It’s a misconception that when you live in a small town, everybody knows everybody. I see people all the time that I’ve never met, but living here does make it a little easier to walk up to someone and say hello. That’s exactly how I met William Parker. For the past few days as I drove through town taking my kids to and from school and back and forth from football practice I’ve noticed a family outside the Ford dealership with big protest posters that read “Ford 6 speed transmission defective”.
Clearly it was none of my business, but curiosity got the better of me, so this morning I finally stopped and asked Mr. Parker if he’d tell me his story, and I’ve gotta say, this is exactly why our world is in the state it’s in. The integrity to do the right thing has been lost!
Mr. Parker was a supervisor who retired from Alcoa- the plant that left Rockdale struggling to create jobs when it decided to trade hard working Americans for overseas savings, but that’s another story, the point is, he’s part of our community and he decided it was time for a new car. Did he finance it through some high interest company? No. Did he drive to the big city where bigger savings are promised? No. He took his savings and he spent them in the town he lives in on a car that’s American made. How were his efforts to contribute to the local economy repaid?
Paker purchased a 2014 Ford Focus. He drove it for about 12,000 miles when he noticed the transmission wasn’t shifting properly at take off. He took it in to the local dealership, they reprogrammed the transmission. He got it back, and a few days later, the problem returned. He took it again, they changed out the axle, did another reprogram, and sent it back with promises of a problem solved, but the cycle just goes on and on.
Eventually he added up at least 56 days that this 2014 Ford Focus has been sitting at the dealership, completely useless to Parker and his family. My 2002 Yukon is more than a decade older and it still hasn’t logged 56 days at the dealership!! He’s been given every line in the book like “we can’t duplicate the problem”, but my absolute favorite is “you probably don’t know how to drive it, you have to accelerate aggressively.” Are you kidding me? Now that particular suggestion came from FORD headquarters, but I’m looking at Mr. Parker and he’s about my dad’s age. In fact, he’s 66, and he started driving when he was about 12, and since he’s got a pretty good driving record and more than 50 years of experience behind the wheel, I’m willing to bet the transmission is the bigger problem.
Eventually the dealership said there was nothing they could do, and referred him to Ford’s corporate office, where he has been given a case number and the big honor of being ignored on a daily basis. Now, I know a little about cars and dealerships, and I know that the service manager of the local dealership could make that call himself. He could say “I think we’re dealing with a faulty transmission here.”
Ford should be wondering if they sold one bad transmission or if there is a whole batch of defective cars out there! Instead, they’re telling Parker to work on his driving skills! So, Parker did the only thing he knew how to do. He got out a poster board and a marker and he put his thoughts on paper to share with the world.
What’s more American that the right to protest? This guy was around back in the 60’s and the 70’s when protests created real changes in our world. Instead, he was cussed out by technicians. He stood with his wife while Ford employees gave him the finger. The manager asked him to pick a dealership in another town to make his case. In fact, they even told him he was affecting the livelihood of other people by staging his demonstration. Of course, they were all too happy to cash his check and let him affect their livelihoods when he bought the car, right?! I’m glad to know that at least the local police department upheld his right to sit there and make his statement!
Whatever happened to building something to be proud of? To standing behind your product? Ford carefully crafts these commercials designed to convince us that Ford is as American as Apple pie and democracy. So I’m guessing corruption and mediocrity have replaced excellence and integrity in the American way, because this is just another instance of corporate greed drawing the bottom line.
Ford, it looks like you’ve lost yourselves a customer, and one who pays cash! And who knows how many people might have pulled into that dealership to buy a new car this week and decided to go somewhere else thanks to Parker and his protest. A new transmission might have been cheaper in the long run, but in this world of disposable cars and disposable customers, that point was clearly missed!
I heard a song once that said “here in the real world they’re shutting Detroit down”… well, I guess that’s why, because Detroit cares more about making dollars than making sense! The loss of integrity is changing the face of America today more than anything else, whether you’re talking politics, economics, or the culture we’re raising our kids in. I doubt Parker’s protest will show up in the local paper, because I’m sure Ford is an advertiser, and I doubt that Ford’s corporate office is feeling the pain of one guy with a sign, but I hope you will share this everywhere you can so that we can at least call their bluff, because Parker’s Focus wasn’t built Ford tough!