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Friday, December 28, 2012

The Art of Selling Snake Oil
Selling Snake Oil to Trucking Companies and Truck Drivers

Nice piece written by Bob Rutherford of and posted on 2012/12/18. 
A link to their site is provided below:

After several discussions about my previous blog entitled “How to Sell Snake Oil and Mouse Milk to Unsuspecting Trucking Companies”, I felt a follow-up blog was in order.
I started doing some research on a product that a trusted resource told me he was sure didn’t work – the aerodynamic mud flap. One company had a SAE/TMC Type II test done and so I started reviewing it on their website. As is so typical in this industry, the website has only a summary of the test. I know someone at this company who knows that I am a blogger, a TMC member and work with Auburn University. When I asked for a copy of the complete report, it was for the good of the trucking industry. The surprising response I got from the mud flap company was that they would be more than happy to send it to me, except they have a confidentially agreement with the well known testing agency that ran the test. Hence, it prevents them from sharing the report with anyone, only the summary.
This made no sense to me, so I called the testing agency and asked about this nonsense I was being shoveled. Here is their cut-and-pasted response from a follow up e-mail after our telephone conversation:
“The testing that we conduct at our facilities is for our customers. The information about their testing is proprietary to those customers, which prevents us from providing any of their information to another person or company. The test data is their property and after 90 days we destroy the information, as it’s no longer our property.”
I was lied to, there is no agreement with the testing agency that would prevent any company they ran tests for from releasing information to me. There may be a confidentially agreement, but it keeps the testing agency from disclosing the results of an unsuccessful test, not the other way around.
My next call was to Buzz Powell at Auburn University’s PAVE program (Program for Advanced Vehicle Evaluation) to confirm that we DON’T have such a policy. If the customer has the only copy, who is to say that an “accident” during reproduction of the report happened or not? I was relieved to find out that Auburn keeps everything, so there is a benchmark that is secure there. In fact, one of the first things Auburn did when they started the PAVE program was to ask the trucking industry how we could be of service. The big request was to please put the test results on the university’s website so we don’t have to depend on the vendors’ sales reps to provide a copy of the test.
Apparently with some companies there has been accidental moving of decimal points in the past. I have been told decimal points tend to wander around test reports when being reproduced in the marketing department. As a Big Truck TV thought leader, here is a thought I would like to share- I think the TMC should have a recommended practice outlining accepted independent testing protocols. I will try to get the idea discussed at the upcoming March TMC meeting.
One nice thing about being associated with a major research university is there are lots of pots someone like me can get stirred. We do have an aerodynamics lab that I asked if they have ever looked into this aerodynamic mud flap technology or are they thinking about it. A quick response was something like, “This could make a great thesis paper for a student.”
I can get free products, so I e-mailed back, “What do you need beside free products to test?”
As soon as I get that answer I will write my next blog, working title “Crowd Funding for University Research for a Better Trucking Industry”.


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