Dear Toyota People

Dear Toyota People,

I received your email yesterday, January 28th, 2010, to come on down to your showroom to buy a new RAV-4, Camry, or Corolla.

Are you kidding?

I already have one I can’t drive without risking life and limb and now you want me to come on down to buy yet another one?

A week ago I heard on the news that there was massive recall of vehicles from Toyota and that it included my 2009 Rav-4 that I purchased in September.  I called your service department the next day.  They put me on hold.  They came back on the line.

“Um…we haven’t heard about this recall but if we had we can tell you that we don’t yet have a “fix” for the accelerator problem that caused the first recall two months ago.”

They said they could do the maintenance on my vehicle, though, if I’d like to come in for that.

I’m afraid to drive this red bag of bolts, people!  You can’t go in for the 5 thousand mile service if you are afraid you are going to get to the service bay crashing through the showroom glass en route.

I’ve seen the video on the TV of the accidents caused by this sudden acceleration.  I’m not asking how these TV stations got this video of the car speeding down the highway with the voice over of the 911 caller screeching, “It’s out of control!” but I think it’s a safe bet it’s not Toyota footage.

Here’s my real problem aside from my Cujo Toyota RAV-4.

It’s how you are handling this crisis.

I’m your customer and have received nothing from you about this situation.  I’m getting my information from a TV reporter who is getting text messages from Toyota corporate headquarters advising owners of these recalled vehicles to keep on driving these cars.


Then, the reporter gets in behind the wheel of one of these vehicles and demonstrates what Toyota is recommending a driver to do if they encounter this sudden acceleration problem.  Put your foot on the break, don’t pump it, just steady pressure, put it in neutral and drive to the side of the road.

Nice to know I can steer in neutral, really.  It’s comforting.  Are you aware “REVERSE” is one click up from “Neutral??

I’d like to see the video of that.

Since purchasing the vehicle, I’ve been inundated with follow-up telephone calls: from corporate Toyota to take a telephone survey of the customer experience at Toyota; from the salesman from the dealer reminding me to fill out the on-line customer service survey, hopefully with “good things to say” about him; calls from the sales manager of the dealership hoping I was satisfied with my buying experience at the dealership.  Then, the emails started to flow in as well, and then direct mail.  Service reminders, sales promotions, special events and deals.

I emailed your customer service manager yesterday to say “Hello” and would Toyota mind text messaging their customers along with the TV reporters about this recall.

When I saw in my email “IN” box a message from the dealer, I foolishly thought “At last, some guidance on this mess”.

But, no, it was a sales pitch to buy a new Toyota RAV-4 or Camry or Corolla.  There were some “good deals”.  The good deal part does not surprise me at all.  Who in their right mind wants to buy an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) masquerading as a car?

But, I am surprised and disappointed that despite having my telephone number, my address, my email address, the only contact I have had from you is a pitch to buy a new vehicle.

Was the head of Toyota Customer Service involved in one of these fatal crashes caused by this sudden and unexplained acceleration?  If so, my condolences.

If not, then, I’m here to tell you that he is asleep at the wheel and texting at the same time.

Better wake him up before he drives your company off the cliff.

Plus, to add to your problems, J.D. Salinger died yesterday, author of “Catcher in the Rye”, so that means there’s no Holden Caulfield to catch you as you fall.

©Pat Coakley 2010


**Select photographs from this blog and my wider archive may be purchased at

10 comments on “Dear Toyota People”

  1. Oh Pat, I recall your enthused experience in anticipation of buying this car and the security you felt trading in your old car for what you knew to be a reliable one.
    And now THIS?

    Your exasperation is exceeded only by your hysterical and totally justified rant.

    ” asleep at the wheel and texting at the same time, driving the company off the cliff……”

    And yet, there is not one thing funny about the ineptitude that permits this to get this far.
    It’s horrible to be looking at that ” shiny red bag of bolts ” and thinking it might betray you behind two semis on the Interstate.
    What will you do?
    What can you do?

  2. Well deserved, I’d say. One corporation after another, they show us how they view their customers as chumps. And what if you destroy your engine and/or transmission trying to save your life (and others) from a run-away vehicle? Your fault I’m sure. Maybe rent a car and bill it to Toyota. That and the personal injury lawsuits might speed up a solution.

    • The other rant piece I have yet to write, Don, is about Enterprise Rent a Car in my town. The last car I rented had to be brought back twice in one day due to mechanical issues, lights flashing on the dash. Honestly, if it goes on much longer, I’m calling Hertz to see if they want the Enterprise rant for a swap.

  3. Does it have air conditioning ? Will be looking for a place to live soon and I could not make it through a summer with out a/c. A few window treatments and I have a new casa.

    • NKGee, The Toyota folks called me today after receiving my email (similiar in content to this post) saying my car was not part of the recall because it was built in Japan not the US. Hmmm…I read in the papers that this wasn’t a slam dunk cure, as some of these US parts were sent to Japan as well. I’ve gone to Toyota customer message boards and found out that if I go with a magnifying glass and light to see the markings on the accelerator pedal snf and can tell where the pedal was made!! Then, on the news tonight, experts were saying that it may not be the accelerator pedal in the first place! Oi.

      So where are going? Brazil? I gather your Mom’s condo is under agreement?

  4. Did you send a link to this post to your mates at Toyota?

    It’s always good to let people know that their shoddy treament of you will not go unremarked by you to your larger than normal circle of friends.

  5. I did, Razz, along with several oped pages and am exploring other outlets as well. I read today that the President of Toyota had his FIRST public announcement about this fiasco TODAY. It is unbelievable to me that such a company would handle this so poorly. Tylenol years ago handled their crisis in a way that was and perhaps still is taught in Business schools as an example of how to manage a crisis. This response, I feel sure, will make it into curriculums as well but as an example of HOW not to handle a crisis. I’m watching the 1946 version of Great Expectations that I have never seen. Oh, it’s so wonderful!

  6. wonderful rant!

  7. Hi
    I want to forward this blog…how do I do it?

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