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Landmark Forum Review – Scam, Cult or Pyramid Scheme?

18 Dec

I attended the Landmark Forum in Bangalore over this weekend (14-18 December 2012). The reason to join the Landmark Forum – henceforth referred to as LF – was an interesting narration of experience by a good neighbor friend who was hugely benefited by attending the forum a couple of years ago. Seeing a few positive differences in him for the last couple of years in terms of career and energy levels, I thought of trying it out at my own will and NOT influenced by any individual as such (I hear that many of the sign up under pressure from a loved one or people that matter)

Based on my experience at the Landmark Forum, let me give you some information on what it’s all about, whether it works for all and what to expect at the Landmark Forum.

What is Landmark Forum?

The Landmark Forum or LF is the FIRST in the series of the many personal development courses that the Landmark Education offers. Once signed up for the LF, your life doesn’t end with the forum itself. A series of other courses namely Landmark Advanced Course, Landmark Course for Leadership and Self Expression, Various weekly seminars (seminars come at a fee in some countries, but free in India) and other courses follow the forum itself. And this process takes a few months or years based on how many courses you take. However, you have the opportunity to stop with the 3.5 days long Landmark Forum itself.

The LF invariably happens across the weekend starting on a Friday at 9AM and ending on Sunday night at around 11:30PM. In addition, there is an evening session on the following Tuesday from 7:00PM to 10:30PM. Each day (i.e. Friday to Sunday) is rather long and ends at only around midnight. There will be four continuous sessions of about 2.5 hours long each day and you get one hour lunch & dinner break another half an hour break in between. Please note that there is no lunch, dinner or tea/coffee provided on the premises and only drinking water will be available. It’s hence a very stressful three days because even during the breaks, there will be assignments that need to be completed which includes written assignments, calling up people etc.

At the moment, the three and half days LF costs about Rs.10,000/- in India and I hear that it costs around $500 in the US. People from all walks of life and in all age groups above 15 years can attend the LF. There is a separate course for kids in the age group of 8 to 12.

Usually you can expect anywhere between 50 to 500 participants in each forum. In Indian conditions, it’s usually 250 people upwards in each session. The same content and the same delivery method is practiced across all countries though the ‘Coach’ who delivers the forum in India is mostly an Indian leader – one of the 55 Landmark Forum leaders worldwide, in his own words.

How does the Landmark Forum work?

The Landmark Forum’s approach is to deliver their course modules from their bible (same for all countries) by the leader who sits on high chair on the stage. The participants sit in the stand listening to his sermons. One thing I liked about the forum is that they do not use any Powerpoint presentation or slideshow to deliver the speech. The leader starts with welcoming you by explaining the rules of the forum – those who are not willing to abide by the rule can leave the forum in the first half an hour with their money refunded.

The typical rules are:

  • Your commitment and ‘word’ to complete the forum as per its design
  • In order to achieve the extra ordinary life (powerful living, new possibilities etc) after attending the forum, you must agree that you are ‘coachable’ by the LF leader
  • You must adhere to the forum timings and complete all assignments
  • One should not consume any alcohol or drugs till the forum completes on Tuesday. You shouldn’t start any new medication either – of course one can continue the medications he/she is already on. The participants cannot take pain killers like Aspirin after the long day but the leader will promise to teach you some tricks to get rid of your headache or body pain
  • People with clinical psychological conditions cannot attend the forum and so are the people come under the categories of the forum’s legal/content/general agreement – A six page agreement that you have to sign to protect from any legal proceedings

A couple of people from the forum left during the introductory speech itself after hearing the coach’s tone but I decided to hold on to become the so-called ‘Landmark Forum Graduate’ who can lead an extra ordinary life at some point – or right after the 3.5 days course as promised.

What to expect on the first day?

As per the coach, the LF is all about ‘Transformative’ learning model based on ‘Ontology’principles and not informative learning. Hence, you must be willing to be abide by all rules to transform yourself and the people that matter to you towards an extra-ordinary life in the offing post the forum.

