Auto dealers are pillars of their communities. They sponsor Little League teams. They fund scholarships for disadvantaged children. They donate vehicles to first responders. They pay their taxes and fly big flags.
So why do so many consumers drive out of dealerships feeling uneasy — even if they got the car they wanted at roughly the price they wanted? What explains the fact that year after year, Gallup polling consistently finds car salespeople near the bottom among professions when it comes to honesty and ethical standards, narrowly ahead of members of Congress?
As dealers this weekend rightfully celebrate their contributions to the economy and the free-enterprise system, the polling numbers should serve as a sobering reminder of what they have yet to accomplish.
In 1977, Gallup found that only 8 percent of respondents rated car salespeople “high” or “very high” for honesty and ethics. In the latest survey, about a month ago, that number was — wait for it — 8 percent. Meanwhile, a full 45 percent in the latest poll rated them low or very low, not much better than the 47 percent in 1977.