Below is a letter to Honda Motors that has been a long time in the making. Please read it and share as you see fit. Thank you for reading! -HTD
Dear Honda Motors,
I’m writing this open and public letter to hopefully get your attention…again. I will bet that you feel that you have dodged a bullet with the entire Toyota recall fiasco going on as of this writing…who knows, it could actually be helping your sales. Regardless, there is something important to learn here: issues can rapidly escalate, often beyond your control and completely tarnish your brand in the process. My recommendation is to be proactive, act with a conscience and admit that there is an issue.
Also, remember that it could just as easily have been you in the Congressional hearings.
I am writing to bring awareness to a smaller concern. While miniscule in comparison to the safety issues affecting other automobiles, it does impact your brand loyalty and consumers’ perception of your willingness (or lack thereof) to listen and act upon complaints.
A little less than a year ago, I posted an article titled “Honda Motors Defective Paint Job – Honda Accord’s Clear Coat Peeling“ for a couple of reasons:
- to complain about my issue
- to raise awareness of it
- to get others to report their problems as well
- to be sure that you, Honda Motors, see other documented cases of the same issue.
For those of you who might be reading this without the background, essentially, I believe that Honda or whomever produced the paint and clear coat for my particular model, year and color made a big mistake and used this faulty formula on many dark-colored Honda Accords around the year 1998. You have refused to admit that there are any issues, claiming that what I and other Honda owners are experiencing is standard “weathering” and wear & tear. I see plenty of other Hondas of lighter color paint with the same year as mine that do NOT show this issue. I believe that you, Honda Motors, need to step up and admit that whatever “magic formula” was used on our affected cars, it was, in fact, defective!
So why am I writing this letter? Mainly because I feel that my issue deserves a bit more public attention, recognition, and ACTION.
Honda Owners Are Joining In
Over nearly a year, my original blog post has received more and more responses, questions and comments about the issue that my 1998 Honda Accord EX is facing. And it seems to not just be limited to just my color or model, there are other Honda cars that seem to be affected as well, and it seems that a majority of them are older darker colored Honda Accords. I have been encouraging other users who are experiencing the same symptoms to document their issues and post photos of their cars on the photo-sharing site, Flickr, with the following tags: HONDACCPEEL, HONDA, ACCORD, CLEAR COAT, and PEEL.
Cases are being documented, so Honda, please listen! It’s not just me!
I believe it was one of the latest comments (currently at 150+ as of this writing) that got the fire lit in my gut again about this whole issue. The cost to repaint our cars now might actually outweigh the value of the cars themselves, especially given the condition that they are in. So where is the value in that? I paid for what I thought AND was told was a car that was known to retain its value. I was given cost estimates to repaint my car at anywhere from $2000-$4000, and several other Honda owners with the same issue have posted similar estimates. The Kelly Blue Book “Fair Condition” trade-in value for my car currently is about $3200. The thing is, I would actually rate it at a “Poor” Condition (a rating that doesn’t give me a value estimate) because of the horrendous clear coat and paint peel. Oh, and the mileage is really low (at about 60,000).
For me, I have always been very loyal to brands. I’m not quite sure why that is. But perhaps with age and wisdom, these loyalty ties have faded (just like the paint on my car). Even after trying to contact you (Honda) both via your Support line as well as via Twitter (which actually had a better response), there seemed to be little or no desire from you to even work towards 1) acknowledging that perhaps there was an issue or 2) offering to do something about the issue.
In fact, the conversation that I had with your Corporate offices prompted me to write and article about Customer Service (or lack thereof) called “The DO’s and DON’Ts of Customer Service in a Social Media Age“.
My letter to you, Honda, is a simple one.
Admit that there is a problem publicly and do something about.
If my simple blog post has gotten this much attention with people giving me their stories and taking the time to talk to their dealers and post pictures on Flickr, think if it reaches a much larger level, like the one currently facing Toyota. Sure, this isn’t a safety issue, but it is something that should be pretty important to your company, that of your brand and loyalty to that brand.
NOT a Safety Recall
This is NOT a request for a safety recall, it is, however, a request by consumers for a “brand recall.”
I have made a decision that I will not buy a Honda again…and I probably won’t buy a Toyota either. However, I think that Ford, for example is doing a great job revitalizing their brand and making it exciting again, and are really proving to show that they care about rebuilding awareness and consumer loyalty through a variety of innovative programs. Perhaps this is something to emulate?
This is a personal choice which could be changed, but as I continue to pump a ton money into both of my Hondas (we also have a 2001 Odyssey) as they are starting to literally fall apart, I feel less loyal to a brand that has done nothing to keep me as a customer nor keep the value I had originally placed in your cars. I have no complaint with the people at my local Honda dealership that services my autos, in fact, they were the ones who acknowledged to me that the peeling was definitely not normal.
While I do not expect a response, I would appreciate some sort of notice that you will look into all of the complaints that are growing in number. And if you can do something about it, even if now it is reactive instead of proactive, it will go a long way to un-tarnishing your brand in my mind and in the minds of many other disgruntled Honda owners.
Please listen to your customers. The relationship you have with us does not end once the car drives off the lot, it extends much longer and has a trickle-down effect. As I drive my embarrassingly peeling car down the road, it is literally an advertisement against buying a Honda. Is that what you really want in the long run? I would think not, so it is now up to you to make a difference!
P.S. If any of you reading this letter are experiencing similar issues with your clear coat peeling off of your dark colored 199X Honda Accord, please visit the original post, leave a comment and post a picture as described on Flickr. Also, please be sure to share this letter with other Honda owners and with Honda dealers themselves. This is a job for crowd-sourcing and only through the actions of many can we have an impact.
P.P.S. Below are many of the pictures that have been loaded to Flickr with the tag “HONDACCPEEL“. As this picture set grows, more pictures will be added automatically. Please help spread the word!