I was at my parents’ house when they asked me if I had heard about MINI’s massive recall. Actually, I hadn’t caught the news, hadn’t received an e-mail from MINI nor did I catch it in any of my social media feeds.
I combed through my e-mails just to make sure that I didn’t miss something or that the significant letter didn’t land in spamville. Curiously, nothing. I started to get a little worried. So I went hunting online to see what I could find.
On the MINI USA twitter feed, there was ONE tweet that addressed the issue, dated January 18th:
MINI issued a recall for the Electric Auxiliary Coolant Pump on some 2007-2011 models. Customers with questions can contact 1-866-ASK-MINI.
— MINI USA (@MINIUSA) January 18, 2012
I couldn’t understand why MINI was addressing owners after the news had been posted. I couldn’t find anything on the website and I imagined that the phone lines would be tied up. So I tweeted to MINI hoping for some information:
— Shanna Bright (@shannabright) January 23, 2012
Much to my surprise, I received a call from MINI about 20 minutes later. They received my tweet, looked my name up and contacted me. The woman on the phone told me that it looked my vehicle would be affected and that they were collecting their information before they sent out letter to owners affected by the recall. I gave her two suggestions:
1. Put up a page on the website where owners could enter their VIN number to see if their car was affected. If the VIN number was a hit, let them know that an e-mail or official letter would be forthcoming.
2. Send out an e-mail, a letter or post a message on the website acknowledging the recall and letting MINI owners know that correspondence would be arriving soon.
I explained that MINI owners shouldn’t have to learn through third parties that their cars may be a part of a massive recall. That new should have come directly from MINI, well before it went public.
I did give MINI a shoutout for responding to my tweet with a phone call:
— Shanna Bright (@shannabright) January 23, 2012
Today, February 22, I finally received the “official” letter in the form of an e-mail from MINI of San Diego, where I got my car. It said:
Attention all MINI “S” model owners only
Your vehicle may be involved in a product part update for your auxiliary water pump. Please reply to this email with:
–Your Name – and if possible the last 7 of your vehicle identification number [located on the driver’s side lower windshield corner]
please email Terry Zito at: [email protected]
And so I responded with the appropriate information and received another e-mail which said only:
NO OPEN CAMPAIGNS
Your vehicle has no open recalls per MINI data base and OR is equipped with the updated part.
Thank you again for your business
And that was it. No “Dear Shanna” no signature, no personalization or possibility to exceed my expectations. So I decided to call the ASK MINI number which was previously tweeted. A man answered this time and I explained the chain of events. I told him that I was confused because the woman I spoke with previously had told me that “it looks like your vehicle is affected.” He asked me who I spoke with (the one time I didn’t actually jot down a name!) because there was “no record of the call” and that my vehicle VIN number was definitely not part of the recall. He then asked me, “How many miles do you have on your vehicle?” And when I told him, he said, “That’s about the same you told us in the last call.” So I told him, “When I called MINI the last time, that was the first time I called. And the woman I spoke with also asked me for the mileage on my car. So if that is the case, how do you know that that was the mileage I reported in the last call if you have no record of my phone call?” He was clearly embarrassed and then made the excuse that he was confused. I ended by telling him that the communication from MINI has been less than stellar, and that as a MINI owner, I simply want to understand if my car has been affected. I also explained that I am not the one who should have to seek out the information, but that MINI should be overly accommodating and make it as easy as possible for owners to get information.
As much as I love my MINI, this episode was thoroughly disappointing. Not only did they not deliver what they promise, but the lack of communication and the strange manner in which they quietly handled this… it’s just not in-line with their brand. It’s a good lesson for other brands. Sometimes things happen that are unfortunate. Sometimes mistakes happen. But if you are a solid brand, you own up to it, and take responsibility for the situation. You can actually take advantage of the situation to deliver your core values and strengthen your brand.
Have you ever had an experience where a brand that you love falls short of your expectations? How did your opinion of that brand change?
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