October 21, 2008

Thoughts on "The Loaner"

Seth Godin (marketing maven) is very fond of identifying those behaviours that companies do which are not in their best interests, but which they continue to do anyway because they feel it is right.

Today I experienced just such a behaviour.

In the UK vehicles over 3 years of age have to go in every year for an inspection. This is known as 'The MOT' (MOT stands for Ministry of Transport). Usually this is a 'while-you-wait' activity that takes about an hour. However I also took the opportunity of having the car at the dealer to get the air conditioning topped up. As a result they are keeping the car all day.

They provided me with a loaner car (or as they call it here a 'courtesy car')

But here's the kicker. This is a main dealer for the marque. They are centrally located and they charge a reasonable amount for the work they are doing. Would it not make sense to provide a reasonable loaner?

But, following 'standard practice', they have loaned a base model version of a vehicle which is a grade lower than the one I'm currently driving. Now at some point in the future I'm going to want to change my vehicle. Do they think I'm going to downgrade to a base model version of a vehicle which is a grade lower than the one I'm currently driving? I don't think so. I'm probably going to want to move up a grade. Wouldn't it be worth their while loaning me the next model up? Something I can sit in and think 'Actually this is quite a nice car. I might get one of these', rather than doing what I'm doing now which is thinking 'Where's the cruise control? Why can't I get the side windows demisted automatically?. Is there an actual engine in this car?'

Don't get me wrong, the car I've been loaned is great. It's fairly new. It's clean, and everything works. It's just not as nice as my car. By a long way. It's less comfortable. It's not as fast. It's not as well appointed.

It's a complete downgrade.

A prime opportunity to impress and gain customer goodwill is squandered by the loan of a car.

Loaner car - FAIL!

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