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GM recall investigation uncovers list of banned words such as defective

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The GM recall investigation by the federal government has unearthed a list of words that General Motors banned its engineers and other employees from using in writing up automobiles’ concerns. The list of 68 words was revealed during the investigation into the automobile maker’s ongoing recall of some 2.6 million small cars that have defective ignition switches, according to a CBS report on Monday. Just last Friday, GM was fined $35 million for failing to report the deadly ignition switch defects with millions of its vehicles.

In company documentation, employees were told that words like “defect” can be regarded as a legal admission – and therefore, the employees were told to not use the word with customers and with documentation of the customers’ concerns with vehicles. In other words, even though a person may have come into a General Motors service department with a defective car – including the automobiles’ now infamous defective ignition switches - the person writing up your ticket for repairs was not allowed to use the word defective. Additionally, other words banned from its employees’ use include safety, chaotic, and problem.

GM also forbade the use of such words as bad, terrifying, dangerous, horrific, and evil - as they are unflattering descriptions. Quite interesting, the documentation got very specific and warned its employees against using such flippant words as deathtrap, widow-maker and Hindenburg. Creative language such as Kevorkianesque – referring to Jack Kevorkian, the activist for assisted suicide – and Corvair-like – referring to a GM auto that Ralph Nader said was unsafe at any speed – was disallowed as well. Quite incredibly, the employees were told not to use words such as always and never.

Also, on Tuesday, GM recalled yet another 2.4 million vehicles for safety concerns. Last Friday, David Friedman, who is the acting-chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said that the materials were just part of a larger problem at General Motors. The environment was such at GM the persons were instructed to not create documentation with words like defect. He also said, “The fact that GM took so long to report this defect says there was something very wrong with the company’s values.”

Reportedly, auto makers are required by law to report defects with their products within five days to the federal government. Thereby, it is obvious why GM didn’t want the word defective in its documentation of its cars’ concerns. Also of note, GM had supposedly had knowledge of the ignition switch problems with its automobiles for over a decade. Thirteen people have allegedly died due to the defect.

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