• Aug 4th 2006 at 6:29PM
  • 44

Recently a privileged video released without Mazda's permission was leaked onto the internet. In the video, a member of the Mazda National Dealer Advisory Council states, "Mazda is well aware of the negative impact on the scores caused by the RX-8 surveys. They agreed with us that the situation had to be changed. And so, effective July 1st, RX-8 will be continued to be included in the survey, but the scores will no longer be included in the results."

For some owners, the RX-8 has mechanical gremlins that continually occur (a complete list of service bulletins can be found here). Squeaky brakes, for instance, are one issue that has received three Technical Service Bulletins, according to zoom44, an administrator of the rx8club forum. Some owners never experience the issue while others have visited dealers several times to get it fixed. Other issues range from repeated engine flooding to reported cases of engine failure on certain models in hot climates. Whether these gremlins are caused by faulty design or poor service work is a hot debate on the RX-8 forums.

The tight community of RX-8 owners, however, supports each other in their quest to keep the Zoom-Zoom going. To help each other out, rx8club forum members have even begun a listing of Mazda dealerships at which owners have had both good and bad experiences having service work performed on their cars.

This video that has angered RX-8 owners happened to be seen by zoom44, who attempted repeatedly to get a response from Mazda concerning the statement. After several attempts and no reply, zoom44 decided to post a link on the rx8club forum to the video that's currently hosted on Google Video (though likely not for long).

After the Mazda community tipped us off about the video and we watched it ourselves, we too were perplexed at the statement about RX-8 survey results. Why would RX-8 owners be surveyed if those survey results were not a factor for the dealer in the end? And more importanly, what incentive would dealers have to give RX-8 owners good customer service if these surveys weren't being counted? We contacted Mazda and encouraged Jeremy Barnes, Mazda's PR pointman, to address the issue. He's issued a response to Autoblog that's also been posted on the rx8club forum (#236) concerning the matter, which you can read below. Zoom44, however, has told us, "...a lot of this would have been not necessary had he just responded in the first place."

While a swift response from Barnes probably would've prevented the situation from ever crossing our eyes, we do know that Mazda PR, which as far as we know is just Barnes, has been preoccupied with the that has now become a tragedy. The Shipping vessel tipped over last week off the coast of Alaska while carrying 4,700 Mazda vehicles. This past Monday a salvage worker fell from the wreck and tragically died. While hardly an excuse for not addressing the statements in the video sooner, it's a unique situation that we're sure has made it a tough week for Mazda PR and Barnes in particular.

Whether or not RX-8 owners experience more than their fair share of mechanical trouble does not seem to be the issue here. If they do, Mazda's dealer network is obligated to service those issues under warranty, and from what we can tell most do. The central issue here seems to revolve around those dealers that don't provide RX-8 owners with acceptable levels of customer service and how those dealers are to be discovered and dealt with.

In his response, Barnes states, "...we have not stopped surveying RX-8 owners. There will be no change in emphasis on the level of service customers receive at dealers or the frequency of CARE surveys sent out by Mazda, and we retain our ability to take action if our dealerships do not deliver the service or satisfaction we expect and demand."

Barnes makes it clear in his response that we're not privy to the internal operations of Mazda's dealer body, so a satisfying explanation of what the statement from the video actually means in terms of how RX-8 owner surveys are now handled will likely remain elusive. While that response may not satisfy some RX-8 owners, we hope this situation will at least encourage Mazda to monitor more closely the way its dealers treat RX-8 owners and take action when one isn't meeting its obligation to the customer.


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August 4, 2006

To all RX-8 Forum members:

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns regarding Mazda's customer satisfaction process. I appreciate how deeply you care about Mazda and about our vehicles.

As I understand, you learned of a change to Mazda's CARE survey process as it relates to RX-8 through a video posted – without Mazda's permission – on the Internet. Unfortunately, the video, which is only one of many ongoing and privileged communications between Mazda, our dealer council and our dealers, does not begin to explain our CARE process or the fact that customer satisfaction is our number one priority. In addition, that video is only one portion of the story behind our CARE survey, and represents only one part of the internal discussions that have surrounded the survey recently.

Because we consider this situation to be proprietary and confidential between us and our dealer body, all I can do is assure you that we are unwavering in our commitment to make owning a Mazda the best possible experience. To that end, we have not stopped surveying RX-8 owners. There will be no change in emphasis on the level of service customers receive at dealers or the frequency of CARE surveys sent out by Mazda, and we retain our ability to take action if our dealerships do not deliver the service or satisfaction we expect and demand.

Our philosophy has been, and continues to be, that we will hold our dealers accountable for situations that are within their control. As such, Mazda's goal is to ensure that our dealers provide all customers, regardless of the vehicle they own, with the highest level of service and customer satisfaction.

To assume after viewing a video posted on the Internet that Mazda would do anything to compromise this is simply and unequivocally wrong.

Again, I thank you for bringing your concerns to us and giving us a chance to respond.

All the best,

Jeremy Barnes
Product Communications Manager
Mazda North American Operations


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  • 44 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      What does this mean for RX-8 owners like you and me? Answer: Even worse dealer service.

      Since our scores no longer count against the dealership's overall rating, there is no longer a reason to try to appease us. The terrible service we have received will only grow worse. I have never had the major flooding, mechanical or electrical problems of some owners, but my service has always been horrible. I blame the dealership, not Mazda and not my car.