50% of the first day (Friday) goes on with the coach delivering his speech in a way to highlight how the Landmark forum is going to transform you and how you have to be ‘enroll’ to the idea in order to discover ‘new possibilities’ in life. They use terminologies such as ‘already always listening’, ‘vicious circle’, ‘context’ and ‘rackets’ on the first day. Essentially, it’s about your prejudices in life based on what you were taught by your predecessors, somebody’s actions and your wrong interpretations, how your justified behaviors are in fact of pain to others or people ‘you are inauthentic with’, in their terminology.

(A word of caution: The definitions in the Landmark bible is meant to confuse people who talk and understand normal English. Some of those theories may sound reasonable if explained in plain English but ridiculous and defies common sense when explained in their language. But if you question the leader, you get trashed and I shall explain how)

The breaks during the first day and all night breaks will be used for assignments that include writing about your rackets, people whom you have been inauthentic with (in your behavior, anger, neglecting, abusing whatever) and calling them up to convince them (enrolling as they call) about how they can also lead an extra ordinary life by enrolling into these philosophies. The leader from time to time will remind you that those people should be called along for the fourth day’s evening session to listen to your and LF’s revelations.

The shameless marketing (of sorts) about the Landmark Forum and extra ordinary benefits in offer will continue during 50% of day one. The leader will remind you of the need to be enrolling which essentially mean that you are required to share your new possibilities in such a way that others are touched, moved and inspired (and finally literally enrolled to the Landmark forum)

The method of LF speeches & Interaction

The following is what to expect during the first three days in terms of the leader – forum members interactions.

  • The leader will be modulating his voice from low to exceptionally high volume from time to time. It will be so loud at times that most weak-hearted people will shiver and keep silence. The modus operandi is instilling fear in people, make them weak and force them buy into the ideas discussed
  • Even if you ask any questions about your particular problem or forum content, it’s most likely that you are yelled at (after inviting you to the mic near the stage) and called ‘you ordinary idiot leading an ordinary sham life’, ‘you jerk you have the courage to think so’, ‘you are disgusting’, ‘it’s your pathetic analytical mind that’s talking’, ‘you arrogant jerk’ etc. Be prepared to hear that and much more than that
  • It’s highly likely that the leader come really hard on people with bigger egos (e.g. a few IIT graduates, the so-called highly successful people in life, rich people etc)
  • The leader in our case also cut some good jokes in between his yelling and shouts during delivery. I must really admit that he possessed a very good sense of humor when talking about our life situations. That’s the way things are delivered in the first two days – Suppressing your ego and breaking it is the first step by defaming you in public. Many people will breakdown in this process and become silent there after or listen to him completely
  • In the case of relationship issues, you will be forced to call up your partner or the person with whom you have an issue regardless of where the problem lies. So it’s like the one-size fits all kind of delivery when it comes to LF

Second day

The second day is pretty much about topics like ‘I’ and your ‘Identity’. In the process, they will also talk about a new world and a new language to take you to newer heights. It also talks about anxiety, fear and some exercises to observe the fear and overcome it. At the end of the meditation-like exercise, some attendees revealed that their fear is gone and they will share the freedom and relief that they are enjoying on the stage mic. Others who didn’t feel any difference will be told that the fear will be always there and you have to live with it. Ridiculous at this point! You will be also asked to an assignment on three bold decisions that you would take at that moment.

The second day’s assignment will again include convincing people about enrolling your ideas. This part, at this point, will go to the nasty level of influencing people to join the Landmark Forum where as they try their best to explain that ‘Enrollment of ideas’ is different from ‘Registration’. Landmark forum’s shameless MLM (Multi-Level Marketing or Pyramid scheme) style of marketing starts on the first and second day itself. The only difference is that you as a member don’t get paid to enroll more people. And the enrollment (or registration) of more people is achieved via some kind of emotional arm-twisting and by bruising your ego by calling you a ‘shameless and arrogant jerk without integrity’ several times.

