Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Too-Relentless Pursuit of Measured Perfection

by Tom Bozzo

I took delivery of my new four-door car (*) and thus the locality-of-manufacture pendulum swings back from Europe to Asia (**). I give Toyota's fancy-car division high marks for effortlessly parting me from my money; the whole transaction took less than two total hours (not counting east side drive time) including the test drive. The Germans, in our experience at two dealers, seem obsessed with demonstrating every last damn feature whether its operation is transparent or not, making for multi-hour delivery ordeals.

Common to the market segment is a customer satisfaction research pathology in which dealers and their employees are punished severely enough if an imperfect experience is reported that they actually request the report of a perfect experience, which strictly speaking is an imperfect experience. I do wonder what the compliance rates are, but presumably there's some. The automaker HQ types assaying the perfection of their sales and service experiences should be aware that they're losing information on honest room for improvement by encouraging shifting and truncation of the distribution of responses. Though they probably won't get much information out of me this time around.

(*) Eagle-eyed viewers might note that isn't the actual model I got. It's the same basic car and color, though.

(**) I've been alternating between Japanese and German cars over the last five vehicles.
Great 4-door car choice! Nice color, too. ;)
Thanks, Janelle! [Secret handshake.]

It remains to be seen whether my *other* west coast Boxster-driving friend (a silver S, in Oregon) forgives me for getting the extra doors and an automatic.
Oooohhhhh! Pretty! But automatic? Heresy!
While the ostensible motivation for the automatic was to make it easier for Suzanne to drive the car, I must confess that after 21 years, I'm a little tired of rowing through gears in city traffic.
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