There is an important moral and financial lesson to be learned from the case of the bizarre competitive feud between Toyota dealerships in the Pensacola, Fla., market.
A U.S. jury in Mobile, Ala., awarded $7.5 million in damages to Eastern Shore Toyota of Daphne, Ala. The jury found that the dealer, Shawn Esfahani, a naturalized U.S. citizen who emigrated from his native Iran, was slandered as "Taliban Toyota" by employees of Bob Tyler Toyota in nearby Pensacola.
The retail automotive business is intensely competitive with rival dealerships continually trying to wrest business from one another. But the moral of the Taliban Toyota story is clear: It's OK to be competitive; it's not OK to tell hurtful, slanderous lies about your competition.