Shame on GMAC.
It was wrong for General Motors Acceptance Corp. to send gifts to dealers as inducements to fill out J.D. Power and Associates' Dealer Financing Satisfaction Survey.
General Motors wouldn't stand for it if its dealers offered free oil changes to get customers to return their customer satisfaction surveys. GM shouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior at its finance subsidiary, either.
It is disingenuous for GMAC officials to claim they sought only to encourage participation, not to elicit favorable responses. It's hard to believe that GMAC would spend that kind of money to increase the number of unfavorable responses.
There is a clear line between encouragement and bribery. This is tantamount to bribery. Survey companies commonly include an inducement for recipients to fill out the form and mail it. Usually it's a crisp, new $1 bill. That's a far cry from the DVD players and $200 gift certificates that GMAC sent dealers.
J.D. Power and Associates was right to raise a red flag because the consulting firm must guard the reputation of its surveys jealously.
GMAC's transgression can have grave consequences. Such behavior is one reason that people don't trust surveys. Lack of trust undermines the integrity of all the Power surveys, which automakers, dealers and consumers depend on for an accurate reading of this business.
GMAC must stop this disreputable practice, and Power must redouble its efforts to make sure no one else is cheating.