SAN DIEGO — In remarketing their off-lease and other “program” vehicles, some auto makers try to lure wholesale used-car buyers to auto auctions by offering them chances to win trips, prizes and assorted goodies.

But such enticements comes under fire from some attendees of the National Remarketing Conference here.

Rapping the practice of giving away the likes of “golf clubs, trinkets and trash,” is Horacio Trujillo, Mercedes-Benz Financial's director-remarketing. “If I give a barbecue away next year, pull out a gun and shoot me.”

Such incentives shouldn't go to dealership managers who attend auctions, says Tammy Darvish, vice president of DARCARS Automotive Group in Silver Spring, MD.

Instead, she urges cutting those expenses and, in turn, lowering vehicle transport fees charged to dealers.

Representatives of auto makers who partake in the auction incentives indicate at the conference they've dialed down the practice, but are mum on whether they'll end it altogether.

Darvish would rather see her dealership group's wholesale car buyers logging on to online auctions. It's cheaper, faster and eliminates the prospects of auction buyers “flying all over the country for the chance to win trips and TVs,” she says.

“Dealers always object to auto makers' giveaways to managers,” says Jack Fitzgerald, owner of the Fitzgerald Auto Mall, based in the Washington DC area.

Questions or comments about this column?
Send us an e-mail at
Dealers@wardsauto.com.