Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Attack of the Cubicle Zombies from Ford

Attention, Co-Scissor-Heads! I interrupt a regularly-scheduled blog post tentatively entitled “If It’s Not One Thing It’s Your Mother” for a public service announcement.

I am hereby officially declaring this Running with Scissors Week, brought to you by certain deadhead, mooncalf, cubicle zombies a/k/a customer service representatives. Please note: This is not a general indictment of all customer service reps, but the few, the monotone, the never go off-script customer service reps who have been brainwashed, uh, expertly trained by Big Dog companies to make our lives a living hell. So, put away the roundy kindergarten scissors, get out the grown-up pointy ones, lace up your tennie-runners, and adjust your chair. We are taking on the Big Dogs. (Note: I have tried to keep the snarkiness to a bare minimum but, given the subject matter, some spillage has occurred.)

First up, Ford Motor Company. A Very Big Dog. A veritable Rottweiler of the corporate world. Apparently, they also believe they are the King of the Automobile Industry because they didn’t take a bail-out, and are doing quite well in spite of the economic conditions. Based on my interactions with their Cubicle Zombies, I think I have figured out why. I’m betting you’re a pretty smart cookie too, so I’ll let you decide for yourself. According to them, this is UV damage, not a defective paint job.

Does that LOOK like a little UV damage to you? The only way that’s UV damage is if that spoiler has been taking itself to the tanning salon on the sly. Ditto for the hood.

Yes, my treasured red Mustang, my former pride and joy, the car I have dreamed of owning for most of my life, has turned into a leopard.

Ford Customer Service Cubicle Zombie #1 instructed us to get the damage “evaluated,” at a Ford dealership, so off we went. The first dealer said they didn’t do body work and told us to go to another bigger Big Dog dealership 50 miles away. It was my understanding they would take a paint sample and do something scientific to it.

Uh huh. The scientific evaluation was done by Cubicle Zombie #2 who walked around the car with his hands in his pockets nodding and hmmmmming, focusing his company-implanted zombie-like laser eyes on the problem at hand. His conclusion? UV damage, consistent with the heat and sun we have in this area. They would, however, be happy to repaint the entire car for about $3,200.

Next stop – Twitter. After tweeting Ford Customer Service several times, Cubicle Zombie #3 contacted me for more information. A couple of days later, she actually called. Oooooo, the excitement! Did she want a paint sample? Was she calling to tell me to take it back to the dealership to be painted? Was she going to make me an offer so I can get it painted? Not so fast there, Sparky.

Cubicle Zombie #3 said she had enlarged the picture I had sent, and she had determined it was . . . . UV damage. Apparently, Cubicle Zombie #3 has the same company-implanted zombie-like laser eyes as Cubicle Zombie #2. I think maybe she got the super-laser eye upgrade, because all she needed was a picture. But “Good news!” Ford would be happy to sell me a new car at “dealer cost,” which would be a savings to me of $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the car I buy. Really?! Woah, Duuuuude. Let me get this straight. Ford is going to give me a $3,000 to $5,000 discount on a new car, but they won’t fix the one I have, which would cost them substantially less. Is it just me, or do you smell the halibut too? Cubicle Zombie #3 had apparently reached the end of her script because, after that, she had nothing original to add to the conversation and just kept repeating herself.

When I tried posting to Ford’s Facebook page, I heard from Cubicle Zombie #4. She ever so politely informed me that post was inappropriate for Ford’s Facebook fan page, and I should contact Ford Customer Service. {Sigh} I responded to her and, as courteously as possible, pointed out that I had contacted Ford Customer Service, as stated in my original post.

Then, through a Twitter friend, I discovered Ford has a Social Media Director who is on Twitter. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I tweeted him, and he said he would look into it. Good thing I wasn’t holding my breath waiting for a response, because I would be a mummified Smurf by now. Yep, sure enough, I never heard from him again. So, that would make him Cubicle Zombie #5.

Adding insult to crap, uh, allegedly bad paint job, just a few days ago I received the sweetest little card from Ford which says:

“Since you are a valued Ford customer, we are extending to you this exclusive offer. Get $750 Private Cash toward the purchase or lease of your next Ford vehicle.”

I have to wonder just how “valued” I am. Actually, before we started getting the Cubicle Zombie run-around, we had been thinking about buying another Ford. Not now. There will be no more Fords at this house unless and until they fix the one I already have or send money so I can get it fixed. Why on earth would I sign on the dotted line, go in debt several thousand dollars, and basically reward a company which refuses to stand behind one of its products by buying another one? Duh.

