General Motors said yesterday that it will give individual owners of GM diesel-powered cars and light trucks the same treatment on repair claims that it agreed this week to provide to members of a Washington-area consumer group.
"Anyone coming to us with a problem is entitled to the same treatment as a member of the consumer group," said William H. Noack, GM public relations manager for the Washington area.
Mark Steinbach, attorney for the Disgruntled Diesel Owners Group (DDOG), which signed an agreement with GM earlier this week that could provide cash compensation for problems that members have had with their GM diesel vehicles, said motorists who had approached the company individually in the past had been "turned aside." As a result, they formed the DDOG organization and negotiated the agreement with GM for settlement of their claims.
"It wouldn't have been necessary for a group to form if GM had been willing to deal with individuals," Steinbach said.
DDOG charges $20 for a membership and provides help for each member who wants to file a claim for compensation. Steinbach said a paralegal from his firm will help each DDOG member prepare and document a claim. He also reconfirmed an earlier statement that any GM diesel owner who wants to take advantage of the procedures established by the agreement must be a meorganization.
He also noted that the agreement itself states: "GM will attempt to resolve, as a matter of good consumer relations, the complaints of all claimants. 'Claimants' as used herein means all persons submitting claims to GM through DDOG. . . . "
GM said y there is a "problem" with Steinbach's statement and that there is "nothing in the agreement that isn't routinely extended to customers withct problems."
"You don't have to pay $20 to be a member of DDOG to work out your problem," Noack said.
AM would sign an agreement to do something for a group that was already being done for individuals, Noack said it was because DDOG officials had declined to name the members of their organizan or explain their problems. "They claimed to have a large membership--400 members or so--but they wouldn't idend no way to try and solve their problem. With this agreement, we have a chance to deal with their membership one by one."
Unhappy GM diesel owners who want to negotiatthe company individually should contact their dealer first, Noack said. If the problem can't be resolved at that level, the motorist should ct the zone office, as explained in the owner's manual, he said. And if that fails, then the person should con car division in Michigan, he said.