I’m a satisfied Toyota owner (RAV4). Was I was disappointed with how Toyota handled their recent/ongoing crisis? Yes, especially after Tiger Woods set the stage for how NOT to handle a crisis. You’d have thought they would have learned from that very public lesson, but no. Perhaps it’s a cultural thing, and the Japanese wanted to save face – we’ll never know.
My car wasn’t part of the recall pool, but during the height of the crisis I did get a letter indicating they’d discovered a potential problem with a part and were offering a time-limited offer to customers for a complementary replacement. Was my confidence in Toyota starting to waver? Maybe a bit, because it seemed that there was one problem after another – whether big or small. The stellar reputation for quality was at stake – one of the reasons why we bought the “brand” in the first place. One isolated incident was perhaps alright, but when it became a series of issues, that called into question the overall quality of the vehicles and the manufacturing process.
Around that time, I said to my husband that most people’s inclination would be to NOT buy Toyota because of the tarnished reputation on quality, yet my view was that this was probably the best time to buy – knowing that all eyes would be on quality, so buyers would likely be guaranteed to buy a car that was reflective of Toyota’s prior reputation for quality. Or was it simply deal hunters, figuring that there would be deals to be had for a company with a tarnished reputation?
Flash forward a few weeks, and it looks like my prediction was right – in Canada at least. In February – the peak crisis month for Toyota – sales boomed despite these recalls and negative PR – jumping almost 25%.
It’s an entirely different story in the U.S., where Toyota is very much under the microscope, but it seems that we Canadians are more forgiving of Toyota. I wonder why? Is it our apologetic and understated manner? Are we less cynical? Are we more forgiving? Do we know something the Americans don’t?
What do you think?