Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

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JDS
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by JDS » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:24 pm

Or failing that, some more information in less cryptic format?

JDS
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by JDS » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:28 pm

Blimey, sounds like a fuss about not a lot to me. Slow day on Fleet Street??

Blatant cut and paste from another source

"Toyota denies Sunday Times allegations

The Sunday Times has published a story accusing Toyota GB and its dealers of acting "unethically" towards customers over warranty claims. You can see the headline on the public part of the website, but the detail is behind the paywall. It seems from other reports that the paper alleges that Toyota prevented dealers from fixing defects under warranty unless they related to safety and reliability or had initially been raised by the customer themselves. Anything the dealer found during routine servicing or inspection could, the Sunday Times asserts, be ignored. The Fleet Street Blues blog gives the following (presumably) extract from the paper's report:

Toyota�s warranty policy and procedures manual, a secret document seen only by dealers, states that �the warranty should address only those issues raised directly by a customer�, unless they are a direct risk to safety or reliability.
As a result, defects such as the clicking Yaris steering column, heavy clutches, corroded wheels and faulty wing mirrors cannot be fixed under warranty unless the customer reports them.
Dealers who are caught out repairing these �cosmetic� faults under warranty without a customer complaint can be fined up to four times the cost of the work.
Toyota GB, unsurprisingly, responded with a statement in which they said:

All manufacturing defects, however identified, are covered by the Toyota warranty.
Toyota dealer technicians can and do bring to the attention of customers any type of fault (including purely cosmetic faults), regardless of the cause, which they find on a vehicle, whether or not previously raised by the customer.
The company also said it �completely refutes the accusation that it or its dealers act unethically or seek to deceive customers by failing to notify them of non-safety or reliability manufacturing defects whilst a vehicle is under warranty�. I'm not sure anything has been refuted yet - but clearly they are denying it. I would give you a link to the statement, as the Sunday Times apparently does (behind the paywall!), but it doesn't seem to be on Toyota's website: you can read about it on Auto Retail Network.

The suggestion in the Sunday Times story seems to be that dealers can postpone rectifying some faults until the car has come out of warranty, which does sound a bit dubious, but to call the alleged (and denied) practice in general "unethical" strikes me as over-the-top. And what's so sinister about the document setting out the warranty policy being "secret"? There are reams of documents governing the manufacturer-dealer relationship which are not disclosed to the public, and that's entirely as you'd expect."

stevegreen

Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by stevegreen » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:37 pm

�If the customer doesn�t make a complaint, don�t fix the car�
Dealers feared being fined by Toyota if they carried out �cosmetic repairs� that did not affect safety. Insight reports
The Sunday Times Published: 5 February 2012

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Toyota, the world�s biggest car company, is expected to make a �1.5 billion profit this year (Toyota) Toyota dealers have complained they felt compelled to disregard serious problems

On a summer afternoon in the stuffy heat of a Toyota dealer�s workshop, the busy technician hoped he was in for a quick fix when he was asked to examine a brand new Yaris with a glitch in its central-locking system.

It was the third time the shiny hatchback had developed this fault in the four days since it was sold, and the owner was understandably furious.

The customer had not noticed, however, that something else was wrong with the car.

As soon as the technician got behind the wheel to drive it into the work bay, he was alarmed by a loud clicking from the steering column.

Worryingly, it was not the first time technicians in the workshop had noticed this suspicious noise when servicing the popular Yaris model. They had shared concerns that it might be an early symptom of a fault which could later cause the steering system to �malfunction drastically�.

The technician, who worked for a large dealership in the south of England, decided to replace the entire steering column and made a �500 order for the parts he needed.

Within an hour, his manager marched into the workshop angrily demanding an explanation. �All hell let loose,� the technician recalls. �He told me Toyota would never agree to the repair . . . without the customer complaining.�

The technician stood his ground. �I went off my head at him. I just said that it was a load of horse ****. The customer deserved better,� he says.

The problem was that Toyota�s warranty policy and procedures manual, a secret document seen only by dealers, states that �the warranty should address only those issues raised directly by a customer�, unless they are a direct risk to safety or reliability.

As a result, defects such as the clicking Yaris steering column, heavy clutches, corroded wheels and faulty wing mirrors cannot be fixed under warranty unless the customer reports them.

Dealers who are caught out repairing these �cosmetic� faults under warranty without a customer complaint can be fined up to four times the cost of the work.

Although Toyota said last week that this maximum fine is �very rarely� imposed and that it always covered safety issues under the warranty, dealers and technicians said that they felt compelled to disregard more serious problems that could affect the operation of the vehicle, such as oil or water pump leaks, faulty shock absorbers and blockages in the engine oil pump.

