A few months ago, you remember that I reported that Harley-Davidson was informing and reminding its dealers that online sales were forbidden outside their dealership territories. Main targets were those dealers selling parts and accessories through 3rd party independent dealers (brick & mortar and online shops usually reselling Harley genuine parts at a discount) and those, because of their proximity to our country borders, doing a lot of international sales. Problem is that many Harley dealers would have not have survived our US economic recessions without these “outlawed sales.”
And to lead the revolt, 72-year old Tom Gianetti, owner of Harley-Davidson St. Paul Motorsports Inc, who has decided to sue the Milwaukee manufacturer for trying to prevent his dealership to continue these 3rd party and international sales. Tom states that without them, and because new motorcycles sales dwindled since 2006, his business would not have survived and that it is also the case of several other dealers. The dealer said it earned $8 million a year in revenue from those sales from 2008 through 2010.
According to the lawsuit, the motorcycle maker said that starting Aug. 1, U.S. dealers may not sell Harley-Davidson parts and accessories to any customer outside the United States. The lawsuit said that starting Jan. 1, 2012, U.S. dealers may not sell new parts or accessories on third-party websites.The policy revisions illegally alter the company’s franchise agreement with dealers, the lawsuit claims.
Years ago,it may have been difficult for the Milwaukee manufacturer to anticipate the explosion of online sales and the danger they could represent both in terms of loss of income and of price competition. The issue of this lawsuit is going to be watched very closely by all Harley-Davidson dealers. To foliow…