A Manufacturer's Choice

As a title, Manufacturer’s Choice is not going to be, Movie of the Year. Regrettably there are no automobile manufacturers called, Sophie. The title is, however, relevant to the Lemon Law and to the more basic issues of right and wrong.

There is so much cynicism about these days. Psychiatrists and Doctors are expected to over-charge and operate as extensions of the pharmaceutical cartels. Great corporations are expected to operate as though their employees are enemies and their customers, obedient little puppies. By expected, we mean public behavior; and we have come to expect these behaviors. We read of their twisted cheating and criminality and hardly comment. Maybe we mutter, “What else is new?”

Citizens operate around the fringe of business and political structures, preferring to avoid and if possible, never confront. We leave it to the attorney to do that on our behalf. It would be so much better if it weren’t necessary, but the fact is the lemon law was passed for a reason. Imagine what it would be like if all of the car companies carefully monitored the defects in their vehicles and didn’t wait for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or newspaper exposés, or Lemon Law firms to step in and assist the consumer. Instead the consumer is ignored, deceived and treated with a cruelty more appropriate to an avowed enemy.

Here are the central questions. Is it intentional deception? Does the manufacturer provide special training to their agents, dealership personnel and so-called customer service representatives about how to divert, ignore, and exhaust the consumer? When a car manufacturer is fined millions of dollars by NHTSA for foot dragging on timely reports regarding known safety defects, it raises questions as to why? Was it an oversight? Did some low level quality engineer overlook the problem? Or were they advised by an accountant/actuary to overlook it as the cost of litigation is cheaper than correcting the problem?

It is hard to believe that these defects were accidentally missed. This being the case, we cannot help but conclude that the consumer is being lied to constantly and intentionally. The purpose of punishment is supposedly to alter behavior. All eyes were on Toyota recently. After being fined about 48 million dollars in penalties, one would imagine manufacturers would learn from each others’ mistakes. That wasn’t the case with BMW, when NHTSA launched a full blown investigation on the timely reporting of safety defects. It would be a good thing if having been penalized, Toyota or BMW would have a realization about right and wrong; they would realize that they had a choice, and would thereon move forward to correct defects, assist consumers, replace or buy back defective automobiles and trucks.

When the cat does his business beneath your office chair, perhaps you rub his nose in it as a lesson. He has a choice. We also learn that despite that noxious outcome, the cat is likely to do it again. And so we see with the automobile manufacturers. The lemon law attorney metaphorically rubs the manufacturer’s nose in their unwillingness to step up, to take responsibility, but so far it doesn’t seem to have a lasting effect. The consumer has a real sense of what is right and wrong. Individuals, by and large try to do the right thing. And the consumer is bewildered when the corporation operates to a lower, even contemptuous standard by keeping important information under wraps.

The Manufacturer’s Choice is being made by people in finely appointed meeting rooms. Production Managers, Accountants, Engineers discuss the defects and decide to delay, blur the issue, ignore, and deny the existence of the defect. They had a choice. It always goes back to an individual. Somewhere in that corporate food chain a person makes a decision, and it becomes, the Manufacturer’s Choice.

Fortunately, Norman Taylor & Associates backs consumers when automobile manufacturers repeatedly fail to make the right choice.

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