Tom Krisher of the Associated Press writes GM delayed recall despite 1,000s of consumer complaints: documents.
DETROIT -- General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released Saturday. ...
A few weeks ago, GM and the NHTSA were criticized:
... by safety advocates and lawmakers for their slow responses to a deadly ignition switch problem in 2.6 million GM small cars. GM admitted knowing about the problem for more than a decade, yet didn't start recalling the cars until February. The company says it knows of 13 deaths in crashes linked to the ignition switches, but family members of crash victims say the number is much higher.
Angry consumers are also angry after discovering GM recalled the Cobalt for the same problem in 2010 now controversial in the Saturn Ion. The Cobalt is nearly identical to the Saturn Ion.
The Ion was one of a few GM cars included in a March 31 recall of 1.5 million vehicles worldwide to replace the power steering motors; the recall also covered some older Saturn Auras, Pontiac G6s and Chevrolet Malibus. If cars lose power steering, they can still be steered, but with much greater effort. Drivers can be surprised by the problem and lose control of the cars and crash.
GM issued as statement today, admitting it did not do enough to respond to the power steering problems, but the spokesperson Martin optimistically reported that "GM has created a team that includes safety in the company's product development." After nearly 100 years making vehicles this sounds like a great idea and perhaps a sign of a new GM "focus on the customer," brought about by their new CEO. (Snark Alert!)
"This raises more troubling concerns about GM's and NHTSA's actions as well as questions about whether NHTSA has the capability to effectively do its job," said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. "I intend to aggressively pursue these issues as our congressional investigation into GM and NHTSA continues."
Some of the people who complained about the Ion power steering found on the Internet that GM had recalled the Chevrolet Cobalt for the same problem in 2010. The Cobalt is nearly identical to the Ion.
My understanding is that some new research in management science indicates those companies that truly value and respect their customers, tend to perform better in the long-term, than those that continue to treat their customers with callous disregard, "century after century.: (Snark Alert!)
Therefore, this news of GM adding a team concerned with safety to their vast empire of product design and research and development functions should be encouraging to many who have feared that last months news of some in GM management intentionally mislabeling a defective switch to avoid a recall was evidence that GM had lost its way, and basic values, after the American taxpayers and people took such extraordinary measures to keep this company alive for the good of the American economy and workers.
Seriously, consumers have been deluged with such a number of stories about deliberate corporate malfeasance, profit opportunism, incompetence, or just a lack of caring for and respect, it is not difficult to predict a tsunami wave as reaction, soon.
Consumers and other stakeholders in communities, as well as stockholders will be demanding a higher caliber of management to guard their interests with a sense of ethics, honesty and trust we see shortfalls in, in many corporations and governments, today.
Wiser executive teams who figure out the growing frustration and even desperation many parents feel for the safety of their children and loved ones will have one heck of a opportunity to build corporate loyalty. Any such management teams, and businesses which make sincere commitments to valuing and respecting their customers, their worker, and other community stakeholders and take the actions necessary to follow through in term of customer safety, environmental sensitivity, privacy, and other criteria their customers value may prosper, while those that don't may be punished in the markets.
Corporation that continue to treat people only as Machiavellian opportunities to maximize short-term profit may feel the wrath of an increasingly sophisticated consumer, worker, and community, base able to quickly educated ourselves, band together, and protect ourselves against "corporate sociopaths."
We now have list of sex offenders who must register with local police departments when coming to town. How long will it be before spontaneous groups of consumers with internet capacity start creating and maintaining lists of individual and corporate crimes or sociopathic behavior such as dumping toxic chemicals into drinking waters, or covering up safety hazards that they know will cause deaths that could be prevented with more open disclosure and corporate and executive responsibility?
The total number of children harmed by environmental abusers and unsafe products is most likely much greater. Should we not be taking equivalent measures to protect them from known "abusers." Not in vigilante ways, but those who have been convicted in courts of law. Should public prosecutors also not be investing resources where we see the maximum marginal return (protection) on investment? White collars bank fraudsters robbing older people of their retirement incomes should be receiving more of our law enforcement resources than kids smoking dope.
I certainly would not want my pension fund invested in any corporation that did not have a senior most executive teams with impeccable ethical principals. Would you? We need to start holding corporate boards of directors accountable for their responsibility to see proper corporate governance. And accounting firms need to audit companies not just to make sure the pennies match up in the bank accounts, but that senior most management is taking every possible effort to manage assets responsibly and on behalf of all stakeholders in the long-term, not just hustling to reach their quarterly or annual bonus quotas.