From the Desk of Mike (The Hammer) Garvin

U.S. Bombardier dealer told
Don't sell to Canadians

By The Canadian Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — A snowmobile dealer south of the border says he's been ordered by Quebec-based Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. to stop selling snow machines, ATVs and watercraft to Canadians who are looking to take advantage of the rising value of the loonie.

Ron Thompson, owner of Gateway Sports in Grand Forks, N.D., says he's been told by Bombardier to increase a surcharge for Canadian buyers and ultimately to stop selling to Canucks at all.

Bombardier Recreational manufacturers the popular Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo vehicles.

"Canadians want to buy a Canadian product but I'm not allowed to sell it to them," Thompson said. "I had more than 35 calls from Canadians last week and another 10 calls this week."

He said he had to turn those inquiries away.

Thompson said Canadians can save several thousands of dollars on the purchase of a snow machine in the United States. The Renegade X 800 model sells for $10,000 at his shop, but would go for $13,000 to $14,000 in Winnipeg.

Thompson said Bombardier's standard policy had been for its dealers to impose a 7.5 per cent surcharge on all sales to Canadians. Two weeks ago, Bombardier expanded that to say 7.5 per cent or $1,250 – whichever was higher. Last week, the company raised the rate again to $3,000. And earlier this week, Thompson said, a Bombardier representative told him not to sell to Canadians at all.

‘Nobody was protecting my interests’

"They said it's to protect the Canadian dealers but when the Canadian dollar (was at 70 cents) and Americans were going north to make their purchases, nobody was protecting my interests."

Thompson also said Bombardier will void the warranty on any craft purchased by a Canadian in the United States — even if the purchase was initially made by an American — and has threatened to cancel agreements with dealers who sell to Canadians.

"I'm paying $5,000 a month interest on the inventory I have but I'm not allowed to sell to Canadians who are trying to save some money," Thompson said. "It's just not right."

Bombardier spokesman Pierre Pichette, vice-president of communications and public affairs, said the firm has always assigned geographic boundaries to its dealerships and financial penalties to enforce them.

Pichette said dealers are not allowed to sell to citizens of another country. The policy is based on market analysis and ensures that dealers not only sell but also can service Bombardier products.

Pichette said the penalty was increased in the last two weeks to prevent American border dealers from buckling to pressure from Canadian customers.

"We've had to make adjustments (to the penalty) for today," said Pichette, who added the company policy also applies to Canadian dealers, who are not allowed to sell to Americans.