Last week my wife and I went car shopping. We stopped at several places; test drove numerous cars and asked lots of questions. One of these questions was posed to a Toyota salesman with regard to the 3rd Generation 2010 Prius. Simply put, I asked him when the 2010 Prius would be available for sale. After some hesitation the gentlemen looked and said, “Late this summer, maybe not even until October.” Well not having any reason to doubt him I took him at his word and moved on. Well long story short, relying partly on the information he provided to me about the 2010 Prius I made a decision on which car I wanted to go with. Not two days later did I come to discover that I had been misled. The 2010 Prius will be showing up on Toyota Dealers’ lots across the country starting the first week of June. I had been lied to.
As a business owner and an attorney this made me think about what I do in a similar situations. The best situation I can analogize this with is when someone calls in seeking legal advice and there is nothing I can do for them or they can get the same outcome with or without me. This happens more often than you might think and I feel that I’m ethically and morally obligated to tell this prospective client that they would be just as well off irrespective of whether or not they choose to hire an attorney. Aside from the ethical and moral obligations, I think doing so makes good business sense. In my opinion, a person you give the correct advice to (even if it costs you money) is far more likely to give you a call next time they need some help than the person you try to squeeze for every penny (even when they don’t need your help). Had the car salesman been honest last week I would be far more likely to purchase a car from him in the future and recommend him to my friends and family. Now the exact opposite will happen, if someone is looking for a Toyota I will tell them who to avoid.