Audi taken for a joyride from service centre?

Published: Nov 24, 2012, 08:17 IST | Saurabh Katkurwar |

GPS in vehicle wakes gaming company CEO with SMS at 3 am informing that speed limit was exceeded; service centre claims CCTV footage shows vehicle parked all night

The owner of an Audi Q7 got a rude awakening in the wee hours yesterday when an SMS flashed on his mobile phone stating that his car had just exceeded the speed limit. Vishal Gondal (40), CEO with a gaming company, was fast asleep at home while his car equipped with a GPS system, was supposed to be parked at a service station rather than being driven at breakneck speed around 3 am. Gondal has dropped his vehicle off at the Audi West workshop in Santacruz for servicing at midnight on November 20, and proceeded home for a good night’s sleep believing his car was in good hands.
The GPS system fitted in his car keeps records of the vehicle’s movement and the owner can access the logs online. Gondal checked the movement of his car early yesterday morning and was shocked to learn that the vehicle had covered 159 kilometres in a span of six hours during the night.

Car-naama: Vishal Gondal showing the route the car took according to the online logs generated through the GPS tracker aboard the vehicle. (below) His Audi Q7 (MH-04-FF7222) at the Audi workshop in Kalina. Pics/Sameer markande and Satyajit Desai

“I woke up when the SMS came in and was shocked to learn someone was driving my car in the middle of night when I had given it for servicing. When I checked the logs of my car’s movement online, the map showed all the routes the vehicle had taken during the night. Someone had driven my car across the city covering 159 km and had even driven it at the speed of 119 kmph near Juhu at 3.25 am. How can someone use my car when I had given it to the workshop believing it would be safe?” Gondal said.

Gondal added that this was a serious case of negligence on the part of the workshop management.  Meanwhile, the officials at the workshop refuted Gondal’s allegations saying that his car was not used during the wee hours of yesterday. 

Ragini Abichandani, customer relations manager with Audi West, said “It is incorrect that the car was driven by someone during the night and we have CCTV footage showing the vehicle stationed at our servicing area all the time. The vehicle was driven for just 10 or 12 km as part of the servicing process. In addition, we had noted the reading on the speedometer when the car was brought in, which clearly shows that the vehicle was driven for just 11 km.”

Gondal is not prepared to accept the response the workshop sent him via email and has more faith in the data saved online through the GPS system of his car.  “The workshop is full of Audi cars of the same model. How can I say that the car in the CCTV footage is mine, as I could not see the number plates? And the speedometer readings can be changed with the help of some software. I don’t know what else can be done to the cars when they are in these workshops,” Gondal said, adding that he was mulling taking the matter up with Audi India. 

Audi India speaks
Audi India issued a statement after learning about Gondal’s claims and promised to look into the matter. “We have been informed about the concerns of Mr Vishal Gondal and are extremely worried and surprised about the development. We are working with Mr Gondal to ascertain the facts from our dealer partner, Audi Mumbai West, and resolve his concern. We will take all steps to uphold the trust that the customers place in our brand,” the statement read.  

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