A few weeks ago, we reported the status of GM’s Satisfaction Guarantee Program. Today’s conference call with GM’s Mark Reuss and Susan Docherty provided more details about the program: in total, 300,000 vehicles have been sold since between September 14 and December 6. Out of those 300,000, only 193 have been returned.
In an effort to solicit feedback, GM executives set out to call every customer who returned a vehicle under the program – a move we welcome wholeheartedly. Today, GMAuthority has learned the details about two of those 193 returns, a Malibu and a Silverado.
The Malibu Return
Even after going through with the return, the customer was still of the opinion that the Malibu is the best vehicle in its class. As Mark Reuss explained, the problem seemed to be centered around the fact that the buyer, a former Oldsmobile owner, found out that GM was in the process of selling Hummer and phasing out Pontiac. Upon discovering this information, the buyer returned the vehicle.
The GM Authority Take
If we read into this a little, we may be right in assuming that the customer was afraid the Chevrolet nameplate would be phased out and/or sold, following in the footsteps of Saturn, Pontiac, or Hummer . The problem seems to be consumer confidence in GM; more specifically – being sure that one GM brand would be kept around indefinitely. But if we put on our common sense hats, we would realize that Chevrolet would most likely be the very last brand to go if GM closed up shop and decided to sell (or discontinue) its brand portfolio. Was the customer’s reason for returning the Malibu unfounded? We don’t think so: after all, it’s nobody’s problem but GM’s that customers fear buying its products – whatever the reason may be. As such, it goes without saying that the General Motors brand is tarnished and needs to be repaired. Strengthening the four core brands will help restore the GM brand over time.
The Silverado Return
Mark Reuss went on to tell us about another return under the Satisfaction Guarantee program. This time, the rejected product was none other than a Silverado Crew Cab in Kentucky. Apparently, fuel economy was not up to par, at least not up to this buyer’s standards. The customer also cited a painted surface around the hood area not being finished up to par, along with dissatisfaction with the amount of space in the cabin (or, lack thereof).
The GM Authority Take
This one is not as clear-cut as the Malibu return: we (obviously) don’t know what kind of fuel economy the customer was expecting from a half-ton pickup truck, let alone the driving habits of the buyer – so we can’t comment with any kind of certainty on the fuel economy bit. The same goes for the painted surface portion: we weren’t there, didn’t see it, and don’t know. It could’ve been a defect on GM’s part or it could not have. But as far as cabin room goes, this one may be a valid point that Chevy engineers will need to consider when redesigning the Silverado.
Now if we could only find out about the remaining 191 returns… but we can see how this information could be a competitive advantage for GM (read: not something The General would just give away).