More than eight months ago GM began recalling more than two million cars, mainly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions, to fix a potentially deadly ignition-switch flaw. This came after waiting more than a decade to disclose the defect that is linked to two-dozen deaths. To date, that company has fixed less than half of the defective autos.
By all counts, the automaker has used every traditional method available to reach their customers. They've sent multiple mailings, emails, and it's even begun calling.
GM CEO Mary Barry told ABC news that, "In some cases we've gone to the owners' home and gotten the vehicle, gave them a loaner, and are working to fix it." To do this in every case, however, could take years to fix the estimated one million remaining cars.
In many cases, it appears that customers are deleting emails or voicemails, believing the communications are worthless customer service or promotional calls. Others may believe they messages are just payment reminders.
In any case, GM has been forced to brainstorm some new approaches to reach its current, post-purchase customers. The danger of the defect is very real, and despite blunt warnings in recall letters that the switches can randomly shut off the engine, the company has recognized that traditional communications methods are failing.
GM leans on Facebook to reach recalled auto drivers
Because the recalled cars are no longer produced, the parts supplier Delphi Automotive had to resurrect old machinery to produce new ignition switches. Now there are enough parts to go around, GM realizes it has to get them into the cars quickly to avoid any more mishaps or tragedies.
The challenge according to Barr is to find those "who have still not called the dealership (to schedule)."
Now GM has begun efforts on Facebook to try to track down drivers of the recalled vehicles. GM's extraordinary efforts to reach people are part of an agreement that ended a federal investigation into why the automaker failed to promptly disclose the switch problem.
Senior Editor for Edmunds.com car website John O'Dell put matters into perspective by offering, "People don't want to be bothered. They don't see this as a problem. 'It's not happening to me,' then they just forget about it."