February 19, 2003
before you list charges
Question: (E-023) I traded in a car in well-above-average
condition, but with 40,000 miles on the odometer. When
later I saw the car on the lot, it had only 12,000 miles
on the odometer. What should I do?
that the automobile is your former vehicle and not simply
a look alike.
that you read the odometer numbers correctly, and you
have a bill of sale that clearly reports the actual
mileage of your former automobile.
that you can be sure the person who purchased the car
from you has had the car in his or her possession (with
no opportunity for a prankster to adjust the odometer).
to the owner that purchased your vehicle and explain
you are concerned that someone has placed you and his/her
organization in a potentially complicated and/or legal
that if the vehicle was yours and has been adjusted,
that you are aware that the Better Business Bureau would
expect to have such information reported to them, and
you expect the owner to act immediately or you will
be compelled to do so.
You might explain that when we cannot trust the numbers
on the odometer, what other "trusts" might
have been broken?
of "contracts," creating a level of mistrust
that can permeate a profession, industry, community
or an entire society, will interrupt the effective flow
of goods and services. This interruption impacts productivity
When individuals and groups lose confidence in the integrity
of a business or any institution, then governments will
be compelled to take action and add regulations.
Changing odometers is illegal. It is expensive for our
society. It hurts business for everyone. If you cannot
convince the leader of this enterprise to make the situation
right, then our criminal system can.
BRACHER is founder of the Bracher Center for Integrity
in Leadership in Monterey. His column, "Integrity
Matters," appears Wednesday on the Business page.
Readers are invited to submit questions on business-related
ethics and values. Please write in care of INTEGRITY to
firstname.lastname@example.org. The center's Web site is
to the editor: (February 22, 2003)
The Feb.19 "Integrity Matters" business column
by Jim Bracher was needlessly long and, in my opinion,
offered poor advice.
response should instead have included these actions for
the vehicle's VIN to make sure it is the same car.
the odometer again to make certain you read it correctly
the first time.
the Department of Motor Vehicles' investigative division
regarding the findings and request that they investigate.
is what a good citizen should do when confronted with
a potential violation of the law.
Going to the new owner, as was suggested, could place
the questioner at needless risk.
is no way of knowing what the new owner's reaction might
be, especially if the new owner regularly engages in illegal
is also not the questioner's responsibility to provide
the new owner with a lesson in ethics.
lesson to be taught should be taught by legal authorities.
Response to Widigen Letter (02-24-03)
Mr. Larry Widigen offered insightful suggestions in dealing
with automobile odometer "roll back" activities.
Unfortunately, not all business transactions are conducted
with high-integrity individuals.
Even so, Mr. Widigen's "by the book" approach
could be so efficient that interpersonal relationships
could be permanently injured. Our contrasting approach
offers the owner an opportunity to correct any mistake.
Each of us wants to be a good citizen, practicing integrity-centered
decision-making. Regardless of our responses, there are
consequences. Each individual will want to weigh the costs
and then proceed appropriately.
Obviously, there are many legitimate approaches to solving
problems. We recommend that each reader remembers: "Integrity
is one of several paths; it distinguishes itself from
the others because it is the right path and the only one
upon which you will never get lost." -- M.H. McKee
We appreciate reader input.
For INTEGRITY MATTERS
back to Integrity Matters
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