GM to Dealers: 40% of Our Quality Problems Are YOUR Fault
According to Automotive News [AN, sub], GM's top quality executive is touring the country telling dealers that a large percentage of consumer dissatisfaction with the quality of GM products comes down to slack dealer prep. No really. Jaime Hresko said that "40 percent of the problems that show up on GM quality reports from sources such as J.D. Power and Associates are related to vehicle controls and settings — not manufacturing issues that stem from vehicle design or assembly." Hresko is asking GM retailers to complete a thorough pre-delivery inspection of "issues that routinely irritate customers and may poison satisfaction reports." We're talking "memory and personalization features," including seat and mirror settings, clocks, radio stations, computer and navigation system settings." Hresko's exhortation is not without reason. As TTAC has pointed out before, J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey (to which Hresko was alluding) is inherently flawed, measuring little more than consumer expectations and doing so over a ridiculously short time period (90 days). Still, maybe GM's top quality guy should be concentrating more on his side of the ledger. I mean, any study that names the Pontiac Grand Prix the best anything (Best Large Car) can't be all bad– you know, as far as GM's concerned.
I own a Japanese car, a German car, and an Chevy. I have differing levels of expectations with Chevy having the lowest level of expectations (I don't want it to break down but often overlook a lot of superficial faults). If it starts and I don't have the often on check engine light (its a 2005 model!) I'm happy and overlook the small flaws such as door locks won't operate when it's below 20 degrees or the seat cushions have some small layer in them that's rolled up making a gasty looking bump). I consider the Chevy built with materials and level of attention of Playskool or Fisher Price toy. The German car is in the middle - if something doesn't work right and not crucial I can overlook it - but to me the car must drive well and be exciting (give me a big grin after a fun run). The drivetrain / engine are my biggest expectation of performance and handling. Now with the Japanese car if anything doesn't work or I notice the smallest defect I am more annoyed. I brought it into the dealer when a small plastic piece on the trunk hinge came loose - all to find out there was a recall on such a insignificant issue. This all boils down to "owner expectations" ratings as a load of crap. I myself won't complain on my Chevy of small things where on my Acura the littlest defect is an annoyance and I bring it to the dealer and gripe if it's not fixed quickly. The Chevy sometimes needs several trips back to the dealer to fix the phantom CEL issues (Check Engine Light).
I don't think design should be included in any kind of quality study. I want to know if the car is going to break, not if the stereo knobs are easy to operate. I can discover that myself in a test drive.
My GM dealer experience has obviously been different from most folks on this site. When we purchased the 2004 Rainer (for the wife.....), the salesperson took the time to run us through every operational aspect of the SUV before we drove it off the lot. That included the memory functions, where the spare and the tools were located, the various computer functions that were on the steering wheel, and even the XM radio (which they immediately activated for us). Granted, our experience may be out of the norm, but I was impressed to say the least. BTW, there were no quality issues, and still aren't any 4 years later.
Jaje is right, one person's lemon is another person's most reliable car they ever had. A Honda buyer might permanently switch to Toyota because of a bad power window regulator at 50,000 miles and 2 years of ownership, whereas a Buick owner will happily buy another one because only 2 radios, a wiper motor, 2 coil packs and a fuel pump went out over the 6 years and 50000 miles they owned it, which apparently was better than their last Buick.