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Would You Avoid a Manufacturer Because of Bad Public Policy?

jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
edited March 6 in General
Election day is here, so I have a philosophical question related to our elected leaders and those who support them.

My example is that Toyota and TMMI publicly supported our Governor of Indiana in his push for the Major Moves legislation that passed this spring. I consider this legislation bad public policy, and therefore, I will not consider buying a Toyota.

So, would you not buy a car from a given manufacturer based on their support or opposition of some public policy/legislation that was important to you?

Get out and vote!
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Comments

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    not the host here...
    If I am socially conscious enough, I can find a good reason to boycott any company. Anheuser-Busch (and Coors & Miller, plus many others, I suspect) gave money to candidates I don't like, so gone are my domestic beer drinking days. All of the homebuilders in my area publicly support a candidate who is very anti- AmendmentThatKirstieCaresAbout. So, if I want a new home, I'll have to build it myself or move out of the area.

    If you want to make a personal statement about a corporation based on an certain issue that is very near & dear to you, then fine - but note that keeping track of agendas of all of the companies from whom you may purchase is extremely hard work, and may result in a total inability to purchase anything from anyone, ever.

    So, regardless of their political agenda, if a Toyota is the best product for my driving needs, that's what'll sit in my driveway.

    VOTE.

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  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    One can boycott a company, and people do, but it's mostly an exercise in making oneself feel good/projecting an image they value, rather than actually affecting either the market or the political discourse in a meaningful way.

    For instance, I know people on the left who won't eat Domino's Pizza (founded by a far-right Christian) or on the right who won't eat Ben and Jerry's (don't really need to spell that one out...).

    But it doesn't really matter in terms of the operation of the marketplace. The beauty of the market is that producers have to produce goods that reflect consumer preferences, not theirs. Otherwise, they'll go out of business. So Domino's pizzas come with mounds of extra cheese, not bible verses, and Ben and Jerry's doesn't make you sign a "save the whales" petition when you buy a pint.

    And by buying the goods/services that fit your needs/desires for their instrinsic performance, you tend to have more resouces left over (money, time) that you can put to directly dealing with political issues important to you! :shades:
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    So Domino's pizzas come with mounds of extra cheese, not bible verses, and Ben and Jerry's doesn't make you sign a "save the whales" petition when you buy a pint.

    Congrats... that's one of the most well-written lines I've seen in the Forums. It sure would take a lot more time at the grocery checkout if every pint of Chunky Monkey came with a Greenpeace petition, and every U2 album with a "Forgive 3rd World Debt" support card.

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  • jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
    I agree mostly with what both of you say. In the end, it is difficult and time consuming to follow all issues that are of importance to any one person and making purchasing decisions based on such. The internet sure helps uncover previously hidden agendas of many companies.

    Taken to an extreme by ignorance and/or apathy, a consumer could be buy stolen merchandise, child labor produced products, etc., and not even know it.

    In a competitive market, there are many good and essentially equal quality choices, therefore, maybe small issues like public policy will effect buyers decisions?

    Too bad many companies today are not neutral in this regard.

    Finally, the fact that I will not buy a Toyota and possibly other Hoosiers reading this forum will not is affecting the market one sale at a time!
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    "Taken to an extreme by ignorance and/or apathy, a consumer could be buy stolen merchandise, child labor produced products, etc., and not even know it."

    Plenty indeed do...for years, clothing made overseas in developing nations was (and often still is) produced by what we would call child labor.

    I think you make an interesting point about public policy positions being a distinguishing factor in an increasingly competitive marketplace...but is there actually any policy issue where the buying public's opinion is overwhelmingly one-sided?

    If there were, in theory, the company would already have adapted its stance, rather than lose that majority business.

    Otherwise, firms with a political position calculate that people who support that position must be at least equal to those who disagree with it, therefore canceling each other out...the market value to the firm then becomes the consumers who buy based on the product's instrinsic qualities.
  • jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
    You are correct with the issue of Major Moves. The public was pretty much divided in half on it. The biggest cheerleader, our Governor and his pals, got it narrowly passed through typical political promisemaking.

    But wouldn't Toyota want every customer they could get (not that they need it right now) and avoid political statements in the first place?

    I run a small business and avoid making any political endorsements because I feel it is not a prudent use of my time.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    "But wouldn't Toyota want every customer they could get (not that they need it right now) and avoid political statements in the first place?"

