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Part 1 - Reminding a Lexus Dealer Network why Standardised Work matters (#49)

Updated: Apr 29




The downside of growing lean skill is the gnawing certainty that almost all systems are broken, creating varying degrees of pain for Customers. There is a helpful upside to this world weariness when wrestling with even Toyota (see here) or Lexus, the subject of this 3 part blog.

That upside is the question “What is the Standard?”


Before I lay my extended email wrestle with this particular Lexus dealer network bare I’ve got to acknowledge their professionalism throughout. I can be a little obnoxious in the face of daft arguments or weak service and the following exchanges confirm this. I’m nice really and publish these, fully anonymised, email exchanges as a reminder that for Toyota & Lexus, the thinking way STILL doesn’t penetrate to the dealership network. Ironic really given that they’re the closest step to the end Customer, but that’s misaligned incentives for you.


Part 1 is my initial grapple with the Service Manager. Part 2 sees the escalation to the Dealer Principal & Part 3 has the climax and result. The photo above shows the trailing rod bushes at the centre of this automotive tale of woe.


From: Russell Watkins [mailto:russell@sempai.co.ukSent: 17 September 2019 To: Service Manager Lexus Dealership Subject: Lexus NX300h - Trailing rod assembly bush debond issue

Hello [Service Manager],


I'm assuming [Service Associate] didn't pass the message to you that I wanted a call yesterday. The reason is my unhappiness that my wife's car - being only 3.5 years old with 50,000 miles on the clock - needed £1000 worth of trailing rod assembly replacement due to bush debonding...on nearside and off side!


I'm stunned that, just out of warranty, this is an issue that we have to pay for. The car has been driven on UK roads by a careful driver so forced deterioration isn't an issue. The pothole argument is a red herring in my opinion as it affected both sides & you would have a high incidence of this on the NX when I was told you don't. It seems to me that this is either a design, materials or build issue. I asked too late to have the removed trailing arm assemblies as they'd been scrapped but the technician video is helpful.

It may be a consumable item after a period of time, but 50,000 miles is ridiculous….I just need 2 pieces go information from you before I ask for a 100% contribution to cover this problem:


1) What is the expected standard lifespan of a trailing rod assembly?

2) For this specific failure mode/ production assurance item, what is the mean time to fail from 0km?


I appreciate you may not have the answers to hand but please ask the questions on behalf of this, previously happy, currently very unhappy Lexus/Toyota customer

Thanks

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17 September [Service Manager] replied:

Good afternoon Mr Watkins,


I hope this email finds you well.


Thank you for your email, I do understand your concern with your vehicle, I will have to consult Lexus regarding the answers to your two questions. I will also be contacting the customer care department and raise the concern and asking them for assistance regarding the repair to the trailing rod bushes.


I have called and left a voicemail on both your mobile and land line numbers. I will contact you tomorrow (Wednesday 18th) with an update in the afternoon.


Kind regards 

[Service Manager]

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20 September I replied:


Thanks [Service Manager],


I understand you’re waiting as I am. Could you pass onto Lexus UK that we are a second time Lexus / fourth time Toyota owner and that this is well below the brand experience we recognise and expect from Lexus. 


In the near future I do not expect to be engaged in a wrangle for responsibility for a non serviceable / lifetime suspension item. I am waiting myself for information from Japan. 

I’ll be clear, my expectation is that the entire cost of the trailing arm replacement & the associated tracking charges are covered by Lexus or yourselves (I feel sure you can claim back on a flexible warranty window)


A wrangle over this would bring into question the premium price /Marque value we are receiving from Lexus. 


Thanks 

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20 September [Service Manager] replied:

Good afternoon Mr Watkins ,


I did note your loyalty to the brand when I raised the concern, I have also spoken to Lexus today and mentioned your previous vehicles , this has been escalated  to technical support, I have also spoken to them regarding the mileage and use of your vehicle and asking for their support regarding how we push this forward for a satisfactory outcome.


J who I spoke with at Lexus has also escalated our concern internally.


I will update you again as soon as I hear from Lexus  which I think realistically will be on Monday 23rd.


Kind regards

[Service Manager]

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23 September [Service Manager] wrote:

Good afternoon Mr Watkins,


Hope you had a nice weekend.


Just to update you , I have dropped a chase email to Lexus with reference to our concern.

