Kia dismisses customer’s complaints

Robin Knox, who bought a new Kia Rio 1.4 from Kia Motors in Empangeni in January 2017, before moving to Sunningdale, a month later, said that since relocating to Cape Town he has had endless issues with the car which has logged 16 500km. But Kia said they can’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

“* have taken the car to various Kia Multi-franchise dealerships, explaining that I have experienced hesitation, lagging, misfiring and loss of power on the vehicle since driving it to Cape Town and that it is particularly noticeable when overtaking on an incline or going up a hill with a significant loss of power which endangers anyone in the vehicle and other road users,” said Mr Knox, who kept meticulous notes about his experience.

“On Monday August 17 last year I took the Rio to Kia Table View where they checked the plugs but they couldn’t find any fault. It went back on Monday October 23 and though they said we could collect the car because they couldn’t find anything wrong I left it there until Friday and phoned them at 2pm but they only called back before closing and blamed reception for not contacting us. I left for a five-week business trip and they delivered the car to my wife on October 31.Then I received a letter dated October 26 stating that ‘the vehicle conforms to Kia and industry standards and no further action would be required on this vehicle,’” Mr Knox said.

Mr Knox took the car to Kia Tygervalley on February 7 (2018) for its first service when he again complained about the loss of power. But Kia couldn’t find a fault.

When he returned it to the Kia Paarden Eiland franchise, Andrew drove the car with them in it and he said there was definitely something wrong as it could not go up any hills leading to Kloof Nek Road.

“The car was booked in for a service on September 26 and when we asked to speak to Andrew we were told he had left Kia. The car was booked in for a service on Monday October 1 and while it was there we tested the car with the workshop foreman, Lutanzi, who said ‘it must be an underpowered model’.

When the timing chain was replaced and the car showed no improvement, my daughter Colleen decided to make it her problem. So we took the car to Goch and Cooper in Brackenfell where they said the car was ‘pap on inclines’ and they would ‘adjust the adaptive values’ after which there was a slight improvement. In February the Kia Rio went for another service to Tygervalley but they couldn’t find a fault,” Mr Knox said.

Kia Tygervalley suggested that he trade in the Rio for an automatic but the Knoxes would have to pay an additional R125 000. They rejected the offer and Mr Knox took his complaint to the Consumer Protector (CP) in St George’s Mall, from where Albert Nkomo arranged a meeting and test drive with Tygervalley’s dealer principal and Mr Knox.

“Mr Nkomo wouldn’t drive the car himself ‘because he had to remain neutral at all times’,” Mr Knox said.

“During the test drive the car did struggle up a hill in Protea Heights. I was told this was to be expected from a car with the Rio’s engine capacity. We had had to stop at the bottom of the hill which made the problem worse. We tried to explain this to the CP who dismissed our complaint and said we should contact the National Consumer Commission or a lawyer. But we don’t have the funds for a protracted legal battle,” said Mr Knox, who took the car to several specialists who said there was a problem.

However, they didn’t want to be identified “in case they were blacklisted by Kia,” Mr Knox claimed.

“Steves Auto Clinic did a dynometer test while they had the car for three days during which they could find no fault.

“I was puzzled that there was no charge and no report on the result of the test,” Mr Knox said.

Mr Knox took the Kia to a mechanic who has a workshop on the edge of the CBD. The mechanic, recommended by a neighbour, reportedly told Mr Knox that the “car is a bit heavier than other makes in the same class and is a bit underpowered”.

Mr Knox said he traded in his 12-year-old BMW for the Rio but “due to our concerns over the power issue we cannot take it on any road trips”.

What Kia South Africa have to say? “We are aware of Mr Knox’s complaints. By his own admission, Kia has assisted on numerous occasions in an attempt to identify and resolve the problem Mr Knox purports to be experiencing. In each instance were unable to identify and solve the perceived problem. In addition, none of the independent service providers could identify it either.

“Mr Nkomo of the Consumer Commission agreed that there was no problem that Mr Knox described which was why his complaint was dismissed. We’ve gone above and beyond to assist Mr Knox, but cannot rectify a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Christo Valentine, brand marketing and communication manager.

Mr Knox said he looked at the guide at the back of a motoring magazine and under the bad comments for the Rio hatch they mention “weak engines”.

“I should have read it before I bought the Kia Rio.”