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Engine failures in MR2 Spyders

6/11/2014 - Updated the original post by entering direct links to reference material, and added remarks about the legal issues involved with...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dealer opposed Toyota secrecy

Toyota objected - of course - to the public finding out, but now we know the Recall King paid $10 million to settle the high profile, runaway Lexus tragedy that put the media spotlight on sudden, unintended acceleration. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that one of Toyota's own dealers argued in favor of making things public. Seems to be no love lost between Bob Baker Toyota and the folks in Torrance. Apparently, their relationship soured after the two of 'em became co-defendants in the Saylor suit, which Baker has yet to settle.

Whatever the dealer's motives, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas made a strong case for making the settlement public. Rackauckas - he's already filed racketeering charges against the Recall King - said the Saylor case relates to public safety and the public has a right to know how much Toyota paid to settle. Can't fault the logic, especially with Toyota - just over the past year - agreeing to pay three safety related government fines, which, incidentally, many people think are way too low.

Based on my experience, Toyota's yen for secrecy is no surprise. Which brings to mind that old adage, "If you don't have anything to hide, then don't hide it." Good advice. Especially for a company at odds with one of its own dealers.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Toyota takes it on the... wrist. Again.

Toyota gets two more cozy deals:  Drop-in-the-bucket fines, and an agreement allowing the Recall King to fork over the money without admitting any violations of U.S. law.  And the issues are far from minor.  We're talking about the likelihood of injuries and deaths resulting from delays in reporting defects. 

Without steeper fines, expect more such delays in the future.  And there probably won't be any steeper fines.  Proposed safety legislation - itself prompted by Toyota's issues with sudden, unintended acceleration - has been blocked, which brings us back to the crux of the matter.  Ol' Uncle Sam - imbued with the best system money can buy - isn't really all that interested in reigning in an automaker like Toyota, regardless of how flagrant the violations.

Its important to note that the focus so far has been primarily on safety related issues.  Given Toyota's disasterous showing in that regard, why hasn't there been a closer look at Toyota's response - or lack thereof - to so-called "non-safety" related issues?  Over three thousand customers have signed a petition alleging continuing problems with oil sludge, and two major car clubs have been screaming for years about engine failures in MR2 Spyders.  Three fines in one year, racketeering charges, lawsuits galore alleging fraud, a federal grand jury investigation, record setting recalls, and... well, you get the picture. 

Its time for more than a few slaps on the wrist.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Dealership employees behavin' badly

Toyota is getting quite a bit of headline grabbin' publicity for bad behavior on the part of employees at dealerships.  It seemed to start with a theft, etc. caught on video and turned over to news media.  More recently, a dealership's website praised a filthy video critical of Prius drivers, an employee at a North Carolina dealership pled guilty to embezzlement, and now we have a general manager charged with an assortment of offences ranging from driving without a license to public intoxication.

Based on my experiences, (click the label "thuggery"), such stories are not surprising.  Nonetheless, these developments are noteworthy given the dealerships' association with a company that's currently facing racketeering charges, lawsuits galore alleging fraud, and a grand jury investigation for a delay in reporting defective steering rods.

Let's face it.  You can't blame anyone for not trusting Toyota.

Update 12/31/10 The general manager has pleaded guilty to an August OWI charge, but the December charges are still pending.
Update 1/5/10 An ex-worker is suing a Toyota dealer, claiming he was fired for uncovering insurance fraud re a Lexus that was given to a football coach.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bad fix for recalls has Toyota spinnin'

Apparently, Toyota is having trouble repairing their recalls.  I guess that's to be expected when an automaker has over 11 million in one year, but in Toyota's case, its the company's response that should raise eyebrows. 

Toyota seems to have a problem with admitting a problem.  Even when said problem is obvious and verifiable.  Hence, when word got out that their technicians had botched accelerator repairs on recalled Camrys and Avalons, Toyota dug their heels in, and instead of simply acknowledging the situation, attempted to "spin" the story, offering the kind of sheer blabber that insults people's intelligence.  A prime example of the sort of thing that's been a big contributor to Toyota's continuing downfall, especially in the U.S. market.

Here's the deal, Toyota.  The kind of double-talkin' nonsense you've so blatently displayed is prima facie evidence that your company hasn't changed and has no intentions of doing so.  Listen up, currently-charged-with-racketeering Toyota:  Honesty is still the best policy.

Botched repairs revealed:  http://www.insideline.com/toyota/camry/glitch-pops-up-in-toyota-camry-recall.html

Toyota responds:  http://www.autospies.com/news/Toyota-Issues-Statement-Over-TSB-On-Recall-Repairs-59774/

Monday, November 1, 2010

Toyota caught red handed?

Recent court filings allege shocking accounts of what Toyota's service personnel experienced when they drove vehicles to investigate sudden, unintended  acceleration:  speed rocketing from 71 to 95 mph, and rpm's zooming from 1500 to 5500.  Attorneys say Toyota bought the vehicles back amidst efforts to keep things quiet.  

Toyota initially said NHTSA wasn't notified, but then reversed course, saying NHTSA was notified after approximately five months.  Toyota - recently fined, currently charged with racketeering, and the subject of a federal grand jury investigation - is developing quite a reputation for being a bit slow to notify NHTSA of safety related defects. 

As usual, Toyota denies that they were trying to hide anything, and we'll hear their "vigorous" defense soon enough.  Meanwhile, evidence is stacking up that sudden, unintended acceleration has to do with more than floor mats, sticky gas pedals, and driver error.  Furthermore, Toyota's reliance on "black box" data is beginning to look like a carefully contrived tactic of of smoke and mirrors.  Capabilities of onboard computers have been questionable from the get go, and these latest filings say the devices failed.

