I received one of the struts in a damaged condition. The seller was OK to send a replacement and even reimburse the duty payment.
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The replacement of rear struts as preventive maintenance took far longer than expected. I ordered left and right struts separately to keep the shipment weight and consignment value low. I am not sure if it makes any difference but I get anxiety attacks anytime I see the phrase “pending customs clearance” on the shipment tracking portals. The so-called “courier mode” of customs clearance introduced with the goal of automated express clearance (vs Cargo mode) has the following clearance process flow (it can and mostly will get stuck at a few of the steps):
Bill of Entry Filing – Examination – Assessment – Pre Audit Approval – Deputy Commissioner Approval – Duty Payment – X-Ray Screening – Out of Charge.
Things took their sweet time with the usual mediocre customer service from the courier companies. I found DHL to be better than FedEx when it comes to escalation/interventions even though FedEx is more expensive.
Unfortunately, I received one of the struts in a damaged condition. The seller FCP Euro was OK to send a replacement and even reimburse the duty payment (excellent customer service – was not expecting a refund of duty which was substantial) but required me to ship the damaged item back to them. They even gave me a prepaid FedEx shipping label to use – talk about customer service! However the procedure to ship an item out of our country is so complicated and after a couple of failed attempts, I requested FCP Euro guys to waive the return to which they agreed.
The replacement shipment took ages to clear the customs. FedEx call centre was clueless and they wouldn’t arrange a call from the ground staff in spite of promising the same. Finally, a friend in the logistics business gave me a “hidden” URL link called “Write to the top” to which I wrote one of those emotional rant emails explaining how disappointed I was. That pushed the right buttons and a gentleman from FedEx started following up and sent me daily updates. Apparently, FCP Euro entered $100 as value for customs while the invoice value was some $1200. It took more than ten days for me to get to know this information. Basically, Indian customs blocked the clearance indefinitely because I was paying higher customs duty on invoice value instead of lower declared customs value. They wouldn’t put it that way obviously. Explain the mismatch was the official position – it took me some 10 days to receive the message and some 5 days for them to look at my reply.
Finally the shipment arrived and everything was in order:
Sorry, I wasn’t expecting to post such a long rant on the import experience. Just want to let you guys know that one should tread with caution when it comes to importing stuff – better to buy locally even if there is a slight premium to be paid.
I was using the car pretty regularly while waiting for the rear struts. As if to compensate for all the uneventful years of ownership that the car has given me and to set the record straight, it threw a CEL at the start of a long journey.
CEL, the dreaded emoji 🙂
I must appreciate one thing though – all issues came up within the city even though the majority of my usage is highway travel. I told my gang not to panic and drove the car to Sundaram Whitefield (20 minutes away) and waited for the diagnosis. Turned out to be some intake manifold actuator failure and the car is not fit for driving.
Interestingly the service tech Mr Murthy recognised me as he used to work at Sundaram Kasturba Road before he shifted here. He promised to take care of the repair and offered to arrange a vehicle for us to go home, etc. As we were heading out of town, I arranged for another car (my new found love – Camry Hybrid, hope to write about it soon) to be brought to the service centre for us to continue our journey. Meanwhile, my son decided to make lemonade out of a lemon, requested the front desk lady for permission to go into the service bay to check out all the cars and he was having a good time. Our Camry came and it was surely a funny feeling to unload all our bags from the car in the service bay and walk out of the building with our bags.
I was told the repair would be a simple remove & replace job for the intake manifold – would set me back by Rs 1.7L for parts and labour. The part was available in Pune so it should be a quick job. I have been impressed by MB parts availability – not sure how they do it but they always seem to have stuff readily available. I decided to take the opportunity to check if the service centre would agree to replace the rear struts and they graciously agreed to do the same with the parts supplied by me. The car was also due for annual oil service in the next three weeks or so. Got all things done and the service/repair experience was pretty good. Thanks to WhatsApp, you get regular updates from the shop floor.
Intake manifold replacement
Rear struts replacement
Open road on a beautiful day, time to forget about your worries and your strife. Camry saved the day!
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