(Reposted from Illinois Review, April 6, 2015: Oberweis asks for help in repealing ban on Sunday car sales)
SUGAR GROVE - State Senator Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) is asking for help to end the Sunday sales ban for car dealers. He says that he was in for a surprise last year when car dealers opposed his effort and worked to keep the ban in place, so he wants to go around them.
Oberweis posted an appeal on his Facebook page Monday afternoon. He writes:
I need your help on a legislative issue – outrageous government involvement in retail trade, namely government prevention of car dealers being allowed to sell cars on Sunday in Illinois. Sunday sales are allowed in 34 states, but not Illinois because of a 32 year old ban enacted by our state legislature.
No dealer should be required to be open on Sunday, nor should any dealer be prevented from being allowed to be open if they choose to do so.
When I first proposed ending the government imposed ban, I thought I would be the hero of the auto industry by getting government off their backs. But I soon found out that most car dealers don’t want to open on Sunday and THEY ALSO DON’T WANT ANY COMPETITORS TO BE OPEN EITHER.
The use of government power to create a competitive advantage or prevent others from competing is just wrong and should be stopped. But those who control the industry have a strong lobbying attack against our proposed repeal. I am not receiving any money or contributor’s money for this effort. I’m doing it because it is the right thing to do according to the principal of limited government. We even did a We Ask America statewide poll and found that consumers favor ending the ban by almost two to one. Yet the industry has been able to lobby law makers and threaten them with loss of contributions and support.
We need to let the Senate Transportation Committee members know that we believe in limited government and I’m asking for your help. Please send an email to the members, asking them to repeal this anti-competitive bill by passing SB 1780.
Below are the dealers’ actual talking points and my response to each of the points. It will only take you a couple minutes and I will really, really appreciate your grassroots help. Please copy me on your emails.
“Sunday Closing Good for Consumers” car dealer Talking Points
Over 75% of vehicle purchases are financed, which means that the seller needs at least one lender to be open for business. The banks are closed on Sundays as are most of the businesses that motor vehicle dealers rely on to verify the identity and creditworthiness of their customers. Dealers cannot afford the fraud risk associated with handing over the keys to a $30,000 vehicle without verifying the identity and creditworthiness of their customers.
Answer: Dealers in the 34 states that currently allow Sunday sales have already solved that problem. Many Illinois dealers are open until 9:00 PM and have the same financing problem at 9:00 PM as they would on a Sunday, but have solved that problem.
Consumers do not purchase vehicles on the spur of the moment. A motor vehicle is the largest or second largest purchase most people make. The average vehicle age on the roadways today is 11 years old, which means that a vehicle is something that person buys with the intent of holding onto it for several years. Before making this multi-year commitment, a vehicle customer typically spends many hours researching vehicle prices, vehicle safety and reliability reviews, trade-in value and vehicle financing to select the right vehicle for his or her needs and budget. Much of this research is increasingly conducted at home over the internet, so that when a customer first comes into the dealership he or she is well into the selection process.
Answer: Correct and a majority of consumers would like to be able to do that on a Sunday. (See We Ask America poll).
Because many dealership employees are paid on commission, they often feel pressured to be in the dealership whenever it is open to avoid losing a commission to another employee. Otherwise, a sales person can put a substantial amount of effort into putting a sale together only to risk losing the commission if he or she is not at the dealership when the customer comes in to finalize the sale.
Pressure to be at work 7 days a week, even if it comes from the employee and not the employer, makes it more difficult to hire quality employees and leads to employee turnover. Although motor vehicle dealers pay competitive salaries, retaining talented staff is difficult because of the long hours that dealership employees already put in.
Answer: Employees should not have to work longer hours. In fact, in the 34 states that already allow Sunday sales, employees typically partner up to cover for each other, the same as they do in Illinois when employees go on vacation. Sunday sales would allow dealers more flexibility in setting their hours. Many would not need to be open until 9:00 PM.
Opening on Sundays would increase dealership costs without increasing sales. The end result would be higher vehicle prices for the consumer.
Answer: On the contrary, The FTC has already issued its opinion in favor of the repeal of the Sunday ban. One of its reasons is that they believe the greater competition would result in savings for consumers. States with Sunday sales tend to see higher per capita sales with owners trading a little sooner resulting in greater tax revenue for the state.
Finally, many vehicle shoppers like to use Sundays to “window shop." These customers like to look at vehicles on dealership lots without talking to a sales person.
Answer: The dealers are arguing that their sales people are too intrusive? If that is the case, the dealers themselves need to resolve that issue so that potential customers can feel free to look at available cars at will.
Quick Facts highlighted
• Over 75% of vehicle purchases are financed. Dealers need lenders and verifiers of identity and creditworthiness open to complete vehicle sales.
• Consumers do most research on vehicle price, safety, reliability, and financing before approaching a dealership. Long dealership hours on weekdays and Saturdays provide more than sufficient opportunity for customers to complete vehicle purchases.
• A seven day work week makes it difficult to hire and retain quality sales staff. Dealership sales staff are highly trained and training new personnel increases dealership costs. Retaining quality sales people is an important component of providing a satisfying customer experience.
• Opening on Sundays would increase dealership costs without increasing sales. The end result would be higher vehicle prices for the consumer.
• Finally, many vehicle shoppers like to use Sundays to “window shop”. These customers like to look at vehicles on dealership lots without talking to a sales person.
ABOVE ALL, GOVERNMENT POWER SHOULD NEVER BE USED TO GET AN ADVANTAGE OVER OTHER COMPANIES IN AN INDUSTRY. THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT TELL AUTO DEALERS WHEN THEY CAN AND CANNOT SELL CARS. THAT SHOULD BE LEFT UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL DEALERS.
Furthermore, even if one were to accept every argument the dealers make, SB 1706 (unlike SB 1780) merely says that dealers should get to choice their day of worship rather than being forced by government to observe Sunday. They could then close on their observed religious day and open on Sunday. Isn’t religious equality one of the sacred objectives of the United States of America?
If you are willing to help, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the email addresses of the Transportation committee members. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!