WASHINGTON—The Motorist Assurance Program (MAP) has begun working with Florida officials to get companies to address consumer complaints themselves, rather than allowing complaints to end up being mediated through an outside dispute- resolution process. The group entered into an agreement with the state that establishes an "ombudsman" role in MAP-participating companies doing business in Florida.
Companies that resolve consumer complaints in-house "turn a customer's short-term dissatisfaction into long-term loyalty," MAP President Lawrence Hecker said. "Establishing an ombudsman role is a smart move for companies that want customers to return for future service.
"If a customer walks away unhappy and then is left to resolve his unhappiness through a third-party mediator, the odds of him coming back again are very low."
During a presentation to MAP members last spring, Tom Rush, chief of the Florida Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Division of Consumer Services, asked the group for help, noting difficulties the state was having with some companies that don't participate in MAP.
On another front, MAP released, on Jan. 1 its revised "Uniform Inspection & Communication Standards" (UI&CS) covering vehicle steering and suspension systems.
The new guidelines, which take effect April 1, have been "significantly revised" to make them more complete and easier to use, said Midas International Corp.'s Lance David, UI&CS committee chairman. "We also included overlapping references from other UI&CS's, where relevant, so technicians will find everything they need for that system in one book."
According to MAP, the most noteworthy changes to the standards include:
An expanded air suspension section that has been subdivided for easier reference.
Previously, several components, such as ball joints, center links, idler arms etc., were required to be replaced when dust boots were torn. Now, replacement of only the boot, if available, is required. Otherwise, the specific component is suggested.
A caution was added regarding the explosive danger of many aerosol tire sealers.
At last November's Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week trade show in Las Vegas, MAP also announced plans to have subcommittees review three other UI&CS's this year—standards for engine maintenance and performance, electrical and HVAC. They will determine whether any revisions in content are needed. If one or more of these is selected for revision, MAP said the updated version would be released Jan. 1, 2001, for implementation April 1 of that year.
Mr. Hecker said the group conducts these reviews every two years as part of its "commitment to keeping its standards relevant, up-to-date and reflecting changes in technology.
"It is also consistent with our goal to make the Uniform Inspection and Communication Standards as user-friendly as possible for technicians and their customers."