retail news in context, analysis with attitude

On the subject of Volkswagen's ethical issues, MNB user Andy Casey wrote:

Problems like this almost always originate from the top and frequently because senior management demonstrates an unwillingness to accept bad news.  Not defending anyone who was involved in the cheating work around but in cultures like that taking bad news to the boss typically results in the messenger getting spanked.  Over time people learn to avoid doing that, masking results to validate expectations instead and it frequently leads to poor decision making albeit this seems an extreme case.

Another MNB user wrote:

This really is a damn shame. I leased a 2013 VW Passat SEL (gas) which is really a great machine. I was prepared to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease in April 2016 since the buyout price is favorable and the mileage will be considerably under the lease mileage cap. Even though this is a gasoline powered vehicle I feel that the VW brand may be so badly tarnished that it may not survive. The trade in value of the 2013 VW Passat may be next to nothing in a few years.

History has shown that auto makers can survive safety and quality issues, if handled correctly and honorably. However, this breech of promise by VW I believe is not repairable or survivable.

Buying a Benz!

MNB reader Dan Blue wrote:

I have never owned a Volkswagen, but I drove an Audi for years and it remains the most enjoyable car I've ever owned (the birth of my son and my wife's inability to operate a standard transmission saw it traded in for a more… family friendly vehicle). I find this whole debacle to be a disgusting display of corporate hubris and a complete lack of integrity. A corporate culture that can allow something like this to happen does not develop overnight; it's systemic and by design. I can confidently say I will never own another Audi after this.

What I find particularly galling is the fact that I continue to see Audi commercials with their tag line, Truth in engineering.

I wrote on Friday that I'm not buying the blame game that VW seems to be positioning itself to play ... just as I'm not buying any product made by Volkswagen or its corporate brethren, Audi and Porsche. (Though, I admitted that if I had the money to buy a Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet, my moral superiority and ethical condescension might fade away...)

Which led MNB reader Larry Cooper to write:

I’ve had a few struggles getting in my new Porsche Targa 4S each morning but I’m almost “over the hump”….

Larry was kind enough to send me a picture of his Porsche. It's gorgeous.

On Friday, I posted an email from an MNB reader who sensed some level of disingenuousness when I disagree with criticisms. MNB reader Roger Hancock was kind enough to come to my defense:

If I were to characterize the theme of your blog with one word, it would be innovation.  It trumps change because it implies newness, creativity, inspiration.  Change in and of itself - not so much - as the old adage, "The more things change, the more the stay the same" tells the story.

Hats off to you because you come across to me as living by the theme that you write about.  It took courage to post the anonymous view about "I'm not sure this is true."  And you then owned the criticism with your reflection, "...but maybe that's just me being defensive."

To me, your comment "I'm not sure..." is your expression of leaving the door open to perhaps having an inaccurate opinion on a matter that you're willing to change if you are convinced by additional facts.  In other words, I don't read it as defensively as your other reader, but having raised four teenagers myself, certainly appreciate her perspective.  I guess the proof of your motivation is whether you actually ever change opinions based on the facts.

While I can't point to specifics, I can recall occasions where that is exactly what you have done in your blog.  Innovation is never easy - as you regularly point out.  Practicing it personally may be the most challenging of all, and you seem to travel that road regularly.  Again, hats off.

Thanks. It's been 14 years, but I always think of MNB - and my own contributions - as a work in progress. I think that's probably a good thing...
KC's View: