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GM Workers Call Car Owner to Apologize for Mistake

February 11, 1992

COLUMBIA, Md. (AP) _ A man who complained about faulty brakes on his 1992 Buick got an apology, but not the one he expected. It came directly from the auto worker responsible for the mistake.

″I would never have believed it. I’m just amazed,″ said John F. Jacobs, 48, an electrical engineer. ″It appears to be that they’re paying attention to quality control.″

Rich Richardson, a foreman in the Flint, Mich., plant that built Jacobs’ LeSabre, thought he was calling a dealer when he dialed Jacobs’ number last week. When he realized he had the car owner on the phone, he decided to go ahead with the call anyway.

″I thought we ought to talk to him. The defect was so important that I thought we ought to tell him we are going to see it never happens again,″ Richardson, 47, a 29-year GM veteran, said Monday.

Jacobs told Richardson he had traded in a 1985 Toyota van for the Buick, and Richardson decided to call auto worker Mike Wilson, who had installed the brakes, to the phone.

Jacobs said both men apologized profusely for the mistake.

″I’m just glad the man bought an American car,″ Wilson, 41, said Monday. ″If we can keep a customer for life then I have a job for life, and keeping jobs in this country is very important.″

Jacobs bought the Buick in December and discovered two weeks ago that the brakes had failed. A mechanic found that a bracket in the left front brake assembly hadn’t been properly secured at the factory, allowing the brake fluid to drain away, Jacobs said. The dealer fixed the problem.

Jacobs said Wilson, a 23-year GM veteran, told him he had installed 80,000 front-wheel brake assemblies with just two failures. One was caught before the car left the plant and the other was Jacobs’.

Julie Hamp, a spokeswoman for Buick, said the company encourages dealers to deal promptly with defects, but she had never heard of any Buick Division worker calling a customer directly.

She said she would talk to her bosses about seeing if it can be done again.

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