I remember when the first generation Proton Saga was launched 20 years ago. I was 12 years old and I stared at the car in awe. Completely besotted with the fact that we, Malaysians, can make our very own car to be used on our very own soil. Now I need to dwell on my personal experiences with Proton. A year ago, I was hell-bent on buying myself a Toyota, an Altis nonetheless.
Against my better judgment, I let my partner changed my mind. According to my savvy partner, it is best that I buy a cheaper car. The money that I intended to use for the monthly instalment of an Altis, could be used for other worthy purposes. We are, after all, expected to support anything Malaysian, are we not? Enough said, I bought myself a 1.6 automatic transmission Gen-2. The nightmare begins.
Three months after using my brand new car, the window at the driver’s side could not be operated automatically. There I was, stranded in a massive traffic and heavy rain, eight-month-pregnant at that time, with my car window wide opened! I dutifully sent it to the authorised service center and they fixed it for me. Be that as it may, the incident is not an isolated one. The window gets stuck again for the next 4 times in the span of six month. I was flabbergasted. I wasted good money and time to fix the window alone.
Now the air conditioner’s compressor is playing hide and seek on me. I sent it again to the biggest service center in Mutiara Damansara. They had my car for the whole day and when I went to pick it up, they informed me that the air conditioner could not be fixed. One of Proton’s biggest service centers does not have stock of a new blower for me. They will call me once the new stock arrives. Alas, it has been three weeks since then. No phone call or e-mail from them despite me filling up all of my details on the service’s form.
Perhaps I am just an iota in Proton’s massive pool of troubles. But, let us not forget that I am a genuine customer. I paid Ringgit Malaysia 57 thousand for the car and I am still faithfully serving the monthly instalments. If this is the kind of after-sale’s service Proton is offering me, can they blame me for not buying a proton car, ever again? I read all the positive ventures Proton is going to plunge into through the media but I remain skeptical. How are you going to save the nation’s pride, if you do not have even the effort to offer a decent after-sale’s service?
Let’s face the fact, Proton is an ailing national company. Despite efforts to help this giant to stand against its nasty competitors, bureaucracy is still ripping the company for all its worth. Proton is one of Malaysia’s great achievements and therefore they must live up to the customers’ expectation. I am a typical woman and thus I am not interested in fixing my car. I just need a good-reliable car to get from point A to point B. My precious billable time is wasted on Proton and its disappointing service centers. Like many other Proton owners, I bear the losses in silent.
Sadly, I could not reverse my poor judgment in buying the car since I am stranded in a hire purchase agreement. My loss would be massive if I were about to sell the car and subsequently buy another. What is left for me to do is just to keep paying the monthly instalment and hopefully the service center would eventually call me. In the meantime, I will drive my car in this scorching hot weather without a properly working air conditioner. Undoubtedly, my childhood pride in national car industry has been shattered.