Warning to Owners of Recalled GM Vehicles in Houston
General Motors CEO Mary Barra has had a rough few days. She's been subject to intense grilling from House and Senate inquiries regarding GM's actions, or lack thereof, leading to the recall of 2.53 million vehicles with ignition switch problems. As USA Today reported, "thirteen deaths and 32 crashes have been linked to the defect."
Courtesy Senate Democrats Media Center GM CEO Mary Barra gets ready to testify about saving a buck a car while victims' loved ones look on.
The car maker did not replace these faulty switches because "it would have added about a dollar to the cost of each car, according to an internal GM document provided to U.S. congressional investigators," Reuters reports. And who could blame them? When you crank out millions of cars, that extra buck adds up.
But while Barra might be in the hotseat for a few days, we're not sure if she's riding to and from Capitol Hill in, say, a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, like the one in which Amber Marie Rose died after her airbag failed to deploy. We sincerely hope for Barra's well-being that she is being transported to these hearings in a vehicle that will not suddenly stop dead in its tracks.
No, the people who might be in a slightly hotter seats are the millions of drivers of the recalled vehicles. People who are dependent upon GM, through GM dealerships, to fix the problem. But what if a dealership, either through apathy or incompetence, refuses to abide by a franchise agreement requiring them to service all recalled GM vehicles?
That was my experience with Knapp Chevrolet this week. My car was actually recalled in 2012 -- and is again subject to this latest round of recalls. It's supposed to be easy: you're supposed to be able to call a GM dealership and schedule service for a recalled vehicle.
But two employees at Knapp gave me two different explanations for why they could not service my car. And if it happened to me, I wonder how many other drivers of recalled vehicles have been turned away by Knapp, or any other GM dealership in Houston. What can a person do if the people who are supposed to fix the problem simply won't? This went from being an individual customer service issue to a public safety matter. Dealers are supposed to service recalled vehicles. Period.