Toyota has issued a recall for its Sienna Minivans from 1998 to 2010 (that’s 12 years). The Sienna’s spare tire is held in place by a cable that could rust and snap.  The numbers are astounding: 870,000 minivans in North America!

Toyota  are claiming that this problem would only affect the cars driven in cold climates where road salt is typically used. This latest recall will, no doubt, further erode customer satisfaction and confidence.

Only in cold climates?

I take issue with Toyota’s assumption that this only applies to minivans in cold climates I live in a cold climate (Canada) where salt is often used in the winter to make the roads safe to drive on. But I also lived for a short time on the east coast of Florida. When I purchased my car in Florida, I was told that rust protection was just as important  in Florida as it was in Canada, maybe more so, because of the salt in the air. So any location, cold or otherwise, near an ocean could also be affected, though the Toyota has not indicated this this might be a possibility.

This latest recall will, no doubt, further erode customer satisfaction and confidence.

Sadly this news comes just shortly after two additional problems facing Toyota.

34,000 SUVs recalled

The Lexus GX 460 SUV was declared unsafe by Consumer Reports. Toyota investigated the concern and has agreed that they have a problem with a possible roll over and have issued a recall on 34,000 sports utility vehicles world wide, including both the Lexus GX 460 and the left hand drive models of the Land Cruiser Prado.

$16.4 Million fine paid in the US

Earlier this month, Toyota agreed to pay the $16.4 Million fine,  maximum fine the US Government can impose, for hiding the accelerator pedal defects from consumers and the US  for 4 months. Toyota claims that they agreed to pay the fine, at least partially, “to avoid a protracted dispute and possible litigation” but claims no wrong doing. Are these people in denial? The payment of the fine may also hurt Toyota’s chances in successfully fighting the lawsuits it is now facing.

Mamoru Kato, auto analyst at the Tokai Tokyo Research Center, said pay the fine in the United States, where its executives have been grilled by lawmakers. “There were concerns that paying the fine would mean Toyota admitted wrongdoing, but there were also concerns that a refusal to pay would spark an outcry, including accusations that Toyota doesn’t feel sorry.”

One has to feel sorry for the customers who have purchased  a Toyota as one after another the owners of various models have been subjected to problems with their vehicles and potential loss of resale value.

Customer Service does not own Customer Satisfaction!

One often hears that the customer service (or in this case the service department in dealerships) should be responsible for ensuring customer satisfaction. The continuing saga of Toyota’s woes is a poster child example of where the actions of management and other parts of an organization cannot be fixed by the customer service department, no matter how hard they try.

I welcome your comments.


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

One Response to “Toyota Sienna Recall adds to Customer Satisfaction Fiasco”

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