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Thursday
Jan272011

Customer Treatment

The other day we came across an e-mail response from a manufacturer to a customer that had an issue with his vehicle. Yes the vehicle had just run out of warranty. It was an interesting response to say the least, and we passed it along to The Colonel to get his thoughts.

Here we go....

Q: Colonel you saw the response, and the customer was concerned.

A: Yes, I saw the response, scary stuff, seemed like whoever responded was clueless....I mean totally clueless. At the same time, not surprising at all...

Q: We got the same feeling as you...what gives.

A: You get the feeling that manufacturers have compelling offers up front in the showroom/online to move metal, then they try to save money in the back with service issues.

Q: Are you implying that if a manufacturer gives X amount as an incentive, they then try to save Y on resolving issues.

A: Possible...keep in mind that in some instances the customer interface is handled by a contractor, these folks are not employed by the manufacturer. 

Q: Is it possible that some issues are frivolous.

A: Sure its possible, just like some e-mails land in a black hole and never get replied.

Q: There are always 2 sides to an issue.

A: Yes...and the more channels that need to be crossed...the more the issue might be forgotten.

Q: There are many variables to deal with...do you agree.

A: Yes...and manufacturers have a higher level of expertise than the customers in dealing with various issues. They all have an extensive database.

Q: You always hear that customers are empowered.

A: Yes customers are empowered to acquire a vehicle with extensive information, but if an issue arises during the ownership experience most customers are less empowered.

Q: Perhaps customers have no desire to discover the intricacies of how manufacturers resolve issues. 

A: Exactly...which customer wants to know all the various procedures, policies, decision making process, and whatever else comes along. Besides being an opaque process...

Q: What should a customer do? Have a facilitator?

A: Precisely...the facilitator is the warranty...it enables the process to resolve issues.

Q: Are you saying that its to the advantage of the customer to always have a warranty to facilitate the interface with a manufacturer.

A: Exactly...even if it implies buying an extended warranty if the customer prefers to keep the car for a longer period of time.

 

 

Wednesday
Jan262011

Ariel Atom V8 vs BMW S1000 RR

The habitual a video is worth how many words, totally cool...this Atom is very fast...positively very fast...enjoy!

 

Wednesday
Jan262011

The MBUSA Moment

Although everyone talks about the cars, there is an immense amount of "people action" that goes on at NAIAS, it might fly under under numerous radar screens, the people action that is. This year with only one press day, and time very compressed it was challenging to say the least. 

How does this "people action" besides the various press conferences develop? Simple put old school technology to work, make a call...yes a phone call...obvious you need the phone number(s).

Again this year we called Ernst Lieb President and CEO of MBUSA, last year it was the duration of a 75 meter walk between 2 interviews, and a "yes...2010 will be good in the USA".

This year between 2 interviews and longer than a 75 meter walk, we actually got a moment, were doing well...as we say kindness is free...Thank You Ernst Lieb!

A brief recap of the conversation:

S: MBUSA did well in 2010.

E.L.: Yes...we stayed the course, hard work, dedicated people, and dealers we have done well in 2010, encouraging for 2011.

S: What else?

E.L.: The majority of our dealers have new or refreshed/renovated facilities.

S: Its encouraging to have a good 2010.

E.L.: Yes, even more encouraging, and gratifying when our employees vote MBUSA number 15 on the Fortune "Best Companies to Work For" in the USA. 

S: Is MBUSA advertising in the Super Bowl?

E.L.: Yes...and there will be a Twitter Fueled race with teams.

S: Glad to see that MBUSA is engaging through social media.

E.L.: All the folks involved in social media are anxious to see the results of the race.

S: Did you blink with BMW?

E.L.: Does it make sense to compete against 3 Series with an S Class?

S: Do you still have your bikes (motorcycles)?

E.L.: Yes...and you?

S: Yes plus that old black V8 car with the 4 speed. 

That was all the time...

 

Tuesday
Jan252011

The GM Daewoo Moment

A few months ago we heard that GM wanted to make Chevrolet a global brand, the first reaction is that they are perhaps boasting, prior to skepticism setting in. 

The Cruze was recently launched in Canada, we saw ads that the car won numerous accolades in several countries across the planet. You then wonder...where does this car come from? 

In Detroit you wonder where does the Sonic come from? 