The policy caused such discomfort among technicians that dealers from the south of England zone decided to challenge Toyota bosses at a meeting at the company�s futuristic headquarters in Epsom, Surrey, in November 2009.

The zone � which is made up of 15 dealers � gathered at the four-star Arora hotel in Crawley before the meeting to put together an agenda that set out �grave concerns� about the ethics of the practice.

The fears were presented to Toyota bosses by Tim Murphy, then chairman of the southern dealer group and now brand manager for Motorline, a major Toyota outlet.

The minutes of the meeting say the dealers felt the policy was �very demotivational� to technicians who feared being held responsible should �something terrible happen�. Ignoring manufacturing defects in new cars in order to avoid paying for the repairs was �most definitely not in the spirit of complete customer satisfaction�, they said.

One witness said Jon Williams, the firm�s commercial director and now its UK boss, �just said �Stop!� and raised his hands� when one dealer challenged him directly over concerns that the policy could compromise customer safety.

Williams told The Sunday Times that he could not remember the exchange and �didn�t think� he was in the room during that part of the meeting. The minutes, which were prepared by the dealers, suggest concerns were raised by the whole zone, but Williams said that they were �likely� to have been just �the views of one retailer�.

Toyota bosses sought to quell the concerns by telling dealers that any genuinely safety- related items should be covered under the warranty, including significant oil and water pump leaks. The firm says its dealers are now happy and the matter has not been raised since.

However, Shaun Mcelhinney, who ran three Toyota and Lexus dealerships in Suffolk and Essex, said concerns about the policy continued until he sold his business last summer. �If it was a safety- related issue and the customer hadn�t reported it Toyota would always say �get it done�,� he said. �If it wasn�t safety and it wasn�t going to affect the performance of that car there and then: �not interested�.�

He listed items that might not be fixed if the customer failed to report them as: �water leaks, oil leaks, noisy steering racks, cosmetic things on the car such as alloy wheels � basically anything that wasn�t safety related�.

When cars came out of warranty, the dealer became free to tell the customer about the very same faults and charge them for the repairs because, he said, Toyota is �in the business of selling parts�.

He said that in the month before he sold his dealership last May, he had been penalised for replacing a set of corroded alloy wheels on an �80,000 Lexus because he could not prove that the customer had complained about them.

A second former dealer has made similar allegations. �This is how it works. A Yaris comes in for a routine service but the technician may find that it has an oil leak in the engine. Oil leaks were a company problem, a major problem. The engine could lose all of its oil and if the engine seizes up at 70mph the car will go out of control.

�If it was clearly safety related the dealers had to carry out the repair. [But] the issue of clearly safety related was one that the dealers and Toyota did not agree on.�

Toyota denied this and insisted all oil leaks are safety issues and will be repaired.

David Duke, who until last year was the warranty manager at the Toll House dealerships in Gatwick and Horsham, alleges that dealers were made to keep customers in the dark about an array of faults until their warranties expired.

He explained how customers booking their cars in for a service were required to sign a �job card� on which any defects that they mentioned were recorded. The technicians in the workshop were then unable to carry out warranty repairs on any additional faults which they discovered, unless they were clearly related to the safety or reliability of the car.

�Non-safety-related faults are defined as �cosmetic� and cannot be repaired unless reported by the customer,� he said. �The minute the warranty is expired and the financial responsibility is transferred to the customer, we could report as many faults as possible.�

Toyota auditors inspect the job cards when they spot-check dealerships, and reserve the right to penalise dealers who are found to have conducted repairs that were not mentioned by the customer.

Documents seen by The Sunday Times show auditors reprimanded Toll House in 2009 for four repairs which breached the secret policy, including corroded wheels, heavy clutches and faulty wing mirrors.

The documents repeatedly state that the repairs were wrong because the faults were discovered by the technician who entered them on a visual safety report (VSR) which was given to the customer. It states: �This fault was originally reported on a VSR and is not therefore a customer reported condition.�

A covering letter with the documents emphasises the point: �There was no evidence to confirm that the customer had reported these conditions and therefore the claim should not have been claimed under the terms of the warranty.�

Toyota last week claimed the breaches of the policy were more complex than the documents indicated, and said one of the clutch faults had been deemed wear and tear. It pointed out that the dealer had not actually been fined.

