GM Engineers Call Customers Who Returned CarsBy Michelle Krebs November 19, 2009
At the request of General Motors' new chairman, Ed Whitacre, the automaker's top engineers are calling the couple hundred customers who are returning or exchanging their GM cars under the 60-day money-back guarantee policy to find out why.
Mark Reuss, GM's recently appointed vice president of global engineering, told reporters Thursday that he personally is calling customers.
This evening, Reuss will call a customer who was dissatisfied with and returned a Chevrolet Malibu under the program. And he will call the buyer of a Chevrolet Silverado who reported the interior room wasn't roomy enough and the exterior paint and finish were unsatisfactory.
Reuss, in a roundtable with media, used the effort as an example of how product development is changing under the new board of directors and chairman of the now-out-of-bankruptcy GM.
Whitacre suggested the idea over dinner with Reuss and his top engineering staff.
"It was a really good idea," Reuss said. "First, the customers are thrilled the engineers and vice presidents are calling them. But it's also about as direct and unfiltered consumer feedback channel as any we've done."
Under the umbrella of its May the Best Car Win marketing campaign, GM instituted a 60-day money-back guarantee that it has since extended through Jan. 4, 2010. Of the 220,000 vehicles GM sold since the promotion went into effect in September, about 653 customers have opted for the 60-day guarantee coverage instead of the $500 cash rebate. Of the 653 customers, about 140 have initiated returns or exchanges and 53 have completed the return/exchange process, for a return of less than 1 percent total.
Reuss said of those customers who returned or exchanged a vehicle, less than 10 percent actually left GM completely.
Under the program, customers may return their vehicles to the dealer between 31 and 60 days of purchase for a refund of the purchase price of the vehicle. The offer covers all 2009 and 2010 Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC vehciles. Other rules include no more than 4,000 miles on the returned car and no being behind in car payments.
Another example cited by Reuss of how the board is having a say in product development was in regards to the Chevrolet Cruze small car. GM engineers recommended a three-month delay of the Cruze to make improvements. Reuss said it took only a 30- to 45- minute discussion with the board's executive committee to get the okay. -- Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst and Editor at Large