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Joe The Nerd Ferraro Headshot

Not Now, GM, We Are Buying a Car

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We are in the market for a car right now. GM is not on the list. How the Cobalt starter fatalities are being handled makes me pause.

Things happen. People mess up. It is how you handle the mess-up that defines you. GM messed up when it knew about a part that needed to be replaced and did nothing about it.

People died. Now that GM has been restructured, the company appears to be weaseling out of their responsibilities. They are liable and they do not want to stand behind their product. Why do I want to get behind their wheels?

The press has not been kind to GM on this. We are being told that to fix the cars it would have cost them $0.57 to replace a part. I think it would have cost a heck of a lot more. While the part itself may be $0.57, there are a stack of other costs involved that the press has not reported.

Some over-arching costs:

  • Even if they wanted to own up to this -- how much would it cost for the lawyers to draft the letter to tell folks to get into the dealership to get the part fixed. How about buying the advertising for the mea culpa?
  • How much would it cost to develop and test the replacement?
  • How much time will it take to train the technician to properly replace the part?

Some costs related to each car that needs fixing:

  • How much to produce and mail the lawyer's letter?
  • Once you get folks to the dealership, how much time will it cost in person-hours for the technician to actually do the job? Do they offer a free-oil change to get the part fixed since they have the car there anyway (you know -- some good faith)?

Let's say $60/per person hour for 30 minutes is $30 plus $20 oil change plus $3 to get a mailing out plus the $0.57 for the actual part the press is reporting -- totals to $53.57 per car. (I guess 'totals' is a bad word when talking about GM.)

If you take the portion of the over-arching costs per car -- you could for sake of argument -- round the whole thing up to $60 per car.

We went to the car show here in Philly. GM actually has a hybrid car that can fit both my wife (short enough to have issues looking over the hood) and myself (all legs grounded with size 15 sneakers) that we might be able to afford. I liked how they have paid back the bailout.

But GM is currently off the list as the company plays legal games with destroyed lives (those who have passed and those who survive). Aside from the legal issues, the marketplace will determine your standing. The fact GM had to be dragged into court kicking and screaming over this tells me what I need to know about the company.

I don't have any faith that they will back up their product if something goes wrong. They spent their reputation trying to save $60. If you are going to sell your corporate soul at least get a good price for it.

Some suggestions:

  • Fix those families. (Yeah -- it will take money and apologies and tears.)
  • Name the people who thought it was a good idea to hide the flaws. Those people need to be seen in the public light. They made decisions, they can stand behind them. It might prevent the next manager with a low-wattage brain from obscuring truth.
  • Fix and publicly document any other recalls.

Then maybe we will look at your cars.