The car sales industry has a major issue with customer trust. The stigma of a car salesman and dealership treating customers unethically is still a very real issue. Consumers believe that when they walk into the dealership they will be treated poorly and lied to about the vehicles they are interested in purchasing, so the dealer can sell a car. The auditing firm, Total Dealer Compliance (TDC), gave a survey in July 2016 to more than 200 consumers and reported that 65% of consumers believe that the business practices of U.S. based car dealerships are not ethical (Bond, 2016). So the questions being posited are how can dealerships quash this stigma and should they all follow a code of ethics?
The survey conducted by TDC in July only confirms the negative impression that the general population has about car dealerships, especially used ones. After so many years of unregulated business practices, it is understandable that this is the reaction that people have. To try and regulate this notion and prevent customers from believing that they are being taken advantage of, it would be smart for car dealerships and owners of these businesses create a code of ethics similar to that of the American Psychological Association (APA), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). If car dealers were to create higher standards of operation and treatment of customers and post these standards and codes it may help assuage the fears of consumers. Max Zanan, president of the TDC, believes that posting a code of ethics in the showroom that is visible to customers will help counter the negative preconceived notion (Bond, 2016). He also believes that people would be more inclined to shop where a code of ethics was displayed (Bond, 2016).
By following the example that the APA has provided along with their code of ethics and practicing standards, dealers would have an excellent start to creating their own code. Following the general principles of Beneficence and Nonmaleficence, Fidelity and Responsibility, Integrity, Justice, and Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity (APA, 2010) would be an excellent backbone for a car dealer’s code of ethics. Zanan also suggests in his interview to “advertise in an ethical and nondeceptive manner” and that vehicle “walk-arounds” be done honestly and not mislead customers about the capabilities and extras the car may or may not have (Bond, 2016). The next important step to take is making sure that all employees of the car dealership are educated and understand the code of ethics being enforced, this will not only comfort the customers, but the employees as well because then they know how they are expected to behave.
It is a never-ending battle for car dealers to overcome the stigma of being unethical and not treating buyers properly. To overcome this preconceived notion brought on by corrupt occurrences in the past, car dealers should incorporate some form of code of ethics; whether it be there own or modeled after another set of standards such as the APA’s, post it in the showroom or sales office for customers to see, and then educate their employees on the code and standards so they understand how to treat consumers. By doing these steps and acting on these standards it is sure to help eliminate the negative impression of car dealers and help people feel more comfortable purchasing a new vehicle.
American Psychological Association. (2010, June 1). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct: Including 2010 amendments. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/
Bond, V., Jr. (2016, August 28). Could dealers benefit from an ethics code? Retrieved October 05, 2016, from http://www.autonews.com/article/20160828/RETAIL/160829907/could-dealers-benefit-from-an-ethics-code?