Rejected Auto Dealers Use Social Media to Plead Their Case

As Congress and the National Auto Dealers Association attempt to reach a resolution between Chrysler and General Motors and 2,100 of their rejected dealers, many of those dealers are taking their case directly to the American people through the use of online video.

Hosted on YouTube, the “Rejected Dealers” channel, which was launched on September 19, currently has 151 subscribers and boasts 8,841 channel views.

The channel serves as a platform for rejected dealers to air their grievances in the court of public opinion and, in videos ranging from highly amateurish to fairly polished, dealers don’t hold back.

The YouTube format requires channel owners to post certain information in their online profile including an “About Me” section. The Rejected Dealers channel profile states, “Videos posted here are true stories of private Auto Dealers that have had their dishps [sic] shut down for no reason by the ‘Car Czars’ (Auto Task Force).”

The “About Me” section goes on to portray the dealership rejection process as fundamentally unconstitutional and concludes with the line, “Please contact your members of Congress to encourage their support!!”

Videos posted to the site range in quality from amateurish to fairly polished, but all are equally effective in conveying the sense of frustration and betrayal felt by the rejected dealers who created them.

One contributor is Gus Russo, whose video submission opens with a shot of an American flag waving majestically in the breeze set to Bruce Springsteen’s iconic song “Born in the U.S.A.” In a somewhat jarring jump cut, we then see Russo standing in what presumably is his completely vacant dealership showroom. Reading from a make shift cue card (that keeps edging into the edge of the frame) Russo states, “On May 14thafter 30 years of business, my Chrysler franchise in the city of Detroit was stolen from me.” Russo’s video clip concludes with a warning that “If this can happen to us (rejected auto dealers), it certainly can start a trickle-down effect in other areas of business.”

Painter’s Sun Country Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge of St. George, Utah has submitted numerous videos to the channel including one entitled “65 Years or 65 Feet”. In the video, Phil Painter recounts the injustices he feels his family has suffered in having their franchise rejected by Chrysler. In a clever and highly effective visual demonstration, Painter rolls an industrial measuring wheel from the dealership’s property to another dealership, located 65 feet across the street that will be given the Painter dealership through Chrysler’s proposed reassignment process.

As he walks the short distance, Painter says, “I’m not walking across the country. I’m not walking out of the state. I’m only walking across the street.” The two-minute video concludes with Painter explaining, “the reason I’m showing you this is ‘cause Chrysler has chose [sic] to take our franchise away after 65 years and give it to a dealer friend, across the street, that’s 65 feet away.” A caption appearing below the video window states, “Phil is astonished with the rest of us that Chrysler has taken its franchise from us and has gifted it to the dealer across the street. This kind of stuff should not happen in America.”

That is the recurring theme echoed in other videos on the site; the sense that what has happened to them is fundamentally un-American.

In a video created by Bob Taylor Jeep in Naples, Florida Sandra Taylor puts a human face on the closing of that dealership. Video of the vacant showroom and lot are in stark contrast to Taylor’s description of the dealership as “a successful, well managed, properly funded business” that “operated profitably for 27 years.”

In the roughly five minute video, Taylor speaks of the impact that the closing will have on employees and the local community and concludes by saying, “all affected dealers could tell you a story about how this has impacted their lives. I could list revenue lost on state and federal taxes, health insurance and on and on, but then my story would be no different than any other. What we all lost on that terrible day was our spirit and our drive, the tenacity, the ingenuity that made this nation the envy of the world. We lost our rights.” The video ends with a shot of an American flag flying over the vacant dealership.

GM plans to close 1,350 dealerships and Chrysler is moving forward with its planned closure of nearly 800 dealerships by October of 2010.

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