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Mazda Artarmon asked customers to give reviews with ‘only the highest scores’

Posted by on 18/07/2018

A Mazda dealership asked customers to give “only the highest scores possible” to a customer satisfaction survey. Photo: Mike DitzA Mazda car dealership on Sydney’s north shore has sent a letter to customers, asking them to give “only the highest scores possible” to a customer satisfaction survey, stating that “the higher the rating, the higher the perception of the brand and hence, better resale opportunities for your Mazda”.

The letter was issued by Artarmon Mazda to customers who had recently purchased a new car. It was sent as a precursor to the “Mazda Master Dealer Award,” which is held to recognise “excellence in customer satisfaction”.

“In a few weeks you will receive a ‘welcome pack’ from Mazda Australia which will contain a customer survey booklet entitled How did we do bringing zoom zoom to you?” the letter reads.

“We would like to encourage you to fill in the survey and send it back to Mazda with only the highest scores possible in the assessable questions.”

In advising customers on how to respond to the survey, the letter states that a “score of 10 is considered positive feedback, whereas a 9 or below is considered neutral or negative.”

The letter then explains why giving a positive review is in the customer’s interest.

“All motor vehicle manufacturers submit these surveys for the purpose of analysis and the survey ratings are widely published annually to the car buying public. The higher the rating the higher the perception of the brand and hence, better resale opportunities for your Mazda.”

In an anonymous letter sent to Fairfax Media, one consumer expressed how “disturbed” they were by the advice given.

The consumer argued that, if the advice was followed, the survey would represent a “complete waste of time.”

“This strikes me as a completely unethical attempt to inflate the survey results in favour of Mazda/Mazda Artarmon and to mislead the car-buying public. Your attempt to engage my self-interest by referring to “better resale opportunities” is equally appalling.”

The general sales manager for Artarmon Mazda, Stephen Heather, said the letter was sent by an employee who no longer works at the dealership, and once the content of the letter was understood “it was no longer distributed”.

“To reiterate, we encourage customers to provide open and honest feedback throughout their Mazda ownership journey with our dealership.”

Mr Heather said that both positive and negative reviews were used to “develop sales staff” and future customer experiences.

A spokesperson for Mazda Australia said all dealerships participated in surveys, both with Mazda Australia and independently to measure feedback on their business.

“Mazda welcomes honest and transparent customer feedback throughout their relationship with the brand,” she said.

“Mazda Master Dealer Awards are a Mazda Australia initiative to acknowledge dealer achievements across all aspects of their business.”

It is understood the letter was specific to Artarmon Mazda and not issued across all dealerships.

Tom Godfrey, spokesperson for consumer advocate Choice, said the letter pointed to “how deeply flawed industry ratings and rewards can be”.

“Clearly companies have a vested interest in trying to encourage people to say positive things about them, even when they might not be true.”

Mr Godfrey said fake reviews were all too common, adding that around 15 per cent of reviews globally were fake.

“I think it’s really important consumers always question what they are being told by industry. If you get sent a survey like this, your best bet is to drive a hard bargain and make them earn your next purchase.”

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