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Toyota's Responsibility to Customer Complaints

Customer complaints about Toyota cars suddenly accelerating were initially downplayed by Toyota Motor Sales in December 2009, which initially stated that it was caused by the driver's side carpeting getting in the way of the pedal. Toyota's announcements at the beginning of 2010, however, suggested that the real culprit was a defective gas pedal. This resulted in many calls for an investigation, as the initial claim about the carpeting was seen as apparent camouflage for a more serious situation, one that is alleged to have resulted in hundreds of Toyota cars suddenly accelerating and unable to stop, as well as several passengers dying in accidents.

Share what you see as the responsibilities that a marketer (Toyota) has to the society in which it markets its goods. Was there an ethical breach by Toyota in not coming forth when the problem with acceleration was first reported or was it simply a series of poor business decisions? Or both? Substantiate your response.

Given the current situation, what would you suggest that Toyota do to ensure that its marketing practices are seen by its public as ethical and above board? At the same time, how should Toyota market itself to regain consumer trust that has been shaken by the many deaths due to the initial gas pedal defect?

Solution Preview

The responsibility of the marketer to the society in which it markets goods are many. It has the responsibility to ensure that the product does what it is meant for, the product has all the features the company has promised, and the product is safe to use. From the legal perspective there is an implied warranty that the product is safe to use. If there is a sudden and uncontrollable acceleration of a car the marketer is at fault. From the deontological ethical perspective, it is the duty of Toyota to ensure ...

Solution Summary

This answer provides a 303-word discussion on Toyota's responsibility in this case of unintended acceleration and why their handling of the case was a bad business decision. Includes links for further reading.