    It does seem odd, yes. Usually, if firms are going to "go political", the saavy ones give to both parties/positions, as a way to hedge bets. But in this case, Toyota is probably expecting some big concessions from the governor, hence why it would expend its "market capital" on something so political and potentially alienating. From Toyota's pov: Value of pork from the administration > value of lost sales for its position.

    It's kinda depressing (one expects this kind of stuff from Ford and GM, but not a real competitor like Toyota), but it is the way of our system, for better or worse.
  • jrdwyerjrdwyer Posts: 168
    Toyota has gotten a chunk of change from the state of Indiana and local taxing authorities (tax abatement) for locating their plant here. So I guess it was payback time. They also advertise heavily about their local production, local support, etc.

    I guess our system needs to be changed and improved. Maybe the next batch of elected leaders will listen?
  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    I gotta agree with most of y'alls posts. My problem is that to many politicians receive corporate gifts which is messing up our political system. I think we need some real campaign finance reform and anyone running for office gets X amount of money and that leaves outside influences outside the inner circle. Until then we will have outside influences ruining our politics. Just my $0.02 opinion. ;)

    Rocky
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,753
    If you want to make a personal statement about a corporation based on an certain issue that is very near & dear to you, then fine - but note that keeping track of agendas of all of the companies from whom you may purchase is extremely hard work, and may result in a total inability to purchase anything from anyone, ever.

    I agree with that for the most part. There are many companies out there that support things I do not, but unless its one of my "hot issues" I am not going to do much about it.

    However if its a hot issue for me I many times will find myself being influenced by that. Also many times there are other issues I will have with a company and a political issue just pushes it over the line (in a case where either the political issue or the other issues alone wouldn't).

    VOTE

    Yes VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    Yes VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN.

    You are going to have to pay Daley a fee for the use of his motto.

    Seriously, had a friend of mine at our local bakery
    whisper to me that Saturday was her last day. I asked her where she would be going. Her response was that she was heading to the new WalMart Supercenter. Asked her what she thought about working for WalMart ... and she told me this.

    She had been working at a union grocery BUT they would never give her any hours and the union dues she was paying were as much as the full-time employees. Her current employer (the local business guy) gives no benefits and few raises ... AND she'll get a $2.50/hr raise.

    All I have to say is that I USED to work for one of those "BEST 100 EMPLOYERS" that would give all those "politically correct" benefits - flex time, extra time for mothers, etc. And all I remember is having to cover for all those benefits ... at no extra pay.

    Give me ANY corporation and generally you can make a good argument for or against them.

    Ford, Daimler Benz, and VW had strong pro-Nazi ties. Mitsubishi built the planes that bombed Pearl Harbor ... you get the drift.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    ...back to cars, I wonder how the upcoming arrival of Chinese cars will be treated by U.S. consumers?

    Though plenty of the smaller items in our lives (televisions, etc.) are already made there, there's something different about a vehicle that still is able to provoke strong emotion in people.

    Given our balance of trade with China, and that it's an honest-to-god totalitarian state, I wonder how much negative reaction they'll be. Or will people just shrug and say the like how inexpensive a new car can be? :confuse:
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,753
    ...back to cars, I wonder how the upcoming arrival of Chinese cars will be treated by U.S. consumers?

    People are going to be cautious and be thinking Yugo.

    Though plenty of the smaller items in our lives (televisions, etc.) are already made there,

    Consumer electronics and clothing have very few moving parts. A car is a moving part with many moving parts making it work. There in lies the big difference. The Chinese are going to have to prove that they are not the next Yugo.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • John, I second Kirstie's congrats on an extremely cogent and well-articulated post. Thanks for your help in keeping the discussions both relevant and enlightening!

    EltonRon
    Host- Automotive News and Views
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    ...is that people are avoiding car companies with too many past lemons in the closet - Cadillac Cimarron, Oldsmobile Diesel, Cadillac V-4-6-8, the infamous Ford 3.8 V-6 head gasket eater; VWs that do everything but spew pea soup and speak in strange voices; and way too many Mopar automatic trannies.

    Yes, some of those vehicles were old over 20 years ago, but, fair or not, many car buyers have LONG memories.

    Outside these forums, I've never heard anyone say, "I'm not buying this brand of car because of its maker supports this or that policy."