The tide began turning against Toyota with the case of Koua Fong Lee, an immigrant who was exonorated after serving two and a half years for criminal vehicular homicide.  His not-even-on-the-recall-list Camry sped out of control causing multiple fatalities, and these latest court filings lend all the more credence to Lee's unwavering insistence that his car was to blame.  As things now stand, customer accounts of sudden, unintended acceleration warrant a closer look, with a keen focus on electrical problems. 

Toyota, its your move.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Speaking of hoods, Toyota...

'Bout two and a half months ago, my MR2 Spyder's hood release AGAIN failed to operate (See "Shoddy service: Dick Dyer and The Toyota Center" and "Hey, Toyota: Someone else fixed my car").  This time, I got the rest of the story.

To begin with Toyota designed the release cable to stretch from the driver's side all the way underneath the car to the passenger's side, and then around the back end to the latch.  Kinda like goin' from Atlanta to Miami via Las Vegas.  Faced with customer complaints, Toyota had issued a technical service bulletin for a new cable (same length) but were not as forthcoming about the later addition of an extra spring for the latch. 

The independent shop I dealt with did their homework, got a redesigned latch, improvised to accomodate the exceptionally long cable, and the repair bill was about $450.  Underscoring Toyota's lousy service, the Toyota parts dealer initially sent a latch for the trunk instead of the hood, even though the order included the correct parts number.

Toyota, you've got problems with your products, your dealerships, and your attitude, and its not about growing too big too fast.  Its about an unwillingness to do the right thing.  A determination to see how much you can get away with at your customers' expense.  As your parade of recalls continues, I wish your former-attorney-turned-whistleblower, Dimitrios Biller, all the luck in the world as he attempts to expose the way you do business.  You're a sick company, Toyota.  And as far as I can tell, you have no intentions of changing for the better.

Regarding Toyota's latest recall - announced today - of 1.53 million vehicles for fuel pump and brake problems, Yahoo censored my comments. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Unraveling the Toyota way

Can you recall a subpoena?  Leave it to Toyota to issue one and then not follow through.  Apparently, the Koua Fong Lee case (see my 8/14/10 post) has gone well beyond a mere embarassment.  Toyota suddenly seems to be bumping into themselves by targeting Lee in an effort to take possession of his '96 Camry.  Problem is, of course, not everyone trusts Toyota, and even if they did, Lee doesn't have possession of the car.  Lee's attorney put it rather bluntly, saying "we just don't want Toyota looking at the car by themselves or having (sole) possession of it."

Federal grand jury proceedings, racketeering charges, a heretofore unexplained delay in reporting defective steering rods...  I understand, Toyota.  Its enough to make anyone a little edgy.

Update 8/26/10 - Internet complaint posts (tweets to followers, blog posts, etc.) re censorship are effective.  Facebook DID publish my wall reference to this blog post in Posts by Everyone.  First time ever for one of my Facebook entries re this blog.  Twitter, however - as of about 11:30 AM - is once again censoring my Toyota tweets from appearing in real-time.  Toyota can't stand the truth.

Update 8/27/10 - as of about 10:30 AM Twitter is continuing to censor references to this blog post from real-time. I also got a message from one of my followers that Twitter is preventing them from retweeting my tweets. Facebook - as of yesterday - is  finally starting to publish in real-time (Posts by Everyone) the entries I make on my home page. Gee. Maybe someone at Twitter is angry at Facebook.

Update 8/28/10 - about 4:00 PM Twitter finally backed off their censorship and published in real-time my tweet with a link to this blog post.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lee case an embarassment for Toyota

Amidst claims that Toyota's customers have been steppin' on the accelerator instead of the brake, along comes the troublesome case of Koua Fong Lee.  Wrongfully convicted of criminal vehicular homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison (see my 8/7/10 post), Lee has steadfastly maintained that he was hitting the brakes in a desperate effort to stop his Camry after it suddenly sped out of control resulting in the deaths of three people.  The keyword here is wrongfully, because after serving two and a half years, the charges were dropped, highlighting false testimony - that went unchallenged - and evidence that was witheld at Lee's trial.  'Tis the nature of these two items that sounds a sour note for Toyota's blame-the-customer bandwagon.

At Lee's trial, a mechanic testified falsely that Lee's car did not have anti-lock brakes, the existence of which would have offered an explanation for the absence of skid marks.  And Lee's attorney witheld a letter from Lee's insurance company confirming that the brake lights were engaged when the accident occurred.  Adding insult to injury, Lee's attorney sided with the prosecution in his closing statement to the jury, saying Lee probably stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake.  Sound familiar?  Its now clear that Lee's version of events was supported by the facts all along.  Hmmm... 

Just when the breeze seems to be blowin' in Toyota's favor, the case of Koua Fong Lee stands in stark contrast to claims of driver error.  It exposes facts that were supposed to stay hidden, along with the railroading of an immigrant.

Update 8/14/2010 - Facebook has censored this post from "Posts by Everyone" and Twitter has censored a tweet reference from real-time results.

Update 10/23/2010 - Koua has now filed a request to join a lawsuit against Toyota. http://www.twincities.com/news/ci_16412288?source=rss

Update 10/31/2010 - Koua's attorney says Toyota is liable:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Case of jailed Toyota driver affronts fairness

To begin with, it took nine months to file charges. Then there was the charge itself - vehicular homicide - which never did fit the facts of the case. Koua Fong Lee was returning home from church with his family when his Camry suddenly sped out of control on an exit ramp reaching speeds of 70-90 mph before crashing into another vehicle and resulting in the deaths of three people. Lee has steadfastly maintained that he repeatedly pressed the brake pedal but the car wouldn't stop, yet Lee's attorney (lest we forget, Lee is an immigrant who came to this country to escape dirt poor living conditions) sided with the prosecution by stating in his closing remarks to the jury that Lee probably mistook the accelerator for the brake.

