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Discounting the discount

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer January 22,2020

Toyota Philippines, in a recent announcement on their social media channel, offered a 20 percent discount on parts and labor for servicing on vehicles affected by the recent Taal Volcano eruption. Here’s what was posted:

“Toyota Motor Philippines, together with its dealer network, is extending special service support to customers whose vehicles were affected by the Taal Volcano ashfall.

Customers may bring their affected cars to any Toyota dealership or service center in Metro Manila or nearby Luzon dealers until Feb. 29, 2020, to be eligible for the 20 percent discount on air filter, cabin air filter, car care, air care chemicals and wiper blades. A 20 percent discount on labor cost for the above items will also apply. Customers may contact their nearest Toyota dealership or the Toyota Customer Assistance Center (02 8819-2912) for more information.

TMP reminds motorists in the affected areas to be extra cautious when using their vehicles, and to prioritize health and safety at all times.

Thank you very much.”

Toyota’s main facility in the country is situated in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, roughly 35 kilometers away from the Taal Volcano eruption. They were also affected by the massive ash fall, as did thousands of their employees who work at the Sta. Rosa complex. The business disruption would have potentially caused them millions. Damages to facilities and vehicles, plus clean-up to ensure their world class facility is in proper working order, add up even more.

Relatively, I’d like to point out that TMP is a separate entity from the many Toyota dealerships. The dealerships are franchises, while TMP, the head office is like the commissary that churns out cars for dealers to sell. They are of the same network, selling the same products and services, but have different owners, with different business plans and models. Though their success is somewhat intertwined, each dealership should fend for its own profitability.

Back to the the 20 percent offer from TMP, the announcement itself was met with a lot of scorn and disgust, lots of complaining and objection. Almost all the negative comments cited that the 20 percent discount was too small, that the discount rate should be higher, that Toyota dealerships offer the same discount rate anyway, and that Toyota is making an opportunity to promote itself given the situation.

When did we, as a motoring public, become so entitled?

The discount given by individual Toyota dealerships is voluntary on their part, it isn’t mandatory, required or necessary. They give the discount as a means of goodwill. And is extended by the individual Toyota dealership entity, not by the head office.

TMP’s 20 percent discount applies to all dealerships within the affected areas of the eruption as a sign of goodwill and solidarity, empathizing with all those affected by the eruption.

Whether head office or dealer, these are businesses where tens of thousands of people (and their families) rely on for their livelihood, their way of life. If TMP or any of its dealers gave you a discount, will they also discount the rent they pay, the parts they buy, the logistics and taxes they are billed and crucially the salaries and wages they give to their people? I sure as hell hope not.

A business is made to support itself and the people who work in it by becoming profitable, ensuring equitable distribution of wealth and technology transfer. It’s not a milking cow, and while businesses continue to reap billions, these same businesses are also investing in our future, to deliver better products, employ more people and pay the right taxes to nation building.

As a car company, Toyota is doing what it can best do to help those afflicted by the Taal Volcano eruption. And they don’t need to, are not required to, are not mandated to do so, but they want to, because that is how they feel they can help the public best.

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