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A Reason to Complain

by Joe Vitale on January 7, 2013

I have good reason to complain.

Last January I bought a brand new electric car, the Fisker Karma. Same one singer Neil Young and actor Leonardo Dicaprio have. Same one actor Ashton Kutcher drives on the TV series, Two and a Half Men.

I was excited to contribute to the environment in a positive way with a sports car that uses solar energy and electric power to get me around. I was one of the first in the country to own one. I was one of a handful in Texas alone. Plus the car looks stunning. People stop and stare. The car is just plain sexy.

But I had problems with it since day one.

Before I even received it, it was recalled. The battery had to have a different clamp to prevent possible fires. Once I did receive it, there were numerous little issues. In fact, I listed 17 of them to show the service department.

My 2012 Fisker Karma Came With "Issues"

My 2012 Fisker Karma Came With "Issues"

For example, sometimes when I was driving it, traveling at sixty miles an hour on a country road, the car would turn off. Off! It would reboot itself in the middle of the drive. The first time it happened was pretty scary, as I didn’t know if I would lose control of the car. I didn’t, but gee whiz, that wasn’t comfortable at all.

Other times the car would be playing some of my favorite music, when suddenly and for no apparent reason, it would switch to a Latino AM station. Go figure.

And then there were the times when the car ran out of stored electric energy and rolled over to the gas powered generator, which makes more electric juice. At those moments, at least for a few minutes, the climate control in the car malfunctioned and the inside cabin heated up. I live in Texas. You rarely want the car to heat up. And when you do, you want it to be your idea.

Then there were the fires.

Two Fiskers caught on fire. Fires aren’t pretty. I saw the Texas wildfires. I saw Nerissa’s car on fire in 2011. It’s more than unsettling.

The last Fisker fire triggered a recall of all the cars. Over 2,000 of them. Again, I took mine in, and was shocked to learn the company decided to not give loaner cars anymore. I paid $100,000 for the car, they are recalling it and inconveniencing me and everyone else, and they won’t give a rental car to ease my pain? It was appalling.

After the last trip to the San Antonio dealership, I called them and reported the car still had two issues. They took notes and said they’d call me back.

They didn’t.

And the following day I received a snail mail letter saying that same dealership was surrendering their Fisker franchise. I’d have to go elsewhere for my repairs and service.

What the – ?

Then, at the end of last October, 16 Fisker Karmas caught fire and burned to the ground after being submerged in saltwater from Hurricane Sandy. They were all at dock in New Jersey, not delivered to any customers yet, but still.

And then the battery maker for the Fisker went bankrupt, forcing Fisker to stop making cars for a while.

Good lord! Will this ever stop?

All during this adventure, I complained.

I complained to Fisker.

I complained to the dealership.

I complained to the sales person.

I complained to the people who would marvel at seeing the car when I drove it and ask about it.

I complained to my friends, family, complete strangers, and myself.

I was so frustrated and discouraged that I started looking at other cars, wanting to trade in my Fisker Karma for a car — any car — I wouldn’t complain about.

Taking my own medicine, I finally stated a new intention, to have the Fisker fixed right once and for all, or to get into a new car that I would love and be issue free.

I was just tired of all the complaining.

And then it dawned on me.

My complaining wasn’t helping.

At all.

When you add the fact that I am on the board of directors for A Complaint Free World, a movement to stop us all from complaining, I was more than embarrassed.

Manual on Not Complaining

Manual on Not Complaining

I decided to start looking for the good in the car. The entire matter might not change, and the car might not become foolproof or fireproof, but I’d feel better.

After all, my complaining wasn’t changing anything and it was making me feel terrible.

It was time for a change.

I would never complain about the car again.

It was a simple but firm decision.

No more complaints.

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain.” – Henry Ford

I had to run some errands right after that awakening. I charged up the car and took off. Everywhere I went, people asked me, “Gorgeous! What is it?”

I’d tell them. But I left off the complaints. I just focused on the 50 miles I can get on a charge, and the 250 more miles I can get with the gas generator making more electric energy. Plus the solar panels on the roof added a couple hundred miles a year. Sweet.

After running all my errands that day, I came home and noticed that I had one mile left on the stored charge. That meant my entire morning of running from place to place never used a drop of gas. I was suddenly proud of my car. I started to think it’s pretty cool after all.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” – Dale Carnegie

I contacted customer service at the Austin dealership to look at a couple final problems with the car. No one called me back for over a month.

