MrM converts the Media (one by one) [Archive] - Ford Inside News Community

: MrM converts the Media (one by one)

10-14-2009, 12:05 PM
Alan, Fritz, and me: Letters from Ford and GM - (

By Allan Sloan, senior editor at large
Last Updated: October 14, 2009: 10:02 AM ET

Allan Sloan answers reader mail about his abandonment of Saturn, including notes from two particular chief executives.

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- I've written a lot about car companies since I started covering business in the 1960s, but I've written very little about cars, because they just don't interest me much.

So I was surprised -- and fascinated -- by the volume and passion of e-mails and online posts responding to last week's column about my buying an Asian-nameplate SUV without considering an American vehicle, despite having bought American almost exclusively since the '60s.

I didn't trust General Motors, which orphaned my family's three Saturns, thus reducing their value; I didn't consider Chrysler financially viable; and I didn't look at a Ford (F, Fortune 500) because of a horrible experience my wife had with a Ford decades ago.

My most interesting e-mail came from Alan Mulally, Ford's chief executive, whom I had never met. He wrote: "Your thoughts resonated with me and are the reasons why I joined Ford three years ago. It is all about the customer and a long-term commitment to design, produce and support the very best vehicles in the world.

"I would welcome the opportunity to share with you our new Ford product line-up," he continued, going on to praise the vehicles. "And we would have fun!"

I called him, and we did have fun. He talked about feeling privileged to have a chance to help such an iconic firm, and he listened patiently to my story of how Ford sold my wife an imported Cortina in 1968, wouldn't help when we had trouble with it, and secretly told dealers they could return their Cortina parts inventory for full credit, making it difficult to get the car serviced or repaired.

He didn't say the magic words "We're sorry," but he did want to hear what happened. Now that someone at Ford has finally listened to me, my boycott is over. Next time, I'll consider Ford...