Lee was found guilty, sentenced to a whopping eight years in prison, and would have remained quietly tucked away behind bars except for breaking news of sudden unintended acceleration in Toyotas. With a new lawyer, thousands registering support on a Facebook page, street protests, and mainstream media coverage, a hearing was held to determine if Lee should get a new trial. And that's where the story really gets interesting.

Lee's new attorney presented bombshell testimony showing that Lee's car had anti-lock brakes, accounting for the absence of skid marks. At Lee's "trial" there had been false testimony - by a city mechanic - stating that Lee's car did not have anti-lock brakes, and this testimony went unchallenged even though Lee's attorney had a letter from Lee's insurance company stating that the car's brake light was engaged. Sooo... with their opposition to a new trial smellin' worse than a kettle of rotten fish - and the case now making national headlines - the DA's office made a desperate, last ditch effort to dump the blame on Lee by offering to release him from prison if he would agree to drop his petition for a new trial and walk away a convicted felon. Talk about cheap shots. How many folks - with five and a half years of prison time to go - would have refused such an offer? If any, not many, and the prosecution knew it. But this time their victim had the courage of conviction - the sheer bravery - to turn down the offer, maintain his innocence, and proceed with his petition for a new trial. Applause, please, for Koua Fong Lee. Within hours - amidst a groundswell of public outrage over Lee's incarceration - the judge granted a new trial, the DA dismissed the charges declaring "this is over," and Lee was suddenly a free man with a clean record.

Well and good. But it's awfully strange how a mechanic can get a major piece of evidence wrong regarding something as readily verifiable as whether or not a car has anti-lock brakes. Ditto for a defense that allowed this testimony to go unchallenged. And wouldn't it have been a cozy deal for Toyota if Lee could have been bullied into takin' the blame and walkin' away a convicted felon while the matter conveniently faded from public view? Koua's criminal case is over, but it raises troubling questions galore.

Update 8/9/2010 - FB has blocked my Toyota posts from Posts by Everyone, and this morning, Twitter is once again blocking my tweets from real-time results. A new Facebook page (Toyota's cars kill innocent people. Stand up for the truth), and exposure of  false testimony, witheld evidence, etc. in the Koua Fong Lee case is turning up the heat on Toyota. Activists should monitor real-time publications for dirty tricks style censorship. Don't be dupped just because posts appear on profile pages, etc.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Censorship: Facebook joins Twitter and Yahoo

Facebook has apparently caught the censorship virus also.  Today on FB, I posted a reference to yesterday's blog post exposing the lousy service at Toyota dealerships.  And wouldn't ya know it?  Searched "Toyota," and the info didn't appear in FB's equivalent of Twitter's real-time results.  Dirty trick Twitter style, the info did appear on my FB Home page, Profile page, and Posts by Friends.  Facebook blocked the info from Posts by Everyone.

If it isn't government supported efforts to censor media coverage of the BP oil catastrophe, its an assault on Internet neutrality by the likes of Twitter, Yahoo and Facebook, while bloggers in China (make that RED China) accuse Toyota of paying private companies to delete unfavorable posts.  Let's be vigilant, expose censorship whenever it occurs, and speak out loudly in favor of Internet neutrality.   

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hey, Toyota: Someone else fixed my car.

Talk about lousy service at Toyota dealerships.  I've already posted regarding the unevenness in my rebuilt engine, the Check Engine light coming on, and the fact that I took my MR2 Spyder to the Toyota Center several times attempting to have these things corrected.  Their "senior mechanic" plugged in his diagnostic tool and suggested that I add bottles of moisture remover to my gas tank.  Of course, this didn't work, I finally quit going back, and the Check Engine light has remained on for a long time. 

Matters got resolved a few weeks ago when the hood release once again failed to operate (turns out that even though a Technical Service Bulletin was issued, neither Dick Dyer Toyota nor the Toyota Center were able to fix it), and I had to find someone who could get my hood open.  Determined not to take my car to a Toyota dealership, I found an independent repair shop, asked them to fix the hood release, and didn't even mention the other problems because I had pretty much given up on ever gettin' the car to run right.  But lo and behold, these folks took an interest in the car, asked me about the Check Engine light, and to make a long story short, the car now runs like it should for the first time since I bought it.  Smooth all the way to the redline, 'bout twice as fast, and no Check Engine light glaring in my face.  Cost about $800 but well worth it.  Thrilled, I am - even though these things should have been corrected when Toyota rebuilt the engine.

Whatsamatter, Toyota?  Are your dealers really that incompetent? Apparently so.  But at least I got a good laugh out of it when I saw you were offering  free service as a sales incentive.  'Cause that's exactly what your lousy service is worth.  Absolutely nothin'.

Update: Yesterday (7/20/2010) I posted a tweet referencing this post and this morning Twitter has censored my tweets from appearing in real-time.  Toyota must be gettin' nervous with all this talk of a widening federal grand jury investigation.  Look out, Toyota.  Your defective products are finally gettin' exposed.

Update 7/21/2010 5:29 PM This blog post has also been censored by Facebook.  It appears on FB Home, Profile and Posts by Friends, but not on Posts by Everyone.  Re Twitter, I'm apparently unblocked - at least for now. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Congrats, Tony. Right on for picketing Toyota.

Like yours truly, Tony Scanaliato got so fed up with Toyota he decided to picket in front of his local dealership.  Too bad there aren't more customers using this technique to expose Toyota's wrongdoing.  Its certainly one way to circumvent censorship.  What Toyota needs, bless their little charged-with-racketeering hearts, is customers all across the country picketing in front of their dealerships.  Wouldn't it be great if everyone who signed the oil sludge petition marched with signs letting potential customers know what they're gettin' into if they deal with Toyota?  One thing's for sure.  Absent a high profile tragedy,  Ol' Uncle Scam's mainstream media certainly isn't gonna help.  The idea is to wrist-slap Toyota with a fine or two, hoping that'll make NHTSA look good, and keep quiet about everyday ripoffs such as oil sludge, strange engine noises, and stonewalled defects causing engines to disintegrate in MR2 Spyders.

