GM wants its dealers to follow what it is calling the “Clean Dealer Participation Agreement” program. The program follows US guidelines for cleaning vehicles to combat COVID-19 and by using EPA-approved cleaners. But the California New Car Dealers Association says No! That’s because it is afraid of liability if one of the dealers is identified as having the coronavirus at their facilities. It’s a simple case of GM wanting dealers to follow the EPA clean guidelines to reassure customers.
Are GM dealers not signing the agreement put in a competitive disadvantage?
The dealers association also says that those dealerships not signing the agreement are put in a competitive disadvantage. “While we admire GM’s efforts in lending assistance to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, CNCDA believes there are a number of reasons why the agreement should not be signed,” a lawyer for the association, Joseph Berberich of Manning, Leaver, Bruder, and Berberich, wrote in a letter received by Automotive News.
“This initiative simply encourages Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac dealers to implement the guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” a GM spokeswoman said. “GM believes that this initiative is consistent with its mission to put the customer at the center of everything we do. The initiative has also received tremendous support from GM’s dealer body and councils. Nevertheless, each dealership is independently operated and no dealer is required to participate in the ‘Clean’ initiative — it is entirely voluntary.”
In spite of reassurances from GM the dealer association is pushing back
In spite of that reassurance from GM corporate, the dealer association is pushing back. It says that by implying the dealership and its vehicles are free of the coronavirus makes them liable if someone gets sick from the virus. Also, there is concern that insurance coverage for dealers may skyrocket in case claims are made.
“If a claim were asserted against a dealer arising from a COVID-19 issue, the fact the dealer agreed to adhere to the Guidelines in the Participation Agreement but failed to do so could be used against the dealer,” Berberich wrote.
A friendly reminder that the dealership is doing its part to keep customers safe
Customers would be advised of Clean participation through point-of-sale messaging provided by GM. Nowhere would it imply the program prevents or protects customers from getting COVID-19. The material would only inform customers the dealership goes through EPA protocols and uses approved materials in doing so. It seems like it is a friendly reminder that the dealership is doing its part to keep customers as safe as possible.
But that mandate is presumed even if it shouldn’t be by consumers. So is it a positive reminder or just a reminder of a deadly virus lurking around? We’re in a whole new reality as businesses open up after two months of lockdown. It remains to be seen what works and what doesn’t, and what it will take to entice people back into a more normal existence.
Both sides have merit. What do you think?