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VW: You Call This Customer Service?

I couldn't stop laughing at "The Transformer: Why VW Is the Car Giant to Watch" (In Depth, Jan. 25). Volkswagen may conquer the world, but it's doing everything in its power to lose in America.

Last October I visited a local dealership. I told a nice salesman I was looking for a new Golf TDI. He said they wouldn't be out until mid-November, but he would call me. No call. Ever.

Last week I went back. No one greeted me, the cars had huge markups, and I couldn't find a TDI. Finally I caught a salesman. Once he heard I was interested in a TDI, he became arrogant. They had sold all their allotment. But he would sell me (but not let me test-drive) the one they had coming in February. I walked out. I am Volkswagen's ideal customer, yet I will never set foot in another VW dealership.

David Weber, San Mateo, Calif.

"One Man, One Car, One World" (In Depth, Jan. 25) missed the point. Ford (F) is taking the tack "If you can't join them, beat them," creating a niche and letting the Civic and Corolla fight for the Wal-Mart (WMT) crowd. Consumers desiring high-tech products without the Playskool (HAS) interior theme of the Mini can have differentiators such as a dual-clutch transmission, ergonomic cockpit, and driving performance. Time will tell if this strategy of innovation works.

Lee Gilbert, Nutley, N.J.

Economic Policy: Who Really Rates the Third Degree

Regarding "The Crisis Commission's Missing Witness" (New Business, Jan. 25): The missing witnesses are politicians. Let's get Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, and executives from Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE) to explain why they lowered lending standards so that any warm body could get a mortgage. Better, ask Barack Obama why the federal government continues to take the position that big banks shouldn't fail. Easy money leads to bubbles, but only politicians' incompetence brings disasters like the Great Depression and its recent sequel.

Dick Patterson, El Cerrito, Calif.

Fighting Oil's Eventual Demise

"Endless Oil" (In Depth, Jan. 18) raises several questions. I agree there will still be oil discoveries, and old fields can add substantially to our reserves with innovative technology. Yet the fact remains: Petroleum is a finite resource, and one day it will be exhausted.

The article's author could have noted that new finds based on innovative technology buy more time to develop alternative energy. At the rate we are achieving alternative energy sources, it looks like we need more time. So far, the progress made with wind and hydro represents old technology. Biofuels rely on thousand-year-old crops (corn and sugarcane) and fermentation technology. Cellulosic biofuels are still not competitive. More research must be done, and the extra time new finds allow is welcome. Yet even with new finds, time is critical for development of sustainable alternatives.

Gale A. Buchanan, Former USDA Chief Scientist and Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education & Economics, Tifton, Ga.

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Steve Ballmer, Power Forward
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