Oct. 5, 2009 – Admitting error: A daunting political request

Retreat. This isn’t a word to be used lightly, is it? The instantaneous negative reaction to this word relegates it to one of those “hands off” items.
We certainly don’t it use very often in a business setting. After all, even in a crummy economy, who with any real character wants to retreat?
We don’t use it very often with our children. Certainly backing down from a challenging academic or social experience isn’t the most prudent counsel.
So it’s interesting that a Congressman, a high-ranking one at that, would use that highly charged term in association with the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), the law that has caused so much turmoil over the past year.
It’s interesting because it shows, perhaps more clearly than anything else, how difficult it will be to get Congress to overrule itself in terms of the highly controversial CPSIA. And, of course, that’s exactly what we’re asking — along with other retail industries — Congress to do in a bid to get youth-designed ATVs, motorcycles and snowmobiles back on the showroom floor in the same quantity as they were before.
But in so asking, what we’re effectively saying is, “Mr. and Mrs. Congressmen, would you please admit your error in passing what was a political slam dunk, yet incredibly shallow-thinking attempt at improving consumer safety?”
You may scoff at that as being overly sarcastic, and perhaps you’re right. But to think either the House or Senate bill that seek to refine the CPSIA don’t face incredible hurdles is the biggest mistake of all. Without a hugely tremendous groundswell of support from dealerships and other parts of the industry, it’s hard to believe those bills stand a chance of getting to a full Senate or House vote.
Just consider the heavyweights lined up against it. Just consider the “retreat” comment. It came from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
“The fact remains that the system we had in place was a failure. To retreat now from the proven consumer protections achieved under this law would be a huge mistake,” Waxman said in remarks prepared for a recent House committee hearing on the CPSIA.
In his remarks, Waxman does mention, “Since the law went into effect, there has been unnecessary and widespread confusion among businesses and consumers.”
What Waxman doesn’t mention is that the confusion wasn’t just about what was suddenly illegal to sell, but why in the first place
Congress would place such economic hardship on retail industries, not to mention on small business owners already reeling from shaky consumer confidence.
“We enacted legislation,” Waxman said in his prepared comments, “that is strong, well designed and effective.”
And once deemed as a “joke” by a fellow
legislator at the “Amend the CPSIA” rally held earlier this year in Washington, D.C.
The problem here isn’t just that they are different perspectives on a complex piece of legislation. The problem is there are some Congressional heavyweights who view this legislation as a huge feather in their cap. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), the chairman of the subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection — the committee that held the hearing on the CPSIA — called the legislation one of the “premiere accomplishments of the 110th Congress.”
And it gets worse.
The following is noted on Rush’s Web bio page as one of his Congressional accomplishments: “Effectively shepherding the bipartisan adoption of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.”
And you want his support to revise that law, affectively diminishing the prestige of the original legislation?
Are you kidding?
You better light a fire under your Congressional representative and ask your colleagues to do the same.
Or you better … retreat.

A second chance
Earlier this year, we held a contest for dealers to win a free training day at their dealership. As you’ll recall, the contest had two industry experts attend a dealership for a day to provide tips and tactics to improve dealer profitability. Dozens of dealers entered the contest, which Grand Prix Motorsports of Littleton, Colo., ended up winning.
Thanks to our Training Day partners, we’re incredibly happy to report that we will hold this contest for a second time this year. Only this time, it promises to be even better as a third partner is coming onboard.
Last time, Derek Sanders, V-SEPT’s trainer and consultant, and Jennifer Robison, Tucker Rocky’s retail environment specialist, provided sales and PG&A training. This time the program will not only feature the expertise of Sanders and Robison, but we’ll also add Assurant Solutions’ Kent Meadows, who will provide service department training.
Make sure and check out the advertisement on pg. 25 explaining the contest rules and of course, the deadline. Don’t miss a terrific chance at improving your store this winter without having to spend a penny.

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