      Unfortunetly what Mazda doesn't know is that RX-8 owners like myself, even after all the bad service, were considering buying another Mazda (specifically the new CX-7); however, after this news Mazda has lost a valuable Mazda owner. My next car will not be a Mazda.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Mr. Wankel. Of course I would have let it idle. But they would flood while trying to start it. Maybe you should have understood what I wrote before insulting me and dealers everywhere.
      • 9 Years Ago
      9 & 15,
      Wow, I never knew Mazda was that despised or made such awful cars. I hope the RX-8 issues get resolved, and that dealer service is improved. I am on my 3rd Mazda now (93 truck, 02 Protege, 06 3) and fortunately I've only ever been to the dealer for scheduled maintenance and one seized brake caliper on the Protege.

      I know that personal experiences don't count for much, but I know many other Mazda owners who have never had problems either. Most are refugees from VW who wanted something affordable and fun to drive, but reliable and without service headaches. A few others grew bored after several years with Toyotas and Hondas.

      I take Consumer Reports opinion with a huge grain of salt, but the most recent issue features the Mazda3, and proclaims it the highest rated hatchback in that category, beating out the Audi A3 by several points overall, despite costing at least 5 grand less.

      Mazda has not done well on repeat customers because they don't really have a full line, and the brand was very lackluster during most of the 90's. Also, each of their cars is small by American tastes, but to some people this an attraction. When people grown up and need mommy-wagons, then they jump to Toyota or Honda.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I've had my 2005 RX 8 for 9 months. Pure joy! I had 3 Volkswagen products before and they spent once a month in the shop for electrical issues. 10,000 miles later with my RX8 and it's only been in for routine oil changes, and tire rotations (recommended).
      So far, I love this car and would buy another.
      PS: I wish it got better gas mileage.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Well, I don't think RX-8 owners really get closure to this issue since Mazda isn't willing to reveal how these RX-8 surveys are actually going to be handled or how much weight they'll carry when it comes to hold dealerships accountable for their service. As I said at the end of the post, hopefully Mazda cracks down on dealers that are giving RX-8 owners a hard time who are forced to repeatedly return for service. The reaction on the rx8club forums so far to the response has been just appreciation for the response itself. They felt they were being ignored essentially.
      Michelle
      • 9 Years Ago
      I have a 2004 RX-8 and LOVE it. I've had only one issue with the engine flooding out and that was due to someone trying to start my car that shouldn't have tried touching it.
      I love the car and would buy it again daily. (I've owned many cars and can only say this for a few). It's not any different than any other vehicle out there, they need maintenance! It's fun to drive and a good looking car. Why else do we by cars like this?! People that are looking for good gas mileage should not buy sporty vehicles, SUV's, or trucks. Stick to the boring sedans!
      • 9 Years Ago
      I almost bought an RX-7 back in 1980,but instead bought a BMW. After all these years and millions of dollars in R&D, the rotary engine still has the same problems it did 26 years ago. Just a weak design that they will never get right.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Ford does not OWN Mazda...it is NOT their parent company...a Mazda dealer has not ties with FORD or FORD dealers. Get your facts right before you go spewing nonsense. Thank you.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I purchased one of the very first RX-8's that was sold and had a real love / hate affair with the car. I ran into every problem that eventually became a recall or technical service bulletin and end-some. The service that I received was beyond awful. At each step of the way they tried everything they could to not repair the car under warranty because they couldn't understand how a clutch could fail at 7500 miles, front rotors (not pads) at 10k miles, catalytic convertor at 20k miles, spark plugs, ignition coils, battery............ A lot of these problems were addressed by the recalls and TSBs but I ran into all of these problems before these notices were created. In each case I was severely harassed by the service manager (at four separate dealerships). The North East regional rep has also been encouraging dealerships to refuse warranty service on RX-8s because it is happening too frequently. I thought that was what a warranty was for and that was one of the reasons why I was willing to buy an RX-8 in the first place. I figured that if they had any first year bugs I would be covered by the warranty and I had faith in Mazda that they would stand behind their product. Unfortunately that couldn't be further from the truth and I paid the price for it. After owning the car for 2 years, it had spent over 3 months in the shop and I had spent thousands of dollars on repairs that should have been covered by the warranty. Sadly my experience is not unique when it comes to this car. Which is a real shame because the car was a blast to drive when it was running right. The next owner of my car ran into similar dealership problems when the transmission failed. It turns out the failure was caused by poor service when they replaced the clutch. Which originally failed because the pressure plate bolts backed out. After the car was repaired they immediately sold it and the third owner had a similar experience when the motor failed..... Mazda needs to step up to the plate and acknowledge that they have some design flaws with the car and put together a plan to remedy the situation immediately.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Seems to me that mazdas biggest mistake was having too small a PR department, if your going to side with the dealers against the customers you make damn sure they never find out!
      • 9 Years Ago
      If you don't know already, the rx8s are full of problems and issues. Its mpg is like your aunt's hummer and tons of misc issues. That car is an overpriced pos, I rather be driving a Mazda Speed 3. To be honest, I think Mazda knows the car has issues, but they have bigger fish to fry rather than to deal w/ a miniscule # of bitchin' rx8 owners.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Omg.... i wanted to buy a rx8..... is it that bad? My friend just told me that after 80km... you'll need to replace the engine. Is he right? cause if that's the case... i rather purchase a s2000.
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