Poll finds car salespeople least trusted profession. Well, duh!
To anyone who’s ever completed an automobile purchase and walked out of the dealership feeling slightly queasy — and that’s pretty much everyone, I’m guessing — the Gallup organization’s latest poll on how Americans rate professions in terms of honesty should come as no surprise.
Car salespeople ranked dead last in the Gallup survey out of 22 professions, just behind members of the U.S. Congress, as the least trusted.
Only eight per cent of the 1,015 adult respondents polled by phone in late November (error margin plus or minus four percentage points) rated car salespeople’s honesty and ethical standards as high or very high. Some 49 per cent placed their trust level at low or very low and 43 per cent said they had an average level of honesty
Bankers ranked just above journalists in high trust levels — 28 per cent versus 24 per cent. The mid-pack ranking for the moneymen suggests Americans have either forgotten or forgiven the banking sector for crashing the global financial system in 2008.
In its news release on the poll, Gallup said car salespeople have finished at the bottom of the list every year except 2011, when they tied for last with members of Congress at seven per cent.
“Car salespeople's perceived honesty has never climbed out of the single-digit range in the (36-year) history of the list,” Gallup said. In case you’re thinking we Canadians are more trusting than our Yankee neighbours, an Ipsos Reid poll done for Postmedia News last March ranked car sales associate as last on a list of 30 professions parents would encourage their kids to pursue (doctor was No. 1).
And a Reader’s Digest Canada survey published last May put car salespeople at No. 2 on a list of least-trusted professions, just behind telemarketers and ahead of psychics! Most trusted? Firefighters.
Is it fair that after decades of trying to boost its image through efforts such as professional-development training and the introduction of no-commission sales, the car-sales still gets no respect?
Certainly there are salesmen and women who want to put their customers in vehicle that best suits their needs and budget, who don’t up-sell or push the necessity of added undercoating or paint protector.
But the sales person is at the pointy end of an entire sales culture that’s always put a premium on moving metal and maximizing the profit on each piece. As margins fall because of competition and new Internet research tool that give shoppers insight into what a dealer pays, the pressure mounts to squeeze the maximum return on each sale.
I’ve personally caught a salesman in a bald lie; he insisted the used Mazda Miata I was looking at had never been in a collision and shrugged when my inspector turned up a badly bent frame. In another case, a sales guy showing me a new model the dealer had just started selling insisted it was rear-wheel drive until I invited him to the pavement to look at where the diff was.
I bet almost everyone has a story like that or knows someone who does, which taken together bring us to our collective opinion — unfair as it is — of car salespeople as bottom-feeders.