John Smith's firm is not doing well in the economy right now and he fears that he will have to start laying off a number of employees, like most companies at this point in time. John recently surveyed 2,000 citizens that live in Ohio to determine if they are going to buy a car in the near future. A car dealership heard about what John's firm was doing and has offered him $8,000 for the information on the people that said they were likely or very likely to buy a new car. John is facing a big layoff or he can hand over the information to the car dealership and breathe a sigh of relief because he just received $8,000. Should he do it?
I don't think he should do it. I know he's in need of money but that seems like a violation of privacy to the people he surveyed. Car dealers are known to be very pushy and try to talk you into buying a car, which is something most people don't want to deal with. The people that were surveyed might feel overwhelmed and slightly annoyed that they even participated in the survey because now they are being bombarded with a car dealership trying to persuade them to buy a car at their dealership. In the AMA Statement of Ethics one of the values is honesty. If John's firm was playing the honesty card they should have asked everyone that they interviewed if they wouldn't mind having their information released to a car dealership. That way the people that wanted to be bothered by the car dealership could be and the people that wanted to be left alone would not be bothered. It wouldn't be right for John to sell the information without anyone's approval first. I understand that he's in need of money, but it's not worth it to make the people mad that took the time out of their busy lives to complete his firm's survey.
I think the car dealership is also in need of money too, so they are getting desperate to have some cars sold. It seems that spending $8000 just to get a list of potential buyers is a waste of money. What if the people you are trying to persuade get so annoyed with your dealership that they just buy elsewhere? When people are shopping for cars they want to do it their own way and go to the dealership they want, whether it's Toyota, Honda, etc...they will go where they've probably always gone because it works for them and it's less hassle. Do you think it was wrong for the car dealership to offer John's firm $8,000 just for a list of people?