Break the Chain Car Lots

Updated (3/8/2002) Not knowing exactly how to respond themselves after the disasters of September 11, many Americans began watching closely how others respond. Several misinformed chain letters have accused corporate giants of not being as helpful as they should be.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

This is very interesting... Forwarded to me.... Read and judge for yourself..

It's no wonder why Michigan is so loyal to the Big 3. After seeing a short news listing on "CNN Headline News" regarding Ford and GM's contributions to the relief and recovery efforts in New York City and Washington D.C., I was prompted to see what the other automotive companies were contributing. I have never worked for an automotive company - nor has anyone in my family. It is, however, the prominent industry here in Michigan. I also feel it is important to know which companies are there for us in a crisis. I went to (the news, press release and philanthropic areas of each of the companies' web sites. If the company had several sites, I tried to visit them all. Additionally, I visited the leading news and automotive sites. As of today, one week since the attacks, this is what I have found:

Aston Martin - Nothing.

Audi - Nothing. Audi's web site states "Audi News: Always up to the minute."

BMW - Nothing despite other press releases/postings since 09/11/01. BMW's web site states "The news service from the BMW Group: Fast, informative and comprehensive." Last updated 09/13/01.

Daewoo International - Nothing.

Daimler Chrysler (includes Dodge, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz and Plymouth) $10 million to support the children and victims in addition to other donations from their employees, dealers and suppliers.

Fiat - Nothing.

Ford Motor Company (includes Jaguar, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo) $1 million to the American Red Cross, matching employee contributions to the American Red Cross and 10 Excursions to the New York Fire Department. The company has also offered emergency response team services and office space to displaced government employees.

General Motors (includes Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Pontiac,Saab and Saturn) - $1 million to the American Red Cross, matching employee contributions and a fleet of vans, trucks and SUVs.

Honda (includes Acura) - Nothing. Honda's site states, "If you're looking for the latest developments taking place at Honda, you've come to the right place" and "Informative. Timely. Credible. The latest news on Honda can always be found right here?" No press releases/postings since 09/04/01 when the release boasted "American Honda Motor Co., Inc.recorded its second best sales month ever in August." My search included: hondamotorcycle.com (other press releases posted on this site since 09/11/01), honda.com, honda2001.com, world.honda.com, acura.com and honda.co.jp.

Hyundai Motors Group (includes Kia) - $300,000 to the American Red Cross.

Isuzu - Nothing.

Mitsubishi Motors - Nothing. Mitsubishi-motors.co.jp site states, "The latest news about Mitsubishi Motors." I also searched mitsubishimotors.com.

Nissan - Nothing despite other press releases/postings since 09/11/01.

Porsche - Press release with condolences posted on the Porsche web site on 09/12/01, but no contribution.

Subaru - Nothing despite other press releases/postings since 09/11/01.

Suzuki - Nothing.

Toyota (includes Lexus) - Press release with condolences posted on the Toyota web site on 09/14/01, but no contribution, despite earlier press releases boasting that Toyota had high sales in July and August.

Volkswagen - The employees and management created a Foundation, funded initially with $2 million, to assist the children and victims with humanitarian help including medical and psychological assistance, rehabilitation and scholarships.

I can only hope that it is an oversight by the companies that have not made a contribution and that they will join the relief efforts. We have the freedom to choose which companies we make purchases from and I, for one, will make my purchases from and give my money to the companies that are giving their money to America at this time of need. I hope that you will, too.

Please forward this e-mail - especially to anyone you know who is thinking of purchasing a vehicle. Remember this the next time you make that move to buy your next car...New or Used..... Who gave what to help OUR Beautiful United States of America.........

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Interestingly, later versions of this chain reduce the opening paragraph to a short statement that creates the mistaken idea that this information comes directly from CNN Headline News. To the contrary, this chain letter relates the results of hasty research designed to prove a very specific point. Later versions also add a few new names to the list and drop others. It also features a new closing paragraph that is more decisive than the original:

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

CNN Headline News did a short news listing regarding Ford and GM's contributions to the relief and recovery efforts in New York and Washington. The findings are as follows......

1. Ford- $1 million to American Red Cross matching employee contributions of the same number plus 10 Excursions to NY Fire Dept. The company also offered ER response team services and office space to displaced government employees.

2. GM- $1 million to American Red Cross matching employee contributions of the same number & a fleet of vans, suv's, &trucks.;

3. Daimler Chrysler- $10 million to support of the children and victims of the Sept. 11 attack.

4 . Harley Davidson motorcycles- $1 million & 30 new motorcycles to the New York Police Dept.

5. Volkswagen- Employees and management created a Sept 11 Foundation, funded initial with $2 million, for the assistance of the children and victims of the WTC.

