Sometimes you have to wonder if there is anyone actually running General Motors or if there are just a bunch of harried clerks on various staffs trying to make it look as if there really is an automaker behind the front door of their headquarters.
Today’s Mail Brings Interesting Statement
For example, today’s mail brought another example of GM’s “screaming recall management” style – very reminiscent of Britain”s tabloid journalism – except the automaker affects many more people in many more ways.
Today’s edition of GM”s “Screaming Recall Express” would have you believe, if you own a 2007 Malibu LS that you have to park it and walk until the parts to fix a rather major safety issue are available and it is fixed. This time it’s not the ignition, which was brought to you last week by the same automaker and last week’s “Screaming Recall Express.”
Today’s edition talks about the transmission and indicates there’s a major problem that should be fixed as soon as the parts are ready. The only problem, GM indicates, is that the parts are not ready.
To be truthful, here is what GM’s tabloid headline writers seem to be screaming about today. After telling us they have an “Important Safety Recall” to discuss with us, they then tell us the are sending it to meet the requirements of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
Acting In Response to Issue
The automaker then goes to say this applies to certain “2007 model year Chevrolet Malibus… Your vehicle is involved in GM safety recall 14152.”
The automaker had said in today’s jangling missive that they had “decided that a defect which relates to motor vehicle safety exists in certain 2007 model year Chevrolet Malibu vehicle equipped with a four- speed automatic transmission. As a result GM is conducting a safety recall.”
The issue: (author’s italics)
To quote the automaker: “Your vehicle has a condition in which the transmission shift cable may fracture at any time. When the fracture occurs, the driver may not be able to select a different gear, remove the key from the ignition or place the transmission in park.”
As you can see that does pose a bit of a problem, doesn’t it? If you can’t do anything with your transmission, then the next parking place could be a tree, a bush or a shrub (author’s phrase).
Indeed GM then goes on to stir the pot more by saying if this problem occurs, the “driver may not be able to select a different gear and the vehicle may move in an unintended direction, increasing the risk of a crash. “
GM’s safety scream then goes on to state that “If the driver cannot place the vehicle in park, and exits the vehicle without applying the park brake, the vehicle could roll away and a crash could occur without prior warning.
Drivers Duly Shaken
Then, after getting these drivers in the dithers of their lives as they worry they are driving death traps, GM says:
“Parts are not currently available. When parts become available your Chevrolet dealer will install a shift cable assembly and mounting bracket. This service will be performed for you at no charge.”
Can’t Have It Both Ways
Again, GM is making it seem as if they are doing you a favor in doing this free of charge, but they have to under the Safety Act.
Here’s what we can’t understand, though, and which has us wondering if the inmates are running the corporation or whatever is going on.
After telling its massively frightened driver body that there’s this really bad problem that could happen at any time – and that there are no parts available – GM all but admits it may not be telling the whole truth when it says:
“If you have already paid for repairs for this condition, a reimbursement request for will included with the letter.” (author’s italics and bold).
This follows GM’s notice that when they do have the parts ready, you will be asked by letter to bring the car in for service, however, if your vehicle has already been services you will be reimbursed. This really makes this issue rather interesting doesn’t it? Imagine what safety experts would say if they knew you had some parts to fix this issue and were charging to get it fixed? Do you think the Center for Highway Safety, under Clarence Ditlow, or the National Safety Council might not be a tad miffed at the seeming misinformation? How about the American Automobile Assn or even Consumer Reports? This is an issue that doesn’t look very good for you as a major automaker, does it, GM? How about the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), they wouldn’t take kindly to it, either, would they?
So which is it GM? Are the parts ready for your customers and are you just dealing them out like ordinary retail parts where you will make extra money, or is this a real issue for your owners? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot tell people there’s a major safety issue but there are no parts and then turn around and in the very same letter tell the same people, they really do exist (if you’re willing to pay for them). Is that the cutoff point, GM? If someone will pay, you’ll install the parts that seem to have magically appeared. It doesn’t inspire confidence in the management of the automaker.
GM, you can’t have it both ways, can you? If you can fix the problem, just do it and get on with it? Or, are you trying to squeeze the last few dollars out of people who are willing to pay for this issue’s repair? It doesn’t make you look very good, now, does it.
Further, how do you think NHTSA would feel if it found out about this issue? The agency would probably be a little more than perturbed about it!