At this point, i.e. at 11PM on the second day’, I told the coach that I cannot do the second assignment of enrolling people. I was called to the stage and asked questions like ‘What is enrollment?, ‘Are you coachable?’. He kept shouting at me about my arrogance, ego and shameless behavior and called me a jerk and an idiot with an analytical mind etc. I replied that I am coachable and agree to most of the content but not an unreasonable assignment. My thought was that, if I am benefited from LF content and course, I would anyhow ask people to join LF but why even before seeing any benefit at all?

He then pronounced that due to my arrogant behavior my wife and kids are struggling for years. He pronounced that even people like Rahul Dravid who attended the Landmark forum was very humble and felt that I do not seem to be coachable unless I agree to all rules. I said, I still have my conviction and analytical brain working even after two days of the forum and until I am convinced, I am not going to enroll people or do that part of the assignment.

After about 10 minutes of argument, he asked me to get out by taking money instead of spoiling the spirit of the forum. Obviously, a few more hands had risen in my support and he felt the threat of sabotaging the cause. I obliged stating that I am not convinced about their unreasonable marketing strategy and hence quitting. I was really boiling, I wanted to call him all that he had called me in the name of ‘coaching’ me but I thought that would affect a fraction of the people who were seemingly satisfied and benefitted having attended the forum.

(The leader called me up the next day, apologized for his rude behavior and asked me to come back. May be that was part of the strategy so that they don’t get sued for emotional abuse despite taking a lot of signed agreement from the participants. He said he’s keeping his ‘word’ of refunding the money. I said I don’t care about the money but your unethical marketing practices. And my Landmark Forum ended there after two whole stressful days!).

The third day

Though, I didn’t attend the third day, it seems that’s when the whole lot of change will happen. In fact, at the end of first and second day, the leader will keep shouting that the forum has not even started but you are already feeling change etc. Things are supposed to be changing dramatically on the third day just like putting on a ‘Switch’. So I called up a couple of attendees whom I had met on the forum and they had mixed opinions on the Landmark Forum’s third day.

Many of the attendees believed that on third day, incidents from their past (in fact, an assignment from second day end) will be analyzed that would have shaped your characteristics as they are today. There will be sermons on how permanent transformation can be achieved by redefining ourselves etc.

Essentially after three days of stressful attending and a few phone calls you will be somehow convinced that life is meaningless and you have the power to make choices, deal with situations etc. All the stress that you went through and the revelations, apologies (you make many of them and cry during the first two days) made by the participants would be relieved by now and you will suddenly feel power – some of the attendees, that is. To me, this sounds quite natural. You were stressed, made look like a fool in the forum, your ego totally busted, tranquilized and at the end you were pronounced powerful and winner. Many weak-hearted people attending the forum at this point would feel happy and relieved and hence would feel that attending LF really helped them. But if you ask anybody to explain how they feel or tangible result – even after many weeks, months of attending even the advanced course – they may not be able to explain it.

(By the way, in order to make your transformation more meaningful and permanent, you will be asked to continue with the seminar series and then the paid Advanced course)

Does the Landmark Forum (LF) Work for all?

In my opinion, it works for a sub-set of people who have been carrying the guilt throughout their life due to infidelity, crimes done in the past, estranged relationships, unethical practices and specific fear of something in life might just find the forum as a great platform to confess and subsequently call up the affected people t apologize. If those people (e.g. parents) are not alive, you even have the opportunity to write an apologetic letter to them during the course. Essentially the confessions and the philosophies in the forum make such people relieved.

For most other people – who live a normal life without many issues – it’s not going to work. But even these people will not admit that LF didn’t work for them because they don’t want themselves look like fools or prey to the LF tactics that tamed them. Essentially don’t even think of attending LF if you are just going through normal mid-life crisis, predictable boss-subordinate issues, MIL-DIL issues, short-term career issues etc.

