Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sonata of doubt

Over at the Lost Nomad an interesting dicussion has broken out over rankings for the Hyundai Sonata. Apparently the MSN car information page carries a pleasant review of the car. What got my attention was the rankings for individual qualities that seemed a little inflated to me. Additionally somebody posted a comment from a man complementing the noise level of his car, and then follows that up with noise data he collected from the Internet. This really raised the sirens in my head.

I bring this out because this is again a case of Korean company that has to overcome a considerable liability of perception, at least in my mind. Some points:

1. First like I said, it was an online poll of people who are supposedly Sonata owners. To put it bluntly, Korea's internet community has a history of being able to whip up support in order to skew a poll and start other internet acts of activism. In an extreme case, consider Olympic Games' servers crashing over a protest over Apollo Ohno. It is difficult for me to be belive such a open poll with a relatively small sample size as a true measure of customer opinion, especially considering the former influence.

2. Secondly, has anybody actualy tried to find the noise stats listed in the comment posted? I tried on the Hyundai site to get the spec, I figured it would easiest there. After a few clicks I realized that such data was buried. This would lead me to believe that such statistic was obscure. Accordingly this fellow is either really passionate about proving the noise level of his Hyundai versus others, or is simply a shill for the company.

3. Finally, one has to wonder if the numbers Hyundai gives are real. Consider this, last year Hyundai in the US settled a class action law suit brought by people who claimed the company misstated the horsepower of their cars. Hyundai payed over US$85 million to settle the case.

In a final thought, I got a good guffaw over this line "Opinions are just that, subjective opinions. In this case, the amount of noise level measured in decibals. Now that is not subjective." Oh, if you have scientific sounding data to offer it MUST be true? I would love to know what Seoul National University thinks of that argument these days.

I am sure Hyundai has some cars that are at least better than where they were in the mid-to-late 80s. The data on the site may in fact be 100% valid. However it will take sometime for me to believe an opinion from the Internet, especially on a subject that is a source of national pride for Korea.


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