As Dolly Parton says, “Blonde jokes don’t bother me, because I know I’m not dumb and I know I’m not blonde.” I resemble that remark.

In case anyone (Ford?) is not yet clear about how the world works, satisfied, happy customers talk about the companies who did them right. Unsatisfied, angry customers talk MORE about the companies who did them wrong. A company can spend millions of dollars on advertising, but word of mouth is still the best advertising around and delivers more real bang for the buck. With social media, that word, good or bad, travels fast. I may only have 1000 or so followers on Twitter, but some of those people have thousands and thousands of followers. You do the math, Ford. When company policies, procedures and Cubicle Zombies tick off customer after customer and word gets around, it’s only a matter of time until said company gets a karmic banana stuck up their tailpipe.

Research has turned up some interesting information about Ford and their problems with paint, going back many years. If you’re having paint problems with a Ford vehicle, are considering buying a Ford, or are simply curious, I suggest you check out this Facebook page:!/group.php?gid=94328817418

Big Dog or not the fight continues, because I don't intend to become a Scooby snack . . .


Renagade said...

Nothing irratates me more than a customer Service rep that cannot do more than read a script.
I take that back, there is ONE thing, and that is a Customer Service Rep who cannot do more than read a script they dont fully understand due to the fact it is in English, and they are still in English as a second language 101.

I am NOT a paint expert, but it appears to be the clear coat flaked, and exposed the paint hence the damage on the spoiler.
The hood, well, that appears to be oxidized, possible from the same problem or lack of clearcoat to start with. Now, what gets me is that they are blaming it on your area. What? do they have different paint for the southwest? If you move to the Northeast and THEN complained would they paint it?
I am a Ford driver, and I am not above buying another make,( sans Govt Motors) but I LIKE Fords.
Ford, you really need to look into this better.... and while you are at it, train your Zombies to blink.... Then you MIGHT get then to think!

Gypsy Trading Company said...

ROFLMBO... ok.. just having this convo with a new friend on FB, and she is customer service rep. (not for ford) and hopefully a good one. I'll reserve judgment.

That said, it is their bonding agent, has always been the bonding agent, and always will be. I don't get these huge company's that will NOT stand behind the product, and buy another one? HA! I agree... not on your life. Apparently they have no clue what social media is and can do.

I'm there with ya girl! Go get em!

Anonymous said...

Your persistance in the face of being ignored is comendable. What really amazes me (besides the obviously messed up paint job!) is they have a social media person on Twitter and they didn't get back to you. That is not a good move, nowadays, as evidenced by numerous examples of companies losing a lot of street cred through Twitter exposure.

Scott Monty said...

As the named Cubicle Zombie #5, I'd like to respond.

According to your recounting of the situation, you took the car to a dealer to be evaluated, and the dealer concluded it was UV damage. I'm not sure what you think UV damage looks like. Did you neglect to inform your readers this is a 10 year-old Mustang (2000 model year) that is well out of warranty?

But you didn't agree with his conclusion. Nor did you agree with the conclusion of our customer service team members. So instead of name-calling, let's be fair here: this less of a case of poor customer service and more of a case of you not getting the answer you wanted.

We absolutely care about making customers happy, but we also have to balance that with reasonable business decisions. To expect the company to cover the costs for your decade-old out-of-warranty vehicle isn't really in line with what most people would deem reasonable.

We're sorry that you're feeling that our answer isn't enough for you. And while a discount off of a new Ford vehicle clearly isn't going to make a difference to you in this case, it's the best we can do given the circumstances.

Scott Monty
Global Digital Communications
Ford Motor Company

Brenda said...

Mr. Monty, by all means, let's be reasonable and logical about this situation. Yes, my car is almost 10 years old, but this problem did not happen overnight. We first contacted Ford about this in 2008, and the problem has gotten increasingly worse since then. Of course, I am well aware the car is out of warranty. I am also aware that Ford has known about bubbling and peeling paint on their vehicles for years, and you don't have to look far to find other Ford owners who are having the exact same problem.

In December of 2004, Ford issued a Technical Service Bulletin to dealerships which says, in part:




Some vehicles may exhibit a BUBBLING OR BLISTERING under the paint on aluminum body parts. This is due to iron contamination of the aluminum panel.

