As Toronto’s annual auto show rolled into town, Toyota service representatives took to the front lines this week ready to field backlash from customers over a recent spate of recalls.
But in place of the expected anger and concern, most visitors to the Japanese car marker’s exhibit seemed more interested in shopping, with many people eager to climb into Toyota’s newest floor models.
Gus Zootis, a Toyota customer sales representative, said that Toyota had armed temporary exhibit staffers with guidelines to a formal apology to offer disgruntled customers, but four days into the show, he’d yet to call his training into action.
“The only people who have mentioned (the recall) to me are already (Toyota) owners, and they aren’t really concerned.”
Toyota released notice of a recall in January. Approximately 270,000 cars, eight 2007-2010 models, contain an accelerator part that could get stuck in rare cases, according to the company’s website.
Michel Chicoine, whose 2010 Matrix is included in the recall, said he’s disappointed that Toyota’s head office hadn’t told customers before making the public announcement.
“I think dealers and car owners should have been informed first,” he said.
Chicoine drove his Matrix to his Whitby dealership for an oil change one day before the recall was announced. He looked up an article about the recall later in the week, after hearing about it from a friend. Finally, he called the dealership back himself.
“They apologized,” he said, “and said that they didn’t know about it when I’d been in.”
Toyota can’t service Chicoine’s Matrix for another two to four weeks. In the mean time he said he feels safe driving and that his faith in Toyota hasn’t suffered.
“I’m sure if it was something that was really bad they’d be recalling the cars faster,” he said.
Giancarlo Pawelec, a representative for Nissan at the Auto Show, speculates that the Toyota’s reputation and good track record has insulated the world’s number one automaker against negative backlash from the recall.
“Let me put it this way;” he said, “Toyota could stop advertising for a year, and their cars would still sell.”