Goodyear Customer Satisfaction Program

January 22, 2008

I received a letter (click here to see a PDF scan of it) on Saturday (January 19th, 2008) from The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, that was dated (and presumably mailed) on December 1, 2007.
The letter explained that the Goodyear P215/70R14 Douglas Xtra-Trac A/W tires they acknowledged I had purchased from Wal-Mart “have experienced adverse service conditions that have led to tread area separation”.  It was encouraging that they went on to write that “in the interest of Customer Satisfaction we have decided to replace qualifying tires”.  
Later in the letter they explained that a qualifying tire is one that is still in service upon inspection of my car.I called Goodyear Consumer Relations at 1-800-592-3267, and they confirmed that because my tires had prematurely failed due to tread area separation, and had to be replaced, my tires did not qualify for replacement.  I asked if they felt it was a little odd that a product that is still in service qualifies for replacement, while the same product that has failed because of a defect does not qualify for replacement.  They assured me that it was not odd, and I thanked them for their time.
Now you may be thinking that if I had such a problem with my tires why didn’t I take them back to Wal-Mart under warranty.   Well here’s the thing, I bought the tires so that I might drive to Canada to visit my grandchildren.  Somewhere in the middle of Montana in the middle of the night (by the grace of God within a couple of hours of the only truck stop in the surrounding area), two of these tires failed.  I got towed in, and got the tires replaced (not with Goodyear).  I argued with myself for a minute or two about whether I would throw out the presents for my grandchildren to make room to take the old Goodyear tires to the nearest Wal-Mart and make a warranty claim.  About an instant later I realized my grandchildren meant more to me than the tires.  So I paid the truck stop to discard the old tires for me.  And besides I did not want to invest half a day into making some warranty claim, when I was under a somewhat tight traveling schedule.
I never even filed a complaint about the tires.  My experience as a consumer had taught me that my time was too valuable to waste it on such endeavors.  But here was the manufacturer acknowledging they had a problem, and giving me the impression they wanted to make it right.  I emphasize “giving me the impression”, as I’m now wondering if such letters go out simply to satisfy the fear of the legal department to some perceived litigious exposure.  And all the while the letters are written so that anyone who really did suffer because of the inferior product has no hope of any real satisfaction.  Heck these tires were bought so long ago, I doubt that any of them are still in service.  And then there’s the delay in mailing.  Seems to be a lot of strategy to NOT replace tires!
I was wondering what your thoughts are about such a product replacement policy?  Do you think my experience should affect whether I ever purchase a Goodyear product again?  Do you think Goodyear is really concerned about Customer Satisfaction here, or is their real concern compliance with their legal department?  Do you think I’m the kind of person that will morph this blog into the most glowing testimony Goodyear has ever received, should they “make it right”?
What do you think?