Toyota Customer Service Complaints – Make Your Voice Heard
An unfortunate part of being a buyer of any company’s product is that sometimes you have to complain to get an issue resolved. While we expect our Toyota’s to work perfectly, this isn’t always the case. Here’s our recommended process for registering your customer service complaints with Toyota:
- Calm down – if you get emotional, you’re more likely to be viewed as a “crazy person” rather than a person with a legitimate problem.
- Make a plan – Decide what you want the dealer or Toyota to do to solve your problem.
- Call the local dealership and ask to speak to the General Manager FIRST – do NOT call Toyota’s national hotline right away. Instead, gradually escalate from the local dealership to the regional office to the national hotline.
- Certified mail is legal correspondence, so use it if all else fails*
Here’s a breakdown of all the steps, with explanations as to why we recommend this process.
Step 1) Remove Your Emotions
This first step to getting anywhere with a complaint is to first remove all the emotion out of it. If your complaint consists of yelling, obscenities, or personal insults, you’re not helping yourself. Customer service representatives work with hundreds of people and are all too conditioned to this behavior for it to have any effect. What’s more, the more outrageous your behavior, the easier it is to discount your complaint. If you want to be taken seriously, you have to speak and act in a calm, professional manner.
So, before you talk to someone at the Toyota dealership be sure you’re calm. Take a deep breath, remember what your goal is (getting your problem solved), and then work towards that goal in a rational and collected manner.
Step 2) Make a Game Plan
Before making a complaint, sit back and ask yourself “What do I want?” If your desire is just to share your frustrations, calling Toyota customer service or speaking with someone at your local dealership is all you need to do.
If your desire is instead to get something fixed or replaced, you need to think about what that means in specific terms, and then make sure you can express it clearly. Something like “I am really frustrated with the way item A looks/feels/functions and I would really like item A replaced.” That tells the person what the issue is and how you would you like it resolved.
Step 3) Start Local, then Regional, and then National if All Else Fails
While it is tempting to pick up the phone and call the national Toyota help line right away when you have a complaint, it’s in your best interests to start at your local dealer. The reason? Toyota expects your local dealer to fix your problem for you. When you call the national hotline, all Toyota does is take a message and then forward that message back to your dealer!
If you think about this process it makes sense – your local dealer is looking to make long-term customers. They know that if they help you directly, you’re more likely to return to the dealership for sales and service in the future. Therefore, Toyota’s national hotline wants your dealer to solve your problem, and they even go so far as to hold your local dealer accountable for complaints you register on the hotline.
Put another way, if your dealer doesn’t solve your problem, Toyota will penalize them.
Therefore, calling the Toyota national customer service number right out of the gate can be counter productive. When you call and report your problem to Toyota, Toyota starts their official process. At this point, the dealer knows that Toyota is going to potentially review their behavior, and often times they respond by going 100% “by the book.” This limits what your dealer can do for you.
Instead, call the local dealership FIRST. Ask to speak to the General Manager (GM), explain your problem clearly and calmly, and then ask for your desired solution. If you keep Toyota’s national customer service team out of the process, you and the local dealership GM can work something out quickly and easily.
Besides, if you can’t work it out with the GM yourself, you can always call the national hotline later.
Escalate to Regional
If your local dealer isn’t able to help you to your satisfaction, it’s time to go regional (see below for phone numbers). Bringing in the regional office adds some more pressure to the problem while saving that last resort of calling the national number. Many times the regional office may have resources that local dealers don’t.
Go National Last
Lastly, if neither the local or regional office is able to help then it is time to call the national Toyota customer service number. By this time, hopefully, you have gone through the local and regional options and have a good understanding of your issue and Toyota’s issue with fixing it. All of this information will prove to be especially helpful as you layout the situation to the national customer service representative. Just understand at this point you’re hoping for a bit of a miracle, because the national hotline typically isn’t very helpful.
Step 4) Send A Letter via Certified Mail
If you ever decide to hire an attorney to represent you in your complaint, it’s likely that the first thing your attorney will do is send a certified letter to your local dealership asking them to resolve your issue. Since certified letters are considered legal correspondence in a court of law, they will immediately get your dealer’s undivided attention. Your dealer WILL respond to your certified letter, and they WILL view it as a prelude to legal action. It’s surprising just how much impact a certified letter can have actually, which is probably why so many attorneys start their process with one.
Therefore, before you give up on your problem, fire up the word processor and send out a certified letter to the dealership, the regional office, and Toyota’s national correspondence address.
*NOTE: If you’re contemplating hiring an attorney, don’t send out a certified letter. Things you say in the letter can undermine your case in the future. Think of the certified letter as a parting shot – a last ditch effort before you give up.
NATIONAL TOYOTA CUSTOMER SERVICE HOTLINE: 800-331-4331
TOYOTA REGIONAL OFFICE PHONE NUMBERS:
- Boston Office (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI) 508-339-5701
- New York (NY, NJ, CT) 973-575-7600
- Central Atlantic (PA, VA, WV, MD, DE) 410-760-1500
- Southeast Region (NC, SC, AL, GA, FL) 954-429-2000
- Cincinnati Region (MI, OH, KY, TN) 513-745-7500
- Chicago Region (MN, WI, IL, IN) 630-907-0150
- Kansas City Region (ND, SD, NE, KS, IA, M0) 816-891-1000
- Gulf States Region (OK, TX, MS, LA, AR) 713-580-3300
- Portland Region (AK, WA, OR, ID, MT) 503-493-4900
- Denver Region (WY, CO, UT, NM, AZ, NV) 303-799-6776
- San Francisco Region (Northern CA) 925-830-8300
- LA Region (Southern CA) 949-727-2700
OR SEND THEM A LETTER:
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
19001 South Western Ave.
Torrance, CA 90501
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