What did that mean?

It meant my car didn’t need service!

After all, I’m not going to complain!

A friend of mine likes to complain. He defends his choice by saying, “Complaining adds color to life! I like it!”

But I also notice he rarely gets what he wants. And that might be the big insight.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward

When we complain, we stay focused on the negative. As the Law of Attraction teaches, you tend to get more of what you focus on. As long as I saw the faults in my car, I attracted more of them to see.

Time to break that pattern.

After all, it’s all in your perception.

When you stop and rephrase your complaint as a positive intention, you morph your energies into a beacon of light, seeking out the positive.

When I praise my car rather than condemn it, the car seems to work better. And even if that weren’t true in some measurable way, I felt better driving it.

The thing is, my feeling better about the car actually seemed to make the car better.

The Fisker dealership in Austin finally called me back, and I took the car in for a software upgrade and service. They kept my car for two weeks, having to order parts and such.

When I went to pick up the car, it looked brand new. They had detailed it and made it look showroom ready. That was incredibly wonderful to see.

They also said every issue I had was resolved. That was a huge relief to hear.

I got in the car, drove it home, and didn’t notice any issues.

I had nothing to complain about.

At all.

Weeks have passed now and my car is working flawlessly.

I love my Fisker Karma!

It’s the best car ever!

What was the change here?

What really happened?

Lesson: My not complaining led to a situation where I have no complaints.

Think about it.

Complaining wasn’t helping and made me feel lousy; Complimenting what worked in my car made me feel great and seemed to help the car with its repairs.

The opposite of complaining is complimenting.

I know it sounds impossible and at least unlikely, but the moment I switched from complaining to complimenting my car, always keeping in mind my intention to drive a car that I love, it began to get better. Or maybe I got better first, and that influenced my car. Either way, it’s a win.

Before you complain, think of what you really want instead. Then speak your intention rather than your complaint. That simple step will cause you to move in a new and more positive direction. Focusing on complaints keeps you stuck in that lower energy; focusing on your intentions moves you into a higher energy. No one is asking you to overlook poor service or to deny your disappointment, but to instead focus on the service and outcome you actually want. There’s a huge difference in how you feel and in the results you get.

This post is a reminder to focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

Here’s the secret:

  1. Before you voice a complaint, stop.
  2. Ask yourself what you really want.
  3. Then voice your intention, not your complaint.

That’s the new formula for happy results.

Now don’t complain about it, either. :)

Ao Akua,

joe

PS — Just this morning I got in my car and it wouldn’t start. I sat there wondering what to do. I didn’t complain. Instead, I stated that I prefer the car start and run. I called Fisker roadside assistance. A friendly woman said she’d be glad to call a tow truck for me, but suggested I try rebooting the car first. She said it’s a big computer. Sometimes you have to re-boot it. She told me how to do it. I did. The car then started right up. No problem. All is well. And I didn’t complain once. :)

Member BBB 2003 - 2013

Member BBB 2003 - 2013

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A Reason to Complain | Tips For Self Improvement
January 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Maggie Percy January 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Great observations, Joe! Thanks for sharing that. We all need reminders. But one observation from me: Karma sounds like a cool name, but I wonder what kind of energy it activates? Kind of makes me think all the problems are, well, karma….

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Joe Vitale January 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I see it as driving the Karma clears my karma…

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Marie January 8, 2013 at 2:14 am

Read the comments, and smiled as I also was curious what kind of energy the word “karma” would activate. I also agree, it’s a cool name :)

Thanks for reminding us to not complain, but to instead compliment. I tend to not be very nice to my computer, as it’s always freezing and having crashes even after giving it a tune up. Will be nicer and watch the results!

On a physical level, I lost a few decibels of my hearing last April, and it’s a tremendous challenge and adjustment. I notice when I have complained (which is understandable), I am not creating a space for either surrender/acceptance or healing, and I have more trouble hearing. When I don’t complain and stay present, good things tend to happen, I actually got some decibels back, and I am led to excellent alternative healing information that is helpful.

Thanks again for this article, I will see complaining as lower energy and appreciating as higher energy ….

