Maybe I gave the story away. Or maybe they were better at subterfuge than I was. But after visiting the Mercedes-Benz dealer at the Hotel Marina in Connaught Place and the Bentley and Lamborghini showroom at the Ashok Hotel, I can safely say the sales staff needs a refresher in Business 101. Because while it is possible that some customers do takeaways, if I’m possibly about to drop Rs3 crore on one of your products, the least you can do is provide some information about the cars. Show some options. Provide possibilities. Let me know what I’m going to be spending my money on.
The Mercedes-Benz salesmen were not even in the office when I went to visit, and no one really knew when they would return. One employee tried to assist me, but our conversation was stilted at best.
A potential car buyer would have to return and hope to catch the salesmen later that day.
At the Ashok hotel, my salesman asked what cars I was interested in, but made no suggestions of his own, even when asked straight out which car he thought would be best for driving outside Delhi.
And, yes, Delhi has a commercial space crunch. That’s a given. But if you only have room to display one car, at least be prepared with some literature that offers some options.
At the Mercedes-Benz dealer, I got minimal information printed on xeroxed sheets. No pretty pictures. No alluring text. Nothing that sells me the car.
In the Bentley and Lamborghini showroom at the Ashok hotel, I wasn’t even offered xeroxed copies. There was nary a Bentley in sight and the sole Lamborghini that was on display was roped off. Can I look inside? No, it has to go back to the Italian showroom eventually.
At least the Mercedes-Benz dealership let me ruffle through the C-Class on display, opening the trunk and testing the give of the back seat’s leather armrests.
And if getting inside the car was difficult, test driving seemed a total pipe dream. The Bentley dealer finally offered to call his past clients to try to cajole them into showing me their car, but having a proud owner keeping careful guard over his pride and joy would be as close to the car as I could get.
Sure, there isn’t a huge market for luxury cars in India. With an 80%-plus import tax and a four-month wait, if you’re in the market to buy, you’ve probably already made up your mind and can handle the limitations of the showrooms here. But if the showrooms want to attract even one more buyer still weighing the decision, the current method isn’t best.
The good stuff
Unless you want to browse abroad and ship the car home, these are the main spots to visit for an upmarket vehicle.
The lack of information, zero viewing options and no plush comfort do not make for luxurious shopping.
Talk titanium card
Mercedes-Benz C-Class starts at Rs25 lakh, a Bentley Continental GT starts at Rs1.85 crore, and a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder starts at Rs2.2 crore.