Digital Marketing, Social Media Strategy, PR 20, Social Media Marketing

An Amazing True Story of Cars, Bribes, and Customer Service

infiniti usa build and price a 2008 infiniti vehicle select model 300x120 An Amazing True Story of Cars, Bribes, and Customer Service(Originally posted on Off Madison Ave blog) Earlier this year, I received a FedEx envelope unexpectedly. It was from Infiniti (Nissan Motors USA). I purchased an Infiniti EX in late December, 2007.

Turns out, according to the letter enclosed in the FedEx, the window sticker on my vehicle listed a “rollover sensor” as standard equipment. Two questions immediately come to mind. First, what is a “rollover sensor”? Second, if you’re going to rollover, or already have done so, what good is a sensor at that point? It’s like a Google alert that says “guess what, you’re losing your ass in the stock market.” A little late.

I continue reading the letter…Apparently they did NOT include the rollover sensor in the car, and in fact had never planned to do so. However, because it was listed as included on the window sticker, Infiniti will immediately write me a check for $2000 or BUY THE CAR BACK FROM ME.

Again, questions come to mind. First, how fired is the person that included “rollover sensor” on the window sticker, and how glad is that person that they work in the U.S. instead of Malaysia or someplace where a firing squad would be readying? Second, is Infiniti just trying to buy me out of a potential class-action lawsuit? Third, have I ever seen such outrageously amazing customer service and proactive public relations?

Every Man Has His Price

I mean seriously. The chances that I would ever know or find out that the sensor was not included is just about nil. And even if I did find out, Infiniti could quite easily give me a free oil change and I’d be totally fine with it.

But to proactively draw my attention to it, send me a FedEx, and buy my silence for two grand? Wow. (Ironically, based on this blog post they have failed to buy my silence, but maybe this whole thing is an elaborate social media experiment by Infiniti to trigger good brand buzz around the EX). (Note: Since I originally posted this, I heard from a few other customers that received similar letters, but no groundswell for or against Infiniti seems to have occurred).

If social media’s ability to spread news (good and bad) like room temperature butter on a hot English muffin has resulted in this type of corporate get ahead of the curve-ness, then Viva Social Media.

What do you think? Good move by Infiniti? A waste of $2k per customer? Social media experiment?

  • http://www.conceptshare.com/ Scott Brooks

    Take the money and run …. why over analyze?

  • http://www.conceptshare.com Scott Brooks

    Take the money and run …. why over analyze?

  • http://www.sorgenfreillc.com/ Peter S

    Jason,

    Having had some experience working inside and consulting to several of the Japanese OEMs I think what you saw was a sincere effort. Yes – we live in a litigious society and so companies want to protect themselves. But, the key here is they got to you first.

    Let’s say you had an accident and a roll over sensor might have avoided injury to you or your vehicle. What are the chances that you would think of that, find out about it online, sue, etc. They are present, but in reality not something firms take a proactive stance on.

    Nissan happens (like some other firms) to keep good tabs on who buys what and so are able to send you offers to buy more later. Nissan and a few others we know of are more focused on giving you a great customer experience so you come back voluntarily (which ends up being less expensive for them as well in the long run).

    Most people do not blog about good experiences with companies and brands – so I commend you for doing so – and your points are relevant – what was their motivation? I honestly think they wanted to do right by their customer first and safeguard second.

  • http://www.sorgenfreillc.com Peter S

    Jason,

    Having had some experience working inside and consulting to several of the Japanese OEMs I think what you saw was a sincere effort. Yes – we live in a litigious society and so companies want to protect themselves. But, the key here is they got to you first.

    Let’s say you had an accident and a roll over sensor might have avoided injury to you or your vehicle. What are the chances that you would think of that, find out about it online, sue, etc. They are present, but in reality not something firms take a proactive stance on.

    Nissan happens (like some other firms) to keep good tabs on who buys what and so are able to send you offers to buy more later. Nissan and a few others we know of are more focused on giving you a great customer experience so you come back voluntarily (which ends up being less expensive for them as well in the long run).

    Most people do not blog about good experiences with companies and brands – so I commend you for doing so – and your points are relevant – what was their motivation? I honestly think they wanted to do right by their customer first and safeguard second.

  • Jason Baer

    Peter – I think you’re right, and it must be working. I’m on my third Infiniti in a row. I really am an advocate for the brand, and this certainly didn’t hurt.

    Thanks much for the comment,
    j

  • Jason Baer

    Peter – I think you’re right, and it must be working. I’m on my third Infiniti in a row. I really am an advocate for the brand, and this certainly didn’t hurt.

    Thanks much for the comment,
    j

  • http://www.wheatleytimmons.com/ Robert Wheatley

    The basic motivation may have a lot to do with the potential for future litigation which could cost them hundreds of millions. The fact the sensor never existed may be an interesting study in honesty, transparency and a Japanese phenomena about “losing face.” In the end you’ve had a moment of potential “delight and surprise.” And I can’t think of a better way to influence attitudes on an emotional level about a brand that transcends the physical reasons why you opted for Nissan.

    Bob
    http:brandtrailblazers.com/blog

  • http://www.wheatleytimmons.com Robert Wheatley

    The basic motivation may have a lot to do with the potential for future litigation which could cost them hundreds of millions. The fact the sensor never existed may be an interesting study in honesty, transparency and a Japanese phenomena about “losing face.” In the end you’ve had a moment of potential “delight and surprise.” And I can’t think of a better way to influence attitudes on an emotional level about a brand that transcends the physical reasons why you opted for Nissan.

    Bob
    http:brandtrailblazers.com/blog

  • http://twitter.com/alissaru/statuses/ Alissa Ruehl

    Impressive story of customer service (or a bribe, take your pick) from @swoodruff’s 5 in the morning http://budurl.com/46sa

  • letstalkandchat

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out http://www.mikelmurphy.com/evergreen-business-system-bonus-webinar-software/ and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.