Hooray for Tony Scanaliato exposin' the "Toyota Way."  Such a pity consumers have to exercise extreme tactics to obtain some semblance of fairness.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Couple returns 2010 Camry - ads flunk the test

Talk about a hoot.  Here's another story I'll bet Toyota would love to censor, especially in view of their new ad campaign claiming "Your Toyota is my Toyota."  Tell that to a couple in Canada who returned their 2010 Camry after three (!) bouts of sudden unintended acceleration and their Toyota dealer's unsuccessful attempt to correct the problem.  Towing service was downright confrontational, and Toyota's credit department let these recalcitrant customers know that the car would be considered "abandoned."  Hey - that'll teach 'em to balk at drivin' a car that suddenly surges forward on its own.  The ad campaign is designed to reclaim lost trust, but maybe Toyota figures folks in Canada don't count 'cause the ads are directed at Europe...

This late-breaking example of the "Toyota Way," hailed ad nauseum by their CEO as a newfound respect for customers, has prompted these customers to plaster their new Camry with lemon stickers, call in the media, and ask Transport Canada to investigate.  Updates are promised.  Stay tuned.

Returned 2010 Camry, including video:  http://chathamdailynews.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2611751
Toyota's new ad campaign:  http://wot.motortrend.com/6644456/marketing/toyota-europe-launches-265-million-ad-campaign-to-win-back-trust/index.html

Earlier today, one of my Toyota tweets was again censored the "Twitter Way," which has come to include dirty tricks.  See update for previous post.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Censorship re Twitter, Yahoo... and Toyota

There are allegations that Twitter censored the tag, #flotilla to impede the avalanche of commentary after word got out re an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla carrying aid to Palestinians in Gaza.  Ordinarily, I would discount this in favor of attributing the problem to a glitch.  Unfortunately, however, my experiences with Twitter have not been ordinary.  Best I can tell, evidence of censorship - not only by Twitter, but also by Yahoo and Toyota - is starting to accumulate (see my posts for 4/28, 5/6, and 5/10/2010).

Today's allegations re Twitter are troubling because less popular tags relating to the flotilla incident encountered none of the technical difficulties Twitter apologists say are responsible.  Furthermore, after a tide of microblogs leveled charges of censorship, the #flotilla "glitch" suddenly disappeared.  Kinda like what happened to me when I kept notifying my followers re Twitter's efforts to censor comments I tweeted about Toyota, including tweets re the same sort of censorship by Yahoo.  Last but not least, mainstream media accounts of the raid were obviously questionable.

Censorship should alarm everyone - especially those of us who frequent the Internet.  We now have the potential to reveal the kind of information that government and industry has been able to keep quiet by pressuring traditional media.  This is not the time to hurl unfounded allegations, but it is most certainly a time for vigilance.  For example, I am particularly alarmed re Twitter publishing my tweets via (searching) my account, but not publishing them in real-time results.  This has all the earmarks of a dirty trick, because if I send out comments compaining that the tweet was censored, it appears that I was - at best - mistaken.  Rest assured that I carefully monitor real-time results immediately after I tweet.

Update 6/8/2010 1:19 am - monitored 15 mins. - as outlined above, Twitter again published one of my Toyota tweets under my acct and on my profile page, blocked it from real-time results, and published subsequent complaint tweets in real-time.  Dirty tricks the "Twitter Way."

Censorship issues aside, the flotilla incident is deplorable and heartbreaking.  I join those who condemn the raid.


Monday, May 24, 2010

Lexus LS (Lousy Steering) recalled n drydocked

I'll bet Toyota wishes they could censor the truth about this one.  Their much ballyhooed flagship, the Lexus LS - models hit the $60k to 100k range - has not only been recalled.  Its  been drydocked.  Yessir, after news of the defective steering had time to soak in, ol' Mr. T was forced to just go ahead and stop sellin' 'em altogether. 

Halting sales for safety reasons is rare in the automotive industry, but certainly not for Toyota.  Stoppin' sales is gettin' to be synonomous with the Toyota Way.  Frankly, I think Toyota oughta be forced to bring their entire operation to a screechin' halt, at least until the racketeering charges are resolved.  After all - news blackout notwithstanding - they've got over 3,000 customers alleging deceptive business practices over oil sludged engines...

Till Toyota finds a fix for this latest exposed defect, its comforting to know that Lexus LS (Lousy Steering) owners need not worry.  Toyota says the steering wheel can still be used to steer the car.  Really.  That's what they say.

Friday, May 14, 2010

News Blackout: 3,133 customers petition Akio Toyoda

When thousands of customers complain about the policies of a business that has been charged with racketeering, the public most certainly has a right to know. Nonetheless, mainstream news organizations are refusing to publish this story.

Hardcopy of the online petition, "Toyota Owners Unite for Resolution: Engine Oil Sludge" was submitted to President Akio Toyoda, Toyota headquarters, on April 21, 2010, delivery confirmed via signed receipt.  Toyota's response, received May 11, 2010, has been typically nonsensical.

Excerpts from the news release:


Thousands of outraged customers have petitioned Toyota seeking redress for engines damaged by oil sludge.  They allege that Toyota stonewalls and refuses to comply with the terms of a class action settlement, and at least one petitioner has filed a lawsuit.  "No wonder Toyota is charged with racketeering," said Charlene Blake, who initiated the petition.  "Toyota's response to oil sludged engines is the epitome of deceptive business practices."

The release was in standard format (due to a technical problem, the Huffington Post received a summary via their website) and provided ample contact information.  Here is a list of the news organizations that were notified:

LA Times
Washington Post
USA Today
Associated Press
Huffington Post
NY Times
Consumer News
Media Asia
Detroit Free Press

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yahoo blocks comments about Toyota.

