Of good business practice
The market proceeded to a good start this year, lifting my spirits with merry feelings reminiscent of the joyful celebrations during the Christmas season. But this was ruined by the bad handling of a long-standing concern I have about an automotive dealer and the vehicle it sold to me.
Sans the personal perspective of the story, the subject is a lesson on good business practice and code of corporate conduct, and an effort to decry the practice of registering brand new vehicles by auto dealers with the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in field offices far from the vehicle dealers’ business address.
The issue stemmed from my purchase of a Suzuki APV on Nov. 27, 2012 from The Shaw Motor Plaza Corp. in Mandaluyong City. The purchase carried the usual incentives offered by all car brands, including a free three-year LTO registration.
Instead of the supposed 2013 to 2015 cover, I got a registration sticker for 2012 to 2014, an oversight that I immediately pointed out.
It was no other than the LTO’s fault that I received the wrong stickers on Feb. 18, 2014. This was more than one year from the time of registration and after two fruitless follow-ups with the company on Jan. 19, 2013 and April 23, 2013.
Wanting to have a formal basis of commitment from the company for the missing sticker, I requested some form of written record of acknowledgment, even a mere e-mail.
I was referred to a certain Sugar Rodriquez. Her business card carries the title “sales admin supervisor” and she is also in-charge of registering the vehicles.
Receiving no response, I reiterated my request on May 23, 2014.
Other than a text message (SMS) I received from the mobile phone of Ms Rodriquez later in the day—telling me that I have to wait until January 2015—I never got any other written communication from the company.
Because the plate number of my vehicle is UOM 321, which means it should have an updated registration sticker come January 2015, I again followed up my request on Nov. 25, 2014. This time, I submitted a letter expressing the urgency of my concern. The letter was addressed to Robert Salomon.
Away for vacation up to the end of the year, I was shocked to find out recently that they did not act on my letter. This was confirmed by Rodriguez during my visit on Jan. 6, 2015.
I was further shocked to learn from her that the Navotas LTO office, where my vehicle was registered, was ordered closed.
Confident in the corporate experience of the principals of the company and Suzuki as a company operating worldwide with good governance standards, I acquiesced to the request to wait for her call on Jan. 8, 2015. To my dismay, she was on leave on the promised date. I was told that nobody could attend to me except her and that she was not responding to calls when I insisted that she be contacted.
My frustration deepened when I was referred to two other office personnel who, one after the other, repeatedly made me recount my story and my purpose in seeking audience with their general manager.
My appointment with the general manager set for last Friday was even postponed at the last minute. I finally met the general manager, Robert Salomon, the following day.
Bottom line spin
As a corporate officer for more 40 years and a professional hand, I accepted Salomon’s apology for his sincerity but I told him I could not condone the lapses that happened and that I must write about it for the sake of the ordinary consumers.
I told him I could not commiserate with him in this situation (the letter was not shown to him until I got an appointment to see him) for that undermines his person and the efficacy of his position.
More importantly, such office culture is intolerable. It will not only hurt the reputation of his company but will also drive down the sales of Suzuki, their business partner.
Even for a sales-oriented company such as an auto dealership, competitive sales training skills are not enough. It is very essential—as the overall nature of his company’s business demands—to have a regular organizational formation program for the employees to have high sense of professionalism and work ethics, along with the constant development of communication and information systems to stem complications created by actions detrimental to corporate interests. These measures help obviate advertent or inadvertent errors and allow timely remedy or proper reparation.
As to the issue of the registration of brand new vehicles in LTO field offices far away from an auto dealer’s office, I had been a casualty of such controversial practice way back.
I purchased a brand new vehicle in San Juan City, where I lived then, but the vehicle was registered somewhere in Cavite. After the one-year free LTO registration offered before, I have to go through the arduous experience of securing clearance from the LTO head office in Quezon City to renew the registration of my vehicle because it had the same serial number as that etched on an engine that was installed in a manually assembled owner-type jeep also registered in Cavite.
Surely there are more harrowing experiences created by the said practice than what I recounted. My agony went away only when I sought legal assistance to permanently extinguish the issue.
LTO’s various woes while they look intractable and perplexing like the Gordian knot can be actually solved by simple measures. However, this can only happen when get rid of its political cover. That being the case, the presence of a strong political will is imperative.
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