Due to the very reason that it works for some people, I don’t call LF a scam. It’s a different way of addressing your issues in life and get rid of fear. But if you would ask me, I would go for a good counselor along with the affected parties if I have any issue of that sort. That would be way better than reverting to a big forum and a lame Landmark Forum leader or coach (An extra-ordinary jerk, I must say) to solve my issues.

It’s not a Cult because they don’t associate themselves with any religious acts or even acts of crime or anti-social activities. Also, LF participation or further courses are completely at your will though they will brainwash you to the core to get as much sign-ups as possible. Signing up for LF forum don’t make you anti-social or make you stay away from normal living and hence it’s no cult at all.

Shameless Marketing

They don’t do MLM or pyramid scheme in a sense that whoever signs up new people are not actually getting monetarily benefited. But in reality, it’s nothing but a very successful Viral marketing strategy that they have smartly invented.

The evening session on Tuesday is all about shameless marketing that the gathering (your invitees with whom you are ‘inauthentic’ with and hence apologized) has to experience. This marketing takes place in a very convincing manner that you will be forced to sign up your dear ones and friends for this. Most of the attendees will fall for this strategy since they are forcibly contacted by the forum members who even apologized to them as per the plan. This works like wonders because the evening gathering thinks that their wards are transformed in just 3.5 days (with all those apology, letters, tears etc). In reality, it’s more like a emotional brainwashing.

And during the second day itself, there will be announcements about the Landmark Advanced Course which they will market so convincingly that even before seeing any result from LF, many people will sign up for this. They will say that in five days time, the Advance course prices are going up by 50% or so and you have one last day today (or latest by next day) to sign-up for the future course at the discounted price. And you won’t believe, many of the fools fell for that.

Final Verdict

Well, if you are one of those who are living under some stress and badly want to vomit out one of your wrong doings or regret from the past thereby relieving a bit, then LF is for you. But then, be warned that in order to address such issues, you don’t really need a forum such as Landmark but take the help of a good counselor.

In order to protect and respect the privacy of those who took part in the forum with me, I do not want to go into the details of what kind of issues and confessions people made. But there were real extreme cases of crime, infidelity, extranged-abusive relationships, extra-marital affairs, sex-maniac behaviors, dangerous obsessions, drug abuse etc that forced some of them to participate in the forums. And some others, without any issues at all, were forced to sign up by their wards – may be after being part of the evening session sometime in the past. The leader was trying his best to prove that even such people’s life (those sexagenarians and happy senior citizens) is sham, disgusting and they need a transformation in life. All these sermons were really frustrating for anyone who has led his/her life following some ethics and who were brought up with good values in life.

Essentially it didn’t work for me and I am sure it wouldn’t work for people like me. As a matter of fact, LF itself agrees that the program doesn’t work for all. Even worse, there have been incidents of suicide, extreme mental conditions and prolonged trauma reported during and after attending of the LF forum. LF themselves have admitted to such incidents though the occurrence of such extreme incidents have been rather rare compared to the number of people attended the Landmark Forum.

Hence before signing up with the Landmark forum, please think for yourself and read carefully the agreement that you are signing!

Renault Duster India – Road Test and Review

26 Jul

Renualt Duster in IndiaI have been longing for an affordable 5-seater SUV in India for a long time. The likes of Honda CRV – and even Skoda Yeti for that matter – is out of my reach while stuff like Mahindra Thar (though not exactly a five seater) are more for adventurous stags or Army people. I got really excited when Renault launched their mini SUV the Renault Duster in India (Dacia Duster in Europe) and I actually test drove it last evening in Bangalore. Now, is it worth all that excitement and hype? Let us find out.