The Technical Service Bulletin then goes on to explain, in great detail, how to repair and repaint affected areas.

Given that the spoiler is the only part of the car exhibiting bubbling, blistering and peeling paint, this explanation is certainly more believable than UV damage. If this were UV damage, I would expect other sections of the car, especially the roof, to look similar.

The problem with the hood appears to be a different one, but the fact that it is several shades lighter than any other part of the car, including the roof, would logically seem to exclude UV damage as the cause as well.

It just doesn't make sense to me that someone could look at this car and determine that two separate body parts, on opposite ends of the car, are exhibiting mere UV damage. If the entire car looked like this, I might be able accept that. If the bubbling and peeling wasn't occurring only on the spoiler, I might be able to accept that.

So, no, it's not a case of not getting the answer I wanted and proceeding to pitch a fit. I simply do not understand why Ford doesn't accept responsibility and just repair my car. Instead of trying to work with me, they continue to deny a problem exists. However, as evidenced by the Technical Service Bulletin issued in 2004, this is a problem Ford has been aware of for some time.

It doesn't seem logical that Ford would offer me a $3,000 to $5,000 discount on a new car, when it would cost substantially less to repair this one. Unless, of course, they are simply trying to coerce me into spending thousands of dollars on a new car which, based on my experience, they may or may not stand behind. That doesn't seem to be a sound business decision. It sounds like poor customer service to me.

Gypsy Trading Company said...

Mr. Monty,

I happen to agree in this with Mrs. Ford. Your company has ALWAYS had issues with the bonding agent. My Husband worked for your company many years ago and was a painter. The car being 10 years old is a moot point.

You sir, have a uh-happy customer and THAT should be your main concern. DO you want to be right, or out of business? She is also correct in saying that fixing the car with a paint job is substantially less then a credit for a new vehicle.

WHY would anyone in their right mind buy from you if you cannot stand behind your product?

Social media carry's a lot of weight these days, and although your a big company, it does not take that long to destroy someones credibility.

Your answer is simple. Paint the car. WHY would you continue to professionally involve yourself in a public debate, that many agree with? It makes you look un-professional. As a rep,you should know better. Saying your sorry is only patronizing the customer instead of taking care of her.

Your only taking your company down another notch, by not addressing the real issue. Her paint job is crap. Period. NOT UV damage, or it WOULD cover the whole car. Anyone can see that. You do not have to be a professional to figure this one out. It's a no brain er.

A reasonable business decision at this point would be to take the deal and fix the car. Less money out of taxpayers pockets. Because we all know when you offer the deal your offering, you then jack the price of your product to cover the loss. So what's the difference? Seems this way, you get a happy customer, and a loyal one.

Renagade said...

Mr. Monty ( and Ford reps reading this)

As I stated in a prior post, I LOVE Fords and given the choise I buy Ford when I can. I grew up with Fords and Have a 2007 Focus now.
Prior to the Focus, I had a 88 Taurus Wagon that I LOVED dearly.
Unfortunately this wagon also exhibted the same paint problems as Mrs Fords Mustang. The hood only had severe flaking of the clearcoat, bubbling of paint and severe fading of color that was not consitant with the rest of the car, which was a light blue.
Many Ford owners have reported the same problems with the paint, and judging from the Service Bulletin and the fact that the problem is rarely on the whole top of the car, and has happened across the U.S. in all different climate conditions, I dont feel this is UV Damage.
Now, also in light of Ford offering a huge discount for a new car, subtantially more than what it would be to repaint this car in question, that leads me to believe that it will take more than a simple paint job to correct this problem. It appears to possiably be a problem with the metal used in the cars.

Now The other issue here is Customer Service. Mr. Monty, I appreciate your efforts the defend Ford, but the point is so many Customer Service Reps are 'Zombie like" Many companies give them a script to read from and if the answer is not on that script then that is the end of the coversation. And Before you say no, I can not begin to tell you the number of times I call companies only to hear the exact same words for different problems, to the point where I can say them along with them. Now, the lower end of the Customer Service food chain cant not solve every issue, but there are people that can. I Respect those who tell me, "I can NOT solve this, lets me pass you on to my supervisor" 1000 times more than those who just say "sorry, I know you are upset, and we want to make you happy but cant, company policy"
I feel that Ford Motors CAN come to some solution that will not only make Mrs Ford very happy, but will also tell the world that Ford really does put the Customer First.

