In the 27 years I’ve been at Moss Motors, I have watched as one supplier after another went out of business, merged, restructured itself or dropped entire product lines. Some examples: Lucas is gone; the name and pieces of what used to be Lucas were sold off to various companies around the world. Lockheed is now owned by Delphi, an American auto parts company. The design and tooling for Lockheed brake components belongs to a company that cannot use the Lockheed name. Delphi also own Borg & Beck. RHP Bearings are now owned by NSK Bearings. Lucas Hydraulics/Girling is owned by TRW, and TRW dropped the Lucas brand name from their packaging several years ago. For us, these changes created a shift from the old familiar parts and brand names to a confused mix of parts and suppliers that in some cases simply did not measure up to anyone’s expectation.
To deal with this brave new world, in 2003 Moss created the Product Management Department. The Department is responsible for resolving issues of quality, fit, finish, originality and durability. First and foremost, I believe that our job is to minimize the difference between what you expect and what we supply. A critical component of that is what we lump together under the heading of “supplemental information”. This includes the very popular Moss Tech Videos, instructions, and detailed information about the product. We also staff “Tech Services” which answers thousands of emails and phone calls every month ranging from “how come my car won’t start?” to “how do you open the hood of a TR6 when the release breaks?”
So what about quality problems? First and foremost, we listen. Complaints and comments come to us in the form of returns (part of the department), calls and emails to Tech Services, comments to sales staff, buzz on the web and things that come up talking to people at British Car events. Strange as it may seem, with 30,000 active part numbers the first we hear that vendor XYZ no longer includes the mounting screws or that the 123-456 is too long by ½ inch is from you- our customers. If you have a problem, call us. We can’t fix it if we don’t know it’s broken.
So what happens when a complaint comes in? Tech Services will record the incident and we will investigate until we reach a conclusion. When it’s prudent, we freeze our inventory, meaning that part number will not move until the hold is released. We have access to thousands of original blueprints, original samples, an R&D shop full of cars, our own cars, and hundreds of experts either on staff or scattered across the US (including the BMTA) and around the world. Our immediate goal is to determine the facts, and we try and do that as quickly as we can. Each incident is documented and filed by part number (regardless of the outcome) for future reference.
Fixing things. That is what comes next. It may be an instruction sheet showing how the part or parts are installed. My favorite example: Including a “How to Balance Center Lock Wire Wheels” with every wire wheel was enough to virtually eliminate “you wheels are so bad they can’t be balanced” complaints. We may rework the part in our machine shop, add missing parts, add packing to prevent damage in shipment, or any one of a dozen other actions. When the voltage regulators we were buying caused problems, we found that the experienced shops were cleaning and adjusting them prior to installation with no trouble. Customers that expected them to be ready to install out of the box ran into trouble. We now include detailed instructions on what needs to be done to prepare the regulator, and we offer regulators that have been inspected, cleaned and precisely adjusted for a nominal additional charge. Problem solved. When the issue cannot be corrected easily, we will talk to the source, be it a manufacturer or a distributor. We will supply detailed information so they can verify our findings. If there is a difference of opinion, we may end up buying the part elsewhere (or making it ourselves), often at higher cost.
When we find a supplier to be unable to provide consistent product, and we can’t go elsewhere or make it ourselves, we will flag an item for “inspection upon receipt”. Every time that item comes into receiving, they are impounded until Quality Assurance (part of the Department) has inspected the goods. This prevents the product from going on the shelf until we have verified the item is acceptable to sell. Unacceptable product is returned to the vendor or scrapped. We won’t sell it. If excessive failed inspections make this impractical, we will go back to the supplier and try and work it out. In some cases, when left with no reasonable alternative, we have discontinued the item, although we hate to do that.
In some cases, the only thing available is going to require significant time and money to fit, we will not sell it until the potential customer has had a chance to read a clear explanation of the issues. If they still want the item, the hold is released just long enough to get it on that one order, and the hold goes back on.
In the last 27 years, there have been a couple of items that had serious problems that were not discovered until a quantity had been sold. For non-safety related parts, we have shipped replacements or issued refunds. Safety critical issues are very rare, be we have performed recalls where it was necessary.
The bottom line is this: We stand behind what we sell. If you ever have a problem, call us or use the “Contact Us” form on the MossMotors.com website, and we’ll make every effort to resolve the situation to your satisfaction.
By Michael Grant, Product Manager