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Part 2 - Reminding a Lexus Dealer Network why Standardised Work matters (#50)

Updated: Apr 29



If you missed Part 1 click here. If not, here's the continued wrangle with the Dealer Principal.


30 September I wrote to [Dealer Prinicpal & cc’d Service Manager]:

Good Afternoon [Dealer Principal],


Your thoughts on the attached email trail please. 

Russell Watkins

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1 October I wrote:

[Dealer Principal],

Thank you for your phone message yesterday afternoon, I was unable to answer as I was in a client factory. I appreciate your rapid response but remain unsure why [Service Manager] chose not to respond to me on Friday or Monday to answer my emails. It's disappointing that I had to call the dealership yesterday afternoon to establish your details.

I'm happy to speak by phone but, before I do, you'll appreciate that I am frustrated at the moment so I'd like my questions answered by email in advance of us speaking please. The questions that [Service Manager] felt unable to answer are included in the email trail, but for ease I've listed them below:

17/9 email

"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?"

25/9 email

"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"

We authorised the work to be carried out on the basis of a RED "Needs urgent attention" suspension component assessment. When you get a call from a Lexus dealership telling you that suspension components need replacement NOW, you are unlikely to compromise safety. 

There are 2 issues here [Dealer Principal]:

1. How can trailing arms, on UK roads, last only 51,808 miles against a 3yr 60,000 mile warranty? The video is very instructive as to the condition of the components involved. My other Lexus, also purchased from your dealership (a CT200h), has spent 138,000 miles on the same roads with no similar issue.

2. What is the standardised method of evaluation in your service schedule that directly led us to spend just shy of £1000 replacing these, just out of warranty, trailing arms.

My mind casts back to the old Carina e recall and the Rover 218 trailing arm issue. I wouldn't be surprised if we end up there.

Regards 

Russell

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2 October [Dealer Principal] wrote:

Mr Watkins,


I have tried to call you but have been unable to get through, I have spoken with my area representative from Lexus UK who is investigating further. Can you please advise when would be the best time to call you to discuss?


Kind Regards


[Dealer Principal]

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2 October I replied:

Thanks [Dealer Principal],

I'm on site at a client again. Could you call me Thursday in the morning please. Let me know best time for you, I'm flexible.

I'd like your response to those questions though before we speak. My trust in the Lexus brand is depleted at the minute, so our discussion is contingent upon you responding to my email questions first.

Thanks

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3 October I wrote:


It looks like I’ll get neither the requested email response or a phone call today then. Perhaps you missed my reply on Wednesday. 

I’m not sure what to say [Dealer Principal]. How do I express my Lexus brand experience of the past 16 days?

Russell

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4 October [Dealer Principal] replied:

Mr Watkins,


I am sorry for the delay, I am speaking to Lexus to try and obtain answers to your questions,

You said you wanted answers prior to speaking to me which I fully appreciate and didn’t want to waste your time with a call without answers.


As the part has worn no one can give me a definitive answer at this point as to the lifespan of the part in question. This is at the top of my agenda and I am trying to get to the bottom of this as quick as possible, I was hoping to be able to get back to you today.


As soon as I have an update I will be in touch via email and agree a suitable time to call you


Kind Regards


[Dealer Principal]

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4 October [Dealer Principal] replied again:

Mr Watkins,


I have again spoken to Lexus, due to a number of contributing factors they are unable to supply me with an expected lifespan of a part that is subject to wear and tear,

We have completed the same test we performed on the bushes on your vehicle on a demonstrator NX of ours that has completed approximately 10’000 miles and


You can see a clear difference on your vehicle and the separation of the rubber from the metal, I am happy to send this to you to demonstrate the difference if you would like?


Please advise of a suitable time for me to call you, I am in the centre until 5 pm this evening or I can call you at any time suitable on Monday.


Kind Regards

[Dealer Principal]

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4 October I wrote:

Hi [Dealer Principal],

Thanks for your 2 emails today. I'm not sure what the last one means in terms of relevance. It looks like an experiment to prove that I'm being unreasonable in expecting 2 trailing arms that failed on standard UK roads at 51,000 miles (9000 miles within the 60000 standard warranty period!!) to last AT LEAST until the end of the warranty period. Are you saying that Lexus expect the trailing arm bushes to degrade and debond at 50,000 miles? 