Review material

The variant I tested was a white colored 110HP Diesel high end version without the option pack. i.e. Duster (D) – RXZ. This model costs 11,04,702 Ex-showroom which means around 13.65L on road in Bangalore – thanks to the high Road tax that we have here. If you were to take the option pack (leather seats and wood finish on inside door handles) the price goes up to 11,35,102 (Ex) and 14,01,131 (On road) respectively for the high end Diesel variant. 14 lakhs is a big amount and hence the expectations were really high for me.

renault duster review car

Review Material - Sorry for the poor mobile pic

Renault Duster – Exteriors

From its high and wide stands, I must say that it’s one of the good looking vehicles in that price range – especially since I have had my reservations about the rear styling of SUVs such as Mahindra XUV-500 and Skoda Yeti. As for the Duster, it looks good from almost all angles. The muscular looking wheel archs and chromy grilles with nicely designed headlamps add to the punch. If something has to be improved in the exterior, that’s the poor looking alloy wheels (design wise), the door handles and perhaps the black plastics on the air dam. May be the plastic part can be camouflaged with a nice looking IND license plate? Despite minor hitches, I give a 4 / 5 for its exterior design.

Interiors

Now, let us open the door to get to see the problems right away! The door of the Renault Duster showed the poor engineering and ‘Indianising goals’ behind. It opened almost like an Ambassador or Tata Sumo – Well, it’s good to be heavy but the doors should offer firm and predictable movement. We are talking about a vehicle that has hardly run 5000 kms and that’s a minor engineering disappointment – but nothing compared to what is expected further inside.

renault duster dashboard

The dashboard is not as good as it looks in the picture

The photos of the Renault Duster interiors looked stunning on the web and in their commercials but I must warn you that you will be thoroughly disappointed when you take a closer look. The beige and black rough plastic combo on the dashboard looks and feels pathetic. I mean really P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C when compared to any vehicle with that kind of a price tag. It definitely looks like it was made solely with the final price tag in mind. And the typical Renault AC vents and poorly designed controls positioning adds to the misery. There’s a factory fitted entertainment unit which looks (and sound) cheap but the gear knob and the steering column looked decent. The blue tooth and audio controls are positioned at a weird location right behind the steering wheel right hand side and looks like the steering column design was reused from the Europe (blinker control is on left and wiper lever on right). Overall, I was in a confused state after seeing all the mess out there. I couldn’t really find a single control where I would expect it naturally – probably horn being an exception ?

Talking about the door panel garnishes and seat fabric – it is pretty much of the same poor quality as the plastics – Very bad looking and taxi quality, I would say. The option pack comes with a wooden trim as per the sales guy (chrome as per the manual) but the one I drove had highly glossy black plastic handles that was gross. The floor carpeting was equally bad with thin looking material all around.

The other weird thing was the rear seat A/C vent that juts out too much into almost the private parts of the rear middle passenger. This is the first time I am seeing something like that on a car. Probably, they could have changed the orientation of that unit to the front to create a beautiful armrest for the driver.

Overall, I would give a 2 / 5 for Duster interiors and if you ask me this is the single most reason why I wouldn’t buy this vehicle. I mean, you can change pretty much everything else including alloys, upgrading tyre sizes, leather seats but what the hell can you do about the dashboard?

The Engine, Gear box and Driving experience

Time for some action. I started the engine with the windows rolled up. The engine gave a nice grunt and with all that poor plastic assembly, it still wasn’t all that noisy inside the cabin if not silent. The sales person gently reminded not to lift the little ring on the gear lever or else I may engage the reverse gear. Yes, we have a 6-speed Gear box in Duster and the reverse as well as the first gear has to be engaged to extreme left towards the front. However, on engaging the reverse gear there’s useful beep that reminds me where you are at.

I took of the vehicle and I liked its heaviness and pull. This vehicle – at a low weight of 1150Kgs or so – actually felt stable and nice. Slightly higher seating position actually don’t feel weird and it feels almost like a car. The visibility towards front and sides is excellent while the smaller and roundish back light (rear windshield) restricted my viewable area a bit, I thought.

Before I joined the highway, I had a stretch of almost non-existing entrance to the road (Bangalore roads!!!). The high ground clearance (205mm) and mini-offroader like capabilities helped me to maneuver to the main road pretty easily. Actually the 2WD vehicle almost felt like a 4×4 off-roader in lower gears. Very nice indeed!

