General Motors Co. Deals with Recall Dispute


Based on the article “GM Ordered New Switches Long Ahead of Recall” published in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, November 10th, 2014, it is clear that General Motors Co. is being questioned about their recall of over 780,000 cars in February 2014.  GM has officially reported their recall to the public, however, many people question why there was a large order placed of the defective product two months prior to the official recall. The company’s actions preceding the recall “has led to heavy criticism of the auto giant’s culture,” (Bennett A1).

GM tried to utilize the Utilitarian approach, which is the idea to do what maximizes the benefits for the most people, by recalling their product, which has been linked to multiple deaths.  Alan Ander, GM spokesman, states, “the company followed proper National Highway Traffic Safety Administration procedure,” by submitting a recall to the public.

However, the company is being criticized because of its lack of concerning itself with its consumers’ overall happiness. Although GM recalled its products, the “road to recall” began two months prior to the actual recall, where GM ordered about 500,000 switch parts. This is where they lost the happiness of consumers. These consumers want to know, “why the delay [of a recall] and how many lives were put at risk since GM waited at least two months before issuing a recall,” (Bennett A4). Consumers trust the products they are buying, but unfortunately, GM took advantage of that trust by trying to sweep the problem under the rug until recommendations lead them to an official recall. Consumers have a right to immediately be informed of when a product they purchased is defective, and because of a lack of this information, people were killed.

On another note, not only does the company have an ethical problem when it comes to management, but there were also many different people that were involved in the secret ordering of parts as well as partaking in meetings that discussed the recall concern. This is the problem known as the bystander effect, where nobody stands up or says anything because no one else is so they feel there is a diffusion of responsibility. So many people knew of the default for years, even dating back to 2003, yet no one spoke up. To make things worse, not even Mary Barra, which the article states is the new “CEO–elect”, didn’t decide to say anything. This is worse because it gives the other people more reason to partake in the bystander effect because – why say something if the boss doesn’t think it’s important enough to say anything?

In my opinion, GM should have issued a recall back in “2003 [when GM engineers knew] there were problems with the switches,” (Bennett A4). I would have used the Fairness and Justice approach, which takes even more into consideration of what is fair to the consumers and not just what is best for the company. This would also have given reason to do the recall in 2003 because the consumers deserve to know rather than hiding the truth to keep them temporarily happy. GM could have protected its consumers who had trust in their company rather than trying to simply and sneakily prepare for the recall.

James McHugh


Bennett, Jeff. “GM Ordered New Switches Long Ahead of Recall.” The Wall Street Journal [Pittsburgh] 10 November 2014: A1, A4. Print.

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