Anyone who thinks Yahoo is a bastion of free speech better think again.  In recent weeks, with only two or three exceptions, Big Y has been refusing to publish my comments below articles about Toyota.  I've been permitted to comment on other topics, and interestingly enough, Yahoo has published my comments via Buzz.  The objective seems to be to prevent information from reaching the really BIG audiences attracted to top news stories, usually Yahooed via the Associated Press and garnering perhaps over 20,000 comments.  Buzz generally attracts a far more limited response, and is apparently being used by Yahoo in an effort to placate my concerns regarding censorship.  This evening, about 8:30 pm, Yahoo censored my comments re "Toyota waited months to issue steering recall," prompting this post.

Yahoo has a history of censoring comments.  Check out Yahoo's response when someone posted comments on a flickr blog complaining about thieved photographs, and Yahoo's scolding from Reporters Without Borders for cooperating with Internet censorship via repressive regimes such as China.  Gee.  What else has Yahoo been up to, and how many voices - outspoken bloggers in China are often jailed - has Yahoo helped to silence?

Bloggers in China have accused Toyota of hiring companies to remove negative posts.  Let's hope Yahoo, Toyota, and Twitter (see posts for 4/28 and 5/6/2010) aren't tryin' to globalize the repression of free speech.

UPDATE:  Immediately after publishing this post, I submitted a tweet, "Yahoo blocks comments about Toyota. (link to this post)," and Twitter censored the tweet from Search.  I then submitted a tweet intended for my followers, "Twitter is censoring my tweet re Yahoo blocking comments about Toyota," and it appeared in Search.  This is the same boorish tactic used by Twitter earlier today (see today's UPDATE below 5/6/2010 post).

UPDATE:  5/21/2010 Yahoo continues to block my comments re Toyota.  This afternoon about 5:10 pm EDST, I submitted a comment below the Yahoo news article (via AP), "Toyota recalls 3,800 Lexus cars for steering fix," and once again it was blocked.  Not surprising that one of the congressional witnesses Toyota targeted for attack also had a blog critical of Toyota (see link list under Shhh...). 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Censored by Twitter: Toyota's April sales plummet 16.7 percent in Canada

5/12/2010 - instead of separate posts, I am currently adding updates at the bottom of this post re various censorship problems with Twitter.

Toyota's slick marketing and deep discounts wore off quickly in Canada, confirmed by a 16.7 percent plunge in April sales while other automakers posted gains.  For some reason, this wasn't very well publicized on this side of the border, including the popular social media site Twitter.  When I submitted a tweet with the link below, it appeared on my home page and my profile page, but was repeatedly blocked from Search.  Recently, I've been encountering censorship not only from Twitter, but also from Yahoo.

Apparently, the reason Toyota's decline didn't "catch up with them earlier" has to do with pre-booked sales instead of the deep discounts Toyota has been offering in an attempt to lure customers into showrooms.  Perhaps this kind of information is what Toyota, Twitter, and Yahoo would prefer to keep quiet.

UPDATE 05/07/2010 - Twitter has censored tweets about this article from appearing in Search.  Twitter's censorship re this particular tweet started yesterday.  A subsequent tweet, "Reaching out the Toyota Way http://toyotasludge.com/victims " did appear in Search, and that may have been the ol' proverbial straw that broke Toyota's back, prompting Twitter to block all of my tweets from appearing in Search.  The link connects to a testimonial that exposes the truth about Toyota's current attitude toward customers, and is posted - along with the customer's name - on a blog established by yet another recently victimized Toyota customer.  Hey, Twitter:  this is NOT the United States of Toyota. 

UPDATE 5/8/2010 - About 8:30 pm yesterday, I noticed that my tweets were once again appearing in Search.  I'll be posting further updates re any significant developments.  

UPDATE 5/10/2010 - about noon, I repeatedly submitted the above tweet, "Toyota's April sales plummet 16.7 percent in Canada. http://tinyurl.com/25ukt2o " but it was still censored from Search.  I then tweeted info intended for my followers, "5/10/2010 about 12:15 pm Twitter still censoring 'Toyota's April sales plummet 16.7 percent in Canada. http://tinyurl.com/25ukt2o '" and that tweet was published in Search.  Bitter, Twitter?

UPDATE 5/12/2010 - about 9:25 pm I submitted a tweet referencing an article about Toyota's finances.  After monitoring Real-time rusults for about ten minutes, the tweet did not appear, but about an hour later, it showed up via regular Search.  At that time, I noticed Twitter's longstanding problem with apostrophies appearing as ' had finally been resolved.  This caused my tweet - which had been programmed to read correctly assuming Twitter's glitch - to appear jumbled.   I deleted the tweet, resubmitted it, and it appeared in Search via Real-time results within a minute or less.  About 2:00 am I submitted a tweet re Toyota's "buzz" rating being categorized as "corporate cad."  I immediately monitored Real-time results for about ten minutes but the tweet never appeared.  Then I searched again, and it appeared on a stationary list of tweets labelled Real-time results.  My retweets this evening were also omitted from active Real-time results, and one of them never appeared on my Home page.       

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Twitter experience smacks of scare tactics

Having been active on Twitter for about two months, I've found the experience to be a strange mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Accounts are nicely formatted with wonderful design options; tweets are generally informative and often humorous. But my first "followers" had accounts loaded with obscenities. Four letter filth. Pictures of drug addicts and thugs. I blocked them, but there was a weird pop-up when the cursor was paused over the word "you" in the message, "retweeted by you," that accompanies retweets. Instead of my name appearing, the pop-up mimiced the message, stating "Retweeted by You," and linked to an account titled "You" which referenced a "wallace" located in "Wilsonville." There was four letter filth, and emblazoned in large letters across the top was "I kill people who nudge me." This situation persisted for about two or three weeks after I compalined to Twitter. No proof of a connection, but searching Twitter, I found a David Wallace who owns one of those "reputation management" companies that protect corporations from "Consumer Generated Media." Kinda made me wonder if someone was tryin' to discourage me from criticizin' Toyota.

