Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MasiGuy says that Saturn Sucks

I am admittedly coming in late on Tim's recent problems with his Saturn VUE, and Saturn dealership. Tim recalls the story from start to finish(with an assist from MasiWife). It seems there was a problem with the SUV's computer, which meant that the car's engine would literally shut off WHILE BEING DRIVEN! So Tim would instantly lose the ability to steer AND brake. Nice! Over the course of the next several weeks, Tim fought with the dealership to do the right thing every step of the way, including paying a thousand for a new computer, only to discover that the 'repair' didn't work because the dealership had put the computer in BACKWARDS!

As best I can tell, the end result was that the Saturn dealership repaired the computer a SECOND time, gave Tim a rental while they were, and Saturn offered their apology with....wait for it....4 free coupons for free oil changes from ANY Saturn dealership!

I'm sure from Saturn's point of view, they feel vindicated. The guys' SUV broke, they fixed it, well not the first time, but they apologized for it and gave him $100 (because we all know that $100 worth of coupons is as good as cash, right?). The bottom line is that Saturn approached this entire process from what was best from THEIR point of view, not Tim's. And recall that the entire time Tim is dealing with this frustrating process, he has Saturn's brand mantra of 'A Different Kind of Car, a Different Kind of Car Company' ringing in his ears.

As we all know, businesses are frequently leery of going 'the extra mile' for customers, unless they can see a number on their balance sheet that tells them EXACTLY how much money they will gain from treating their customers right. But here's the flipside, how much money will Saturn LOSE from Tim's experience?

One of the posts that Tim left during this customer service ordeal included 'I hate Saturn' in the title. I decided to do a Google search for the term 'I hate Saturn', and sure enough, Tim's post is now the FOURTH result from Google for that term, with the first three concerning the book 'Why I Hate Saturn'.

Now the question for Saturn is: What dollar amount would you put on the business that your automaker will lose worldwide, as a result from that one blog post from one dis-satisfied customer? That dollar amount will no doubt be many many times what you got from Tim. Now the flipside is, your company could have likely spent a FRACTION of that money on ensuring that Tim's experience was handed as smoothly as possible, putting HIS concerns and fears and frustrations at the fore-front throughout. The end result is that you would have had a new BRAND EVANGELIST for your company, and that 'I hate Saturn' post would have very likely been replaced with an 'I love my Saturn!' post from Tim.

Instead we have Saturn's crappy products and crappy customer service ringing all over the blogosphere.

Satisfy your customers' wants and needs directly, and they will satisfy your company's wants and needs indirectly. Companies that attempt to satisfy their wants and needs first, especially post-purchase, get what Saturn is getting now.

And I guess this won't change until companies can plug in a number next to 'Putting the customer first' on their balance sheet and understand the direct monetary benefit. Again, the benefit comes indirectly, and until companies understand that, we'll likely keep seeing more 'I hate Saturn' posts than we will the 'I love Saturn!' variety.

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Tim Jackson said...

Wow Mack- thank you brother. Really, I very much appreciate the support and use of my experience as an example.

Saturn (GM) had the chance to do the right thing, but chose to essentially wait for me to give up (from what I can tell)/ In the end, they won that particular battle, but the "war" ain't over. As you point out here, Google has a much longer memory. If anybody at Saturn/ GM is smart enough to be patrolling the web and the blogosphere for mentions of their company, then somebody knows about this. Sam Mancuso is the Director of Marketing for Saturn- I wonder if he has heard anything about this. If so, I wonder if he feels that the Saturn support was sufficient now. I really wonder about that.

As for me? Well, I have essentially given up fighting and am just putting the incident behind me. I'll drive the car until I can sell it or trade it in. But as you might guess, I won't ever be driving another Saturn. Wouldn't it have been better to have a very vocal proponent for their brand?

Anonymous said...

Exceptional article, Mack. You're firing on all cylinders. And while we're on car metaphors, your computer appears to be installed correctly.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this post. It's amazing how few companies realize that their customers are talking to each other, and the way they treat just one person can have a positive or negative impact on the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

What's even better is that you're not late in posting this--it just proves how long a life these awful experiences have.

Now if only we'd hear from Saturn. Thanks for posting on this.

Anonymous said...


Great post! Let me just say that Saturn will never ever see me one of their lots.

Anonymous said...

Listen to this one !!!!!!!!!I bought a new 2004 Saturn on March 2004.....I bought a 5 year extended warranty for over $1300.00in case domething went wrong with the car after the 3 year Saturn warranty expired...Well about 1 month ago; January 2008, my steering wheel ignition lock developed a problem..I went to the Saturn dealer and guess what ???
THE SATURN DEALER SAID THAT THE WARRANTY COMPANY WHICH PROVIDED THE WARRANTY WENT BANKRUPT AND I WAS OUT OF LUCK..Saturn didn't even attempt to extend a warranty offer, even if I was going to pay for one additionally..
There were hundreds of Saturn 2004 buyers that got "screwed" by Saturn.
I'll never ever buy another Saturn and will recommend that amyone within earshot never buys one....
Thanks for letting me vent !!!

Anonymous said...

I own a 2005 saturn relay and have had nothing but problems from the get go radio 3 times starter 2 times extended crank issue 4 times window motor once body molding fading and changed 3 times (once because the tarts put it on backwords.) dvd forget it and not i have a problem with the passanger side sliding door not locking this should be fun. Now dont get me wrong the dealership has helped me every step of the way. only one time i had to go into there like a loonatic and all is well. However! saturn headquarters forget it they gave me a 25000 mile oil change and tire rotation big freakin deal the problems still exist and i called again and they dont even me the chance to speak and start off with we will not pay off your car or take it in on trade. Well i just about snapped (this came from a district specialist that is suppose to be someone local who works with the dealership BS this guy had a heavy accent) i started off with im paying 600 dollars a month for a car and warrenty for a car thats been in the shop much longer then on the road. The guy really didnt like it when i said im calling my congressmen to complain that the bailout shouldnt go through. Who the heck said i was looking for my car to paid off i just want the damn thing fixed correctly. I will never fault the dealer on the issue never its GM's fault for selling junk.
well anyways i find out what they wanna offer me tommorow.

PS dont get me started on the VUE.