Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A final word on the Harley fiasco...

As promised, I have done some ferreting around and here is the upshot of what I found.

True: The purchase of said motorcycle was agreed upon and a down-payment made, at a pre-determined price.

True: Just before final signing, the potential customer was informed that the price had changed.

True: There was an initial recalcitrance to refund the down-payment.

True: The sales agreement fine print states the dealership's right to change the price at any time they see fit, up until the date of delivery.

True: Our young service member nowadays is a far happier camper.

Final analysis? What Ottawa H-D did... was it 'legal'? Yes.

Was it morally questionable? In my humble opinion, absolutely. Did it show a total lack of respect for the customer? Again, fuck yes! And to leave it at that is being charitable, believe me... But hey, you're all big boys and girls... you can make up your own mind as to how you think you should be treated when you walk into any place of business. And I say this because I cannot view this as anything other than a military person. To do so would be to miss the point entirely. I am patently incapable of viewing this as a civilian. Now, as someone who also worked in the motorcycle industry (and NOT as a salesman), I can also say that I find their conduct reprehensible.

Perhaps not a fair analogy (?), but when I worked in the industry after leaving the Navy, we would never dream of arbitrarily upping the cost of a machine that we had built or were building for a customer. That's right, we weren't just middlemen for an end product. We were an independent, 'aftermarket' shop, which not only serviced and customized existing rides, but would build custom bikes. This was years before the recent rash of 'high end custom fabrication shows' that now swamp the airwaves. We provided an actual service to our customers. And a damn good one at that. We built them from the frame up, to specifically meet the rider's taste, budget and physical build. Each bike was like a tailored suit.

Now if a customer opted for different components as the build progressed, the price would obviously vary depending on the parts selected. The difference being, we wouldn't soak a customer simply for having changed something. If he wanted to use a less expensive part, the price of the bike would actually drop correspondingly. Nice touch, huh? It's called having integrity and providing first rate customer service.

In the USA, the Motor Company as they like to be known, sells H-D units to servicemen serving overseas at BELOW MSRP through the American PX system.


Here in Canada, the price discrepancies between US and Canadian units in the motorcycle industry has always been retarded and incomprehensible. That includes the brand that I ride, by the way. Pretty much the same as for all other motor vehicles. And no it has bugger all to do with either currency exchange of customs/duties. The last four years have borne that out, as thousands of Canadians went stateside to shop for cars, boats, trucks and bikes. They had finally discovered that for all these years, they had been getting properly raped by our own Canadian dealers. In our blind effort to support our own local economies, we had totally missed the glaring truth of the matter. How gullible were we...? Seriously???

Does Milwaukee dictate what a Canadian model ought to or will sell for? What do you think...? Think Trev Deely... Think monopoly... Think greed and "whatever the market will bear...". And for all the verbal assurances that the dealerships have or know local riders who are also service members, maybe even customers of theirs or members of their own family... you know they just don't get the insult if they're civilian. If you're not military. And trust me, they're not.

They can say that they have nothing but the highest respect for them, but the bottom line is the bottom line. Money talks and bullshit walks... You won't see that type of program up here ever. You won't see that kind of respect or support. Not from Harley Canada and probably not from any other dealer up here, while we're on the subject. Though I'd give my eye-teeth for someone to prove me wrong here...

So... As with all transactions, it is a matter of 'caveat emptor'... let the buyer beware. Read the fine print, shop around.

After all, it's your money and your pride... At least if you reckon that you're worth more than the sum of the parts that you ride into town on. I can see any number of people attempting to buy an image that isn't them, for the sake of hopefully impressing others. I'll be damned if I can see a Canadian military member feeling the need to do so. As if we have something to prove. To anyone...

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