What is that saying about how people who live in glass houses should not throw stones? It seems that the political tactics of negative campaigning and outright lying about your opponents has spilled over into the commercial world. Whatever happened to the truth in advertising law? This is not a good thing and we need to ensure we are not sucked into this tactic.
Before I get started, I want to stress that I am not bashing any company per say, but I want to set the record straight. All companies in this article make good products and if you own one over the other that does not make you better or worse than anyone else.
Two days ago, I went to the big city (or as big as they make them in Iowa anyway), and visited four truck dealerships. I had decided to look at something bigger than what I already have as my truck was a little lacking in the hauling and towing departments. I told each salesman at each dealership that they had one chance to win me over and I would buy from the one that gave me the best deal.
I started out at the Ford dealership and drove the F150. That truck had plenty of power in that eco-boost engine. It had a few bells and whistles that were nice and in the end would have been about $2K off the sale sticker price. I left there and went to the Dodge dealership and drove the Ram. Once again, plenty of power and nice height to the ride for visibility, but the final deal was right at $1K off the sale sticker. Next on the Tour D’ Trucks was Toyota. The Tacoma was very comfortable and had good gas mileage, but my towing capability would have lacked. Their best deal was $1K off the sticker. I looked at the sticker on the Tundra and dropped it from consideration because of price and gas mileage. Finally, I went to the Chevrolet dealership where I have done business for over 15 years. The salesman I’ve used every time let me take the Silverado Extended Cab with the V8 for a drive. The ride was nice, the visibility good, the power was very good and seating comfortable. I asked for some options that none of their vehicles on the lot had, but he found one with everything I asked for and more. The final deal was $14K off the sticker and $4K less than any other deal offered to me. I jumped on it.
Yesterday, I was telling some people I know about how well I was treated at the Chevy dealership and what a great deal they have going on right now. The first response I heard was “I’ll never buy a GM or Chrysler product because they took the bailout money and that cost me more in taxes.” Someone else parroted the first and chimed in with “Ford didn’t take a penny from the government so even though I have never owned one, that is the only make I’ll buy next time.” There is a Ford commercial on TV that talks about how Ford stood on their own while others had to be bailed out. Evidently, people are under the belief that Ford has not benefited from government (our tax) money.
Before the bailouts happened, Ford was actively lobbying for the bailouts. Ford also lobbied for the cash for clunkers program to stimulate sales. When the cash for clunkers program ran, Ford benefited greatly from it. When the bailouts came, Ford did not want any bailout money but asked for 9 billion dollars be available in the form of a loan if the economy worsened. In the end, Ford did get a 5.9 billion dollar loan from the government to fix up some of its manufacturing plants. So what is the difference between the loan and the bailout?
With the loan Ford had to put up part of its assets as collateral to get the money. With the bailout, the government received a number of shares in the companies in return for the money. So, the government in one case has collateral to hold in case the borrower defaults and in the other case has shares and will still get the assets if the companies go under. The approach to the money may be different, but the end result is the same. So, does that make Ford any better than the rest when it went to the Feds and asked for a loan to stay competitive? If GM and Chrysler want the government out of their businesses, they will have to buy back the shares. If Ford wants the government out of its business, it will have to pay off the loan. It’s the same situation for all three of the manufacturers.
So, to wrap it up, if you want to go out and pay more for a name or perceived image, that is totally up to you and the only one you have to answer to is yourself, and possibly your spouse. I myself, being a little less liberal with my limited funds, chose to go with the best deal offered and get the most bang for my buck.