Kind regards

[Service Manager]

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23 September I replied:

Thanks [Service Manager],


I appreciate your efforts in chasing this up. I’m surprised it’s taking them so long, at what point do you escalate to your dealer principal?


Russell

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23 September [Service Manager] replied:

Good evening Mr Watkins ,


I will update my dealer principal on Wednesday when he’s back in the business , I would like to think that we have resolved the concern by then. 


I will contact you again tomorrow , have a nice evening.


Kind regards

[Service Manager]

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25 September [Service Manager] wrote:


Morning Mr Watkins ,


I have received a response from Lexus regarding our concern, they are unable to answer the two questions that I put to them regarding the expected standard lifespan of a trailing rod assembly and the time to fail from 0khm.


This response is after the concern being escalated. Due to the bushes being wear and tear this is something that would fall into a retail repair during the vehicles maintenance. I understand that [Service Associate] contacted you to gain your authorisation to carry on with the repairs to which you agreed.  


I’m sure you are aware that this item is exposed and subjected to weather and road conditions, There is no (flexible Warranty window) with the manufacture. 


I can offer no goodwill toward the replacement components at this time.


Kind regards

[Service Manager]

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25 September I replied:

That’s very disappointing [Service Manager], but we've just got started - I'll get the information elsewhere. I imagined that Lexus as a premium Marque (for which I paid a premium price) was above this kind of stonewalling. I know that Lexus know this data. Additionally, let's clear one thing up:


Your technician’s criteria for judging debond severity & excessive wear, which was a subjective judgement as evidenced by the video, led him to report a RED condition to correct immediately. 


Please advise the criteria he used to judge excessive lateral play in relation to the pin diameter. This matters because the judgement led [Service Associate] to phone us about what amounts to a safety concern. I'm hardly likely to say no to that. I would like to see the documented measure of lateral movement that led to the phone call to my wife and I


I conclude so far:

1) 50,000 miles is normal for this failure on UK roads - I'll confirm via LinkedIn & Japanese connections

2) Lexus UK are happy to lose a Customer - be clear, we will never buy another Lexus again if this matter is unresolved

3) You appear to have little interest in imminent renewal of the service plan for this vehicle and subsequently my Lexus. Dealership Y look set to benefit…Please escalate this reply to your dealer principal & cc me in. I expect a reply from them also. 


I am shocked at how lowly Lexus & you as a dealer consider me as a customer and I await your reply on the lateral play measurement issue above.


Russell

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26 September I wrote:

Good Afternoon [Service Manager],


Could you acknowledge receipt of yesterday’s email please. I have, after all, put almost £60k of business through your dealership in the past. I’m not currently certain that this counts for anything. 


Once you respond to my question yesterday I have further questions regarding (1) the integrity of the trailing arms themselves & (2) the Technician assessment method on this & vigilance on the previous service, to get to the bottom of this. I am happy to keep going up the chain to your dealer principal and beyond to the Field Service Manager, and beyond. 


Trailing arms that last just outside of the warranty period make a mockery of Lexus’s takumi/shokunin craftsmanship credentials. 


Thanks in anticipation of a swift reply  

Russell

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26 September [Service Manager] wrote:

Good afternoon Mr Watkins,


Apologies for the delay , yes I am in receipt of your email from yesterday thank you , I will forward the information that you have requested once I have it. I have been out of the business in meetings.


I am also waiting on information regarding the trailing rod assembly from Lexus.


Thank you for your patience.

Kind regards

[Service Manager]

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26 September I wrote:

Thank you [Service Manager],


How about my final point yesterday:

“Please escalate this reply to your dealer principal & cc me in. I expect a response from them also”


FYI - we are on day 10 since I first contacted you &, whilst you have regularly corresponded, I have yet to receive a response to any of my technical questions beyond “they are unable to answer”. I am hopeful that you will be able to answer the questions concerning your own workshop’s standardised work. 


Russell

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28 September I wrote:

[Service Manager], 


Another 48 hours has elapsed and you have not responded again. Please immediately hand me over to your Manager. You appear to have lost interest. 


Thank you 

Click here to hear how his Dealer Principal saw things panning out...

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Sempai Consultancy Services

Derbyshire, UK

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Tel: 01335 344 098

russell@sempai.co.uk

stephanie@sempai.co.uk

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