Archive for the ‘Automobile’ Category

My experience with Shell

Posted: August 22, 2010 in Automobile
Tags: , ,

Back to blogging!! It’s been sometime since my last post and I had told all and sundry that a lot of posts will be coming up, but unfortunately did not. There are pending posts regarding Microsoft technologies, a movie review and also about an NGO. But, this post is taking priority as of now since it will simultaneously end up on different automotive forums.

Almost 6-7 months back, I was riding to office and had to urgently fill up my bike since it was out of fuel. Decided to ride into a Shell station beside Gopalan Mall on Mysore Road. This station had just come and decided to quickly fill in for 100 bucks. To my horror, I was short fueled. I know how much I get for Rs. 100. This became evident when I was riding back. The bike very quickly went into reserve and almost started choking and had to fill up again the next day!! Everyone swears by Shell and this was my first incident of getting short fueled. Though I wanted to bring this incident to the notice of the Shell officials, I kind of forgot and also decided not to go to that bunk.

Months flew and I more or less fill up at the twin Shell bunks on Mysore Road which is beside BHEL. Slowly becoming active on forums like Team-BHP and xBHP found how petrol pumps are rigged up and the tricks of the trade used by the attendants. This kept me alert all the time and even though I was in Shell pumps, I was very observant. I found that the attendants again used ploys like managing the trigger as to how much the fuel is dispensed. Sometimes there used to be coughing from the pump and the attendant used to say “Air saar, agotte” Air, my ass!! This was too much and I decided to write to Shell from their website.

What follows below is the mails which went back and forth between me and Shell representative. Notice the delay in replies to each mail. It was really frustrating and I had come to the conclusion that Shell was just like any other cheating station. I even had started to search for alternatives.

Read from bottom to top

Dear Shell Representative,It has been close to a month since my number was provided. Could you kindly tell me if there was any action taken against the pump operators? Even if you have, it doesn’t seem so since the pump operators continue to cheat. This was found again last week when the pumping gun trigger was purposely held by hand instead of locking it up. It is highly shameful to see this act continue. After charging a premium on the fuel, cheating this way is highly despicable. Unless the pump owners mend their ways, you will be losing plenty of customers.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Regards,
Sunil
__________________________________________________ __________

On Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 6:58 AM, Sunil <xxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Shell Representative,

Please my number below as requested:

+91xxxxxxxxxxx

Regards,
Sunil
__________________________________________________ __________

On Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 1:16 AM, <sipl-shell-reply@shell.com> wrote:

Dear Mr. Sunil,

Our Territory Manager Mr. Giriprasad Nair will contact you after we receive your contact information.

Best regards

Shell India

__________________________________________________ _________
From: Sunil [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2010 11:02 PM

To: SIPL Shell reply SIPL-ENQ
Subject: Re: Your query at http://www.shell.com/india

Dear Shell Representative,

Thank you for contacting back. Considering the delay in the reply, I thought that this issue was forgotten. I welcome the initiative taken to curb the inconsistency in the system and content in giving my number provided that, as a person, would like to know who I’m speaking to through email as well who would be calling me.

Hope to hear a response quicker than the previous two.

Regards,

Sunil

__________________________________________________ __________

On Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 3:43 AM, <sipl-shell-reply@shell.com> wrote:

Dear Mr. Sunil,

We wish to thank you for taking the time and effort to write to us. In your original mail you have made some complaints against some of our sites. It would be necessary for us to have a discussion on how you arrived at the conclusion and for us in turn to explain the systemic controls that are in place to ensure that such incidents do not occur. We would also be very happy to demonstrate the measures we take at any of our sites at a time convenient to you.

We would once again request for a telephone number where our company representative can call you and look forward to hearing from you at the earliest.

Best regards

Shell India

__________________________________________________ ___________

From: Sunil [mailto:xxxxxxxxxxx@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, June 18, 2010 8:03 PM
To: SIPL Shell reply SIPL-ENQ
Subject: Re: Your query at http://www.shell.com/india

Dear Shell Representative,

I have personally refrained from divulging my number in the form and would like to continue communications through email. I check my mail regularly and would be providing quick reply. Please do let me know if you would be needing any details and would be glad to provide them

Thank you.

