Quoting the New York Times of March 25, 2014, “It was nearly five years ago that any doubts were laid to rest among engineers at General Motors about a dangerous and faulty ignition switch. At a meeting on May 15, 2009, they learned that data in the black boxes of Chevrolet Cobalts confirmed a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousands of cars.”
“But in the months and years that followed, as a trove of internal documents and studies mounted, G.M. told the families of accident victims and other customers that it did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars, interviews, letters and legal documents show. Last month, G.M. recalled 1.6 million Cobalts and other small cars, saying that if the switch was bumped or weighed down it could shut off the engine’s power and disable air bags.”
Fast forward to March 2014 and Mary T. Barra (file photo) new GM at GM has inherited a really messy situation. In the coming weeks, months and years many lawsuits will be filed against GM, and just a few years after being rescued by the US government there is speculation that it could well end up facing bankruptcy again resulting from this situation.
While Mary Barra is expertly applying public relations and publicity, there is one powerful lesson that all of us in business must remember: Because the value of public relations diminishes sharply after the point of purchase of a good or service, it may never erase the bitter taste of feeling that you paid for inferior quality. Worse when you feel they were less than honourable.
Good luck Mary Barra!