Derek said...

I would say go buy a Saturn since their customer service and 99% of the dealings I have had with them over the past 10 years has been AWESOME....sadly another crash and burn in GM's financial nose dive. I was actually looking into purchasing a Ford until I heard about my mother's pride and joy turning into an eyesore...yikes! I have bought GM vehicles religiously, but vowed to never buy another one due to the bailout money they took. I looked at Ford and was impressed they were sticking it out and actually liked most of the new models. This whole incident has completely turned me off of Fords..again. I went and bought, with gritted teeth, another GM vehicle...but at least I know I get good customer service and quality.

Oh..and BTW..I have an 8 year old Saturn that still looks like it did when it came off the lot.

Zestar Corporation said...

My name is Stephen Gaiski and I am the Techncial Director for Zestar Corporation. Our technology is used by Ford for paint durability analysis. Our technology has been identifed by Ford Motor Company as a "Best Practice" within their automotive paint operations.

We have contacted Ford's Board of Directors and Senior Management on this issue. We have published 2 books on this subject.

Our research concludes a majority of Mustangs exiting Ford's facility in 2000 and 2001 were not painted to the proper specifications.

We have the factory data on this issue.

Our research publications have additional documentation from around the world: Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, India and North America

Recent newscasts throughout North America have featured similar paint defects from Ford and other automakers.

Our research indicates Ford is not receiving vehicles painted to their specifications as a result of new business models. Automotive painting is conducted within their facilities. However, the paint supplier has assumed process and quality responsibility. This has resulted in factory paint defects being released to Ford, the Dealer and the Consumer.

It is our understanding that Ford requires the supplier to meet Ford's specifications.

Ford pays the supplier for vehicles painted to specification.

Documentation exist that this did not occur.

Our research concludes the business models of "Cost Per Unit" or "Pay As Painted" and "Single Sourcing" have resulted in the release of millions
of factory paint defects.

Ford's Senior Management has been contacted directly on this issue.

Zestar Corporation said...

Ford's issued TSB is incorrectly being associated with the root cause of paint failure. Our research concludes that the isssue is not aluminum body parts. Coatings (paints) not applied to specification will result in paint failure. Thin paint coatings are the major cause of paint peeling, blistering and chipping, not bird droppings, stone chips, etc. It should be noted that coatings applied too thick will generate paint failures as well. In either case, easily verified by reviewing the thickness measurements of each of the individual layers that comprise a vehicle finish.

Durability data exists in databases. They have existed since the mid 1990s.

Miriam Ryan said...

Jeesh!! Irrespective of it being nearly 10 years old, that's just not good enough. My VW Golf is 9 years old and still pretty much looks the same as the day I drove it out of the showroom, which should be the case for every single vehicle!

Robn302 said...

Brenda I cant agree with you more !!!! Ford needs to step it up and keep all of its customers happy and listen to all of the comments of its customers not just happy ones its only a matter of time before those so called happy ones see their paint peeling off then what will ford do when they have no customers..And as for that BAILOUT money everyone has praised FORD for not taking I have 2 reasons for that ...1 Ford has cheapened the quality and craftsmanship ot their product and has charged "us" the customer more! Therefore raising their profits. 2 The pressure they would recieve from media and customers would be off the charts with this Paint Issue they have and would have to face if the Government were involved !!! as I said.. was looking into new Fords this year after owning 11 of them But I found Chevy Tahoe & Equinox to be a nice replacement...

Zestar Corporation said...

We stated in our publications the disconnect that exist between the auto industry reported initial quality ratings with paint and customer satisfaction.

On April 19, 2010 Ford received the Industry's Highest Customer Satisfaction with Quality, New Survey Shows:

However, if one refers to the CBS5 posted comments, it is obvious that the quality surveys are not picking up the "Voice of the Customer":

Seven 2010 Ford Focus from one dealership that have obvious paint flaws observed by a customer cannot be a random event. Ford's own facebook pages report design and application issues with the paint on the new Fiesta. Other paint issues cited on the new Ford Figo.

This information will be presented in our follow up letter to Ford's Global Quality Director. Winning quality surveys and reducing warranty rates are commendable achievements.

However are paint warranty rates being reduced at the expense of the consumer by denying claims on new vehicles with Technical Service Bulletins?

The CBS5 comment citing the seven 2010 Focus's clearly illustrates this is occurring.

motownmutt said...