Many tweets are peppered with obscenities. That seems inconsistent with Twitter's avowed concern for a "quality" search experience, and I won't belabor the aggravation of apostrophies appearing as ' (commonly understood to stand for "annoying piece of s..."). Then there's Twitter's policy of punishing rules violations by suddenly blocking tweets from search. Common courtesy dictates the need for a polite warning before taking such drastic action. I don't think most folks - especially newcomers - intentionally violate Twitter's directives, and some accounts violate the rules with apparent impunity, repeatedly submitting similar or identical tweets and identical links.
Twitter leaves quite a bit to be desired, but has the potential to become a class act. Here's another critique:   

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NHTSA lets Toyota off with a wrist slap

$16.4m would be a lot of dough for most folks, but Toyota isn't among them. Having made something in the range of $52 billion last year, its little wonder that Toyota agreed to pay the fine in exchange for not being required to admit guilt.  If only the taxpayers could levy a fine aginst NHTSA.

More troubling still, I don't believe sentiments such as mine are getting adequately publicized.  The article below is the only one I've come across that criticizes the "punishment" Toyota received for allegedly covering up safety defects.  I was unable to access the comments, and when I tried to link up with Twitter, my tweet appeared on my home page, but I could find no evidence that it was published.  Worse yet, several other efforts to tweet about this issue were - as far as I can tell - unsuccessful.  What gives here?  Hopefully,  just a glitch.  Problem is, a pattern of strange "glitches" is emerging with regard to my efforts on Twitter, and government censorship on the Internet - not to mention blogger allegations that Toyota deletes negative posts in China via so-called "e-PR" agencies - has become a hot topic.  But I'll reserve further comments on that issue for a future post.

Right on for the Motley Fool tellin' it like it is:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Toyota exec: "We need to come clean."

Honest, folks.  It wasn't me - it was one of Toyota's own.  Upper echelon own.  Five days before their recall re sudden unintended acceleration, an executive fired off an email advising the big T to come clean.  Gee.  That's what Toyota's customers have been sayin' for years.  Over 3,140 have signed a petition complaining of Toyota's stonewallin' re oil sludged engines, MR2 Spyder owners have been documenting engine failures on Spyder club websites, and blogs attempting to expose Toyota are poppin' up right n left.

Here's a link to some nice news coverage (video) of the execs advice:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Toyota halts sale of 2010 Lexus 460

Oops. Toyota caught again. This time, Consumer Reports says the Lexus 460 SUV poses an extreme rollover risk. So extreme that CR has issued a rare "Don't Buy" warning to consumers.

Toyota has halted sales of the 460, but here's the question:  where is quality control at Toyota? Furthermore, are we to believe Toyota didn't know about this until CR issued a safety warning?

Given all the recent revelations about Toyota, maybe Consumer Reports is a little gun shy 'bout not doin' what it claims to do. I lost faith in CR because they refused to investigate and warn consumers about 1zz engine failures in Toyota's MR2 Spyders. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Associated Press says Toyota is deceptive when sued

According to an Associated Press investigation, 'ol "Mr. T" resorts to incredibly sleazy tactics if anyone dares to sue them. Questionable, evasive, and deceptive, says AP. Even goin' so far as to ignore court orders to produce key documents. 

Nothin' Toyota deceitfully does would surprise me, but this story raises the question once again: Who (or what) does Toyota think they are?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Toyota dealer praises filthy video

Update:  after public criticism, this Toyota dealer musta had second thoughts about his choice of advertising.  The video no longer appears on his website. 

Might oughta restrict the kids from checkin' out Toyota dealers' websites.  Jon Lancaster Toyota in Madison, Wisconsin has a sales manager - Nathan Riesen - who lists as a "Favorite" the video of a face-masked-dressed-in-black character ranting, raving, and using not only four letter filth, but also profanity in a tirade against Prius drivers who don't shift into neutral when Toyota's little wonder car suddenly decides to take off.  Not that most of us haven't used equally bad language in the heat of a moment.  Its just that this video was carefully selected, labeled, and conspicuously marked with a red heart.  Musta been love at first sight. 

Actually, I wasn't all that surprised.  Its certainly consistent with what I've experienced, and incidentally, Mr. Riesen is a "Certified Master Sales Consultant" and a "Sales Society Master."  Nothin' like masterin' yer craft...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Toyota charged with racketeering

Leave it to Toyota to set records.  Ol' "Mr. T" is now the defendant in the first consumer lawsuit of its kind, charged with violating RICO, the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.  I like the part where one of the attorneys refers to Toyota's policy of blaming somebody else when things go wrong.  That's the Toyota I've come to know.

Racketeering?  Somehow, Toyota keeps remindin' me of the Godfather. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Toyota wants runaway Prius. Cops say no.

After this latest report of a runaway Prius, Toyota tried to "collect" the car, whereupon the cops told 'em no.  Had some ridiculously outrageous idea that the Prius didn't belong to Toyota, it belonged to the owner. 

Really, folks.  Who does Toyota think they are?  Whatever.  One thing's for sure, though.  Before long, a runaway Prius will be so commonplace it won't make the news...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Don't twitter, Toyota. Just tweet people right.

Toyota just doesn't get it.  To reach out to customers, they've hired a marketing firm to help 'em make tweets on Twitter. 

