TO THE EDITOR:
Regarding Jim Press' letter "Dealers, keep up fight against direct sales," autonews.com, Jan. 15: State laws that dealers argue protect them grew out of "Dealers' Day in Court" laws. These laws aimed to protect franchisees (dealers) from franchisers (manufacturers). Now, dealers look to misapply these laws against direct sellers with no franchisees. Direct sellers hold dealer licenses, too, and are subject to the same rules as franchised dealers with the exception of franchise issues.
Press argues that consumers are better served by franchisees, but that's not necessarily true. If it is, direct sellers will need to franchise, leave the market or merge.
He supports competitive dealer pricing, but it was direct sellers that kept to pricing while independents took advantage of the inventory shortage. He speaks of parts supply, but there is no evidence that direct sellers have availability issues different than franchisers. He points out that dealers are charitable in their communities. True, but this is a false argument: Home Depot, Walmart and Chase Bank aren't locally owned, but local management is involved in the community. It's good for business.
Mostly, what Press argues for are laws to protect dealers from a possibly more efficient distribution system. Michael Dell made direct sales popular in the computer industry.
Should a hamburger entrepreneur be forced to franchise its stands just because McDonald's does?
What make and model? Lease or finance? New or used? These are choices for consumers. Let the free market decide on direct sales or franchise as well.
ROBERT BIALER, Glen Cove, N.Y. The writer has more than 50 years of experience in the auto industry, including as a franchised new-vehicle dealer.