GM Loses Trust of Many Local Customers With PR Crisis

1920129_577527965671025_488522147_nBy Brooke Drost, Chapter President.

A teenager’s first car; it gives them so much freedom, so many places to go and people to see. There’s nothing quite like it.

I was so excited to buy my first car.  I had just finished my freshman year of college and summer was about to begin. Strolling through a local car dealership I set my eyes on a little, cute blue car — a 2006 Chevy Cobalt. However, I was so ecstatic to be buying a car I could finally call my own that I may have jumped the gun.

2006-chevrolet-cobalt-ss-supercharged-photo-133342-s-1280x782

However the following year with that car was filled more with incidents, as opposed to fun with friends and freedom. First, I had problems with the check engine light. Thank goodness for the Lemon Law (who comes up with these names, anyway – some guy named Lemon?) because only four days after purchase the car was already being towed back to the dealership due to a faulty battery. The key fob is broken, the clear coating is peeling, my lights go out all the time, this fancy thing called the blend door actuator is busted on the passenger’s side, and no sound comes out of one of the speakers. Last but not least, GM recalls my car due to a faulty ignition switch that can suddenly shut the car off, lock the steering wheel, lock the brakes, and cause the air bags not to deploy upon impact. Possibly 74, definitely 13 deaths have occurred because of this…  and GM has been well aware of the issue for ten years but hasn’t said anything. GM won’t get the parts in to fix it for more than three months. And the U.S. government bailed THEM out? Round of applause for General Motors everyone.

 

It is now the month of June and I have not driven my car since March 7. I am still patiently (just kidding, I’m not being patient at all) waiting for the new parts to come in.

urlHowever, while I may be able to laugh off my unfortunate luck with cars, there are some people who were not as lucky. Let’s get into the nitty gritty details of this GM scandal and the PR crisis that has ensued. The recall would not have been nearly as bad if the lives of 13 \innocent people had not been lost as a result. What makes it even worse in the eyes of the public is that these deaths could have been so easily prevented if GM had just come forward with the recall.

Brooke Melton, a 29 year old Chevy customer, died of a broken neck on her 29th birthday after her 2005 Chevy spun out of control. She left behind her devastated parents. “I was furious that this information was known about and not taken care of before in 2005,” said  Ken Melton, her father. “If it had been, my daughter would still be here and we would not be here talking about this.”

“Four days before the accident, according to the Meltons, “Brooke’s car had shut off while she was driving and she had lost her power steering and her brakes. She was able to pull her car over and restart it. She called her father, and he said they should take it to a dealership in the morning.”

Brooke got her car back from the dealership on March 9, 2010. She died in an accident the next day. “There was no doubt in my mind that it was caused by the same engine cutting off,” said Ken. According to NBC news, The Meltons called a lawyer.

As GM’s weak way of apologizing for the death of their daughter, the Melton’s received a large sum of money from the company.

GM has turned to Tony Cervone to lead them through this devastating PR crisis. Cervone is senior vice president of global communications and had spent 10 years on GM’s public relations team and previously led their communications in Europe. I believe that Cervone is in over his head with this recall and the way in which he handles it will determine the future of the company. The company has been fined a record $35 million civil penalty for failing to promptly report the Chevy Cobalt recall and the company is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice, Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to David Friedman, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator, GM engineers, GM investigators and GM lawyers were aware of the recall for nearly a decade, but they did not act to protect Americans. America is a country that takes great pride on products made in their homeland, and to be betrayed by a top American company that was once so trusted is a major dent in their reputation and in the trust of the American people. A cover-up of major news is worse than the news itself, it ruins the trust between the company and its publics.

“GM is to take part in unprecedented oversight requirements as a result of findings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) timeliness investigation regarding the Chevrolet Cobalt and the automaker’s failure to report a safety defect in the vehicle to the federal government in a timely manner,” according to an article written by WMFJ news.

Chevrolet dealerships are fixing recalled cars free of charge, but the parts take weeks to come in, leaving over a million Chevy drivers at risk. Unfortunately for GM, their failure to disclose life-threatening information to the public has sent the company into a downward spiral. This is a PR crisis from which they may not fully recover.

Sources:

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/gm-recall/gm-turns-veteran-pr-expert-help-deal-recall-aftermath-n109091

http://www.wfmj.com/story/25536086/gm-fined-35-mill-for-failing-to-promptly-report-chevy-cobalt-investigation

Image Credit:

http://www.caranddriver.com/photos-06q4/108273/2006-chevrolet-cobalt-ss-supercharged-photo-133342

http://www.businessreviewindia.in/sectors/gm-will-begin-two-shifts-halol-plant-today

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