April 18, 2006

An Open Letter to the Ford Motor Co.


TO: Bill Ford, CEO, Ford Motor Co.

FR: Loyal Ford Owner Benjamin Kepple

RE: Sedan design

Dear Mr. Ford,

As a loyal Ford Taurus owner for the past several years, I recently rented a late-model Ford Taurus for a road trip vacation. Over the past two weeks, I drove roughly 2,600 miles in this car, traveling through 13 states and the District of Columbia. While I was pretty pleased with how the fourth-generation Taurus handled itself on the road, I must say I was disappointed in one aspect of the vehicle. Specifically, I refer to the wretched soft paternalism that Ford, for some weird reason, has apparently introduced into its vehicle design.

You see, shortly after I took possession of the rental, I was driving it out of the Manchester Airport parking garage when an alarming beeping noise shattered my peace of mind. I soon found that this noise, which had a volume and tone that made me think the transmission had fallen off, was actually informing me that I had not yet fastened my seatbelt.

OK, fine, I thought. The prudent motorist is supposed to wear his seatbelt, and I always wear mine as a matter of course. Thus, I resolved to fasten the belt as soon as I got into an area with significant vehicle traffic. Before I could do so, however, the damned beeping started up again, and I can assure you it scared the bejesus out of me a second time. During my trip, I found that the wretched buzzer would intermittently beep until I fastened my seatbelt, even if I had reasonable cause for not wearing it (such as while maneuvering around a parking lot). Even worse, it beeped whenever I had passengers not wearing their seatbelts, which was embarrassing and annoying.

In my travels, I learned from a knowledgeable source that it is possible for a motorist to turn off the aggravating beeper thingy. However, I was told that actually doing this requires significant study of the owner's manual, considerable mechanical prowess, and using the horrible Shining Trapezohedron to summon The Haunter of the Dark.

Also, as if that wasn't enough, The Haunter of the Dark will apparently demand offerings -- reportedly, products from the Franklin Mint -- in return for its otherworldly help. However, any inclination I may have had to try disabling the thing was tempered with the realization that doing so would anger a far more powerful entity -- namely, the car rental agency. Thus, I was stuck with the stupid beeping thing going off throughout my trip.

My question is this: what in God's name prompted the proud Ford Motor Co. to introduce a feature one would expect to find in some soulless cookie-cutter Toyota Camry or Honda Accord? I mean, come on. A seat-belt buzzer, even one loud enough to make a driver think an atom bomb went off in the trunk, is not something one associates with a firm that builds "Ford Tough" vehicles. What's next, those annoying electric seatbelts that automatically lock into place when one turns on the car?

I mean, really. A soft chime upon ignition and a dashboard light are perfectly sufficient reminders that one needs to wear a seat belt while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Besides, I'm from New Hampshire, and I don't have to wear my seat belt if I don't wish to do so. So there. Anyway, I just wanted to mention my concerns about the seatbelt thingy, as my present Ford Taurus is nearing the end of its useful life, and I'll soon be deciding whether to buy another Ford sedan (or similar).

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 18, 2006 09:58 PM | TrackBack

AHA! I *knew* that some day, someone would have to admit that I was knowledgeable about something! Ha ha!!

Posted by: Geoff Brown at April 22, 2006 11:04 PM
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