I'm getting tired of being fended off now, but I appreciate you pursuing Lexus for an answer. This is part of the answer though. To recap I asked 2 questions of you on the 1st October (the questions that [Service Manager] wouldn't answer either). 

Point 1) you are pursuing. Point 2) you haven't answered and is a matter for your attention as it concerns your workshop. Please advise the answer, then we can speak. This is all I've asked for throughout. 

Tell you what: Let's forget the 16+ services I've put through your dealership & the 2 cars I've purchased from you, please just answer the question. A cynical man would conclude that the debonding was ignored on both sides at the 40000 mile service and reported as green because it was performed in Jan 19. The 3 year warranty expired in March 19.10000 miles later both are reported red...quite a degradation.

Do you understand that every email I write asking you repeatedly to answer the same questions erodes my love for the Lexus brand?

Russell

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7 October [Dealer Principal] replied again:


Russell,

Thank you for your email, I apologise for the delay while trying to answer questions regarding the life expectancy of the part involved,

In answer to your second question regarding the specifics of the service schedule, all vehicles receive a visual inspection as part of the service, any items that require any further investigation would be checked accordingly, this includes the method we used for suspension items using the bar as we demonstrated on the video we sent. I hope this helps to address this point, I would like to discuss with you further and hopefully halt any further erosion of your love for the brand.

Please advise as to a suitable day and time for me to call, I am out of the centre all day Wednesday but available to call any other day of the week.

Kind Regards

[Dealer Principal]

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8 October I wrote:

Thanks [Dealer principal] - we're making progress on point 2. Regarding the bar you made reference to in your email, used to evaluate the condition of the trailing arm bush condition. Could you please advise;

a) the length of the bar

b) the force applied

c) the method of evaluation of the outcome by your Tech

d) the standard measurement he was comparing to 

e) the actual measurement he derived from my NSR and OSR that led to the judgement of a "red" condition

Thanks

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8 October [Dealer Principal] replied:

Russell,

I would like to invite you in to the centre to discuss the issue with your trailing arms, my master technician that worked on your car will be happy to join us to discuss how the testing was carried out,

Please advise as to a suitable time and date to visit the centre to discuss further.

Kind Regards

[Dealer Principal]

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8 October I replied:

Hi [Dealer Principal],

I’d love to thanks. We’ll do that just as soon as you provide the answers to questions a) to e).

You’ll appreciate that I’d like you to respond in writing to avoid any future misunderstandings as I escalate through the chain, into the field service people & onto Lexus UK & globally. 

It’s ok if you don’t have this level of standard, just confirm the fact.

Neither of us has the time to prolong this but I’m £1000 down & your service manager has told me, in effect, tough luck. That’s not good enough for this kind of failure in this mileage timespan...for a premium Marque. Premium car, premium quality components I’d assumed. 

The tragedy is that when I phoned [Service Associate] to get the old parts, the day after they were replaced, they’d already been scrapped off. Perhaps the standard to offer them to the customer does not extend to suspension components?

I look forward to your answers to a) to e)... 

Russell

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10 October [Dealer Principal] replied:

Russel, 

Thank you for your recent correspondence, I’m sorry we haven’t been able to provide the answers you require. We raised a case with Lexus customer relations who have said the items are wear and tear and aren’t willing to offer any contribution.

I am happy to make an appointment for you to come to the centre and discuss the repair with my master technician and I .

We have followed the correct procedure for showing wear to suspension parts, my technician sent a video to show the worn part and you authorised the repair prior to completion. I don’t feel I can help any further and this is my final response.

Should you wish to take the matter further please use the details below.

(On the few occasions where we are unable to resolve the issue between us, we may agree to submit to an Alternative Dispute Resolution procedure operated by National Conciliation Service. Further details can be obtained from their website www.nationalconciliationservice.co.uk)


Kind Regards

[Dealer Principal]

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10 October I replied:

Great. Thanks [Dealer Principal]. I’ll come into the centre for you to answer questions a) to e) in person.    

When are you available?

It’s “Russell” by the way, small detail, but there it is. Symptomatic I might think. 