That does look like UV damage, but the obvious question is: why is the UV damage limited to that one panel? The most likely cause is the panel is made of different material, the paint reacted to weathering differently.

I had a 20 year old weatherbeaten Dodge Aspen in the same neighbourhood. It weathered more uniformly and gracefully than this poor car did. At least it looks like it missed the hail damage common to many cars there.

Sadly, it's unlikely @ScottMonty or Ford will help with this. It's nice when social media does make things right, but this looks like a case where they feel safe in letting a "feel-good" opportunity get away.

motownmutt said...

The differential corrosion exhibited on the spoiler sounds exactly like the paint blistering described in the Tech Service Bulletin due to Iron contamination in the Aluminum. Exactly.

I don't think I ever took a picture of my old Dodge, but I can tell you this, the UV damage to it could be described as fading. All the way down to the primer in some areas. Gradual fading.

So, yes, this looks like UV damage, but not gradual fading. Blistering is a much better description of this damage than fading. In fact, if you went out in the sun in Florida for four hours, you would experience blistering from damaging UV rays. The question isn't is it UV damage, it's why is this panel so much more severely UV damaged than immediately adjacent panels? A manufacturing defect appears to be the likeliest cause.

I spent a few years welding before moving to the desert. I've seen a lot of different kinds of UV damage.

As for the customer service aspect of this, the tone of Scott Monty's "what do you think UV damage looks like?" comment speaks volumes as to the nature of customer service work from a defensive corporate posture point of view. It's not engagement, it's a perfect example of how not to treat a former customer. He's treating you as a problem he just wants to go away.

Anonymous said...

Your irritation is shared by many of us. Former Ford product owners that is. My pursuit of justice was not as vigorous as yours, but was littered with the same responses from the company. Although, at the time Acid Rain damage appeared to be the favorite flavor excuse of the day. When I asked why the acid rain only damaged the paint on the roof and not the rest of the car the answer was sub-moronic. From the owner of the dealership no less. "The roof gets more rain on it than the rest of the car." Still irritates me that he said it with a straight face and was as serious as a heart attack when I laughed at him. Good luck with your baby.

Zestar Corporation said...

Automotive paint durability research publication documents vehicles released to dealer and consumer below automaker's minimum paint thickness specifications.

Refer to link for details and an Independent Book Review.


Donna M. said...

I had a Taurus that lost almost all the paint from the roof after only being 5 years old. Of course since I bought it used I had no recourse from Ford for a new paint job.

A few years ago I bought a brand new Focus. When the economy tanked and my hours were cut, Ford Credit cubicle zombie actually told me to make my kid go hungry and make the payment. They accepted none of the payment arrangements I offered, and refused to rewrite the loan to make it cheaper. They decided they'd rather take the car and get nothing rather than getting a little at a time to catch it up. I will never buy a Ford again, strictly based on their (lack of) customer service and poor quality vehicles.

Anonymous said...

What year? I damaged the bumper of my 2010 grabber blue mustang last year. I brought it the collision center at my Ford dealer for repair and the manager suggested I have the hood repainted while it was there because there was a known problem with oxidization on the hoods and he could see it beginning. My car is garaged and I don't drive it very much. (I will literally be the little old lady who only drove the car to church on Sunday.) I don't know if I paid, ford paid via warranty, or if my insurance paid.

As for their corporate customer service, don't get me started! My transmission fell apart in 2012. A bolt wasn't tightened correctly during the build. It flew off and chewed up the entire transmission. It just dropped out of gear. I had to use the emergency break to stop and keep it from rolling into traffic. No tranny means no park, no nothing.

The car was in the shop for 69 days, from the day before Father's Day to Labor Day because Ford couldn't supply a part to complete the repair. The repair was covered by warranty, which also gives a rental car. Ford tried to make ME pay for the rental. They claimed the contract only allowed $30 per day for ten days. They didn't seem to care that the car THEY rented for me was at their lowest available rate of $32 per day, therefore they said I was responsible for $2 per day for the 10 days, then for the full $32 per day for every day after the tenth day. I pointed out that I could sue them since the transmission was defective and shouldn't have left the factory and that it wasn't MY fault that ford couldn't supply the part to the dealer to complete the repair within a reasonable time frame. They even threw their own dealer under the bus. Ultimately, the dealer paid for the rental car in full. They were as frustrated and angry with ford corporate as I was.