A backstage pass that isn’t?

I’m a member of the Chrysler Community Advisory Board — a group of consumers that I thought had a sort of backstage pass to what the folks at the car company are thinking about in terms of design, quality, production and other components of the corporation. It’s been interesting to see what folks in the boardroom have in mind, to chat with designers and to hear what other consumers of the Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep brand think about the vehicles and company proposals. Until now, it’s been a fun exercise that doesn’t take much of my time even if I never thought it would make much of a difference.

It turns out that, supposedly, what we say on the feedback polls matters, but it also turns out that the company isn’t really as dedicated to the CAB as some of us may have thought.

jeep owners manualCase in point: Chrysler owner’s manuals. Back in February, we were asked to vote on an idea that involved moving the bulk of the owner’s manuals to DVD while providing a much smaller printed version that contained only highlights. As I recall, the majority voted for the new concept. According to a press release issued on Sept. 21 this future idea is now reality.

Here’s the kicker: the Customer Advisory Board was notified of this change with an announcement that “Your Opinion Counts!” on Sept. 28. So, our opinion counts, I suppose, because we had a hand in helping the company make a decision. But the CAB doesn’t seem to matter that much because we found out by being sent a week-old press release.

Am I over-reacting? It just strikes me as odd that an invitation-only group that was formed to create a connection via social media between a company and its consumers is left out of the loop on a big decision. I’m not even asking for any kind of pre-announcement, because realistically you can’t expect all of us to keep something quiet. But would it have been that hard to tell us the same day the announcement was made?

I’m going to post a comment and see what others think and will let you know if I hear anything back from Chrysler. Any discussions we start are moderated by the the company, so I’m not sure if my fellow members will ever see it or I’ll just get a note back from Chrysler.

In the meantime, what do you think — either about the announcement of the owner’s manuals moving to DVD or how Chrysler handled the announcement to its Customer Advisory Board?

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6 comments on “A backstage pass that isn’t?

  1. Ari… interesting you should bring this up… when I was with the ad agency, before being laid off, we were compiling ideas on how to get the CAB organized.

    I find it interesting to see this from the consumer perspective. On paper, the CAB sounded like a no brainer, but it all depends on how they implement it.

    I’m disappointed in them for not utilizing this to its fullest potential. It saddens me as Jeep is my favorite brand. I am a Jeeper. I attended (WORKED) the last Camp Jeep, in 2007. To see them go thru this, the layoffs, all that I’ve gone thru… the one positive in giving the owners an opportunity to feel the ownership again, to feel that amidst all this garbage that the co. is listening to them… that they still haven’t quite figured it out.

    Jeep needs to breakaway from Chrysler to become their own independent brand. With the likes of you, me and other Jeepers… Jeep would survive, thrive and show Chrysler it’s more about the people than it is about trying to hard to be innovative; something Chrysler is not.

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    • I agree John, the scariest thing to me about Chrysler failing and flailing about is what will happen the Jeep brand. But then, Chrysler watering down the Jeep brand with crap like the Compass is part of why it was floundering in the first place. It’s a Jeep thing — and they obviously didn’t understand it.

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  2. I still thinking going to the DVD is a dumb idea. When I’m stranded on a deserted road with various dash lights lit up trying to tell me something is wrong with my car…how in the HE-double-hockey-sticks am I going to find a DVD player to see what might possibly be wrong with it?

    I’ve pulled my owners manual out countless times to check on something – something that I know will not be covered in the “highlights” section. I’m sure that will be reserved for “your gas tank is on the right side of the car,” “do not place anything on top of or in front of the airbag,” “wear your seatbelt at all times,” or “the highway nazis do not recommend eating, drinking, talking, singing or having passengers in the car with you as they may be distracting.”

    ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. 1) Could have been handled better

    2) The dash light issue, plus others are in the printed version. I know of 1 person that reads the owners manual front to back as soon as they get a car. When you others do this? When the dash light comes on usually. Great idea moving the tree-slaying award to DVD

    3) Saw that story on bol.cnet.com last week.

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    • I admit, I read the owner’s manual cover to cover when I get a new vehicle. Of course, lately, that’s been easier. The book appears to be 400 pages long, but 300 pages of that is now filled with safety nonsense required because we still haven’t figured out that we need to neuter trial lawyers to keep their population in check. ๐Ÿ™‚

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