David O'Halloran from Chatham in Kent, with his Toyota Auris (Paul Vicente)David O'Halloran from Chatham in Kent, with his Toyota Auris (Paul Vicente) Duke said the policy was a source of constant frustration to technicians in the workshop who felt their hands were tied when they found faults with new cars because the policy so often prevented them from carrying out repairs. A technician at another centre, who asked not to be named, said: �I found it mindblowing. How is the customer supposed to know about a fault? It�s our job as technicians to recognise problems.�

It is a complaint echoed by David O�Halloran, the 26-year-old owner of a three-year-old Toyota Auris hatchback. �I know as a customer that I am expected to maintain my car and make sure that the oil and coolant levels are right, but with internal things that I can�t check, like the clutch or brakes, I would absolutely expect to be informed by the garage if there was a fault.�

His comments were seconded by Robert Gifford, chairman of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. �Most customers wouldn�t know that their car had developed technical faults because they are not mechanics or experts.

�They trust the garage to tell them when something is wrong,� he said.

Some Toyota owners have taken to online forums to express their dismay after their cars mysteriously developed faults as soon as their warranties expired.

One posted a message saying that his Toyota Corolla had suddenly begun emitting white smoke and making �roaring� noises. �I feel this is totally unacceptable in a car that is just out of warranty and has been serviced regularly by a Toyota garage,� he wrote.

Another user described how she was suddenly told that she needed a new clutch within weeks of her Toyota Aygo coming out of warranty.

Which?, the consumer watchdog, and Motor Codes, the industry regulator, said they would investigate the evidence uncovered by The Sunday Times.

Insight: Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake


Fault lines

Minutes to November 2009 Toyota southern zone council meeting:

�The main issue; if it is in warranty it cannot be reported (gives us liability and CCS issues), if it is out of warranty, report and get the work. The zone has an issue with the ethics of this policy �TGB (Toyota Great Brittain) warranty policy and procedures manual (section on self-authorisation).

�TMC�s (Toyota Motor Corporation) principle is that warranty should address only those issues raised directly by a customer as they do not recognise �add-on� repairs. In addition to customer reported faults TGB have always considered that any safety or reliability problems should also be addressed.�

Letter to the Toll House dealership in Horsham, West Sussex, following warranty audit:

�There was no evidence to confirm that the customer had reported these conditions (corroded alloy wheels and door mirror wind noise) and therefore the claims should not have been claimed under the terms of the warranty.�

JDS
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by JDS » Sun Feb 05, 2012 9:49 pm

Ta, just found the same on the overclockers forum.

Still sounds like its being blown up out of all proportion to me. Appart from the steering column noise, which they had ignored before, they do sound like cosmetic issues. You have to draw a line somewhere of what is and isn't covered/reasonable/wear and tear. Other than that, some pretty poor communication betweeen Toyota GB, dealers and their staff in my opinion. Plus a couple of miffed dealers/ex dealers/ex employees and away you go, story writes itself.

DUCATIMAN
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by DUCATIMAN » Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:01 pm

Was that the Suzuki seat subframe a few years back?

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Podger
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by Podger » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:01 pm

[quote=JDS]Do you have a linky? That works that is [/quote]

No , I read hard copy in ST , sorry

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Podger
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by Podger » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:02 pm

[quote=DUCATIMAN]Was that the Suzuki seat subframe a few years back? [/quote]

I couldn't possibly say ;) ;) ;)

stevegreen

Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by stevegreen » Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:45 pm

but I thought you already had:

[color:#FF0000]I won a big legal case against a ' Japanese Motorcyle ' manufacture , after I suffered life changing injuries when the sub-frame failed , due to , 'agricultural welding' to the frame , which failed causing a major incident.

It hit the national press including TV, and they settled out of court ( or on the steps) , but I know they were taught a major lesson.

.......and a lot more people in the world had replacement sub-frames fitted FOC , that'll learn 'em !!!!!

[/color]

on an unrelated matter have you ever owned or ridden a Hayabusa? :confused:

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Podger
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by Podger » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:46 pm

[quote=stevegreen]but I thought you already had:

[color:#FF0000]I won a big legal case against a ' Japanese Motorcyle ' manufacture , after I suffered life changing injuries when the sub-frame failed , due to , 'agricultural welding' to the frame , which failed causing a major incident.

It ;) hit the national press including TV, and they settled out of court ( or on the steps) , but I know they were taught a major lesson.

.......and a lot more people in the world had replacement sub-frames fitted FOC , that'll learn 'em !!!!!

[/color]

on an unrelated matter have you ever owned or ridden a Hayabusa? :confused: [/quote]

I couldn't possibly say !!! ;) ;) ;) but 2 +2=4 :)

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AndyD
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Re: Toyota Accused of deceiving customers

Post by AndyD » Sat Mar 03, 2012 3:04 am

Interestingly just had our 6 year old Audi serviced over here .. at a main dealer ( yes I know ..) and they changed all the coil packs ( 6) under warranty without any discussion.

I knew there were issues with these on 4 cyl engines but didnt think about ours on a V6 .. anyhow now I dont have to worry about something I was not worrying about as I didnt know anyway
:crazy:

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