As for the power, the engine is smooth in all gears. It didn’t knock when I was slowly moving under 10Kms/hr in 2nd gear, nor it complained when moving in 4th gear at 35km/hr. Excellent vehicle for very bad city traffic conditions, I must say. When I accelerated gradually, I could feel the turbo charger kicking in between 1700 and 1800 RPM. This is very good because when you need power in 2nd or 3rd gear you can avail it. The best thing I liked about this vehicle is its 6-speed gear box under which the car never complains. However, I didn’t ride too long with the sixth gear, I must add here. Overall, it is not a very powerful engine but adequate and felt nice. I am sure it should do good on highways as well with the overdrive options.

The ride quality is very good and so is the cornering without any sort of body rolling. i.e. even while making good use of its very low turning radius (5.2m), it didn’t give any hint of instability. In fact, on all types of roads and in all speeds it was pretty good. I particularly liked the electro-hydraulic steering which wasn’t butter smooth like some cars but nice and firm. It felt firm and nice. And at 248Nm torque, I would think that it can easily pull some weight without taking toll on your fuel bill. The sales man claimed that it would give a mileage of 13-14km/ltr of diesel in city traffic conditions, which I tend to believe.

A mention about the brakes (front disc and rear drum) – the top variants are equipped with ABS, EBD and Brake assist which together does a good job in my braking experience on gravel roads.

Overall, I liked the way the 1.5 litre dCI engine behaved assisted by a good gear box. I would give 4 / 5 for the engine and gear box.

Other features

renault duster alloys

Poor looking Alloys - probably the only bad thing about Duster's exterior design


The top variants are equipped with almost all that you can ask for – Airbags, 2DIN integrated audio entertainment, a 12V socket, USB-Aux in, keyless entry, Electrically adjustable ORVMs (not electrically foldable), blue tooth, reverse parking sensors and there was even a switch to turn off the parking sensors. It all boils down to getting used to where these switches actually are! Overall, for its price, I must say that this vehicle is feature rich.

Summary

Overall I would say that the Renault Duster in India is a failure in terms not living up to its brand image – every other Renault model is good looking in its class, I would say (Fluence, Koleos and even Pulse) . As I mentioned above, if they had worked on the interiors and increased the price by 1 lakh, I would have still bought this vehicle. And that’s the exact message that should go to Renault from the Indian consumers. Let them not end up like other foreign car manufacturers who initially offer quality and then start the cost-cutting there by providing cheap stuff for the Indian consumers.

Having said that , there is a lot of buzz and excitement from the taxi crowd for the 85BHP diesel model that starts at 8 Lakhs (Ex) and offers excellent mileage. I wouldn’t surprised if that becomes a huge hit but the higher segment thoroughly disappoints.

What I liked the best about this vehicle?

  • Exterior looks and styling
  • Pricing of the Diesel variants
  • Reasonably powerful and responsive engine
  • 6-speed gearbox
  • Drivability and composure of the vehicle including minimal off-roading capabilities
  • Huge trunk space (475 Litres)
  • Claimed mileage
  • Low turning radius and high ground clearance

What I hated the most?

  • Cheap interior plastics and fabrics (say that 100 times) – Can’t do anything about it!
  • Alloy wheels design and tyre (need to upgrade to 235, manageable)
  • Protruding rear A/C vents (somewhat ok)
  • Positioning of the controls (still ok)
  • Service attitude (Are Mahindra people still at Renault?) (still ok)
  • Not a 4×4 (still ok)

Overall Rating: 2.5 / 5

(The rating would have easily become 3.75 had they provided good interiors)

If you happened to really test drive Renault Duster India version, you may share your experience here!

Flipkart Review

23 Dec

Well, I haven’t done many review on this blog (except for my test drive review in the Automotive category). Today, I am kick starting a new Review section here hoping that I can share my personal experiences with the numerous products and services that I have consumed online and offline.

