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BUICK DEALERS CALL FOR ALL-OR-NOTHING APPROACH TO VALUE PRICING

Buick's dealer council has asked the division to consider dumping the value pricing concept or adopting it whole hog.

The division's current pricing policy, everywhere but California, gives customers the option of buying traditionally priced cars or choosing from a so-called 'select series' of value-priced cars.

In California, all Buicks are 'select series' as part of the General Motors California Marketing Initiative.

GM's concept of value pricing involves setting a manufacturer's suggested retail price closer to the expected transaction price while cutting a dealer's discount to discourage dickering.

Value pricing seems to work in California, where sales gains for GM makes are greater than in the rest of the country, said John de l'Orme, a member of the dealer council and owner of Thorsen Motor Center in Pasadena, Calif. Thorsen sells GMC trucks, Buicks, Pontiacs and Isuzu trucks.

Although he likes value pricing and would strongly oppose ending the practice in his state, de*l'Orme said he understands how customers in other parts of the country can become confused with the dual pricing policy.

The Regal Gran Sport is a good example of how the pricing policies can clash.

A select series Gran Sport carries an MSRP of $19,900, while a similarly equipped Gran Sport under the traditional pricing scheme carries a sticker price of just over $24,000.

A customer buying traditionally may be able to bargain a dealer close to the select series price, but may be confused why two identical cars would have such wildly different stickers and similar transaction prices.

Dave Wescott, dealer council chairman and owner of David Wescott Buick-Isuzu-GMC Truck Inc. in Burlington, N.C., said Buick should review its strategy.

'We'd like them to take a look and see where to go with this,' Wescott said.

Buick spokesmen declined comment on pricing, but said the division always takes seriously the concerns of its dealers.

Buick's sales and marketing officials were in meetings last Friday, Dec. 16, and unavailable to comment directly.

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