Regards,

Sunil
__________________________________________________ _________

On Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 11:36 PM, <sipl-shell-reply@shell.com> wrote:

Dear Mr. Sunil,

We shall be grateful if you could give us a number where our representative can get in touch with you to ascertain some additional information that would help us address the issues raised by you comprehensively.

Many thanks

Best regards

Shell India

I finally got a call from Giriprasad Nair asking me as to how I thought I had been cheated. He was very patient enough to listen to me and explain the details the working of the sites(the petrol pumps) and how they can assure the quality and quantity of the fuel. He even agreed to show me the quality implemented across their sites. An appointment was fixed, but unfortunately it was missed, thanks to my crazy schedules and the phone battery dying on me in the 11th hour. Rescheduled a meet and finally met him yesterday. Meeting Mr. Nair and Mr.Sabir(who is the retailer and manages the 3 bunks on Mysore Road) turned out to be a pleasant experience. As soon we introduced each other, I was asked if I would be needing water or juice, which I think is the most basic level of courtesy anyone can show 🙂

Mr. Nair went about explaining how each morning each fuel pump is tested for accuracy by pumping out 5L of fuel thrice. The measurement should be exact twice atleast. If it isn’t, that hose is not used for the day. I was also demonstrated of the quantity by dispensing 5L; once by manually pumping out the amount till the brim of the measuring can and next by entering the quantity in the petrol pump. I was also told that the pump delivers exactly the amount of fuel based on the amount or quantity specified and playing around with the trigger is not possible. Coming to the quality part, when I asked if there is a litmus paper test done to check, I was told that a density check is more accurate. Again, this density test was done and shown the accuracy.

One of the best things which I saw is, the ability to manage all the fuel pumps from a central location, i.e., usually within the Shell store. While you see 2 computers in there, one is for the general billing of the commodities bought in the store, while the other runs a proprietary software which shows the status of the fuel hoses. Starting from the time the hose is lifted, the amount/quantity dispensed and till it is put back, everything can be seen in real time!! There are few more things which I really liked. Shell takes care of its employees and safety is ALWAYS a standard. The truck drivers who deliver fuel to the stations are always expected to wear seat belts and they are subjected to random checks anywhere. All the trucks are fitted with GPS to track their movement. The employees are trained in various processes and making sure the customers are getting quality also ensures that the employees move up the ladder. There are a lot more things which can be written about the nearly 2 hours long meet, but that will be too painful for you all to read 😛

Oil companies like HP offer petro cards and I wish Shell could come out with the same. Things like these have been thought about and it would work out once there are more sites coming up. After a quick discussion about traffic, fuel affecting the economy,etc., I took leave from the place.

Overall, I am satisified with Shell and will probably continue filling up there. However, I was not told exactly as to what would be done to check on the case I was ‘cheated’ the first time at that site. The only solace is, I have the contact details of Mr. Giriprasad and Mr. Sabir and would be able to check with them for any further details.

Here is a pic of Mr. Sabir(L) and Mr. Nair(R)

The One Week Bike Report

Posted: May 16, 2010 in Automobile
Tags: ,

One week, 150kms and I’m LOVING IT!! 😀 That’s how it is till now being a proud Apache RTR 160 owner. After going through hundreds of posts, losing hours of sleep wondering if I made the right choice of going for this bike. I can now say that YES! The RTR is a wonderful bike and I made a good decision by buying it.

On the very first day of the delivery, just before my registration number could arrive, I decided to take the bike on a spin. I decided to take the smaller roads in Rajajinagar considering “maamas” being all around and they would flag me down and fearing that they would end up fining me for riding a bike without the registration number. Here I am, enjoying the throaty note of the exhaust, the nimble handling and the sharp brakes of my bike and suddenly, there is a 2-wheeler asshole who hit my bike!!! Yes, an accident on the very first day!! I was riding at around 30kmh and was near a cross where a bus was turning towards my end and being an Indian, the HH rider overtakes the bus from the left and comes straight towards me. He brakes hard, skids and since I’m scared to rev the new bike, I end up stalling my bike when he comes close and ‘hits’ me. Having 2 small scratches on my baby is heart-rendering. I’m dazed and yell at him and he drives away. The mofo didn’t hit anywhere else.

