An interesting test carried out with Sydney working class home owners, reveals some interesting and puzzling facts. The average consumer willingly calls a plumber or household electrician and within a few minutes of meeting said tradesman is willing to have them roam free within their house, carrying out whatever repairs the tradesmen is qualified to perform. This new person who has entered your life for a grand total of six minutes now has free access to almost eve
rything you hold dear. This tradesman has access to your life, your partners life (and their underwear draw). They could freely enter your children’s bedroom or rummage through your toiletries. They could even be that person to leave you steaming piles of human made gifts hidden throughout your house.
Of course such things are mostly ridiculous, no sane person would do such things, yet it makes the very valid point. You’re willing to trust a tradesman within your household and trust him unequivocally until he or she performs in such a way as to lose that trust from you. Granted some jewellery boxes have been pilfered by sticky fingered carpet layers but on the whole most Australians assume trust with a tradesman until such a time that, that trust is exploited.
There is of course one exception to this rule, the motor mechanic. Our greased up friend does not share the same privileges of our household style tradesman. The mechanic has to play a different game. In the case of the mechanic, the consumer picks up the phone full of distain and a complete lack of trust. For every single client, from the moment the phone rings the mechanic is doing all he can to establish trust. Something the other trades take for granted and seem to have instantly. The motor mechanic spends hours a day and huge sums of money to prove to his potential clientele that he or she and his or her corporation is in fact trustworthy.
Its not a gripe mechanics hold, we all knew what we were getting into when we established our businesses and thus those who are not so trustworthy don’t last very long at all. However this does then beckon the question “Why?”.
Why is one whole industry riddled so savagely with trust issues? Tow truck drivers, used car salesman, the dealership and the small garage are all painted with the same tarred brush of unethical behaviour and it has been so for decades.
The cause for this, I believe stems from three sources.
1. Unethical behaviour from the motor industry was accepted (mostly by those within the industry) in previous decades. I was not around for these times but from the research carried out, looking at the industry throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s in Australia, a different mindset existed back then when it came to consumers and what they were entitled to. Consumers had limited options on where they could go and how they could fight fraudulent activities, which led to a large spike in rip-off merchants practicing their money making activites and getting away with it. This has left a generation of consumers wary of the industry and have educated their children with this ability to be wary. The result is the following generations have grown up with the subliminal teaching from parents and grandparents that the auto industry is not to be trusted.
2. Ignorance on the consumers part is a huge contributor to this. The consumer who gets a plumber in, does not know how to fix the toilet rupturing sewerage water throughout his carpet filled house but he is well aware that there is a problem, he is only ignorant as to how to fix it. In the mechanics case, the consumer is often ignorant to both the fact that there is a problem and how to fix it. This, unfortunately leaves most consumers in the dark when it comes to their cars forcing a double layer of trust required. It’s the nature of the beast and leaves opportunities open for our mechanic friends to recommend any sort of repairs.
3. The third and I believe the greatest cause of mistrust within the auto industries comes from the heavyweights in the industry. The vehicle manufacturers are the grandfathers of the industry and issues like the VW emissions scandal and more recently the Mitsubishi and Suzuki fuel economy scandals, only further enforce in the consumers’ minds that the auto industry is not one to be trusted.
Change is a slow and gradual thing, improvements have been made over decades to see this industry improve but I believe the start to this change has to come from the top. The global manufactures need to be more accountable to governing bodies. Currently each country has its own laws and consequences for such behaviour, making it very difficult to globally regulate. If the godfathers of our industry are behaving unethically and getting away with it in some cases, the public’s perception of the industry slides down that rupturing toilet.