Mazda responds to RX-8 community's anger over leaked video

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.


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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