Twice a year for six years, a handful of Albany automobile dealers have moved much of their fleets to the Albany Mall for a massive two-day tent sale sponsored by DoCo Regional Federal Credit Union.
But this year, someone called the law – and the gig was shut down toward the end of its first day.
Georgia Department of Revenue agents said that the five dealers failed to purchase the required permits to participate in the sale. Lawanda Peacock, the local agent who handled the matter, referred questions Tuesday to the state office in Atlanta, where an official said that a statement would be issued Wednesday.
Representatives of the participating dealerships said that they regret that “sour grapes” led to a competing dealership complaining to revenue agents rather than informing them that permits were needed. The dealerships’ failure to obtain five $100 permits may have cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue.
“We’ve done this all of this time, all of these years, and never had a permit. All anyone had to do is let us know and we would have gladly paid the fee, or even paid the fine. But they shut us down,” said Mike Ervin, sales manager for Sunbelt’s Ford Town of Albany. “I think it’s unfortunate that the credit union had put something together that should stimulate the economy with exceptional interest rates and instead, it gets shut down due to a technicality that could have been easily avoided.”
The other participating dealerships were Albany Prince Auto, Finnicum Motor Co., Five Star Nissan and David Smith Auto.
Barry Heape, DoCo’s CEO, said that Friday’s sales were the largest in the tent sale’s history, and that some customers returned to the dealerships Saturdays to make purchases.
“There were still a lot of vehicles sold.
Obtaining permits was the dealerships’ responsibility – not DoCo’s.
“I was out there and they told us everything was fine with DoCo, but that there was some sort of issue that they could not quote to us regarding permitting of off-site sales,” Heape said.
Heape, in response to a reporter’s question, said that he did not receive any complaints from competing dealerships who were not invited to participate in this year’s ale.