The SEMA Show is like Christmas come early for me. While I don’t get to take home any parts or cars, the excitement and anticipation of seeing what’s new and innovative in our industry is more than enough to get the senses going. And unlike the doom and gloom during the recession years, this year’s show had a great vibe and upbeat feel to it.
Indeed, the upswing is in full effect and ultimately, the consumer stands to reap the benefits. New and exciting technologies such as 3D printers, rapid prototyping, and ever-evolving CAD machines mean improved designs and quicker production times. Despite these new technologies, mistakes and quality control issues do still happen, but I’ve noticed a lot of enthusiasts tend to jump the gun by instantly blaming the manufacturer whenever they have any sort of issue. The problem, however, is often related to user installation error, or in some instances an attempt to mix and match aftermarket parts. The way I see it, you really can’t blame company X for not testing its product with company Y’s.
You also won’t get any sympathy from me if you’re using cheap, no-name, or knock-off parts and then complaining about fitment and functionality. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my nearly two decades of modifying cars, it’s that you get what you pay for. Certainly, there are exceptions to the rule, but they are rare. When nine out of ten companies are manufacturing a product that is similarly priced and company 10 is cheaper, you have to wonder why. There’s no magic formula they’ve discovered, cost cutting is going on somewhere, and the result is almost always going to be a part lower in quality than its competitors.
When you do encounter a fitment or quality issue, I urge you to step back from the installation for a moment and think. Oftentimes we’re caught up in the midst of trying to get the install done—and that’s when mistakes happen. I’m all too aware of this because it happens to me all the time.
Only after you’ve exhausted all your options and feel like there’s simply got to be a manufacturing defect, I suggest contacting the manufacturer. Most manufacturers are more than willing to work with you on a solution. Before you jump on your favorite forum and start bad-talking the product in question, make sure you’ve done your homework, made your best effort, and given the manufacturer a chance to work with you to resolve the issue.
Negative comments are a huge burden to a company’s reputation, and even though it takes you just minutes to put them on blast, the damage you can do may never be reversed.
I realize I sound very one-sided here, and I understand that sometimes applying some public pressure on a forum is the only way for disgruntled customers to get a response. However, the more I talk with manufacturers, the more they tell me it’s becoming a full-time job managing all the baseless complaints, and if enthusiasts like you and me would just contact them directly, it would speed up the entire process.
Remember, not every company has the budget to hire a PR person. Business owners are usually the ones having to take the time away from other important tasks to deal with these issues. Sometimes an email or phone call is a much better solution. And be patient; I know we all think our problems are the most important and expect immediate action, but the small businesses that produce the go-fast parts we love rarely have the manpower to respond to complaints quickly.
So let’s all do our part and continue to help rather than impede business growth in this industry. Before jumping online and blasting away because of a bad experience, do us all a favor and make sure you’ve exhausted every other option first.
When you do encounter a fitment or quality issue, I urge you to step back from the installation for a moment and think.
Comments, questions, disagreements, suggestions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. All emails will be answered, nicely or not.