Hyundai and Kia Issue Debit Cards to Solve PR Crisis

Buying a car is a major purchase. When selecting the best make and model, consumers factor in various elements, from style and color to gas mileage. In fact, with gas prices rising and environmental concerns growing, fuel economy can be the determining factor.

You can imagine the PR dilemma Hyundai and Kia face after admitting they overestimated the fuel efficiency of 900,000 cars. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered the discrepancy, reporting that gas mileages were inflated by 1 or 2 mpg in most cases but up to 6 mpg in some.

This is not the sort of news that Hyundai and Kia can simply spin away–every time customers fill up their tanks and scoff at the numbers racing skyward at the pumps, they’ll remember being misled. Hyundai and Kia, Korean automakers and siblings, claimed that the mistake was due to “procedural errors,” which is both dismissive and ambiguous enough to infuriate any consumer who paid tens of thousands for one of their products.

So what are Hyundai and Kia doing to assuage the situation? They’re reimbursing consumers by giving them debit cards filled with a monetary amount they’ve based on a confusing formula that accounts for the customer’s location, driving habits and fuel prices in their region. The companies claim that they will refresh the cards as long as affected customers own the cars. Oh, and they’ve added a 15% “bonus” to compensate for any inconvenience.

You know what else is inconvenient? Having to plan your unnecessarily complicated budget around yet another card in your wallet.

Will the 15% “bonus” be enough to buy the public’s goodwill? We’ll be watching as Hyundai and Kia explore just how much money it costs to keep consumers from rebelling.