Thursday, March 04, 2010

Once Upon a Time, the Automakers Actually Cared About You and Me

If Henry Ford were alive today, he’d be shaking his head in disgust.

As if last week’s appearance in front of an American courtroom for Toyota’s president to answer questions about his company’s overabundance of safety recalls wasn’t enough bad press for the auto industry, General Motors issued a recall of its own affecting 1.3 million vehicles sold around the world.

Recalls affecting millions of vehicles from automotive manufacturers are becoming an all too common occurrence. It wasn’t all that long ago when a recall only affected a few thousand vehicles from one plant in one country.

Toyota has recalled over 8.5 million vehicles from around the world – that’s the equivalent of about one vehicle for every man, woman and child in New York City.
Wasn’t it Ford’s slogan a few years back “Quality is Job 1?”

Quality has gone the way of the Dodo bird – or at least it appears to be extinct as we witness these continuous streams of recalls from the auto giants.

Perhaps during the recent economic recession, the automakers cut costs by shopping for the best prices on the bits and pieces to put their products together, instead of basing their decisions on the quality we have come to depend upon?

It wouldn’t be the first time a major company has cut corners to save a buck. We consumers have been known to shop for the best deals too – just look at the line-ups at your local store which sells everything for a dollar.

Ever get a light bulb or set of batteries to power your portable radio at the local Dollar Store? Sure you may have got a steal of a deal, only paying a dollar, but chances are within a few hours, that light bulb or set of batteries won’t be working anymore.

That’s the price you pay when you go on the cheap. Quality goes by the wayside, and soon you’re sitting in the dark without any radio.

Though when the automakers cut corners, and their quality dips, people get scared, hurt or even die in motor vehicle accidents.

General Motors recent recall is based on 1,100 customer complaints, which include 14 crashes and one reported injury. Though those numbers may be higher, as many people don’t report minor accidents or injuries to their insurance companies, fearing their insurance rates will go up.

Toyota’s larger recall has resulted in the deaths of at least five people so far, but as many of the cars and trucks are still on the road with these problems, that number too may climb.

Yes, in an economy as brutal as we’ve seen of late, people aren’t as quick to go out and purchase big ticket items like houses and cars. So automakers suffer in a slumping economy. But then again – at least in General Motors case – they secured government bail-out funds to see them through the rough economy.

What it really comes down to is corporate culture. General Motors has grown mega-large, and as with many mega-large companies, after a while they don’t care about quality, because they don’t have too. What are a few thousand accidents or injuries when you have millions of other customers to count on?

On the surface, these big companies put on their game face, telling us all about their innovations in safety, security and customer care. They tell us how they will do whatever it takes to get and keep our business.

But all these companies really are interested in is your money.

In both the Toyota and General Motors recalls, it took thousands of customer complaints before either company even considered there was anything wrong with their products. That’s one of the allegations against Toyota which the American government is investigating – the amount of time it took them to recognize problems with their vehicles and to act on those problems, based on the number of complaints, injuries and deaths.

Companies that truly care about their customers don’t wait until thousands of their customers complain – they act immediately.

If Toyota and General Motors had shown the least bit of concern for their customers by acting immediately on complaints, neither would be facing the public relations disaster they are now both in the midst of.

But maybe a little dirt on their squeaky clean images is in order – because now at least, we know just how little value they place on you and me.

Related articles by Zemanta
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment