Attorney General Pressure Forces Toyota to Broaden N.Y. Services for Recalls
NEW YORK and TORRANCE, Calif. — Toyota revealed several added services for the thousands of customers in New York who are affected by the automaker's recent recalls. On Wednesday, the automaker reported that these services will come without additional cost to the dealer or vehicle owner.
Toyota stressed on Wednesday that the special offerings will be tailored to the owner's individual circumstances and may include:
—Expediting scheduling of the repair.
—Pickup and return of the vehicle by a dealership representative.
—Driving the customer to the dealership or to his place of work.
—Where necessary, providing other alternate transportation for the customer, such as a rental car, loaner vehicle or taxi reimbursement for the reasonable period that the customer is unable or unwilling to use the vehicle.
Automaker executives explained that these services are only available to Toyota and Lexus owners in New York affected by current recalls involving sticking accelerator pedals, floor mat pedal entrapment, anti-lock brake system software updates, and Tacoma front drive shaft inspection.
Furthermore, they said these services are provided for customers concerned about driving their vehicle before the repair is completed.
Toyota also pointed out that reimbursement of these expenses is separate from the stipends of $7,500 to $75,000 that the company already has provided to dealers in connection with the recalls.
The manufacturer maintained that it has taken this series of steps based upon discussions with the attorney general of New York to address the concerns of government regulators and consumers in that state.
When testifying before U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday afternoon in Washington, D.C., Yoshimi Inaba, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America, would only confirm that these special service outlays were available in New York.
During the outset of the hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Edolphus Towns, a New York Democrat and committee chairman, pressed Inaba to find out whether Toyota would roll out the special New York offerings throughout the country. Inaba danced around the issue and then finally said they are only available in New York.
Meanwhile, the office of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo maintains that the recalls affect more than 500,000 vehicles in the state. Officials indicated the attorney general's investigation related to the Toyota recall is ongoing.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Herbert Israel and Special Assistant Attorney General Stephen Mindell under the supervision of Bureau Chief Joy Feigenbaum and Deputy Bureau Chief Jeffrey Powell of the Consumer Frauds & Protection Bureau and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Maria Vullo.
"It is unacceptable that New York consumers should face additional burdens when dealing with a safety problem that is Toyota's responsibility," Cuomo said in a statement.
"New Yorkers who own recalled vehicles understandably may be reluctant to drive their cars and assume the risk of harm to themselves and others on the road," he continued
"The agreement we have obtained from Toyota will help ease the fears of Toyota owners and protect their families at no cost to them," Cuomo added.
As of Feb. 20, Toyota indicated that more than 32,000 vehicles affected by the sticking accelerator pedal recall alone already have been modified in New York.
Nationally, the manufacturer pointed out that 750,000 of the 2.3 million vehicles subject to the sticking accelerator pedal recall have been repaired since the modification became available.
Toyota executives also listed the extra steps dealers are taking in order to complete the recall campaigns for customers as quickly as possible.
"Many dealers are offering extended service hours, and some are staying open 24 hours a day. Others are adding service and scheduling personnel, dedicating body shop capacity to expedite repairs, providing free car washes and oil changes, increasing owner communication, and providing complimentary maintenance service, among other customer-focused activities," Toyota highlighted.
"Everyone at Toyota is focused on making the recent recalls as simple and trouble-free as possible for our customers, with dealers across the country making extraordinary efforts to take care of Toyota owners," explained Jim Lentz, president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motors Sales USA.
"We are doing everything we can, as fast as we can, to make things right for our customers," Lentz added.
And for New York Toyota owners, the attorney general also launched a Web site, www.NYToyotaHelp.com, to provide more information about the accommodations now available.
"New Yorkers are encouraged to contact their local Toyota and Lexus dealers if they believe they are eligible for these accommodations," attorney general office officials said.