Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Canadian Senate: Choosing Solutions Poorly

You must never underestimate your opposition. - John Scarlett

Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man. - Iain Duncan Smith

A few years ago, I was having a problem with my vehicle transmission where it was shifting sluggishly and making unusual noises.  Since it was still under warranty, I brought it into the dealership and explained my concern.  They said they could see nothing wrong and returned the vehicle.

As the problem got worse (and louder), I brought it into the dealership twice more and twice the vehicle was returned with an “all good” designation.

When the vehicle was 90 miles past the warranty, the transmission failed completely.

As a dedicated customer of more than 20 years, I complained to no avail to the dealer and corporate HQ and was informed that my only options were to buy a refurbished transmission for $2500 or a new one for $4000.  Not wanting to take a chance on a refurbished one, I paid $4000 for a new one.

It lasted a single day before failing.  When the dealership took it apart, they discovered that it had failed because an extra washer (a part costing a few pennies) had been added incorrectly at the factory. They took the transmission apart, repaired it and reassembled it.

Meanwhile, I now protested that I was in fact getting a refurbished one since it had only lasted one day before having to be rebuilt by the dealership and I should be refunded the difference.

It didn’t matter to the dealership or the national brand and I was left with a decision.

I could sue somebody for $4000.

Or I could do something much more expensive to the brand.

When I had purchased this vehicle, more than 40 other people had purchased the same vehicle on my recommendation, to the tune of more than $1.6 million.  As a matter of fact, every time I buy a new vehicle, many people follow my lead and buy the same vehicle on my exuberant recommendation.

And so when I shared across my network what had happened, these same people chose another brand when they bought their next car.

Cost to me – $4000.

Cost to the brand – A couple of million within my immediate network, plus the cost within my 2nd degree network, etc.

They thought that forcing me to pay $4000 was a smart solution on their part.

They had underestimated the power and reach of the customer they were ignoring

Meanwhile at the Senate …….

For the sake of a couple of hundred thousand dollars in allegedly inappropriate spending, Canada now has a Senate and a Parliament spending an inordinate number of cycles, paying an inordinate number of consultants and auditors and everything else to “make it go away”.

I’m willing to bet that the cost of the solution has already far outstripped the cost of the problem – at least the problem that we are aware of. <<Case in point – CBC Report: Senate expense audits cost taxpayers $528K>>

Equally as important, the impact on the perception of the Senate, the impact on the PMO and the impact on Prime Minister Harper himself remains unknown but potentially very expensive since it appears that we haven’t seen the last of the bombshell revelations.

The issues with the Senators are a symptom of a larger problem in the Canadian Senate – problems that will not get solved in the theatrics, diplomatic time wasting, obfuscation and evasion that is currently in progress in the Senate and Parliament.

The Government of Canada needs to get on top of these issues in a manner that appeals to the public – with transparency, with haste and with a long-term solutions that makes sense to “the customer” – the electorate.

The “transmission” of the Canadian Government is not shifting well and is making a lot more noise than it should be.

I think someone needs to fix it soon before the customer seeks another brand that offers a better solution.  The other brand may not actually be able to deliver a better solution – but we won’t discover that until we buy their product.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,


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