Dumb Dealership Falsifies Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Gets Sued by Subaru
Or should we say “Sue-baru”?
In the connected world we live in today, it’s important for businesses to maintain positive online reviews. Most consumers these days base at least a portion of their purchase decisions on these evaluations. No stars? No way. So when Subaru noticed that a dealership in Costa Mesa, California, wasn’t quite living up to its online reputation potential back in 2012, the automaker alerted the store that it wasn’t meeting its contractual obligation in terms of customer satisfaction and slapped the dealer with a “notice of requirement to cure,” which essentially meant the dealer had to get its act together or Subaru would end its contract with the store.
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And miraculously, the dealership’s customer satisfaction surveys improved dramatically, and fast. Almost too dramatically, and too fast. So Subaru did a little digging.
It turns out, the dealership, South Coast Subaru, had falsified 224 customer service evaluations in 2014, and likely more in 2013 (when the dramatic rise first began). And how does Subaru know this? Easy: the evaluations were all generated from a single IP address. And where was that IP address, you ask? Wait for it… South Coast Acura, another dealership owned by South Coast.
We know, South Coast. Interneting is difficult.
According to Automotive News, Subaru’s dealers are tasked with gathering customer emails at the time of purchase. Dealerships can then use these emails to remain in contact with customers and to send out surveys; Subaru also uses these email addresses to send out its own customer surveys, service reminders, and more. So whenever a customer did not provide an email address, or accidentally provided an incorrect one, South Coast Subaru took that opportunity to create “sham email addresses” to complete the surveys.
And the best part? Dealership employees were told to take these surveys about every ten minutes on their lunch breaks.
“You know, while you’re breeching our contract with Subaru by falsifying these surveys, why don’t you go ahead and break federal law by doing it on your lunch breaks? Not on company time, okay, guys?”
Because of the dealership’s “brilliant” marketing strategy, Subaru of America has decided to sue. We’re no law experts here, but we don’t expect to see South Coast operating as a Subaru dealership much longer.
But that’s okay. You can always go buy an Acura from its sister store. They seem like good folks to do business with, right?
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News Source: Automotive News (sub. req.)