Retail Front

Why I Didn’t Take Any Surveys After I Bought a New Car

You want me to answer 233 questions?! I have anything better to do.

After being stranded one too many times last summer by my ’02 Volkswagen Jetta, I decided to lease a ’13 Chevy Volt in September.

I hadn’t even left the dealership with my car and already I was being asked to complete a survey.

As my colleague Tom Murphy wrote back in his October blog, “Please Tell Me I’m Truly Exceptional,” dealers are judged so harshly by manufacturers for even a “really satisfied” score that you must be “really, really satisfied” with them, so as not to wreak havoc on your humble salesman’s life.

If I spend the time to take a survey I want to answer it truthfully, so I didn’t take my dealer’s survey.

I also didn’t participate in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, the results of which were just released for the ’13 model year.

But I did pocket the $1 they sent. Thanks, guys.

Nor did I fill out the AutoPacific survey that recently arrived in my mailbox.


You would think that, in working at WardsAuto where data is big business, I would be apt to put even more data into this world.

But frankly I have better things to do with my time.

This year’s IQS included 233 questions. 233 questions!

I didn’t count the number of questions on the AutoPacific survey, but it looked to be many more.

Dave Sargent, vice president-global automotive for J.D. Power, says they don’t require 233 answers, as IQS participants only need to answer questions relevant to them.

Still, each question needs to be read and processed, which takes time.

Sargent estimates it takes 40 minutes to complete the IQS questionnaire, but that’s only the start of the fun.

This year, J.D. Power switched to online survey-taking, meaning it can follow up with respondents if their answers are unclear or it wants to know more detail about a particular problem.

I’m sure every industry survey firm is being prodded by auto makers, their customers, to ask more and more questions, but 233 is about 200 too many.

Not only do I take issue with the length of these surveys, but also the number of possible responses.

Again, why must GM know if my experience buying my Volt was “really” satisfying, or “really, really” satisfying?

I love my car, I don’t LOVE MY CAR!!! I don’t LOVE anything but my family.

What’s wrong with “satisfied,” “neutral” and “dissatisfied” choices?

I do love my car. It’s been relatively problem-free. There was an early issue with the passenger airbag that was easily remedied at the dealership.

I also had a volume switch replaced. It had a tendency to change the radio station when held down at length.

I wasn’t put out by either of these problems.

I’m not a complainer.

I have a feeling that most of the people who participate in these surveys are, or, given the tradition of luxury brands scoring well, trying to justify all the Benjamins they spent on their vehicle.


Discuss this Blog Entry 3

on Jul 8, 2013

There are 2 problems with surveys: 1. They don't ask the appropriate questions and 2. the answers rarely can be summarized into "good, really good, sorta good, etc, etc. Unfortunately, we take this garbage data and turn it into "best 10" lists which actually mean nothing. Corporations spend millions on rating systems that focus on the number rather than the meaning behind the number. I can't count how many times I've been asked to rate my dealer experience a 5 out 5 and if I don't, please let them know before submitting it. When I call to discuss, the only resolution I get is a free oil change or a "sorry' No one ever fixes the problem, they only chase the rating.

on Jul 9, 2013

I rate your comment "truly exceptional."

on Dec 31, 2013

Good article and comment.
Same reasons (stated in the article) that I never responded to corporates' or J. D. Power's surveys, although I have been buying or leasing every 2 years for the past 22 years (until recently, where I gave up on Lincoln dumping the UGLY grill, so I switched to a Japanese brand).

I consider the published results of these surveys to be useless.
It's a way to make some people (at the survey companies) continue to make a living, that's all.

A total of TEN questions would be good enough, with 8 or 9 about the product, and 2 or ONE about the dealership.

Sadly, a lot of companies out there still think that today's customer is the same customer from the 1940s or 1950s!
Either that or they still have the 1940s / 1950s mentality.

For me, any questionnaire longer than 10 questions will instantly find its way to the recycle bin.

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What's Retail Front?

Blogs about automotive retailing, commenting on news impacting the business of selling vehicles.


Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine and a senior editor for His journalism career started 42 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes...

Jim Ziegler

Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
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