Here's the deal, Toyota.  Its not about marketing.  Its about standin' behind your product.  Tellin' the truth.   Reimbursin' customers for defects, and never takin' 'em to be fools.  What kinda tweets are ya gonna make about those 3,000+ customers who have signed a petition to protest your stonewallin' ways?  What about all those 1zz engine failures?  Real ripoffs for folks who bought MR2 Spyders and Celicas.  Apparently, you weaseled out of includin' these models in your oil sludge recall.  And then there's the never ending barrage of recent disclosures.  Traffic fatalities involving runaway vehicles, deals with safety regulators, and the list goes on ad nauseum.  Tweets on Twitter?  By the time the grand jury gets through, you might be singin' like bird...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Agreed, Mr. Williams: it looks like corruption.

Deals with safety regulators savin' Toyota hundreds of millions of dollars, safety investigations blocked, horrific crashes involving out-of-control vehicles, and the list of alarming revelations gets longer by the day.  Now, mainstream media's Armstrong Williams says he's been led to believe there's full-scale corruption at Toyota.  Cover-up.  Killing machines.  Dirty little secrets. 

Its high time someone with Mr. Williams' credentials said so.  'Cause blamin' this scandal on "rapid growth" and "bad PR" is becomin' scandalous itself.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Is Akio the Prince... or the Godfather?

"Toyota President Akio Toyoda, known as 'the prince' in Japan..."

Prince or Godfather? The jury - federal grand - is still out on that one, but I'm leanin' toward the latter. As the death count increases, evidence points to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sweetheart deals between Toyota and NHTSA, revolving doors resulting in blocked safety investigations, and the intentional witholding of stuff Toyota was legally required to release in accordance with lawsuits filed against them by crash victims. Big stuff.  Stuff about vehicle design and testing, complete with out of court settlements motivated by a desire to keep incriminating information quiet. And just for good measure, the Securities and Exchange Commission has jumped into the fray, demanding to know more about what Toyota has been tellin' investors. Whew. That's enough to raise anyone's eyebrows.

Equally alarming - now that a few investigations are under way - it seems we're gettin' a daily dose of heretofore unheard of defects, along with downright unnerving accounts of NHTSA's response to consumer complaints. Even Apple's Steve Wozniak got the cold shoulder when he complained about sudden unintended acceleration in his Prius.

With sales a sufferin', Toyota is comin' up with better offers for customers affected by current recalls, and plans to offer some spectacular incentives to attract buyers. Okay. But somehow, this whole thing reminds me of a movie I once saw about a family run business that got its way by makin' offers people just couldn't refuse...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hey, NHTSA: oil sludge IS a safety issue...

Toyota continues to stonewall customers whose engines have been damaged by oil sludge, and over 3,000 have signed a petition in protest.  Many engines have suddenly seized up in traffic, some on the Interstate.  Yet the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn't consider sludged engines to be a safety hazard.  How come? 

As the relationship between Toyota and the NHTSA raises alarming questions of political influence - along with a criminal investigation - it's way past time to bring the oil sludge problem front and center.  Not only is there an obvious safety issue, there's also compelling evidence that certain models were unduly excluded when Toyota was successfully sued in a class action years ago.

Anytime an outrageous number of engines conk out, its not the customers' fault.  And if any car company now has a reputation for blaming customers when things go wrong, its Toyota.  Wouldn't it be nice if the taxpayin' public had recourse to a government agency that looks out for consumers instead of corporations?  C'mon, NHTSA.  Do your job.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unintended acceleration: NHTSA knew in 2003

Revolving doors twixt NHTSA and Toyota, deals cut with so-called safety regulators savin' Toyota 'bout $100 million, and the wash gets dirtier by the day. Now, State Farm has changed its story regarding when they alerted NHTSA regarding unintended acceleration. Seems it was 2004 instead of 2007. Not to be outdone, ol' NHTSA has fired back that it started looking into things December of '03. Okay...

Question is, after they knew, what did they do? Well for one thing, they slammed the brakes on an investigation into consumer complaints of unintended acceleration in Toyota's 2006 and 2007 Tacoma trucks. And Apple's Steve Wozniak says he didn't get all that warm a reception either when he tried to alert NHTSA to unintended acceleration in his Prius. Actually, there have been horror stories galore from drivers of Toyota's little wonder car, and other models are also accused of takin' off the wrong way. After NHTSA was alerted to the problem, it denied at least four petitions from owners alleging unintended acceleration.

Heckuva job, Nitsuh.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Corolla (!) spotlighted for steering problems

If you drive a 2009 or 2010 Corolla, look out. There have been a barrage of complaints about the steering, of all things.

Frankly, given the news regarding safety defects in various Toyota vehicles, I wouldn't trust any of Toyota's stuff. The Corolla? Say it ain't so. Toyota can't even get it right regarding its best seller?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tacoma picks up unintended acceleration

For the kinda pick up you don't want, visit a Toyota dealership. Turns out the Tacoma has had complaints of unintended acceleration. The NHTSA says resources weren't available to investigate a couple of years ago, but they might take a look now. Their willingness to reconsider coincides with highly publicized allegations claimin' political influence within the NHTSA has been protectin' Toyota from all kinds o' stuff. The Tacoma is named after Tacoma, Washington, and that makes for a nice touch, 'cause now the Tacoma brings to mind yet another Washington.

I'll take my taco with a little mustard...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Money talks, Congress listens...

And if you ain't got millions and millions of dollars - BILLIONS are even better - well, Bunky, its gonna be kinda hard gettin' heard. Congressional hearings into Toyota? Anyone who thinks Congress has any interest in correcting consumer rip offs involving Toyota and/or the NHTSA better think again.  Instead, it seems our dear elected officials have more of an interest in protecting these two culprits. Its becoming clearer by the minute exactly how Toyota has been able to get away with ignoring most any defect imaginable, including continuing problems with oil sludged engines. No wonder the recent lawsuit filed against Toyota in West Virginia complains that political influence within the NHTSA has been lookin' out for Toyota. Next thing you know, the public is gonna suspect that Toyota's reputation for quality is all mixed up with some pretty rotten stuff.

