Automobile sale causes stir
Grand Junction car dealership offers deals; area sellers say buy local
April 30, 2009
Steamboat Springs — A Grand Junction car dealer has set up shop in Steamboat Springs for the week, and local dealerships don’t like it.
Grand Valley Auto Sales representatives say they’re meeting a need and trying to keep their business running. Owners at Cook and Steamboat Motors say locals should buy from local dealers, partly to keep their money with businesses that support the community.
Grand Valley has brought about 90 vehicles to a lot on Routt County Road 129 near Steamboat Springs Airport. Half a dozen sold Tuesday, the first day of the sale, said Wayne D’Amico, Internet and inventory manager for Grand Valley Auto Sales. Such sales are legal with the proper permits, and the dealership has held sales in Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Craig and Eagle County.
D’Amico and store manager Mike Griggs said they typically receive a chilly reception from local dealerships.
“It’s irritating to them because we sell a lot of cars in a short time,” D’Amico said.
Steamboat Motors owner Jeff Steinke said he didn’t see the sale as a threat. It could stir up the car-buying market and bring in business, he said. But Steinke said he was concerned about people buying cars from a dealer who leaves the area. Grand Valley Auto’s event ends Saturday.
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“These kind of guys will typically come in and tell you whatever you want to hear and not really care about the condition of the car you’re buying, the quality of how they get your credit approved,” Steinke said.
D’Amico and Griggs challenged that assessment. They said their salespeople encourage buyers to get additional warranties if the factory warranty has expired. And if someone has an issue, they said, they can call the dealership in Grand Junction.
“We really push extended service contracts because we want our customers not to have problems,” Griggs said.
Scott Cook owns Cook Chevrolet, Jeep and Subaru and has dealerships in Steamboat and Craig. He noted that local dealers donate to charities and contribute to the community. Cook also said he thought it was better to buy cars and appliances in town.
“If I’m going to buy a high-ticket item, and it’s something I want to have serviced after the sale, I want to buy it where I live,” Cook said.
He also expressed concern with Grand Valley’s sale last fall in Craig. Some buyers thought they had to pay state sales tax but not county or city taxes, according to an Oct. 2 story in the Craig Daily Press. Those customers were surprised to be charged with the other taxes when buying license plates, Moffat County Clerk and Recorder Elaine Sullivan told the Daily Press.
People who buy a car must pay state sales tax as well as taxes in the county and city where they live. Grand Valley Auto Sales paid the state and county sales tax for its customers in Craig, which amounted to $33,000, D’Amico said.
“It was something we didn’t have to do and we did,” D’Amico said.
Grand Valley never told customers they didn’t have to pay the other taxes, he said.
It’s legal for a dealer to collect only state sales tax, Steamboat Revenue Supervisor Kim Weber said. A seller can collect city and county taxes, or the county collects them when the buyer registers the car. State sales tax is 2.9 percent, Routt County sales tax is 1 percent, and Steamboat collects a 4.5 percent vehicle use tax, Weber said.
“Even if you purchase a vehicle in Denver, bring it back here and you live within the city limits, you pay city of Steamboat Springs vehicle use tax,” Weber said.
D’Amico said the dealership had looked up all the necessary taxes and would collect them at sale time.
“We just made it a point, let’s just do this and do it right so people don’t have that issue,” he said.
Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, said buying local could solve that problem.
“That’s something that very rarely happens with a local dealer because they know what taxes are due, and they collect those taxes at transaction time,” Jackson said.
The Better Business Bureau gives Grand Valley Auto Sales a grade of “A-” on the bureau’s Web site. It notes that six complaints were lodged against the company in the past 36 months.
“Our complaint history for this company shows the company gave proper consideration to complaints presented by the Bureau,” the agency stated.
Its assessment of the company states that “we are satisfied that it honors its commitment” to earn accreditation from the bureau.
Beyond any issues, Cook and Steinke said, they hope Yampa Valley residents spend their money here.
“These local communities need to keep their money in the community, where it multiplies instead of going out,” Cook said.
But D’Amico and Griggs said their sale provided a range of vehicles that aren’t available in Steamboat. Cook and Steinke said they were willing to order cars for customers.
“We want to sell people every car they’re going to buy for the rest of their lives,” Cook said.
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