merely on the basis of a single incident: body damage resulting from a collision to which various factors can be contributory.
“The complaint on alleged insufficient load-bearing capabilities must be realistically assessed from the standpoint of the maximum payload capacity of the vehicle. In other words, the issue could simply be overloading.
“There is also nothing on our records to show that the said company had ordered an engine assembly as alleged.
We could address complaints
“All the other complaints raised by the said cable company could have been addressed if the vehicle or vehicles were brought to our dealership for the diagnosis. [B]ased on our records, it has not brought any of their 14 units for PMS after the expiration of their warranty coverage and just brought spare parts from us.
“Again, we cannot overemphasize the importance of regular PMS to prevent such problems from occurring or recurring.
“As to the availability of spare parts, we wish to assure you and our customers that such are always available and if the same require importation, we set a maximum period of 30 days for delivery,” the statement said.
R&D reported on April 2, that the Pampanga-based cable company’s 14 vans were bought to complement the company’s other fleet of Suzuki Bravo multicabs and the bigger Mitsubishi L300 FB vans. The Haima F Star vans were intended to carry cable wires, ladders, and installation equipment. The 3-year-old vans had just between 30,000 and 43,000 km in their odometers when the alleged problems started happening.
The cable company’s logistics service unit head said that preventive maintenance schedules were religiously followed at the dealership, and even an in-house mechanic checked on them from time to time.
Is ‘Dean’ real?
The statement stressed: “The problem of and with the ‘Dean’ is that there is nothing on our records to show that he had brought his vehicle for servicing to our dealership. In fact, simply because he was not identified in your article, we are at a loss as to whether he truly is a customer of ours or not.”
Dean, whom R&D interviewed in his shop in Pampanga, said he owned other branded vehicles from the Laus Group, which operates Haima Philippines, and said he had no problems with his other vehicles.
Dean had enumerated a lengthy list of problems with his Haima minivan. “Everything is weak (in this vehicle). We had a gearbox and an axle breakdown on the highway. We’ve had problems with ignition. The key doesn’t even fit into the ignition. Sometimes we have to force the key in,” he said.
He added that the brake discs were replaced when it was still relatively new. “We’ve had three battery changes with this car. The car squeaks and makes unusual sounds.”
Dean said he was selling his minivan for P120,000 just to dispose of it.
Haima Automobiles Philippines Inc. was established in 2010 and is the exclusive distributor of Haima vehicles in the Philippines. It is a member of the Laus Group of Companies, considered the biggest dealership network in the country today.
“We would like to express our appreciation for giving us the opportunity, however late, to give our side of the issues, consistent with your paper’s policy on balanced news,” Haima’s statement concluded.
For your car ownership experience—pleasant or otherwise—e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. All cases are personally verified by the author. To avoid isolated, prejudiced or fabricated cases, this section will not mention a brand, dealership or a particular vehicle model unless it receives at least 15 similar complaints.