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Equal and Opposite


12/13/2006
By Mitch Schneider

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. But that doesn't mean it's the reaction you were hoping for.
 
Mitch Schneider

This is a reactive industry. Things happen and I react. My actions and reactions prompt you to act and react and so it goes.

While the majority of these things don’t happen directly to us, it rarely feels that way. Most of the time it seems that everything is happening to us and no one else! And, when that happens it’s hard to make sense out of any of it.

A customer’s wife stopped by to pick up her husband who was dropping his vehicle off to isolate a troublesome noise. As she pulled to a stop, everyone in the place turned to find out where the high pitched hydraulic whine was coming from. It was coming from her angry fuel pump.

Since she was heading home to Utah, we convinced the couple to switch cars. After putting the pump on the scope and checking for voltage and amperage drops, we confirmed the fuel pump failure. We removed the pump and the noise with it. Action/Reaction.

Three months later, the pump failed again. Only this time, the noise was even louder and more obnoxious than before. We found a shop close to her home and paid to have the pump replaced under warranty. The shop sent the pump to us and we forwarded it to our supplier for warranty consideration. Another action, another reaction.

We received a ‘parts credit,’ but no help with the labor — “No Trouble Found.”

A few months later the noise was back, louder and angrier than ever. The shop in Utah replaced the fuel pump again, only this time it was on their dime. Action/Reaction.

By this point in the game, everyone was losing their patience. I checked for Technical Service Bulletins with our on-line technical resources. There was nothing there. Action. I called the manufacturer’s tech service hotline to see if there was any history of any problems with this particular application and it came up empty. Action. But, it didn’t end there. The technician on duty got the Product Analysis manager involved and before I knew it I was talking directly to the factory.
 
“Get us the pump and we’ll take a look at it here at the factory. We’ll take care of the credits for the part and the shipping on our end,” the factory said. “We’ll wait to analyze the failure before deciding what to do about the labor. But, if it’s our problem we’ll take care of it.” Reaction.

Things were finally moving in the right direction — at least until the service provider in Utah informed me they would be sending the pump back through their ‘normal’ channels and not to the factory. I explained that their normal channels weren’t likely to result in the same kind of analysis the pump would get at the factory, but that didn’t seem to matter. They had suffered too many years of rejected claims and unanswered questions in the past. More action, more reactions.
I was frustrated! We had an opportunity to “fix” something, to analyze what was wrong and correct it, an opportunity to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.

Why refuse? I think the answer has to do with actions and reactions: things that happen — especially, the things that seem to happen just to you — like pulling a fuel tank three times and only getting paid once. It has to do with trust and faith, or lack of.

In the end, it’s really all about too many actions that go unaccompanied by the desired, reasonable or anticipated reaction!















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