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Dealers to GMAC: Restricting credit is dumb

Boy, do dealers hate captive finance lenders that turn off the credit spigot.

In the past 24 hours, more than half the comments posted on our Web site are about the story “GMAC says it will restrict auto lending.”

Now, this is hardly unexpected. Most lenders writing paper on auto loans or leases have been hurt by this year’s sharp downturn in car sales and the collapse in used-vehicle prices on trucks and other gas-guzzling large vehicles. Many automaker captive finance arms and lots of private lenders have openly, or quietly, cut back on leasing and tightened loan terms.

But GMAC’s announcement that it won’t loan to anyone below a 700 credit score or for long terms drew some especially negative posts.

“Well, I guess my wife’s 680 and plans to get a newer Suburban are now shot,” says Keyman.

This will hurt GM by forcing loyal buyers to seek financing somewhere else, 255205 says. “Another way to push buyers elsewhere.”

Paul scornfully congratulates GM and GMAC for outside-the-box thinking in deciding to rely solely on a credit score to determine who gets a loan. “GM is turning its ability to sell cars over to a third-party credit-reporting agency that to this day still will not reveal its scoring system to consumers,” he says.

R Hogan says, “Why don’t they just say that they are closing up shop?”

Mike predicts GM will pay a heavy price for the move: “We should see GM sales go down about 20 percent more.”

Others have theories or advice.

“Either Cerberus is making a hard play to force GM into purchasing Chrysler or it needs to raise capital quickly,” says islander.

GM should sell its 49 percent stake in GMAC, says 74002. “Then maybe it could start a new finance arm that has as its purpose helping dealers sell cars and trucks.”

Or maybe GMAC car buyers should keep their car loans and forfeit the home mortgages that GMAC and subsidiary DTech made to customers with low credit scores and without verifying whether they had jobs, suggests Gerry

Catherine thinks Cerberus is actually maximizing profits for GMAC by restricting consumer credit. “Captives make most of their money off floor planning dealership inventory. The longer dealerships hold inventory the more profitable they are,” she says.

Only one post defended GMAC.

Auto finance guy says GMAC can’t help it. “This is clearly the result of the credit crisis that is impacting every auto finance company that relies on the asset-backed securities (ABS) market to fund its business.”

But there is at least positive comment.

“Sounds good … if you sell imports,” says Buyanewnissan.

Defending your life

Controversial Florida dealer Earl Stewart posted a comment on an Automotive News’ story about him. Stewart is a vocal opponent of dealer document fees and has a number of fellow dealers who are critical of him. They say Stewart both boosts his own no-doc-fee dealership and hurts the image of other dealers by his vigorous attacks on the practice.

In his post, Stewart invites other posts on our Web site and asks why other dealers don’t include document fees in the advertised price of vehicles. He then suggests the reason is to avoid easy price comparisons by consumers – and to avoid paying salesmen a commission on the profits from document fees.

So far, the only other comment posted on the story came a day before Stewart’s response. Dealermaker blasts the practice, concluding “If you can’t make money without ambushing your customers then get out and go so something else.”

So how about it? Document fees are pretty widespread, and in industries besides autos. Is there a defender of the practice? Any comments?

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

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