DETROIT – As a Florida auto dealer, many of Alan Starling’s customers are retirees, people in no hurry when buying a car. “A lot of them will spend the whole day with us at the dealership,” says Starling, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Assn. “That’s fine with us. Sometimes we buy them lunch.” But such hospitality can reap unintended negative consequences if, on an auto maker’s customer satisfaction survey, a customer unwittingly indicates that the dealership ...

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