Published on Friday, 26 August 2011
I'd like to address a recent article in the Toronto Star called Confessions of a Car Salesman (Business, Aug. 18).
A former car salesman, who worked for three months at a new car dealership six years ago, made several statements about our industry that are misleading.
During the author's 90-day employment, he wrote that "the stress of working 12-hour days" got to him and so he left the business.
I'm the President of the Toronto Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) and I've worked in this industry for 30 years. Although there may be exceptions, the vast majority of salespeople don't work 12-hour days.
The writer claims to have made excessive commissions by selling customers options they didn't need. This type of selling is highly unethical and it undermines the fair business practices that our industry strives so hard to uphold. For this man to have made $17,000 in three months (as he claims), he would have had to sell an average of 19 cars a month. This strains credibility, particularly since most experienced salespeople average about 10 cars per month.
The author also provided tips for new car shoppers (in bold). My observations on his comments follow.
Regular readers of this column know that our industry is the most heavily regulated in Canada. The TADA fought to have the Motor Vehicle Dealers Act rewritten so that dealer business activities are more accountable and transparent. The vast majority of automotive salespeople and dealers in Ontario operate with integrity and principles. They are in the business of providing value to their customers, not taking advantage of them.
In my opinion — shared by dozens of dealer principals and colleagues who have contacted me to register their objections to the article in question — the picture that this writer paints of the retail auto industry is inaccurate. How working at a dealership for 90 days qualifies him as an expert is anybody's guess. All new car dealers take pride in the products and services they sell. To suggest that we routinely overwork our staff and gouge our customers at every turn is insulting. Our industry is not above fielding criticism when it's deserved, but we refuse to be silent when false accusations are made against us.