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Joe Vitale January 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Love is the highest vibe. :)

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Elsa January 8, 2013 at 3:13 am

This is very inspiring, Joe.

But I think it’s funny how this article reminds me of a recent accident in my country: Indonesia’s Minister of State-Owned Enterprises crashed a prototype electric car (national car) a few days ago and it’s still being talked about on TV right now…lol

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Joe Vitale January 8, 2013 at 12:06 pm

TV is great for broadcasting complaints. :)

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Robin Piggott January 8, 2013 at 5:11 am

A great post Joe and a simple but far reaching lesson in life,(especially for Car owners whose steeds steadfastly refuse to behave!).I once bought a new car that sat down after just 70 miles. Yes it turned out to be a very similar saga to your own and provided me with years of conversational complaining which as you’ve guessed just led to more angst.
I think I might just get out all your stuff on my hard drive and in the filing cabinet and go see what it was that I missed.Thanks again for the eye opener…now if I could only find the key to the Cabinet!

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Joe Vitale January 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

You are welcome :)

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Mimi January 8, 2013 at 9:26 am

Great article Joe !!! Back to basics. I think most of us need a “reboot” around this time of the year. It sure has got me refocused. THANKS !!!! “I love you”

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Joe Vitale January 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Thank you :)

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Arnold January 8, 2013 at 11:26 am

Joe, usually my first immediate thought after reading this type of post would be along the lines of: “meanwhile in Africa!“ As in, I could think of more pressing matters such as a mother helplessly holding her starving child, praying for just a piece of bread, instead of complaining because my $115,000+ 2012 Fisker Karma car is giving me trouble. I guess it`s human nature to get used to material things when we strike it rich, and to complain when said material objects break down. But I know that you have not forgotten where you came from Joe, and that you contribute to many great causes, so no guilt trip intended. (hope it makes you think for next time though…) Drive on….

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Joe Vitale January 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Reread my post and imagine yourself behind the wheel of a car that could catch on fire or stop cold while you’re driving it. We’re not talking about inconvenience; we’re talking about mortality. When you watch your car catch on fire and burn to the ground (as I did and said so in the post), you don’t think of Africa or much else. It’s probably comforting to imagine you, me, or anyone should think of others when you have any issue, but it isn’t real. It’s only possible when the issues aren’t happening to you personally, or they are simply inconveniences. Those are easy to find perspective in. Try something bigger. Think about it. Thanks.

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LeNora January 8, 2013 at 11:59 am

This process works in relationships too! I used to be frustrated with my boyfriend and after a period of soul searching I wrote out what I wanted in a partner,, not attached to him being that partner. Within 2 months he has become more vibrant and healthy and the habits he had that drove me nuts he has taken action all on his own to change them. ( i’m talking drinking and smoking!!) All I say to him now is that I completely support him and I always visualize us happy and healthy together. So much tension has left the relationship and we have alot of fun as we are. It feels so good not to complain.. haha

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Joe Vitale January 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Peace is good. :)

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Steve January 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Hey Joe – I love it! Good for you!!

We all forget sometimes, don’t we?

:-)

Steve

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Joe Vitale January 8, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Tis true.

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Ernie January 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I bought a new Dodge van once that went through three sets of tires on the front wheels in the first 7,000 miles. One side of the tires would just wear right down to the steel belts. The dealership did a complimentary front-end alignment each time and gave me new tires, but I kept getting the same result. I always kept my cool but it was getting frustrating.

When I got the fourth set of tires, I went down the street to an independent alignment shop and got a front-end alignment from them. I never had an issue with tires wearing out again.

This story isn’t really about complaining, but your predicament reminded me of that van and the trials that I went through. I could have gone postal on the dealership and started a big stink but I never felt the need. You catch more bees with honey…

Good luck with the car in the future Joe!

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gwen January 11, 2013 at 9:53 am

Hello! First of all its been a long time I wanted to thank you about the books you wrote because they’ve had a tremendous effect over my life.
About this article let me tell you something funny, I was a little down these days and it made me realize reading this that it can happen to feel opposite of what we think we should feel according to having a positive attitude. To be short, it gave me a supplement of faith!
And I thank you for all of that….!

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Sonor January 12, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Thank you, Joe. Some people say: Flyers (voladores) are the real creators of complaints. Complaints make people weak and victim.

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