Customers Fight Back

This is a really extraordinary story about how average people are empowered through the Web’s ability to connect people. Autoblog has been reporting on problems with Toyota’s big pickup, the Tundra (yeah, Toyota isn’t all green) and problems with sheet metal separation on the tailgate.

Toyota has been fiercely protective of their brand image, specifically their historically high vehicle quality ratings. But as companies today have no control over the marketplace conversation about their products, Toyota is finding itself in an uncomfortable position to say the least.

Even just a few years ago this story would largely have been buried at the dealer level as straightforward warranty repairs and outside of government safety regulators (not likely to represent a safety risk). Today the rise of owner forums is serving as a vehicle, no pun intended, for owners to band together and force manufacturers to address issues.

The ToyotaSolutions forum has a remarkable thread on this specific problem, owners are not only providing evidence of the failures but also the engineering forensics to back it up. Even more amazing than the thread contents itself is the very long list of trackbacks at the bottom of the page linking back to it.

Many of the links are blogs, large and small, and many are print publications linking to it, but the trackbacks I found most interesting are on competitors sites, company sponsored and independent. This is a brutal competitive tactic, and I would not be surprised if the manufacturers themselves were fanning the flames, as opposed to superfans. They have even given it a name – TundraGate.

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