Sunday, March 7, 2010

In Response to Elizabeth Allaire

Elizabeth asked the following question: Do you think that the Ohio Department of Economic Development would be willing to work something out with John Smith or would they just take back their offer and go to another company who would just take the money and give them customer names?

I think the the Ohio Department of Economic Development would be willing to work with John Smith to a point and of course with a few conditions about customer privacy. I don't think they would be willing to work with him if he was fussy about giving over the whole customer list. You have to keep in mind that he either sells them his list or he lays people off. He also has to do what's morally correct, which would be to say no. He should say no because it violates so many laws by turning over the customer information just so a dealership can thrive on annoying potential buyers, who probably don't even want to go to THAT dealership. He could get in a lot of trouble with the authorities as well, especially if he didn't ask the people that he surveyed if he could give their information out to dealerships. When these people took the survey they probably thought they were only helping out a local firm and not thinking that a car dealership would want all their information so they could target them. All in all I have a feeling that John Smith will say no because it's the right thing to do and he will have to lay off people, but it will save him money. I say this because if the authorities found out about his deal with the dealership, which they would because they eventually find everything, then he would be facing legal fees, which could lead to even more layoffs. I think that the car dealership should just try to advertise to potential buyers in their own way rather than trying to buy a list from someone who took a survey on people that might buy cars. Yes, it is an easy way to target people that are looking, but it also causes a lot of problems because the firms taking the surveys probably didn't ask the customers permission to pass on their information. What do you think is the right thing to do in this situation?

John Smith's Firm

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?