QOTD: Unlikely Complaints?
Sitting in a new, unfamiliar vehicle can breed a nearly limitless range of emotions and observations. Excitement, lust, desire … and annoyance.
Just as one design flourish or interior feature can turn interest into a buy, another can turn off prospective customers to such a degree that a sale becomes impossible. Sure, to the experienced observer, these minor complaints might appear frivolous, but the customer is always right. Or are they?
FCA Vehicles Top Safety Complaints Study; Lauded Electrics Don't Fare Well, Either (UPDATE)
Update: It was brought to our attention by a spokesperson for FCA that iSeeCars.com’s study includes complaints about parts availability for recall campaigns, which in and of themselves are not necessarily safety issue complaints. These complaints can skew the per-model results in a big way. While iSeeCars works out the data, take the results below with a grain of salt as they will more than likely change. —Mark
Update 2: iSeeCars retabulated the data for the below-mentioned study without recall parts availability complaints and came up with the same top 10 results. Still, the fact remains, not all NHTSA complaints are verified; anyone can submit a complaint, regardless of whether they own said vehicle. In 2010, Toyota ran into problems verifying complaints from NHTSA’s database, and Tesla more recently had issues with one particularly problematic complainer … from Australia.
Safety complaints come in all forms, some of them frivolous, but minor annoyances usually fail to make the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
When all safety complaints leveled against a model are weighed against the volume of vehicles sold, potential customers are left with a clearer picture of what headaches they might expect after signing on the dotted line. Meanwhile, automakers could realize they have a problem to fix.
In a recent study based on NHTSA complaints, one brand showed why quality control is key to keeping a loyal customer base, and how problems in the past can haunt a company for years.
Jeremy Clarkson Is A Pig-Ugly Homophobic
Just Like A Good Neighbor: State Farm Joins Toyota Shake-Down
More and more Americans have recently detected that they have a rich uncle in Japan. The uncle’s name is Toyota. From LaHood to a bevy of lawyers, all have a yen for Toyota’s money. Latest (but surely not last) to join the fray: State Farm. You know, that same insurance company that had disclosed all those claims to NHTSA and never received an answer. They went public with the story a few days before the congressional hearings. Now we know why: Like a good neighbor, State Farms wants its money back.
“Armed with reports of accidents for which they’ve already paid claims, State Farm insurance has asked Toyota to repay them for any crashes related to unintended acceleration by its vehicles,” reports USA Today. The request for a little Farm Aid is just the beginning.
Other insurance companies are expected to – make that will follow and ask for money. In the trade, this is called “subrogation.” No, it’s not a kinky sex practice.
Many NHTSA Complaints Unverifiable
Just as Paul Niedermeyer, Edmunds, Consumer Reports or anybody else who has the time to download and analyze 103.1 Mbytes worth of customer complaints to NHTSA, Toyota is pouring over the data. However, their attempts are being thoroughly frustrated.
According to The Nikkei [sub], Toyota found out that oftentimes complaints submitted to the NHTSA “either are unverifiable or lack vehicle-owner information required to facilitate follow-up.” In other words, a lot of the complaints look like they are bogus. Even if they are real, their validity cannot be ascertained.
And herein lies the rub:
Toyotas Recalled, Fixed, Blamed Again
Legions of Toyota owners have brought their automobiles to their dealers to have their carpets zip-tied and their pedals shimmied. But did that end the customer complaints? You guessed it: It did not. The NHTSA has already received 10 complaints that the fixes were for naught and that cars still have a mind of their own. Understandably, do-nothing-NHSTSA, having received congressional tongue lashings about lackadaisical attitudes, is on it like sonic.
The Truth About NHTSA Complaints
Click to enrage … we mean, enlarge
According to the MSM and many on-line pundits, the NHTSA has been drowning in customer complaints about Toyotas for years. Supposedly, the warnings were thrown in the wind.
Edmunds went through the pain of sifting through NHTSA’s complaint database from 2001 through Feb. 3, 2010 . After the counting was done, Edmunds came to a startling conclusion: The deluge of complaints is a myth, to put it charitably. “Fabrication” would be a better word. Amongst 20 brands, “Toyota ranks 17th among automakers in the overall number of complaints per vehicle sold,” says Edmunds. NHTSA’s own data shows: Only drivers of Mercedes Benz, Porsches and Smarts have less to kvetch than Toyota owners.