Be Honest in All Your Business Dealings

Filed in Living by on March 11, 2015 0 Comments

Sleazy salesman pointing


Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see someone who won’t lie and cheat, you know you never will.

                                                                                                      John D. MacDonald

Recently I had the need to interact with several salespeople as I helped my son buy a car, and then purchased a new air conditioning unit for a rental condo I own.

I had forgotten just how deceptive, unscrupulous, and morally bankrupt some salespeople can be.

When I was in business I always told the whole and unvarnished truth because I wanted to be able to look myself in the mirror every morning, and, well, it’s just the right thing to do. I tended to think that maybe some salespeople had to lie and deceive to do their job or do what their manager expected of them. I feel differently about it now. Now I think these people are going to hell.

My son wanted to purchase a used minivan for himself and his family, so I asked him what make and model he had in mind and did some internet research. As I was searching for vehicles on the web it struck me how much good information is available and how that must make it more difficult for car salespeople to run their scams.

How wrong I was.

I found five vehicles on the internet that were the type my son wanted and available in the local area. One stood out as having both the lowest miles and lowest price, which was a bit suspicious, but my son and I had to check it out just in case, so off to the dealer we went.

When we arrived at the dealership and asked about the van, the salesperson went in a back room and didn’t come out for several minutes. When he finally came out he said he was sorry to tell us that that particular vehicle had just been sold about an hour earlier, by someone who called on the phone and left a credit card deposit.

Well, that was patently ridiculous. The van my son wanted to buy was hardly a hot commodity, and the likelihood that someone was so eager to buy this particular one that they left a deposit on it “sight unseen” strained credulity, to say the least. Then the salesperson showed us a higher mileage, slightly beat up van of the same make and model, at a higher price. I said no thanks, we’ll be leaving him and his unscrupulous dealership as quickly as we can find the door.

So this car dealer had adapted to the internet age, with its ubiquitous information, by running a “bait and switch” scam. They posted a highly desirable vehicle on the internet that they either didn’t even have or had no intention of selling, to drive traffic to their dealership, in the hopes of selling customers a less desirable vehicle at a higher price.

The dealership and salesperson we eventually ended up buying from also used a deceptive practice, but we had to buy from someone! When our salesperson walked away to talk to his sales manager (!) to come back with his “best price,” I noticed another salesperson sitting only a couple of feet away from us texting on his phone. This was odd because the dealership was empty, and this guy had chosen to sit within earshot of us. I leaned over to my son and whispered that this guy was likely listening in on our conversation to try to gain some useful information about our enthusiasm level or possibly even our price, so that he could text it to his partner in the back room. So my son and I talked about how we thought this van didn’t have many of the options we wanted and was very disappointing, and then discussed the weather for a few minutes. Screw those guys!

Around this same time I received a call from one of my tenants that their air conditioning unit had stopped working, so I called a repairman out to take a look at it. He called me on my cell and said we needed a new condenser, and the price would be $3,300. I happen to know that the cost of a condenser of the type I needed was only around $800, so I asked why he wanted to charge me $3,300 for materials and labor. He said we also needed a coil, and that this costs an additional $1,200. I said that didn’t sound right to me, and told him I would shop around for a better price. He said “Good luck” and hung up.

Then I went on the internet to see what a coil actually costs, and it is $300, so his $1,200 quote was a huge lie. I called another local contractor and they said they’d do the whole job for $2,100, which sounded fair, so I agreed and gave them the go ahead to replace it.

About an hour later a sales manager from the first contractor phoned and asked why I hadn’t purchased from them. I said it was because their price was ridiculously high. I also told him how their salesperson had lied to me about the cost of the coil. I then asked why they would charge $3,300 for a job that required only about $1,100 in materials. He said it was because it would take 4 – 10 hours to do the installation, so the high cost was due to the labor in involved. 4 – 10 hours to install a simple condenser and coil? I just hung up the phone.

By the way, the actual installation by the other company took 2 ½ hours.

I know that none of my readers are as unscrupulous as these salespeople I had the distinct displeasure of meeting. But you might still think about how you can be even more honest and forthright in all of your business dealings, because your unquestioned integrity is such a critically important part of whom and what you are. And, if you choose otherwise, you might want to know that hell is quite warm this time of year, and generally, year round!

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

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