Angry owners target worst carmakers online
TWO MILLION VIEWS IN JUST TWO WEEKS: THAT'S IMPRESSIVE
Watch this as a video report, right >>
Let’s talk about arguably the worst brand for customer service: Jeep. You might remember a few weeks ago I reported on the ACCC’s independent verification that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles - the importer of Jeep in Australia - was also the most complained-about carmaker in the land (as a proportion of vehicles sold). More on that here >>
Apparently, another disgruntled Jeep Grand Cherokee owner has had enough. His name is Teg Sethi. And like Liam Neeson in Taken, he told Jeep: What I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills that I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you fix my Grand Cherokee, that’ll be the end of it. I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will make a music video that humiliates you, and a million people will watch it every week.
CHEAP TRANSVESTITE, OR GOOD LOOK?
Teg appears to be a fairly hirsute, transvestite, Jeep-owning, video producing rapper - and you don’t see that very often. In a sense I can see how you might think he’s the automotive embodiment of Aerosmith’s immortal classic, ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’. OK - maybe, in this case, lady looks like a dude. Whatever. But one thing that is not up for debate is Mr Sethi’s success - two million views in just two weeks. I wish I could do that. Outstanding. What a pity there’s no tracking mechanism for sales that are prevented. And now he’s got the dealer running scared.
Let’s just assume one in 10,000 people who watched that video elected not to buy a Jeep as a result. That’s 200 sales that did not occur, times $50,000 each, let’s say, if they’re Grand Cherokees. That’s a $10 million anti-marketing campaign, plus the finance, and the servicing that also will not occur… And future sales that are prevented, too.
Read my special report on why Australia's lemon laws are inadequate >>
WATCH TEG'S FULL LEMON JEEP MUSIC VIDEO
Check out Teg's epic music video, right >>
Call me Yoda, but predict a disturbance in The Force I do. It’s this kind of thing - sorry: this kind of thing it is - online humiliation - that will ultimately achieve what government consumer protection agencies in Australia routinely cannot: This is a case of kicking the worst performing carmaker right where the Pope doesn’t wash - in the bottom line. If Teg is David then Jeep is Goliath, and David has Goliath by the nuts. Ladies and gentlemen: Transvestite Teg, 2015 automotive consumer advocate of the year. More powerful than the ACCC. Able to leap Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in a single bound, while wearing a dress.
Can you imagine how monumentally pissed off anyone would have to be to go to all this trouble? This is where there's a cascade of monumental customer service failures ... allowing anyone to get this unbelievably worked up.
US based consumer advocacy agency Consumer Reports has just identified the top 20 least reliable cars >>
WHAT THE ACCC SAYS
Watch the rest of this report as a video, right >>
The Federal Government’s Australian Consumer and Competition Commission - the toothless tiger we call the ACCC - admitted Fiat Chrysler (which sells Jeeps, among others) was the worst carmaker for customer dissatisfaction. This effectively labelled Fiat Chrysler the most complained-about car maker down under. ACCC chairman Rod Sims said:
“As a proportion of the number of cars sold, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was the one we’ve had the most complaints about.”
The ACCC is soft on miscreants. It allowed Fiat Chrysler to sidestep multi-million-dollar fines if it agreed to follow up complaints better - including those retrospective ones - but the story did also cast into stark relief the acrimonious and internecine court battle currently playing out between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia and two of its former chief executives, Clyde Campbell and Veronica Johns. It’s alleged these two former Fiat Chrysler honchos ran amok with the Aussie balance sheet, allegedly misusing as much as $30 million dollars while at the helm, allegedly spending the money on home renovations and marketing contracts dripping with largesse. If true, it’s certainly a lot or renovations. Granite benchtops, and the gold taps - stuff like that. Ms Johns and Mr Campbell deny any wrongdoing, and the court case continues.
See why you often can't trust the media when it comes to recommending cars:
TEG SETHI: NOT THE FIRST DISGRUNTLED ANTI-AMBASSADOR
Je-Ha Yu is a rich South Korean golf aficionado and owner of a Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG, who scored a customer dissatisfaction hole in one using nothing more than a five-iron and his recalcitrant S-Class.
The Benz was allegedly a lemon, and the dealership’s attempts at reparations were - let’s be kind - ineffective.
What do you do in this situation? He drove to Shin Sung Motors in downtown Gwangju, and proceeded to tee off, using the Benz flagship as a divot.
That S-Class-trashing video has had 543,000 views, and counting. Pretty effective anti-advertising.
But even it is not unique. In 2013, an Iranian-born rich dude, and his German friend, parked outside the Frankfurt Motor Show and proceeded to … shot-peen his BMW M6 using a sledgehammer and a firefighter’s axe.
A disaffected Chinese Maserati owner previously hired a group of men to S&M the crap out of his Quattroporte out the front of the dealership.
He was less than impressed with the level of service, while another wealthy Chinese hired a demolition crew to destroy his Lamborghini Gallardo in 2011.
ASHTON WOOD - DESTROY MY JEEP CAMPAIGN
Here in Australia, disaffected Jeep owner Ashton Wood let everything from the local karate academy to a giant excavator loose on his lemon-scented Cherokee, before burning it at the stake, to end its demonic possession.
The web gives a new voice to dissatisfied customers. In the case of Ashton Wood, only 250 people turned up in person to witness the destructive potential of a man who’d eaten one too many shit sandwiches from the customer service buffet. But almost 90,000 people have viewed the spectacle online - an amplification factor of almost 40,000 per cent. A serious anti-marketing campaign.
If I were the marketing manager of a car company … this kind of thing would keep me up at night. One person with an internet connection can undo millions in paid advertising. It’s cathartic , too. The new, and potentially devastating voice of the disgruntled consumer. Like taking a hugely public online laxative.
THERE'S A SHOW IN THIS
This would make a great TV show. It won’t be long before network TV picks it up. Move over Masterchef, The Voice, The Bachelor and The Biggest Loser. I’d stay home to watch some rich dude trash a car - especially one I can’t afford. Next stop, Hollywood.
In the immortal words of 1970 punk-new wavers, Devo: it’s not too late to whip it, whip it good. Incidentally: is it just me or did you also see how the S-Class just caved in to the golf club? The hammers and the axe didn’t seem to worry the Maserati or the BMW nearly as much. Engineered like no other car …