I simply head back to the showroom, get my number. Get the initial checkup and instructions from the mechanic and go straight home and get the pooja done. Since then, I’ve been careful the way I ride around the city and the bike starts to speak to me.

People have written in lengths about how the Apache feels. The catapulting effect, the sweet throaty exhaust note, the ability of handling the curves with ease, the vibes, the nasty tires(time to improve the rubber TVS!!) and the notchy gearbox. It’s true. All true. However, like someone mentioned on the forum. Your bike behaves as well as you want it to make it to. Today being a Saturday, I take the bike for a long ride to get to know how it is to actually feel the bike without the stop-go traffic. Brilliant! Simply brilliant! All these days I was always maintaining a speed of just 40kmph, but today decided to take it a notch higher and absolutely within the safety speed of the run-in; 50kmph. Revving the bike a tad bit more, but slowly, I manage to keep the beautiful machine in the desired speed and it feels good. One thing which I observed about the gearbox is, (in my opinion) that it is designed to shift just as in a race. Quick successions. Not like your regular bike. Do this and you feel that your gearbox is a lot smoother and there are no false shifts. I told you my bike was talking to me! 🙂

For all the people who are complaining about the posture, COME ON! Didn’t you realize that this is supposed to have racing ergonomics and not as a commuter bike? Even the ad says so! Just make sure that you don’t keep your wrists completely straight, but lower it slightly and see that all your wrist pains will disappear.

Team-BHP, xBHP and other automobile forums have me hooked and I suggest that every automobile owner go through their posts. There is so much to learn about your machine! From the carburetor, to the fuel injection system to the type of oil to be used. It’s simply amazing! Following their advice will surely help your vehicle purring for years to come.

See you on the roads! Happy and safe riding 🙂

Racing DNA Unleashed

Posted: May 9, 2010 in Automobile
Tags:

It is well past 6 years since I stepped into my adulthood and only now I’ve had the privilege of having a bike of my own. Though I do use my dad’s Bajaj CT-100 to commute, it was high time that I bought my own bike and that is how my quest to own a 150cc bike began.

Initially I wasn’t really serious about  going into the 150cc segment for various reasons like mileage, cost, etc. Scouting through various automobile posts on forums and blogs helped me decide on few bikes (but I never knew that most of them would be so expensive!) Of course, few friends also pitched in with their thoughts. Finally, short listed on 4 bikes after getting to know that I could push my budget a bit more(Yay!) They were Honda Unicorn, Hero Honda Hunk, Suzuki GS-150R and TVS Apache.

Being more of a Honda fan, I checked out in-depth reviews about Unicorn. It is undoubtedly one of the best commuter bikes on Indian roads, but I decided to give this a miss. Read on to find out.

Going through the specifications of each bike (and reviews) of the afore mentioned bikes got me more confused! Each bike has its own strengths and weaknesses and there is no way to tell that one bike is THE bike to own in this segment. So, decided to go in for a test ride to check out the real deal.

On a bright Monday morning, I head off to Rajajinagar 4th block where there are showrooms for all the bikes on one stretch of the road. So, it is a one-stop-shop for test riding those 2 wheelers.

TVS Apache RTR-160 Refresh

First stop, Bridgestone Agencies, the official TVS dealer. I’m along with my colleague and he introduces me to the showroom executive who knows Mr. Manager, i.e., my colleague quite well 🙂 We come straight to the point and I ask for a test ride. Since I was checking out the Apache Refresh with dual disc brakes, I turned down the offer of riding the one with single disc brake.  The showroom exec tried to convince me telling me that it is only a matter of disc brake and the rest of the specs are the same. Hey! If I don’t get to feel the disc brake, this just might be the deal breaker. He agreed at once to give me a TR of an Apache Refresh. The first thing which you notice about the bike when you start it, is the sweet mild rumble of the exhaust. It is definitely music to the ears. I hop on the bike and off I go!

