Posts Tagged ‘Toyota’

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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While technology is sometimes used to pry into the private lives of individuals, it can also be used as a force for good.  When Jason Leonard’s suspected that employees at the Toyota dealership where he had his truck serviced were stealing from him, he called and wrote letters to get to the bottom of the situation.  When these methods failed, he placed a small video camera in the passenger door of his truck and recorded employee practices at his next service.  As noted in his letter to the dealership, his camera captured the following:

1. The first person to touch my truck was the service manager, Mike (see DVD video #1 “Mike the Service Manager”). He opens my door, puts my keys in the ignition, writes down my mileage, and then removes the keys. Next, he takes a notice in my keys. I keep a red pill vial, used for hikers, on my key chain. I keep personal medication in it for emergencies. He then unscrews the vial, looks inside and smells the vial. Next, he pours them into his hand and inspects them. He then puts them back in the vial and then licks the pill dust from his hand. He then screws the vial back together, replaces the keys, and then writes down the VIN number from the door sticker. Before closing the door, he checks the door compartment where my previous thefts occurred. He closes it without taking anything. He then returns to the vehicle, opens then compartment and proceeds to remove quarters (3 of the 6, totaling $0.75). He then inspects the other contents of the compartment, closes it, and then inspects the bottom door compartment before closing my door.

2. The second person to appear is the unnamed service male (see DVD video #2 “Oil Change Guy”). Upon entering my truck, he places it in reverse and says “ole stupid nigger, back the fuck up.” Apparently someone was behind him and he could not back up. He then proceeds to drive my truck around the dealership and into the service garage. Immediately after placing the truck in park, he opens the astray, which contains pennies, nickels and dimes, and visually inspects the contents. Next, he lowers the center seat console, which was raised, and inspects the first compartment. He then opens the second compartment, takes out my CDs and inspects the compartment. He returns the center seat console to the upright position. Next, he inspects the contents of the glove compartment and the compartment above it. He is seen pulling out a personal bag from the compartment to inspect it. He then rolls down the window and inspects the door compartment, which Mike the Service Manager previously stole money from. He drops a small flashlight, which was in the compartment and picks it up off the floor. He then inspects the bottom compartment located in the door.

3. The third guy is the computer technician. He connects the laptop to my truck, located under the steering wheel, and begins working on the laptop. At approximately 3:27 into the video, a male and female voice, is heard coming from the laptop. The audio from the laptop plays the following:
MALE: “I’m sitting here with Violet. How are you today Violet?”
FEMALE: “Pretty good.”
MALE: “You doing pretty good?”
FEMALE: “Yeah”
MALE: “So you’re gonna do some modeling for us today, huh?”
FEMALE: “Yeah”
MALE: “Yeah, nice. So I see you’re wearing a little see-through top. Not bad, nice. A little skirt.”
This audio, which is coming from the laptop, is obviously some type of pornographic video due to the language and context in which it was spoken, which is being accessed using the company’s laptop.

As a result, the dealership fired four employees and offered Jason a free extended service contract for his truck.

While situations like this demonstrate that the “little guy” can stand up to those who abuse them it is frustrating to think of the unknown number of customers who silently suffered the same injustices.

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