Russell 

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11 October [Dealer Principal] replied:

Russell,

My apologise for miss spelling your name, I am in the centre Monday through Thursday next week,

Please advise which day would suit you best.

Regards

[Dealer Principal]

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13 October I replied:

No problem & thanks for letting me know your availability. I'm in clients all next week but can come in first thing on Wednesday the 23rd October. Let me know if that's convenient.

Thanks also for signposting me to the National Concilliation Service but I'll not be needing them yet. I will be asking you for the next step up from you in the Inchcape organisation & I'll be exhausting Lexus field Service and Lexus UK before I need that option.

We both know that trailing arms should last longer than 50,000 miles and that your workshop service standard for indicating red to replace is too vague. The fact that you refuse to provide the a) to e) information requested (several times) demonstrates this. We spent £1000 because YOU told us to (RED means danger) as a result of a subjective test with unclear evaluation means. I'm certain that Lexus UK will share my view. A reminder:

a) the length of the bar

b) the force applied

c) the method of evaluation of the outcome by your Tech

d) the standard measurement he was comparing to 

e) the actual measurement he derived from my NSR and OSR that led to the judgement of a "red" condition

I remain stunned that you are prepared to walk away from an existing repeat purchase, repeat service Customer who was on the brink of buying a new Lexus (my wife cancelled the test drive due to this issue). I can only think that the cost to acquire is a lot lower now that the cost to retain for generations to come. If X as an organisation share your view on cost to retain v cost to acquire I guess we'll be buying elsewhere.

Thanks

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28 October I wrote:

Hi [Dealer Principal],

Unfortunately I am unavailable tomorrow now as I have been requested to support a client so won't be coming into the dealership. No problem, my time is very scarce at the moment so we may have to skip the visit. I think we have reached the end of the road in our conversation, as you indicated, when you told me to go to the conciliation service instead of answering the questions I'd asked about work on my car. Here's where we stand with my waning patience:

As requested, could you please respond to the request of 24th October by email now:

 "When I pop in next week to see your tech could you provide details for how I pursue a complaint within the Inchcape group please. Please don’t prematurely refer me to the conciliation service again. I’m sure there’s a protocol in place to allow the dissatisfied voice of the loyal customer to be heard beyond a specific dealership ..and into head office"

For your information, the nature of my complaint is your refusal to provide information relating to your technician's judgement on the trailing arms replacement on my vehicle. Despite me asking you several times for a) to e) below you declined to either (i) provide the information or (ii) confirm that you do not have the information. So, I must go higher up the chain.

a) the length of the bar

b) the force applied

c) the method of evaluation of the outcome by your Tech

d) the standard measurement he was comparing to 

e) the actual measurement he derived from my NSR and OSR that led to the judgement of a "red" condition

Could I also have the name and email of your immediate boss please.

Should you choose not to answer I will assume that the answers are as follows in my conversations with the wider Inchcape group & Lexus UK:

a) a bar that is to hand in the workshop

b) no standard specified

c) judgement based on experience

d) see b) above

e) no recording due to b) and c) above

Thanks

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29 October [Dealer Principal] replied:

Russell,

Thank you for your email, the email detail for a complaint are as follows:

In answer to your five questions here is my response:

A, there is no specified length of bar or tool to measure wear on a suspension joint.

B, Impossible to provide information regarding force applied as no 2 technician are the same in strength or stature. That said, you only need light pressure to check for movement

C, To flex a suspension joint is the only true way to test

D , E, There is no measurement taken or stipulated regarding and wear and tear suspension bush. That said you can clearly see that the bushes on the vehicle have clearly delaminated, that is the reason for the ”red” alert as these will only further deteriorate.

My immediate boss is [Brand Director]

Kind Regards


[Dealer Principal]

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29 October I wrote:

Thank you [Dealer Principal].  That’s everything I requested. I remain stunned at your happiness to lose two loyal customers having given ZERO consideration to our concerns & batting us away throughout with perfectly bland corporate platitudes. 

It’s a shame, I expected a stronger customer connection from the Lexus brand. Perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised by somebody else. 

I won’t be troubling you with this again. 

[Brand Director] - nice to meet you, I’ll be in touch soon.  

Russell 


Click here to hear the final discussion with the Brand Director...

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