Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Confessions of a Knee-capped Car Dealer

Had a bit of car trouble during the past week with a GM product. In this case the cure was worse than the disease, as the dealer service was something less than satisfactory.

It got to the point where I had to talk to management.

This post is not about the car trouble. With any luck, that issue will be resolved some time today.

It's about what one of the top managers told me about the dealership.

"They plan to shut us down," he said. Until a few days before there had been a sign indicating that the dealership had survived the federal triage imposed from above.

"We aren't ready to announce it publicly," he explained. "Frankly, we don't exactly know how we're going to handle it. There are jobs on the line."

He spoke at some length of the illogic of some of the closures across the country, specifically how so many dealers who are getting the axe are registered Republicans. "These are not business decisions," he said. "It's political."

How can dealers operate within a company that is controlled by Washington politicians and the labor unions, he wondered?

I mentioned to him that my latest purchase was a Toyota, not a GM or Chrysler product. "Can't say that I blame you," he said. "GM still has good cars, but I have a feeling it's not going to stay that way. I have a hard time justifying their future plans for our business. Especially now."

"All anyone had to do was let GM go through a normal bankruptcy," he added. "We would have emerged stronger and competitive. This was the absolute worst thing that anyone could have planned. I despise this president and his socialist policies. He's destroying the free enterprise system."

My son, a senior in high school, stood beside me as the man talked. It made an impression on him. "Usually you just think this happens to people in other places," he said. "They (the government) are messing with people's lives right here in our home town!"

He's right. Even with all my challenges with their service department, I can't help but feel pretty sad for this guy and all the people who work at a dealership that may or may not survive. If it does it will have to market another company's cars. I hope that, for the little guys, their jobs can be saved.

This was all so unnecessary.

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