KOLKATA (TIP): Maruti Suzuki’s third attempt to crack the premium mid-sized sedan code has run into an unexpected bump after securing record pre-launch bookings. The company is under the consumer affairs ministry scanner following a complaint by MP Dinesh Trivedi, who has questioned how a company can book cars without displaying the vehicle or revealing its details.

“In the modern days of total transparency, the manner in which the sale of Ciaz was promoted amounted to misleading consumers. I received multiple complaints from people who went to Maruti showrooms and could not view the car or learn about its specifications or price. On personally visiting a dealer at Delhi’s Connaught Place, I found it to be true. When I messaged to Maruti Suzuki chairman R C Bhargava on September 3, he was curt and said there were reviews available and customers had the option to not book the car or cancel the booking later. I then took up the matter with the consumer affairs department, which sent the company a notice,” Trivedi said.

The company has received a show-cause. Consumer affairs ministry joint secretary Manoj Pardia wrote to Bhargava, questioning the practice (of pre-booking) and sought a reply on why action should not be initiated against the company under the Consumer Protection Act, which arms consumers with the right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods.

Maruti Suzuki has defended its marketing strategy, saying that the booking is “completely voluntary for customers and entirely at their discretion”. The company said not only did other automakers do it, even Apple accepted bookings for iPhone 6 to manage customer rush on launch day.

In recent times, Honda has similarly accepted bookings for the Mobilio, Fiat for Avventura, Hyundai for Elite i20 and Mahindra & Mahindra for the second generation Scorpio. But Trivedi is questioning the practice.

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