6. Hyundai- $300,000 to the American Red Cross.

7. Audi- Nothing.

8. BMW- Nothing.

9. Daewoo- Nothing.

10. Fiat- Nothing.

11. Honda- Nothing despite boasting of second best sales month ever in August 2001

12. Isuzu- Nothing.

13. Mitsubishi- Nothing.

14. Nissan- Nothing.

15. Porsche- Nothing. Press release condolences via Porsche website.

16. Subaru- Nothing.

17. Suzuki- Nothing.

18. Toyota- Nothing despite claims of high sales in July and August 2001. Condolences posted on the website.

Whenever the time may be for you to purchase or lease a new vehicle, keep this information in mind. You might want to give more consideration to a car manufactured by an American-owned and/or American based company. Apart from Hyundai and Volkswagen, the foreign car companies contributed nothing at all to the citizens of the United States. It's OK for these companies to take money out of this country, but it is apparently not acceptable to return some in a time of crisis. I believe we should not forget things like this. Say thank you in a way that gets their attention. Pass it on.

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

There are some important factors the author and subsequent editor of this chain don't take into account. First, the auto makers that the author says have given to the effort are American companies (General Motors and Ford) and have a large presence in the U.S. Auto industry, as do some foreign-owned companies (Daimler Chrysler, Hyundai and Volkswagen). It makes sense that they have given generously. But many of the companies in this list have no real presence in the U.S. and are understandably less inclined to contribute to relief.

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Secondly, the fact that a company didn't crow about its charitable contributions on its web site or in press releases doesn't mean they didn't do anything. Foreign companies and cultures may have different values and place less importance on letting the world know about their charitable activities.

Third, these findings are based on hasty research conducted in the two weeks that followed the attacks. The longer the letter circulates, the more inaccurate and outdated it becomes.

Here's what I found when I double-checked the claims:

  • Aston Martin - Aston Martin is now a subsidiary of Ford and, thus, their contributions would be made through the parent company.

  • Audi - Audi is affiliated with Volkswagen and has contributed $100,000 to the Volkswagen Group Foundation Fund. In addition, they held an auction in Atlanta on October 5, 2001, to raise money for firefighters and their families.

  • BMW - According to the BMW Owner's News' January issue, BMW contributed $1 million and 10 BMW X5 vehicles to the American Red Cross. They also donated 100 new motorcycles to the NYPD. In total, $2.4 million in contributions.

  • Daewoo International - No statement and no response to my inquiries. Since September 11, 2001, Daewoo motors has become a subsidiary of General Motors.

  • Fiat - Fiat no longer sells in the United States, so it's not surprising that there was nothing on their site and they did not respond to inquiries.

  • Honda (includes Acura) - Honda of America and its associates have contributed more than $1.5 million, the bulk of which went to the United Way's September 11 fund. Honda also donated All-Terrain Vehicles, pumps and generators to rescue workers.

  • Hyundai Motors Group (includes Kia) - No statement, but a spokesman told BreakTheChain.org that Hyundai and Kia have contributed $300,000 to the American Red Cross and are matching dollar-for-dollar employee donations to the NY Fire Department (more than $15,000).

  • Isuzu - An Isuzu spokesman explained to BreakTheChain.org why there was no word of their contributions on their site: "Because we prefer not to exploit our corporate citizenship as a marketing tool, we have not posted this information on our web site." Isuzu Motors of America has donated $10,000 to the American Red Cross, with its employees contributing an additional $7,000. They also made available SUVs and specially equipped trucks to FEMA, the Red Cross and the City of New York for "the duration of the search, rescue, recovery and clean-up operations."

  • Mitsubishi Motors - According to a web site statement: "In the three weeks since the attacks, more than $200,000 has been raised by contributions from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (Japan), Mitsubishi Motors companies in the United States and continuing fund raising efforts of employees. Donations have been earmarked for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund." The company has also distributed information to its employees about available charitable organizations for individual contributions.

  • Nissan - Nissan had a pop-up statement on their web site that the company, its employees and affiliates have donated $1 million to the Red Cross and the Twin Towers Fund. In addition, NissanNews.com reported the company donated $125,000 to the USO, established a Supplemental Military Pay Program to assist those called to duty, and contributed an additional $337,000 in direct and matching contributions from its employees.

  • Porsche - Porsche donated proceeds from an annual event to FDNY disaster relief.

  • Subaru - Subaru and its parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd. donated portable generators to the Red Cross, FEMA and the Salvation Army. Subaru employees have participated generously in blood drives, given personal donations and volunteered their time.

  • Suzuki - A statement on the Suzuki web site expresses condolences and encourages visitors to donate to the American Liberty Partnership. The company matched employee contributions and donated SUVs and ATVs for use in Ground Zero rescue efforts.

  • Toyota (includes Lexus) - In a September 28 press release, Toyota announced that in addition to $1 million in direct corporate contributions (announced on September 11, 2001), the company will match its employees' contributions to the Red Cross.

Unfortunately, these letters propagate the image of American arrogance that many other cultures perceive - an image that may have precipitated the attacks of September 11. The U.S. is seen by many societies (including those that harbor terrorist groups) as a spoiled child that expects everybody else to think and behave as he wants them to and is quick to punish those who don't - often without getting the facts. This letter illustrates this to a frightening degree. Break this Chain.

What Do You Think?


References: Snopes.com

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