Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Automakers Starting Society on the Take

Toyota’s major worldwide recalls of faulty vehicles with issues over a decade old raised awareness about the dangers of driving, previously unthinkable in our technologically advanced world.

Who would have thought that a major corporation wouldn’t care enough about it’s customers to ensure their products were safe?

Over the next few months, the other major automakers followed, with their recalls, realizing that they’d better fix the problem then face the wrath of an American Congressional Hearing like Toyota – though it really is the bad press more so than the wrath. Toyota was hit with fines, but no one went to jail, and never would.

Now the big automakers are continuing to show us just how out of touch with their own products and their customers they are – instead of fixing their products, they will now pay you off with a bribe.

Yesterday, General Motors recalled 1.5 million vehicles worldwide that will catch fire due to poorly designed heated windshield wipers. GM originally “discovered” the problem in 2008 – though it affects some makes and models from 2006 – and through an earlier 2008 recall replaced the motors.

However, the problem has continued, so now GM is recalling all the affected vehicles, but instead of trying to fix their own product, they will just disconnect the faulty heater, and pay registered owners a $100 for “the loss of the feature.”


Instead of taking responsibility for rushing a product to market which is unsafe, and used as a selling feature to capture customers, they simply hold up their hands, claim they can’t fix it, but here’s a small token of our appreciation of your understanding, as they hand you a cheque for a mere $100.

Aside from the obvious questions about how they arrived at the dollar amount for the “loss of the feature” the real issue is the fact that a major global corporation is now bribing their customers, instead of doing the right thing.

General Motors made – or more likely contracted out to a third party who made – the mechanism, so they should take responsibility for ensuring it is safe and works as it is supposed to. They shouldn’t give up on it, and pay off their customers for the loss of its use.

Now we are talking about a feature that doesn’t affect the primary use of any vehicle – to get you from where you are, to where you want to go – yet.

However, if we consumers take the passenger seat now, we’ve opened up the door to corporate bribes in place of corporate responsibility. By accepting the $100 bribe from GM, you are telling GM and other executives who no doubt are watching at other companies in other industries and sectors that it’s okay to make faulty products with false promises, we’ll just pay off those affected with a small bribe later.

So next time when your fridge freezes solidly shut, and the manufacturer tells you you’ll have to just unplug it until it thaws, and live with the constant over-freezing because they can’t fix it, but oh – here’s a $50 cheque for your troubles – you’ll accept that?

We’ll become a society of corporate patsies, pushovers for products which don’t do what the manufactures told us they initially would, just so long as we are all on the take.

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