    It's always because of a bad experience with a lemon, coupled with a dealer who didn't really care about service after the sale.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,753
    Yeah but if you do that you eliminate every car manufacturer on the planet. Everyone at some time or another has produced their share of :lemon: 's

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    I think that sales trends give a clear picture of which companies have done a better job of both minimizing the lemon problem, and making things right when they do make a mistake.
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,753
    I think sales trends give a clear picture of which companies have a better marketing department and project a better image (remember image and reality oft times differ).

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Thanks...it's nice to be able to contribute. I'm an economist by training, so 1) discussions like these really fascinate me and 2) my (limited) knowledge of such things is a lot greater than my knowledge of mechanical issues.

    But thinking more about something jrdwyer said earlier (about if public policy positions will take on growing importance as market competition intensifies)...

    With the Chinese cars, I imagine they'll be Yugo-like at first, but then quickly evolve into something Hyundai-like in quality. So they'll be fairly attractive to buyers in the U.S.

    But is the fact that they're produced in a dictatorship with an appalling human-rights record and poor labor/environmental standards, coupled with an increased feeling in the U.S. of being economically disadvantaged by China's growth, lead to some people avoiding the cars? Esp. when a S. Korean one is not that much more expensive? As we've just seen, the country is moving leftward...will it more leftward enough for these things to matter in the market?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,804
    I won't touch one, both for the design ethics of the cars and the political and social factors of the country of origin.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    In the case of Honda and Toyota, they project a better image because for years they made products that back up that image...and still do.

    The people who know - lemon law lawyers, mechanics who work on a variety of makes, people who work at used car auctions - invariably say that those makes have a good reputation for reliability because they have earned it. I have yet to hear anything to the contrary.

    With the European marques, it is the driving experience and superior build quality (which is different from reliability).
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,753
    In the case of Honda and Toyota, they project a better image because for years they made products that back up that image...and still do.

    To be perfectly honest I don't think that Honda nor Toyota makes them any much better that anyone else. i keep hearing people on these forums talking about the work they needed to have done on them, I see my family and friends with them having as much trouble as those i know that don't have Toyotas or Hondas.

    In this case it is more of perception creating its own reality more so that reality shaping perception.

    Case in point I have a sister whose toyota goes into the shop like clock work still bragging about how much more reliable her car is.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    I see the exact opposite in my experiences. I see friends and co-workers with major problems on various vehicles that have a not-so-stellar reputation for reliability.

    For example, I know exactly ONE satisfied VW owner. Everyone else is either having problems with their VWs, or has traded it for something else.

    And, if we are using anecdotal evidence here, my wife's 2000 Cavalier gave up the ghost at 113,000 miles (and the air conditioning compressor had conked out at 50,000 miles). It needed a complete engine rebuild. But she didn't go to the imports - she bought a 2005 Ford Focus SE sedan, which has been good so far (32,000 miles).

    And, turning to evidence of a more non-anecdotal variety, the professionals who deal with many makes of vehicles in various capacities all tell me the the same thing about Honda and Toyota reliability - it is based on fact, not mere perception.

    They also say that the domestics have improved dramatically over the past 10 years (particularly Ford).
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,753
    I see the exact opposite in my experiences.

    Very well but that doesn't negate the fact that these cars with their stellar reputations break down just as much as most other cars, even ones without steller reputations.

    I know a guy, a master mechanic, who used to work for "steller reputation" motors (you figure out which one). He was one of the guys that came out to dealerships when the factory would "send someone out". For that he used a company car. But for his personal car he drove a GM. I asked him why his reply was "don't believe the hype".

    perception creates its own reality.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    Very well but that doesn't negate the fact that these cars with their stellar reputations break down just as much as most other cars, even ones without steller reputations.


    With the exception of a few "trouble" models (early Neons, certain Kias, etc.), breakdowns are as much a function of the maintenance that YOU perform (or fail to perform) as they are of make.

    Personally, I am more concerned with those automakers that fail to do recalls in lieu of "secret warranties" (see Lemonaidcars.com for details).
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    snakeweasel: Very well but that doesn't negate the fact that these cars with their stellar reputations break down just as much as most other cars, even ones without steller reputations.

    And the proof to back up this "fact" is found exactly where? Sorry, but that is not a fact, that is your opinion.

    You are entitled to your opinion, but until you back it up with independent sources, it remains an opinion, not a fact. At this point, the rating agencies agree with me. Until I see something substantial to discredit them - something more than "They don't give my favorite cars high ratings, so I don't believe them" - I'll go by their results.

    snakeweasel: I know a guy, a master mechanic, who used to work for "steller reputation" motors (you figure out which one). He was one of the guys that came out to dealerships when the factory would "send someone out". For that he used a company car. But for his personal car he drove a GM. I asked him why his reply was "don't believe the hype".

