My Bitchin’, Toyota
With apologies to the band the Dead Milkmen and their song “Bitchin’ Camaro.” Note the comma in my title, though.
It’s ironic that my first-ever customer experience with Toyota would have some hiccups along the way. About a month ago, I took delivery of a new Prius (it’s a company fleet vehicle from my employer, not something I purchased). I’ll post my impressions of driving the vehicle in another post soon.
From a customer service standpoint, I wasn’t thrilled that the dealer didn’t put the front license plate frame on the vehicle. It was in the trunk along with a bag with two screws. I understand why Toyota doesn’t install it at the factory (not every state requires front plates) and not every dealer puts that bracket on for you (this has been the case with GM dealers).
So my permanent plates arrived, the dealer offered to mail them to me to avoid the 60 mile round-trip drive it would have taken to go pick them up. The dealership paid for the postage and cheerfully said “We’ll overnight it to you,” which seemed like some muda since my temporary tags didn’t expire for two more weeks and it wasn’t urgent, but oh well.
Today, I went to put the plastic bracket on the front bumper. The idea of drilling through the plastic bumper myself made me a bit nervous (I’m not good with tools), but I figured I’d try. The bracket didn’t come with a standard work document, so I was on my own. With only two screws, I figured the same screws would attach the plate to the bracket and also the bracket to the bumper. Nope. And I promptly cracked something on the plate bracket. Oops. Like I said, I’m not good with tools.
So I called a different dealer (only 10 miles away, I had no choice which dealership I could use for taking delivery of the vehicle) to come into their service department, explaining I think I had broken the bracket and needed help. The woman on the phone said there should have been four screws in the kit.
“Sometimes we forget to send out the screws…. that’s an internal problem we need to solve.”
It’s certainly a systemic problem since, again, this was a different dealer than the dealer that was supposed to send me the screws with the plate. Are the dealers fixing the root cause of that problem? Apparently not.
I got to the dealer and they looked at it all and asked me about the extra screws. I don’t have them, I had to tell someone again. The other dealer didn’t send them to me. They informed me that they didn’t stock extra plate brackets and the additional curved piece I supposedly needed (also not sent to me). The service rep said I had to go to the OTHER dealer to get it all taken care of. They couldn’t take a bracket out of a different Prius (there were some in the lot).
I’ve read before and heard about how Toyota’s dealers don’t live up the Toyota Production System principles and quality execution. That’s a shame. So far, I’m not impressed and I’m a somewhat irritated “customer” (I put that in quotes since it’s not my vehicle and my money… just my time). Reminds me of the Lean Solutions concept of “don’t waste the customer’s time.”