This is a story of an Indian Maharaja, Jai Singh, Maharaja of Alwar in the present state of Rajasthan who was scorned by a Rolls Royce salesman. Back in 1920, when there was no internet, only a few people were lucky to recognize popular personalities by their face. Moreover, while the status of most VIPs showed up in their attire, there were few who preferred to stay simple, and the Indian King of Alwar, Maharaja Jai Singh was one of them. This made things tough for the Rolls Royce guys who were used to judge a customer by their clothes.
The Indian Maharaja was on a vacation to London when he casually walked into a Rolls Royce showroom. He happened to inquire about one of the luxury cars of the brand. Since the Maharaja was dressed casually and was not accompanied by his escorts, Rolls Royce salesman didn’t take him seriously and treated him like a poor Indian commoner. The salesman looked scornfully at the king, turned down his request for a test drive and showed him the exit. The poor salesman hardly had a clue on who he just messed with.
Maharaja got extremely furious at the treatment meted out to him but hardly let the salesman know about it. He returned to his hotel and ordered his servants to call the showroom to tell them that the Maharaja of Alwar wanted to buy some Rolls Royce cars. When he went to the showroom in his kingly attire with his convoy, there was red carpet rolled out and the salesmen queued up to receive him.
He bought 6-7 luxury vehicles and paid for all of them including delivery costs. He asked for the cars to be shipped to India. When the cars reached the palace, King Jai Singh ordered the municipality to use all of them to collect garbage in the city. The news spread like wildfire.
This brought down the reputation of Rolls Royce. In addition to insult, their revenues dropped heavily. People who till now drove their Rolls Royce with pride began to feel embarrassed. Whenever anybody boasted of owning a Rolls Royce car, people would laugh at him and ask – Which one? The one that is used to clean the streets in India?
Rolls Royce guys on realizing their folly sent a telegram to Maharaja, asking for apology. They also offered him six more cars, free of cost. The Maharaja on being satisfied that the company had learned its lesson, accepted the apology, and stopped using the luxury cars for transporting trash.
Wasn’t that too much pain for the royal car maker to go through in order to learn how to treat its customers?