What Sellers Have Long Forgotten May Still Haunt Them

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Take Ford Motor Company. And I mean that literally. You take it, ’cause I don’t want it—nor do I want a Ford car, no matter if the nameplate says “Lincoln,” or even “Volvo.”

At this very moment, I’m preparing to replace my current wheels, which are coming off lease in a month plus. Because I’m the cost-conscious sort, despite my affinity for cush rides, a Ford car—especially a Volvo or Lincoln—might be right up my alley. After all, rarely has any car company been so desperate to sell product. Ford is almost begging customers to help save it. They’re hurting so bad that I could go to Edmunds.com; download the dealer invoice for a car I’d like; and walk into say a Lincoln dealership; offer to pay below true dealer cost—and very possibly walk away with the keys.

Hard to resist? Not hardly.

In fact, this scenario tempts me not at all. Why so? Because of the tire incident. The one no one talks about any more. The time not so long ago when under-inflated Ford Explorer tires were exploding—sometimes killing drivers and passengers. Worldwide. And the time when Ford appeared to be sitting on data and was absolutely remiss for not aggressively informing customers they were at risk. Remember now? Yes, the tire flaw was apparently the tire manufacturer’s fault, not Ford’s. At least the tire company took the fall. Regardless, it was the responsibility of all knowledgeable parties to take all measures to communicate broadly and loudly to alert Ford Explorer owners. And Ford had to know about the issue before the word got out from an insurance industry analyst, not from Ford.

This may sound a bit harsh, but to me, Ford Motor Company has blood on its hands—blood it can’t wash away. From customers who trusted Ford. Which is why I won’t buy any of its cars, regardless of the deal. The whole issue may be totally out of the limelight. But I remember. As I’m sure many other potential customers surely do.

Hey, ethical issues aside, not aggressively informing customers—and especially potential Explorer buyers—may have been a good short-term business decision for Ford. But in the long run, it’s become an anchor chained to the company’s ankle. And it very well may help “deep six” the company.

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