Today’s review material is the Flipkart Online Store. Though they were established three or four years back, I didn’t quite use their services until earlier this year. It all started with some book shopping for my son back in March this year and once I was thoroughly impressed with their quality of service!

flipkart review

What does Flipkart Offer?

Like many online stores in India, even Flipkart started their business as an online bookstore (Check out Flipkart Books section). They then slowly spread their services into selling Music CDs, Movie DVDs, Video Games, Mobile phones, Electronics, Cameras and now even Home appliances.

Majority of my purchases from Flipkart have been around Children’s books, Music/game CDs and at times camera accessories as well – latest being a 50mm lens that I bought for my Nikon DSLR.

My Experience with Flipkart

Based on those six or seven purchases that I made with flipkart, I have the following feedback on their services.

  • Their collection of books and other products are very good. Usually, they have all fast moving items in stock
  • The web shopping interface is fast and easy to search, choose and checkout
  • They offer very fast delivery, at least that’s what my experience in Bangalore. Almost all items that I ordered reached me in three days. Looks like they are using their own staff for delivery and hence chances of missing anything during transport is minimal. Talking about the delivery time, I had quite bad experience with some other online services such as Sify Shopping, India Plaza etc before I stopped using them completely quite some time ago
  • Cash on Delivery option is very good to protect you from any online fraudulent activities
  • Excellent communication – from ordering, processing, delivery to confirmation – they always keep you informed via SMS and mail

Other Positives

Once I had a situation where a particular book (Bunnicula series) had to be imported and shipped. They were able to manage it within a reasonable time frame as promised while placing the order.

Another time, I had ordered two books together off which one was guaranteed to be shipped in three days and another in a week. Instead of shipping both together a week after, they shipped one within three days and another within 5 days thereby filling the order partially based on immediate availability. The result was a happy customer – i.e. my 9 year old son.

The pricing of the books is good considering the fact that shipping is FREE. Some other sites show reduced prices but charge for shipping and handling.

Conclusion

Overall, I am pretty happy with the quality of service that Flipkart provides. They often reiterate that they always ship brand new items with warranty which so far is true for me. However, there are a couple of people who complained about receiving scratched CDs etc but that wasn’t the case with me.

Check out Flipkart for Yourself and share your experiences here. By the way, you can directly search on Flipkart using the search widget below.

Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 Petrol road test

23 May

I got to test drive the new Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 on Friday. In fact, it was a very pleasant experience – especially after my disappointing outings with the Hyundai i20 and Skoda Fabia – both being 1.2 litre engines.

The Grande Punto 1.4 in India, is almost a complete car with exceptional high-speed stability and driveability. It also comes loaded with nice features. As usual, there has been several India specific adjustments done – like cheap plastics and fabric – but the main part i.e. the engine rocks! Moreover, according to me, it’s the best looking car in that segment and the pricing is reasonable too.

Fiat Grande Punto 1.4L
Image courtesy: Fiat India

You can read my complete review of the Fiat Grande Punto 1.4 at Mouthshut

Happy Driving!

Skoda Fabia Petrol 1.2L – Review and road test

20 Apr

Skoda produces some of the finest cars in the world today. Their entry to the Indian market has been with the highly successful Octavia model. The Octavia’s market has been recently hit severely by the likes of Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla and hence Skoda wanted to get into the segments below that of Octavia and above as well.


Image courtesy: Skoda India

The Skoda Fabia 1.2L has been a successful product throughout Europe. Obviously, that prompted them to bring that model to India as well. However, when things are produced or marketed for India, it has to be tailor made to fit the Indian taste and that’s exactly where they failed.

The Indian mentality is mainly around mileage and resale value and not exactly build quality or safety. The pricing has to be reasonable and the after sales service is of the highest priority as well. Unfortunately, in all these aspects the Skoda Fabia failed miserably.

Please read my complete review of the Skoda Fabia 1.2L at Mouthshut.com

Happy Motoring!