    And I knew a master mechanic who worked for a local chain of dealers that included a Pontiac-GMC-Buick franchise, and a Toyota franchise.

    His car of choice?

    A Toyota Camry, because, in his words, "Don't kid yourself - there is a difference. Toyotas are better."
  • snakeweaselsnakeweasel a Certified Edmunds Poster.Posts: 11,753
    At this point, the rating agencies agree with me.

    What rating agencies?

    And CR doesn't count.

    A Toyota Camry, because, in his words, "Don't kid yourself - there is a difference. Toyotas are better."

    Tell that to my sister, I don't think she ever had a Toyota that went more than 30K miles before something major went on it. Of course she states that they are the best cars ever made. Perception creates its own reality.

    The sign said "No shoes, no shirt, no service", it didn't say anything about no pants.

  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    snakeweasel: What rating agencies?

    And CR doesn't count.


    Really...and who decides this?

    As the old saying goes, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."

    I would certainly consider evidence to the contrary, but it has to go deeper than anecdotal stories from friends and relatives.

    If we are going to use anecdotal experiences to "create reality," I must say that the experiences of my friends and relatives supports the reliability of Toyotas and Hondas.

    Meanwhile, my wife's 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier had the air conditioning compressor die at 50,000 miles, and the engine itself died at 113,000 miles.

    My parent's 1999 Buick Park Avenue just had its 3.8 V-6 ruined by the infamous leaking intake-head gasket at 107,000 miles.

    snakeweasel: Tell that to my sister, I don't think she ever had a Toyota that went more than 30K miles before something major went on it. Of course she states that they are the best cars ever made. Perception creates its own reality.

    And my dad just asked me for information on the new Buick Lucerne. His "perception" is that GM still makes long-lasting cars, although his "reality" tells a different story.

    My mother-in-law's 1999 Chevrolet Malibu features a heater fan that doesn't work on the first two settings, the alternator has failed, and she has had other problems with the car. But she is still interested in the new-generation Malibu.

    Anecdotal evidence cuts both ways, which is why we need third-party data. If there is evidence that is superior to that gathered by Consumer Reports, I'd consider it.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    A few comments:

    1) My personal belief as a GM owner, is that Toyota makes better products. PERIOD.

    I would attribute it to three reasons:

    On the procurement end, they are far more concerned with defect-free parts from their suppliers and for developing long-term relationships with their sellers. GM's buyers are looking for price. I see this constantly in their RFPs for parts.

    On the manufacturing end, they have better manufacturing systems. They try to make it right the first time and are constantly changing their assembly lines to find perfection.

    Finally, their employees are more motivated to turn out good vehicles. My father and several family members as well as a number of in-laws have worked for GM over the years. The stories I have heard is that they do enough to stay out of trouble.

    2) Since Toyota owners EXPECT that their cars will last longer, they perform the NECESSARY MAINTENANCE more often.

    So many domestic owners do NOT perform even the most BASIC repairs on a timely basis.

    Head gaskets do not generally fail in a given week. In most cases, there is clear evidence of leaking for MONTHS before there is outright failure. In my 1996 Ciera, the head gasket started showing evidence of leaking about 12 months ago so I replaced it before the leak got worse. Why let an engine FAIL when a $400 repair will keep it going for years?

    A co-worker had a Crown Vic in mint condition and let his engine fail because he wouldn't do the $500 in required repairs. It make NO sense to me.

    (For the record, rubber gaskets on 12 year old Toyotas also fail.)

    By the way, a GM heater fan motors lasts about 75k miles. It is a $225 repair with labor at many shops. It is disappointing that the same parts that failed on a 1980s model still fails at the same regularity on a 2004 model but that is what got GM where they are at now.

    I am convinced that if people would take the time to maintain their vehicles, a lot fewer people would need replacements so often.

    3) Personally, if I wanted to increase satisfaction with a particular model, I would extend the warranty on the entire product to 100k miles. With one CAVEAT. If you want the extended warranty, you need to bring the car in every 15k miles RELIGIOUSLY at which point, the required maintenance would be performed at a REASONABLE price.

    That way, you can replace the parts most likely to fail on a timely basis avoiding the usual breakdowns in the process.
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