More on @LdnIncMag cover story, @Mobials, a #LdnOnt tech innovator

           Every time I have work done on my car at friendly, competent Leavens Volkswagen, I am pushed, poked and prodded to fill out a survey about my experience there. I am asked to answer a series of questions on a scale of 1 to 10.

            Fine and dandy, I know how that works. But wait, the survey comes with a note – a rather desperate note – letting me know that a score of 9 or less is considered a fail.

            “The scoring system is unusual,” reads a follow-up email the next day. “The unusual thing is 10 is a pass and 9 is a fail. If for any reason we did not pass, please let me know before filling out the survey so we can discuss the issues, make things right and improve our level of service. I hope we can count on you for those 10s!”

            So to sum up: It’s essentially a pass/fail survey, and before I even think about checking the fail box, I should touch base with the service department and see just how badly they really want to pass.

I don’t blame Leavens; that’s how Volkswagen has set things up. The company is not looking for honest feedback. It’s looking for data points that can be converted into awards that can be used to market dealerships.

            So how valuable are the results of such a survey? Wait, before you answer, remember, anything less than 10 is a fail. So go ahead and answer. Wait, before you click anything other than 10, please contact me so I can convince you to click 10. OK, go ahead. Just remember, we’re all counting on you to do the right thing.

            Is it any wonder that every car dealership, restaurant, supermarket, real estate agent, pet groomer and birthday party clown is “award-winning?” If you’re in business doing anything and you haven’t won an award, you might be dead. On a scale of 1 to 10, how alive do you feel? Remember, anything below 10 is dead.

            This nutty system tells us two things: Businesses recognize the power of good reviews and ratings, and they’re not shy about putting a corporate thumb on the scale to achieve them.

            Into this world enters Mobials Inc., the growing tech company I wrote about for the cover in this month’s London Inc. magazine. Mobials allows consumers to provide real reviews of car dealerships and lots of other businesses on sites like Kijiji and Because they are given freely, without any pressure to give all 10s, they are more valuable. And because they attract the attention of people actively searching for a new car, they are particularly valuable to dealerships in the business of selling cars to those very people.

            That Mobials product is called Reviewsii and is just the surface of what the company has in store in the next year or two. It plans to double or triple its current workforce of 21 and double its office space on Dundas Street in downtown London.

             It will push its review/referral model into all kinds of new sectors, and will probably end up doing something it hasn’t yet considered. Its founders take pride in the freewheeling nature of the workplace, and encourage blue-sky thinking and innovation. That’s difficult to quantify on a phony baloney 1-to-10 scale, so they don’t even try.