No five, no job

I recently took our Mini in for service (had to get some work done on the bumper do to a unfortunate mishap). Everything went pretty well, except that the body shop the dealer sent the car to for repair took one-and-a-half weeks to due the work, after intially telling us it would be a week. I wasn’t all that surprised or upset; my experience with auto service in the northeast has been plagued with delays and sadly I’ve just gotten used to it. However, something the dealer’s rep told me when I picked up the car really struck me. He said something along the lines of:

Mini will contact you with a survey in the next two weeks. Mini watches these surveys very closely and there are serious reprecusions if we don’t get all fives. Please understand that the body shop is out of our control, and if you don’t feel you can give us all fives, I’d appreciate it if you declined the survey.

I got the distinct impression that if I didn’t give him all fives or wave the survey, he’d be fired. I’ve had this same experience with a number of service dealers over the years, including Audi, Ford, Chrysler, etc. This stance makes the survey worthless if most folks go along with it. The situation reminds me quite a bit of grade inflation in school, where these days, a “B” is passing and a “C” is essentially failing.

This bothers me quite a bit. To me, the point of a rating for a service station (or a grade for a kid) should be to help the entity gauge how they’re doing and improve. If you artifically inflate the rating, you’re giving the entity a false impression of how it’s doing and prevent introspection on the rating as an avenue for improvement.

However, the social factors involved in the rating cannot be dismissed. If I don’t give this guy 5’s, he gets fired (or so I’m led to believe). Do I really care enough about the service to not give him 5’s or pass on the survey? I don’t know they guy. I don’t want to have him fired, he did a fine job. It wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t horrible either. If I had to rate it honestly, I’d give him a 3 across the board. But, given the circumstances, I think I’ll just pass.