Did I say political influence?  I thought it kinda strange that several members of Congress were so anxious to hold hearings into Toyota's defective products, its relationship with the NHTSA, etc., and now I realize that "kinda strange" is an understatement. Turns out the politicians conducting the "hearings" have more ties to Toyota and the NHTSA than you could shake the ol' proverbial stick at.

I guess you could say actions - such as slatherin' grease on the right palms - do indeed speak louder than words. Yessir, a big enough glob of that ol' filthy lucre even tends to drown out those screams recorded on a 911 tape of four innocent people, including a 13-year-old girl, as they headed for fiery deaths at 120 mph in a runaway Lexus.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Consumers: NHTSA = No Help To Solve Anything

The public is finally getting a first hand look at the way government has been protecting Toyota (and no tellin' who else) instead of Toyota's ripped off customers. A class action lawsuit filed against Toyota a couple of months ago in West Virginia reveals shocking evidence of politically inspired chicanery within the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and challenges Toyota's "fixes" for unintended acceleration. Another class action suit has just been filed in Ohio accusing Toyota of fraud.

NHTSA has become little more than a front for corporate interests, and this latest Toyota mess is only the tip of an iceberg. To name a few examples, its a disgrace when over three thousand Toyota customers resort to signing an online petition seeking relief because of oil sludged engines. Its a disgrace when a carmaker is allowed to exclude obviously defective models from recalls, and its a disgrace when the government agency charged with traffic safety turns a deaf ear to a major car club's carefully documented complaints. The list goes on and on ad nauseum, but the NHTSA's negligence regarding unintended acceleration may turn out to be the straw that broke the camel's back. It brings to light one simple question. How many people have been seriously injured or killed because of political influence within the NHTSA?

Here's the real shame of it all. Toyota would still be doing business as usual except for the deaths of four people (including a 13-year-old girl) in a highly publicized 120 mph crash documented on tape when an occupant in an out of control Lexus made a frantic call to 911.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lawsuit links unintended acceleration, electronics

There are comments all over the Internet alleging that Toyota's "fix" for sudden acceleration does not address the cause. Actually, a lawsuit was filed months ago revealing evidence of a malfunction in Toyota's electronics. The suit also gives the public good reason to believe that political influence within the NHTSA has kept things quiet for Toyota.

This lawsuit may force some meaningful answers out of Toyota, along  with an explanation as to why certain models have been exempted from recalls. Customers say that exempting certain models from recalls is a tactic that goes back to Toyota's oil sludge problems. Toyota must be gettin' help from somebody. Thousands of customers have signed an online petition complaining of abuse, and at least one lawsuit is being planned to force Toyota to comply with the terms of the oil sludge settlement.

Unintended acceleration linked to electronics? Political influence at the NHTSA? Why hasn't this lawsuit made headlines on the evening news?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Government pressures Toyota to stop sales

Toyota's latest batch of recalls seems to be the ol' proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Thanks to government pressure, Toyota has now stopped selling several of its most popular models, including its much ballyhooed Camry, Corolla, and RAV 4 crossover. Not that there's any connection, of course, but government intervention also coincided with a sudden stop in the production of these vehicles. If you ask me, Toyota oughta also quit exposin' the public to other models, startin' with the Prius. Better yet, why doesn't Toyota just do everyone a favor and close their lousy business down entirely? Apparently, the government was finally forced to act because of the horrific consequences of Toyota's defects, and the never ending barrage of consumer complaints, not only to government agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but also complaints lodged all over the Internet via comments on numerous websites, an online petition signed by over three thousand desperate Toyota customers, and individual blogs devoted to exposing the truth.

There are costs involved with producing a quality product and then reimbursing customers when honest errors are made. But cuttin' such costs invariably turn out to be even more costly in the long run. The long "run" occurs when irrate customers get together and run offending businesses like Toyota clean out of town.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bad news keeps rollin' in for Toyota

Update: Today (10/26/10) Yahoo censored comments I submitted that were critical of Toyota and Consumer Reports magazine, including remarks about engine failures in MR2 Spyders.

Hooray for the public getting an unvarnished look at Toyota. 'Tis a pity mainstream media still refuses to expose all those engine failures in Toyota's MR2 Spyders. Nonetheless, many of the horrors of doing business with Toyota are finally coming to the public's attention.

This 1/22/10 BusinessWeek article uses some interesting terminology, sayin' Toyota can't even "buy" a break from the continuing barrage of bad news. Hmmm. Is puttin' a little cash in the right hands the way Toyota has been keepin' things quiet about their lousy products? Frankly, I'm still puzzled over Consumer Reports' silence regarding engine failures in MR2 Spyders. I no longer have any confidence in Consumer Reports magazine. I contacted CR about the problems with MR2 Spyders, and my efforts turned out to be a waste of time. Sorta like the folks runnin' the Spyderchat website complainin' to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Let's face it. The consumer has been sold down the river by an electoral system that's the best money can buy. Both parties marchin' along to the drumbeat of Wall Street. Isn't it a dirty, rotten shame that taxpayer dollars have been spent to help corporations like Toyota victimize an unsuspecting public?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Floor mat attacks Avalon by remote control

Yessir, the floor mat had most certainly been removed, so some sort of remote control is the only logical expanation for this case of unintended acceleration involving a 2007 Toyota Avalon.  Apparently, what this pesky floor mat - they're known to be vindictive and hateful -didn't count on was the driver being able to get the car to the dealer while the problem was occuring. If Toyota will look into this matter a little closer, they'll no doubt discover that floor mats are highly sensitive, and it irks 'em to be removed.

Based on my experience, floor mats get treated better than Toyota's customers.