When I had business at Volkswagen, arriving at Wache Sandkamp, I was always asked whether I have a cell phone on me. “Ja,” I said. “Does it have a camera?” “Nein,” I said. The guard didn’t want to see the phone, and I could keep it.
At Chrysler’s big dealer convention, to be held in September in Orlando, they won’t be so lenient. Dealers have already been told to leave all cell phones, video equipment and cameras in their hotel rooms. To ward off the intrusion of rogue recording equipment, metal detectors will be put up at the show’s entrance.
What’s the fuss about? The Wall Street Journal reports that “Chrysler is being cautious because Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne is providing a deep breakdown of the vehicles dealers should expect to see coming to their lots over the next six to eight months.”
That’s it? Ultra-high security for cars that are six to eight months out? What are they worried about, that someone will build a copy?
To make matters worse, dealers have to pay $900 each to attend. Highly, highly, highly unusual. Dealers are used to be treated like royalty at these gatherings, with sumptuous dinners, big name entertainers and sometimes more, all on the dime of the carmaker. At our meetings, they received armfuls of glossy brochures featuring the cars. No own picture taking necessary. If someone did, even better. So $900, and they can’t even take an “I have been there” picture?
“The cost isn’t a major issue but it is a thorn in their side,” said Scott Hogle, founder of the auto retail blog DealershipForum.com. “They wait 15 months to see Mr. Marchionne and now they have to pay $900.”
Scott Hogle must be out of touch with his readership. “Not a major issue?” I’ve seen dealers bitch about much lesser amounts. Or that they had to pay taxes on entertainment that wasn’t strictly business.
Usually, car manufacturers worry about dealers showing up at the events, even when everything is paid for. It doesn’t sound as if Chrysler wants a huge attendance.