Being a "little" familiar with GM, we know that " V8 rear wheel drive" comes from Holden, "mid size sedans" come from Opel, we never questioned where small cars come from. Perhaps due to the fact that GM did not have leading edge small cars....its was a who cares situation. 

We have visitors from Korea to our publication, and figured...that we have done reviews of Hyundai's and Kia's and we would appear on a search. 

During NAIAS we attend a presentation with Mike Arcamone, Jay Cooney, and Lee all from GM Daewoo for whatever reason the attendance is small (at first blush it would make sense).

Lets start connecting dots...

<> GM Daewoo builds 2 million vehicles a year sold in 150 countries. 

<> GM Daewoo has an engineering / design staff of 6,000.

<> The Regal was "done" by Opel, the Cruze is "done" by GM Daewoo (Lacetti).

<> The Sonic is "done" by GM Daewoo (Matiz).

<> Yes...GM Daewoo does small cars...its the small car supplier within GM.

<> Yes...the majority will be branded as Chevrolet.

[] Suddenly Chevrolet becoming a global brand is a no brainer...to the point of how come we did not catch this one. Did you?

[] Perhaps the review of the Cruze also attracted visitors from Korea to our publication.

[] This is a totally interesting / informative conversation.

We all know that in that area of the planet, at a certain point you no longer drive (especially on week days), you are driven, and rear seat amenities/luxuries are crucial. The Buick LaCrosse which becomes the Alpheon in Korea, the entire rear seat area had to be dramatically redone to meet Korean expectations. 

Where is the moment...

Wow...2 million (a lot of cars)... one moment

Mike Arcamone is Canadian from Montreal...two moment.

These guys from Korea are totally cool...three moment

 

 

Monday
Jan242011

The RM Moment

You surely know that we like collector and classic cars there is an endearing aspect towards older cars that cannot be duplicated with new cars. 

RM Auctions and Restorations is conservatively located in Blenheim, Ontario which is conveniently located along the 401 on the way to Detroit...how easy! If you are driving along the 401 in the area of Blenheim make it a point to stop and visit the "museum" on the RM property...the cars are beyond what you would expect. 

In case you did not know RM Restorations has restored several Pebble Beach winners. Think about this...Pebble Beach Best of Show winners restored in Blenheim. Obvious that its a discreet business, folks that have the resources to acquire and restore a Pebble Beach winner want their privacy respected at all times. 

Last year returning from Detroit we stopped, visited the "museum" and took some photos...here.

This year we raised our hopes, and inquired if we could visit the restoration facility, while mentioning a few details about ourselves to facilitate the decision process...probably expecting a "no reply" or a firm "no". To our complete surprise we get a call from Amy Christie of RM, offering a brief look at the restoration facility, with the proviso of no photos. 

Here is the deal and the moment...

Returning from Detroit about 20 kilometers out of Windsor its snowing, and getting worse approaching Blenheim, first thought could be forget it, its snowing, next time. What do we do? What do you think...driving an AWD...we stop at RM.

Amy Christie is busy, expected in a meeting, the Arizona Auction is a few days away...this guy stopped on his way back from Detroit...she takes a few minutes to show the restoration shop before going to the meeting. Agreed kindness is free...for the folks that understand its always a pleasant moment.

You walk into a shop with "old cars" in various stages of assembly or dis assembly...very cool, saw the fellow that does upholstery with hides on a long table, the old fashion way. Had a brief conversation/salutation with a fellow that works in the shop.

Here is the moment....

There is a car with the engine running, the valve cover off...I mention to the fellow..."Its been a long time that I have not seen rocker arms on a rocker shaft with the engine running"...the moment where a comment immediately resonates among 2 individuals. Rocker arms, rockers shaft, mechanical lifters/cam follower, the precise ticking of well adjusted valves, and perhaps the lost art of adjusting valves with a feeler gauge.

It must have gone from who is this guy (me) to "he must have an understanding of old cars"...in a nano second. 

The GM Heritage Center the previous day, and now RM where they restore Pebble Beach winners...the moment is as good as it gets.

To raise the cool factor...the folks at RM have a kitchen...yes...every totally cool place has a kitchen, not a lunch room....a "cucina" to prepare/cook food....the RM kitchen has a diner look about it.

Obvious that we visited the museum...here...yes the F1 Ferrari caught our attention, as well as the Lusso, and the 27 Ford with the nailhead Buick (reminder of Tony Nancy).