“Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue” sang Billy Joel. It’s a tune that I have been humming and words that I have been turning over in my head more frequently as of late. It seems that very few people who either make honest mistakes, purposely deceive in an effort to preserve whatever or get caught in a bind will fess up, fix it and move on. I am talking about everything from misrepresentation of aircraft specifications, maintenance screw-ups down to storytelling in an effort to throw you off the trail. Honestly! Didn’t your Momma ever tell you that one lie simply leads to another?
Blatantly deceptive practices such as false and misleading advertising of aircraft that either have long since been sold, are not “controlled” by the party advertising it or the technical specs are a fabrication directly impact our resale marketplace. These “loss-leaders” do nothing to help improve market conditions. In an already crowded field who needs another entry? The broker who has nothing to offer and so needs a hook to reel in the fish. Advertise a catchy sounding airplane and a prospect who is fishing for that particular model then makes the call. It is so easy for the party who is advertising the non-existent airplane to simply fabricate a story along the lines of so sorry you just missed a great opportunity as we sold the airplane last week, but we have another aircraft coming to us soon or we know of another, blah, blah, blah and so it goes. Honestly! My Daddy, the greatest salesman I ever knew, told me if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
Another form of lying that particularly rankles me is omission. Why is it that so many think that just because they did not tell you that they did not deceive you? This practice occurs under the guise of what you don’t know won’t hurt you or in the specific case of an airplane, nothing will get said until you discover it for yourself. Caveat emptor. Early on in my career while hunting for a Lear 35A for a Client I was convinced to make a not so easy journey to a city in the north western part of the U.S. for which direct airline service from Houston did not exist. This was pre-tech boom days when demonstrating sincerity was in part done by first going to have a look at the airplane one was short-listing to buy. No kidding, it was a 7 hour trip to get there only to discover in the first 30 minutes into the preview that the Lear had an entry in the logbook for damage. The experienced and knowledgeable broker feigned ignorance of a brake fire that required emergency crew to extinguish it on the runway and that was so hot it seared everything including the underside of the wings. Honestly? Couldn’t you just tell me and let us decide if we wanted to proceed or not. As you can imagine, it left a bad taste in my Client’s mouth and the haunting thought of what else were we not being told? The attempt to get the prospect in front of the otherwise very presentable airplane backfired. We walked away.
It is no secret that the enduser buyer or seller is wary of the aircraft brokerage trade due in part to the stories that circulate and actual negative experiences realized by some. What may be news to the enduser community is that many in the trade find themselves dealing with much the same. There is a growing frustration among the aircraft sales community over the few bad apples degradation of a real and beneficial service offered by a qualified and honest aircraft broker or dealer through their less than honest practices. At present there is little that can be done, code of ethics created by one group aside, other than make an effort to know who you are dealing with and trust your instincts. The trade to some degree can self-police and simply refuse to do business with those who exhibit serious character flaws or at least have the advantage of knowing what they are potentially getting into, should they elect to continue.
My former employer once compared me to my Jack Russell Terriers in that when I get on the scent of a deal there is no getting me off of it. Add to that my instincts are generally spot on and I can smell a fish tale within the first few sentences of it being told. And what I can’t smell I can research the hell out of and prove or disprove the “facts” in good time. While certainly those inherent skill sets make me a valuable asset to the buy/sell team and at the end of the day save my Client potential grief, it does nothing to make me a happy camper. Even as an old hand at the game, it remains a disappointment to discover that someone attempted to pull the wool over your eyes by rearranging the facts to suit their needs. Honestly, honesty remains the best policy in love, life and business.