Archive for February 4th, 2010

Steve Wozniak has had some trouble with his Toyota Prius.  Given the recent recalls, the fact that somebody might have a problem with a Toyota is not particularly surprising.    Like any concerned consumer, Wozniak tried to solve his problem through normal channels, stating:

The NHTSA online reporting form doesn’t fit my case. It asks things like the date of an accident. On the phone they refer me to a second number. At that number they need my VIN and mileage before they’ll listen. The person on the phone sounds like a typical very low paid clerk who can ask specific questions to type things into a database, and have no interest in the urgency and connection of my problem to the crashes/deaths/recalls/halted sales. In fact, they make it clear that they are just taking data and not doing anything themselves to remedy a safety issue. That’s the government.

Toyota is difficult too, but after some phone calls I managed to express some of my situation. Unfortunately my iPhone dropped the calls twice and I never got a reference number but they may have some sort of ticket open.

It’s been 2 months trying to have all the data and freedom, trying to get to someone high enough up to give this some attention. You can’t easily find phone numbers to companies online. I’d give anything to have had the phone number of Toyota’s legal department. They’ll see that I stated my discovery in writing 2 months ago but a local dealer couldn’t understand the significance of it and sort of thought my wife was nuts.

And that is where things would have stayed, with Wozniak slogging through the Toyota bureaucracy trying to get somebody to listen to him.  Except he’s Steve Wozniak, a.k.a. the Woz, co-founder of Apple.  He mentioned his Prius at a talk he was giving, somebody let somebody else know, Gizmodo reported on it, the higher-ups at Toyota were informed, and have agreed to take a look at Wozniak’s car.  The author of the Gizmodo report states:

What I find amazing is that someone—being Steve Wozniak or John Doe—is having these problems, and nobody in the company is doing anything about it, pronto. It may not be deadly, as the Woz puts it, but two months to get a response from a car company on an issue that affects the safety of their cars is inexcusable.

Maybe the solution to all of the world’s problems is to make sure that famous people also experience those problems so that the parties involved will make an effort to solve them.  For some problems this should be pretty easy – famous people eat food and drive cars – but I guess that we’re stuck with poverty and poor health care.

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