My sympathy jug for the crybaby former Daewoo dealers is about empty.
Those dealers say that General Motors misled them about its intentions as it bid for the bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd. When GM eventually bought part of Daewoo's assets, but not its U.S. distribution network and other operations, their franchise agreements were voided - illegally, say the dealers.
They are especially incensed because GM hemmed and hawed on whether it was going to bring Daewoo vehicles into North America. Now, GM says it intends to import cars that were built at former Daewoo plants in Korea and sell them at Suzuki and Chevrolet dealerships in the United States.
Let's be clear: GM has hardly behaved in an above-board manner in all this. I'm sure that GM believes it has chosen its words carefully all along, always staying within the letter of the law. Many observers would disagree, though. When it comes to Daewoo, GM has changed its lines more often than a high-school hockey coach during the flu season.
But how sorry am I supposed to feel for those dealers? Many of the former Daewoo franchisees did not take the business high road themselves.
Daewoo was in bankruptcy court when some dealers signed on. Hello? Did you ever hear the term "red flag?"
The late, unlamented Yugo declared bankruptcy in the midst of a National Automobile Dealers Association convention. I was there. Dealers begged the company not to do it, but they could not make executives at the company, which was based in a former communist nation, understand that the word "bankrupt" would drive customers away.
A decade later, though, some Daewoo dealers acted as though the word "bankrupt" didn't matter. Daewoo was not "financially troubled," or any other euphemism. It was in Korean bankruptcy court. Anyone who did any checking knew that the company had more debts than some Third World countries.