First to second gear. Easy switch, but not a smooth one. The gearbox is notchy and the bike having a design of toe-shift gears, with the 1-down, 4-up pattern, it is a tad bit hard to shift. I’m riding in a narrow straight street which is crowded and being a typical Bangalore road is pock marked with potholes everywhere. I reach the end of the road a bit slowly than I would ride my bike and really need to feel what the bike has to give back. While riding back I decide to get a wee bit rough and use the horn liberally and manage to dodge people, 6-feet deep potholes and other motorists with ease with good speed! Managing to do this at 45-50kmph was something considering the condition which was given. The bike is like putty in your hands and gives you complete control. I’m really amazed by the handling, acceleration and the feel of the bike in general. The rear disc brake is not as responsive as I had imagined. I am later educated, that in case the rear brakes were set to be as sharp as the front, I would be tail sliding off the road, considering the pathetic TVS tires this machine has. One more ride please-that’s what my left brain says-but I my right brain says that there are other bikes to test ride too. We tell the showroom exec that we will be back in the afternoon to make the payment(lies!) and we hop into the Bajaj showroom.

Bajaj Pulsar 150cc (huh!?)

First of, I HATE Pulsars but decided to check out the new gen Pulsars for all the hype around it. After test riding this machine, I still hate the Pulsar. Acceleration-OK,  gear shift-smooth, braking-good, top speed-couldn’t reach and the annoying whining of the engine was a turn off. This is a very short test drive and I’m feeling wanting for more, but I hate Pulsars anyway and it is not on my list. So, what the heck! I give this a clean miss. Time to meet the Suzuki!

Suzuki GS-150R

The Suzuki showroom is very crowded, but we are made to feel important by the exec. He gave us the full specs of the GS-150R and immediately arranged for the test ride. Before I could head off to the bike, the exec offers a helmet to test ride. Suzuki, you earn brownie points here. It is always good to know that safety is considered first, though you manufacture the world’s fastest legal road bike. Hats off! The GS-150R is one of the best bikes available out there and can be easily compared with the Unicorn. Everything about this bike is butter smooth! Pick up, gear shift(really need to mention again that the gear shift is super smooth!) and the sound of the bike. It is also very comfortable and I’m able to zoom past traffic with ease. Then comes the curves. This is where the bike falls behind. Though the overall handling is good, it doesn’t fare too well on the curves.Mighty impressed with the bike, I consider this bike as a primary option and head of to the Honda showroom.

Honda Unicorn

Again, it’s the crowd, but what  a different feel you get here. No showroom exec is bothered to attend to you. Most are simply moving around like zombies. Since I’m pretty much covered with the specs of the Unicorn, I directly ask for the price, delivery date and test ride. A waiting period of one month was enough for me to turned off, as if the snob reply of the exec was not enough. Didn’t bother test riding this since I’ve had the opportunity to ride my friend’s Unicorn numerous times. You lost a customer here, Honda. Churning out great bikes off the assembly lines ain’t enough. Attend to your potential customers too! I later read on other forum(s) that Planet Honda has pathetic customer care. Sigh!

Somehow I didn’t feel like trying out the Hunk and had decided on Apache when we suddenly spot the  Yamaha showroom. W00t!

Yamaha FZ-16/S

Though I’m a Honda fan, I’ve also like Yamaha for their legendary RX series. Too bad I couldn’t own them when they were in production. Just for fun, decided to test ride the Fz-16. Man oh man!! What a WONDERFUL bike this is!! Killer macho look combined with the awesome technology and handling of the bike makes me wanna buy this right away! Oh wait. Look at the price! 78k on-road. Sorry baby, I again can’t own you 😥

So, I finally settle for the Apache RTR-160 Refresh. The main reason I went for this bike, though the Suzuki GS-150 is good is because of its handling, speed and the gizmos you get for the price you pay. Also, like the Tata Safari Dicor ad, I don’t want to regret later feeling “I always wanted to own a fast sporty bike”. Decided to go for the black color for 2 reasons. 1) Grey was not available immediately :p 2)My neighbour, cousin and almost everyone on the road either has a grey or a yellow RTR.

Payment done the next day, I”m waiting for the delivery tomorrow. Oh yeah!! Vrrooommm….!!!! 😀