I offered the story in good faith, as a case of ‘gauging’ (what the media, or our culture at large would call ‘gauging’) performed by the customer, the party regarded as exclusively prone to gauging. You never hear stories in the media where someone ‘gauges’ the store, the salesman, or the business. I thought my story would thereby illuminate the silliness of the limp’s premises, including the premise that it’s customers who are at risk because they suffer under the superior power of the business.
You are correct that I wasn’t really looking for feedback, I already know the ethics of what I did, they’re impeccable. So, yes, my *second* motivation in offering the story was to provoke some already upset people. Not different from your hilarious, ‘Yeah, but what if the guy wants to sodomize the boy for the video?’ comment. You are right that at least one of my follow-up postings was strong. As explanation, I was genuinely shocked—I expected criticism only from limps. (Note that my response to Glenn was polite, and that I didn’t tear into Lance.)
I am posting this in good faith. I am now genuinely interested in what any hard thinks about the following analysis. And I will not respond at all for 24 hours, because I want to prevent myself from coming back strongly if I get shocked again.
A negative judgment of my actions depends upon positing that I created a bona-fide contract when I uttered, “OK, fine. I’ll see you this afternoon.” I would argue that no such contract was created—only a whetting of his appetite for one, but that is not essential—so I’ll grant that a contract was created. Had I called back *immediately* to reverse myself, I would be in breach of contract. (And you would have to judge this act as equally treacherous to what I actually did do.) I would owe him his damages, namely, nothing. Fifty minutes later, I reversed myself in person, in breach of contract. I therefore owed him his damages; again, nothing. If reliance on my intentions would cause him to order more cars, or affect his business prospects in any substantial way, the case would be different. Context.
This is not meant as a put-down, and it is aimed at no one specific. People who have not experienced industries like used car lots or commercial real estate cannot appreciate the full impact of being eyed as potential toilet paper. You have to experience it. And then you get a very different mindset. One aspect of that mindset is: ‘This deal ain’t over ‘till it’s over.'