When mainstream media looks at a story from a different angle and presents something other than the cod swaddle marketing mumbo jumbo we've all come to know and love (not), I applaud. It takes some serious chutzpah to tackle issues that local businesses may have a fundamental interest in keeping quiet. When an author signs his or her name to a piece of writing, I'm inclined to believe she or he as well as his or her editor has done their due diligence and checked facts. Which is exactly why this story bothers me so much.
The article, authored by Mr. Clarke, discussed the case of a Broadmead resident who saved $13,000 by purchasing a Mercedes ML350 in Portland rather than from a local dealer.So said newspaper runs an article suggesting readers can save considerable money in the used car market south of the border. Local businessman (sells cars of all things) complains that the article is untrue, poorly written and "just one person's opinion." What did this article say? I'll republish the article in its entirety for your perusal:
Dave Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC Ltd. dealer principal Dave Wheaton said, "I was upset with the paper for doing it because it was one person's opinion" - referring to Ms. Schevenius. "And they are by no stretch of the imagination an expert at it. And why that was news I don't know."
As a result of the article, Mr. Wheaton said, "I barked at them. But that's normal. They have a responsibility to their readers. But they also have a responsibility to the business community as well. And that was a poor article. And it's just not true."
Strong Canadian dollar encourages car buyers to cross the border
Rebecca Schevenius has always been willing to go that extra mile for a good bargain.
Or, in the case of the Mercedes ML350 she purchased last month, an extra 300 miles.
Schevenius, a Broadmead resident, says she saved about $13,000 by shopping for the vehicle on the Internet and then flying down to Portland to pick it up.
Prices for quality used cars in the U.S., historically lower than in B.C. to begin with, have become even more attractive due to the strong Canadian dollar.
"With the foreign exchange rate the way it is, it really is on the purchaser's side to go down to the states and buy a car," Schevenius said. "I love a good bargain."
The Mercedes, listed at $22,000 in Portland, would have cost closer to $38,000 north of the border. Even after the taxes were paid, the savings more than justified the time and airfare it took to bring the vehicle back.
Vehicle importers do not have to pay duty on car made within the borders of the North American free Trade Agreement, she said.
Schevenius and a friend are planning to publish an 18-page how-to pamphlet entitled "How to Import a Car into Canada" for others interested in testing the cross-border used car market.
She said it's important to sign a purchase agreement ahead of time stipulating the vehicle must pass a mechanical test. If the deal in Portland fell through, Schevenius had a list of other possible vehicles to buy in the area as a back-up plan.
Peter Tolsma of Sussex Insurance in Langford said the rising Canadian dollar - sitting at 95 cents US as of Friday - has piqued interest from cross-border buyers of in both new and used cars.
"There is way more interest and it's probably not as difficult as most people think," he said.
"A lot of it is just sheer number. Take California, it has about 25 million people and there's just a lot more cars available."
However, new car dealers say the market isn't big enough to have an impact on them.
"I haven't really come across that many because we're on the Island so it's a bit different, but I know some of the dealers near borders are conscious they are losing a few deals to that," said Saunders Subaru sales manager Edie Foster. "Most of those people are going down for really exotic or expensive vehicles."
Industry Canada estimates that Canadians purchased more than 112,000 cars from the U.S. in 2006.
Seems balanced and objective to me. But the editor of the paper has been fired. The author resigned unexpectedly and without public explanation. We know Wheaton was pissed. We also know Wheaton wasn't exactly accurate in his "just one person's opinion" assessment either unless, Foster, Tolsma and Schevenius are one and the same. The author used one private citizen and two industry representatives including a sales manager for his "untrue" article. Wheaton claims to have little to no economic sway over the paper, but given his already proven false comments about this article I'm disinclined to extend him the benefit of the doubt here.
OK, OK, rant over. Why is this story on a RE blog? When business interferes with press freedom, word needs to get out. The car business is big business for sure, but locally it pales in comparison to the business of real estate development; you know that industry which gets two sections of the paper devoted to it every Saturday. What kind of message does this send to reporters who seek to report private people's opinions on the RE market? So much for balanced reporting. Thanks Mr Wheaton, it's a good thing I don't buy domestic cars anyway.