Saturday, March 06, 2010

Consumer (non)protection

From March 6 NYT article:

Her car surged forward nearly 3,000 feet before slamming into a Mercedes Benz and a taxi, injuring drivers in both those vehicles...

As shaken as she was by the accident, Mrs. Sakai says she was even more surprised by what happened after. She says that Toyota — from her dealer to headquarters — has not responded to her inquiries, and Japanese authorities have been indifferent to her concerns as a consumer.

Mrs. Sakai says the Tokyo Metropolitan Police urged her to sign a statement saying that she pressed the accelerator by mistake...

...and the Koban sitters would not return her car unless she did. They are now claiming it was all a misunderstanding and that they needed the car for their "investigation." All auto accidents are investigated in a "fair and transparent way," they said.

Transparent? The Tokyo Metropolitan Police? If they say so, it must be true 'cause they wouldn't lie about anything.

Later in the article a Toyota spokesfool said that the accidents related to sudden accelerations in Toyotas in Japan were not a problem with the cars.

Oh, yes. It's the stupid drivers. Apparently, Toyota has only been selling cars with this defect overseas.

The article concerns the present lack of consumer protection/rights in Japan and the until recent lack of a government consumer protection agency. Were Ralph Nader in Japan, he might been cooling his heels in the hoosegow.


  1. The Toyota problem is a story that isn't really there.

    A constellation of different factors just happen to hit at the same time to make people think there was a story. The media has been awful in its reportage. If you really want some perspective on this go to the Wikipedia article on this and read the criticism section. Specifically, follow the links to the related articles in auto magazines, popular mechanics, and consumer reports.

    After that, ask if it's even fair that the owners of GM should be in a position to judge Toyota at all. Then, remember that the LDP and Toyota management were probably very cosy. Not so with the DPJ and Toyota management.

    In my opinion, which I regard as fallible and down right prone to error, you are latching on to a misleading narrative here. Here is the relevant link:–2010_Toyota_vehicle_recalls#Media_coverage_and_criticism

    The types of articles we would really need to read to study this issue would be articles like this:

    No, I'm not a Toyota apologist, but the amount of apparent mendacity and hypocrisy I've seen in the mass media over this is just so overwhelming, I find it hard to stomach sometimes. But I guess it's all par for the course.

    Then again, I could be wrong.

  2. Compare this:

    With this:

    Not quite in the same league but nevertheless.

  3. Thanks for those links. I will check them out.