Raz Chorev | Socially Acceptable..
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Integrity – is it good for business?

Sydney Morning Herald had an interesting column today: ASIC must go after executives at B&B, written very nicely by IAN VERRENDER.

Ian writes:

Whatever happened to market integrity, to the rule of corporate law? There’s precious little evidence of it in Australia, where the wheels of justice seem to have seized quite some time ago.

Ian lashes out at Babcock and Brown, the financial phenomenon, started 4 years ago, and collapsed like the house of cards they were. Tall! but made of cards….

B&B have lost AU$5.4 Billion last year, while executives conveniently sold out just in time to collect their share, writes Ian. Sounds like the Enron story, localized version! The difference is, that the Enron executives, and the WorldCom executives were “hauled” to justice, after their companies’ collapse. Will B&B execs face the same justice? For some reason, I doubt it. Will they come and sell their assets, on their own accord, and repay their debts? I seriously doubt that, as well.

What is it with integrity? why is that so hard? is it the temptation – to see if we can “get away with it”? How far can/should be push the boundaries?

This is where I think it went a little too far, as well:

A couple of days ago, I parked my motorbike in between cars, in a reverse parking area. The car on the right parked within the painted lines, and the car on the left parked in a way, that is blocking two parking spots, AND in a slight angle. This left room for no car to park, so I reversed my bike into it. Perfect.

Motorbike takes advantage of inconsiderate parking

Motorbike takes advantage of inconsiderate parking

A couple of hours later, I returned to my bike. It was dark, so I put the key  in the ignition, and… I saw a business card shoved on my handle bars, between the throttle and the break fluid tank (if you ever had a bike, you know what I mean. if you never had one – you don’t know what you’re missing !). I payed little attention to the card, shoved it in my pocket, and went on my way.

200m later, I pulled over. The left mirror was pointing at my face. Is that why there’s a business card on my bike? The bike was upright when I got to it, so…what could it be?

Minor damage, broken left indicator, and a couple of scratches. Really – nothing to write home about. Or was it?

Apparently, it was. MAJOR DAMAGE! But little old me, couldn’t see it. Until I went this morning to get a quote, to have it fixed.

Ok. let’s pause and assess the situation :

1. The bike was damaged. we agreed.

2. The lady who backed into my bike, and damaged it, did the right thing, and left her details, so my insurer can talk to her insurer, and sort it out.

3. My insurance company asked me (to my disbelief) to go and have the damaged assessed by a repairer of my choice (out of their list of authorised repairers). The repairer will have to liaise with the insurance company’s assessor, negotiate, and then fix my bike. ONE quote. Talk about free market!

4. I went to one repairer – (Sydney City Motorcycles – Lane Cove). Had it assessed, but the service manager refused to show me the quote, as this is the insurance company’s policy – it’s between them and them. NO WAY! I want to see what you’ve assessed. And I called there and then to my insurance, who instructed the service manager to show me the quote. All good.

5. The repairer did not have prices yet, but it was clear as daylight, that they quoted repairs which will make the bike a “repairable write-off”. This means, that the damage is more than 70% of the bike’s market or insured value. How did they do that – that’s easy: every scratch on the fairing (side panel), requires new panel. Not touch up or respray – new panel. Every scratch meant new part, which costs hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. “This is in your best interest” – the service manager told me. Mine? or theirs?

6. I had enough of this repair shop, and decided they aren’t going to get my business. Not after the deceit I was experiencing. So I went to another one. And had them quote as well. This time, no problem with the quote, they’ll email me a copy, and I was able to show the assessor what just happened. GREAT! I thought to my self. These are honest people, who deserve my business! I decided. Until the assessor and I started inspecting the bike.

Apparently, according to the young assessor, the bike was reversed into, and fell on the other side. some scratches on the other side “proved it”. This means, that the entire fairing, including the tank, handle bars, rear brake lever, and the panniers have to be replaced – “you have nothing to worry about. The insurance will pay” he told me with a wink.

“Young assessor, what you don’t get, is that my premiums, and my fellow riders, will go up significantly every year, because of this dishonesty, and lack of integrity” . The insurer won’t pay – I will!

The same thing with B&B, Enron, and every other company that its’ people are not dealing with integrity. Someone will pay! and it will be us. Not the horrible banks, or insurance companys, or the big corporates. It is me, and you, and all of us, who eventully pay for this dishonesty and lack of integrity. The businesses may initially pay, but then they will realize they need to cover costs, and will past that cost to the consumer.

So, who is the winner? Who actually gain from this? No one.

See, to every action, there is a re-action. This is how the world work. To everything we do, there are consequences. When we lie, and cheat, and decieve, it will come back to bite us. Maybe not now, maybe not directly. But someone will pay. And it could be your mother!

Motorcycle takes advantage of inconsiderate parking

Motorcycle takes advantage of inconsiderate parking

Just an update: The second repairer I went to, was another branch of Sydney City Motorcycles, this time in Kogarah. 5 days after they had promised to email them the quote, I had to call to chase it up. I had to argue with the lady, who said that the job was already quoted by another branch, and there is no point in submitting new quote – What ever happened to healthy competition??? Who do you think you are anyway to decide what has a point or what is pointless???

Anyway, within 2 minutes I had an email in my inbox. Amazingly though – The EXACT same quote from the other branch came in! THE SAME QUOTE!

To be honest, I need help! This is obviously an industry standard, and I can’t fight this on my own. These are my enemies:

1. Insurance companies. Maybe not all, but definitely some.

2. Motorcycle repair shops.

3. Motorcycle manufactures, and spare parts suppliers.

4. Assessors

5. Motorcycle mechanics.

6. Motorcycle traders – disposals, auctioneers, wreckers, etc…

You see, on one hand – this little incident is helping the economy – everyone of the above gets a cut!

On the other hand – Do we need to create bubbles of false economy? at the end of the day, looking at the big picture, we are all paying for this. I see a vicious cycle, which needs to STOP!

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  • Luke Harvey-Palmer

    Great post Raz, and hope the bike recovers! Nice to see someone had the decency to leave their details. Insurers, repairers and integrity can never be used in the same sentence!

  • Adam Dobson

    Hi mate

    The only way you can beat these thieves is with leverage. They know they will always win as long as people cant mobilise their views all at once. Individuals complaining one by one are easy to deal with as there is not enough leverage.

    My honest view is you SHOULD thake this story to Today Tonight as this is a classic organised racket (its white collar crime) and only something like large media coverage where they run the risk of being exposed publically that may effect their overal business will stop this happening. It sickens me that we as consumers are treated like idiots and get blatently patonised by corrupt greedy unprofessional people who take the liberty to decide for themselves what they think is in our best interest and without our permission drive up our premiums and they end up winning work they dont deserve and have not even earned and we end up paying for thier deceipt. This is the kind of thing you see in corrupt third world countries not in supposedly educated moral first world countries like Australia. The whole Global FInancial Crisis that we are all experiencing and suffering through was created by greed and deceiptfullness and we as the consumers have to stand up now and stop this rackets going on and take control. Speak out and expose these people…call Today tonight or 60 Minutes..

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