The nation laughed when the Mercedes A-Class tipped over in the meanwhile legendary moose-test of a Swedish magazine in 1997. Shortly after, Audi caused not so much laughter, but nevertheless a huge media response when it became known that the new prestige car TT tended to swing off in certain situations. Both manufacturers called back the cars and touched them up comprehensively. Meanwhile, recalls have become so common in the car sector that the magazine of the German General Automobile Association (ADAC) can fill almost a whole column with them every month and most car owners react rather calmly to them.
In the bike sector, it looks completely different. Here, recalls have up to now been rather rare and are hotly discussed among members of the scene. When mail order company Canyon called back the road bike models "F8", "F9" and "F10" in winter because of problems with the fork, the TOUR-forum was in an uproar: "I wonder, how these people can sleep sound although they know that their scrap is out there on the roads!" the manufacturer was criticized. Others did not want to acknowledge the recall as commendable attitude of Canyon: "What is commendable about this? What else are they supposed to do? Wait until 20 forks have broken?" It seems to be a no-win situation.
Most manufacturers concerned, probably simply lack the money to start a recall: The customers have to be informed, the replacement products have to be produced, shipped to the dealers and exchanged there. Depending on quantities and the effort necessary, quickly some thousand Euros fall due - and only a few companies are insured. For many of these companies, a recall would bring about ruin. And: Even if a recall has been processed, the company will have to win back arduously the customers' and dealers' confidence. That is why many of these enterprises rely on the hope principle and on the luck that no severe accident will happend with the product identified as defective; or they speculate quite artlessly on the damaged customer's of their product getting caught in the mantraps of legal proceedings. This is the case especially with foreign manufacturers.
But with such a behavior, the concerned providers risk losing more credibility than they would have if they had admitted their problem and made it public. Everybody makes mistakes - therefore, companies which call back are - in spite of the widespread opinion - not incompetent to make durable components, but show sense of responsibility. Their customers's safety and health matters to them - two things, which should justify every Euro flowing into a recall. The Mercedes A-Class and the Audi TT have become some of the most successful models of the respective manufacturers anyway - despite the recalls.
Author: Dirk Zedler
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