In some Audi 4S dealerships, different customers are treated differently. For instance, civil servants enjoy a 1 or 2 percent discount. This is a form of corruption, Beijing News commented on Monday:
The original media reports emphasized whether or not such conduct is a form of discrimination. According to the anti-monopoly law in China, it is still hard to tell whether it is improper or not for 4S stores to charge different prices to different groups of customers.
However, what is even more striking is the preferential discounts for civil servants.
Strictly speaking, the preferential treatment in the 4S stores is given not only to officials but also to elite professionals such as listed company employees, professors and doctors. Obviously, these professional groups are carefully selected by the 4S shops and the preferential treatment is meant to encourage them to buy vehicles of the Audi brand.
In sociological and political terms, these elites are classified differently. The Audi 4S shops, however, categorize these customers from a business perspective customized for Chinese society.
But no matter how the preferential price strategy is designed, a special discount for civil servants seems to be a kind of corruption.
The 4S stores are permitted to have their own price strategies, including preferential perks for some customers. But it is problematic if those customers enjoying favorable treatment are civil servants.
There should be a clear line that should not be crossed in the relations between companies and governments. The government makes policies and ensures their implementation, and the companies run their businesses accordingly. No interests should be shared between the two.