It's a matter of respect
I was interested in the Nov. 8 letter from a Ford customer who wrote to Jac Nasser, CEO of Ford Motor Co., and did not receive a reply.
I feel that is an indication of today's corporate decline in public relations. I had a similar experience in writing to Jack Smith, chairman and CEO of General Motors.
A few years ago, our business and our family operated five GM products; today, zero.
When I was a GM employee, I felt we treated customers with more respect. That's probably part of the reason why we had a larger market share in those days.
ALAN G. INGLIS
The writer is a semiretired RV dealer.
Writing to Ford isn't a good idea
Recent letters have bemoaned the quality of auto manufacturers' communication with their customers. One of your subscribers suggested that I apprise you of my difficulties in reaching the president of Ford Motor Co. of Canada.
My problem was a minor one. Since Canada has converted to the metric system, I wanted a service manual with the service intervals for my Canadian-assembled Windstar in metric measure. I thought my request was quite reasonable.
In reply to my first letter, I received a pre-printed card thanking me for my 'feedback.' That was unacceptable. I wrote again, suggesting that President Bobbie Gaunt 'really didn't care' about good relations between Ford and its customers.
Finally, that letter elicited a response. I received a call from an almost anonymous young person who wanted to know 'what was it I wanted.' I tried to explain that a businesslike letter of concern/complaint deserved a similar response, but I was unsuccessful.
My third letter brought a much faster phone call from an obviously ticked-off young man who explained that all letters to Ford management were routed to his two-person department for answering by telephone.
Isn't that the pits? If you send a sensible letter to any Ford management person, you get Jeff or Chris, who slave away in a basement call center, fending off the ravening hordes of concerned customers.
Now I know what Ford means by its new slogan. Try to communicate with Ford NOW, and you'll wait FOREVER for a decent response.
ROBERT W. SCOTT
Port Rowan, Ontario
The writer is retired. He was a professor at Seneca College in Toronto.
Internet isn't golden for all
Major buyer services like CarPrices.com and Autobytel have created multimillion-dollar businesses. But as an ad once asked, 'Where's the beef?'
They join other Internet companies that are awash in red ink. Take amazon.com, for example. Revenue continues to increase, but so does the loss.
Like the e-trade companies that are battling for survival, only a few of the e-car companies (buyer services) will survive. To survive, e-car companies must remember two things:
1. The Internet is a transaction medium as well as an information medium. The transaction side is the one that makes the money.
Forget all the free information stuff. Products should sell for less over the Internet than they do from brick-and-mortar stores. Advertising and distribution costs are considerably less.
2. Customers use services that offer savings. The free buyer services currently refer customers to dealers who quote 'rock bottom' prices, but dealers leave negotiating room in the quotes.
The buyer services that survive will offer cars for $100 over dealer cost instead of $500 over. Relax. Supply and demand always will dictate prices on popular models.
Recently, new companies like Carsdirect want to handle the entire sales transaction over the Web. But, again, that business model misses the mark.
You can't take the sales process out of the showroom. There is no substitute for a salesperson who is present at the point of purchase.
Buyer services are valuable for customers and dealers. Dealers must get on board or become part of the highway. Internet customers will enjoy full disclosure and greater savings.
The landscape will change drastically in the next few years. Buyer services, dealers and even manufacturers will come and go. Remember Plymouth? Shareholders won't allow companies to continue to lose millions of dollars.
But whether you're a winner or a loser in the Internet race, my hat's off to you for having the courage to run.
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