As machinery dealers, we are constantly evaluating when we should trust the people we are attempting to work with. Fortunately, the United States has a solid legal system that keeps people straight for the most part, and we live in a culture with relative social trust, despite our ever-growing divisiveness. Social psychology studies have shown that people naturally default to trusting each other, and for better or worse, I consider myself one of those instinctual trusters.
Most of the people we make machinery deals with don’t try to screw us over, and through the years, Graff-Pinkert has dealt with only a few very costly incidents of theft.
The worst happened when a Taiwanese dealer did not send the Swiss machines to us that we paid a few hundred thousand dollars for. Another time, we put some machines in storage at another dealer’s warehouse, and tens of thousands of dollars in parts were robbed from them, rendering them worthless.
But usually, if we get screwed over in the machinery business, it means a customer went around us to a seller, or we bought a machine that was not in the condition it was promised, or another dealer didn’t pay us a commission we were owed—that one happened this year, and we will never call him again. That stuff stinks, but I consider those scenarios as more deceitfulness and backstabbing rather than significant pain inducing robbery. The lasting harm is more to relationships than anything.
The following is my advice to folks reading this to not get cheated in a deal, for what it’s worth.
If you ever encounter someone who says you “you can trust me,” or lectures you about “honor and integrity,” be VERY careful. The people who have cheated us in the past often said those exact things.
Does writing this blog make me one of those people? I hope not.
Another important thing I remind myself is that “getting to know people well” is not necessarily a great way to evaluate trustworthiness. My favorite social psychologist, Robert Cialdini, says that people will trust you when they know you and when they like you. I went to Asia to “get to know” the guy who would soon steal a lot of money from us. I spent several days bonding with Mr. Lin, traveling around together, looking at machines. He brought his wife on the trip, and we talked about their young daughter over dinners. I felt like we had developed a close relationship.
As I mentioned before, I am not talented at deciphering who is lying and who is telling the truth. But that’s not my fault because studies have shown that nobody is good at it. The supposed professionals like the criminal justice system and intelligence agencies get things backwards all the time. So why should I do any better?
The pity is that being cheated could been prevented if only we had done a little quick research about Js Precision. After the deal’s disaster, many people told us Js Precision Co. was notorious for scams. We never asked around about them before we made the deal because we were so hung up on keeping our amazing new source for machines a secret.
You’re probably not good at spotting a liar. After you realize this, you can figure out a better way to protect yourself.
Questions: How do you protect yourself from fraud?
When were you a victim of a fraud?