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Town board would be supportive of temporary business regulations

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MASSENA - Several town board members said they would be supportive of legislation that Massena car dealer Real “Frenchie” Coupal said would prevent out of area dealers from bringing used vehicles to the area to sell for a week or so before leaving town.

“I did speak to Frenchie about the car dealer coming to town,” said Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who in turn added he has spoken with the town’s code enforcement officer about possibly drafting legislation that would “at least regulate them.”

The issue has arisen in Massena following the arrival of the Vision Automotive Group, a Rochester-based dealer that will be selling used vehicles at St. Lawrence Centre now through Dec. 15.

“It makes sense,” Mr. Gray said, referring to looking into the new rules. “It’s pretty hard to hold them accountable.”

Mr. Gray said people who go to the mall looking for a deal on a car had better be careful.

“The people who are going there to buy a car should be very careful, as you should be when making any major purchase,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to hold them accountable.”

While Mr. Gray acknowledged knowing very little about the company, he said he was leery of a business coming into town for only 10 days.

“I know nothing about this company,” he said. “People just need to be careful when making a major purchase from a company that is not in town and readily available for service or to address a problem should one arise.”

Town Councilmen John F. Macaulay and Albert N. Nicola also said they would be supportive of such legislation.

“I have always been and will continue to be protective of our local businesses. I feel very strongly that in some instances they’re struggling to stay in business,” Mr. Nicola said. “I feel very strongly we need to protect our local business people.”

Like Mr. Gray, Mr. Nicola said he knows very little about Vision Automotive Group.

“I don’t know anything about so I’m not going to say anything bad about them, but to me, it sounds like a hit and run deal,” he said. “They come here, do as much business as they can and then they leave.”

Mr. Macaulay echoed those sentiments.

“There’s no question I would be more supportive of our local businesses,” he said. “I would definitely be willing to talk about some kind of regulations like that.”

He then said that he wanted people to know though that a new law doesn’t happen overnight.

“We would have to do some research, and that’s what we would typically do,” he said, referring to looking at similar laws in other communities.

Steven Boutot, who owns and operates Boutot Auto Sales, a used car dealership in Massena, also said he’s not pleased and is even planning a protest at the mall tomorrow.

“I don’t know if I would call it a picket, as much as I would say we’ll be making a statement,” he said.

Mr. Boutot said he has printed several “Shop Local” t-shirts, which he and several others are planning to wear at the mall on Saturday.

When asked if they would be protesting outside the mall where Vision Automotive Group is set up, or inside the mall, he replied, “We may very well do both.”

He said he’s planning the protest to start at 9:30 a.m.

“We could have 10 people or we could have two people. We could end up with 20,” he said. “I really don’t know.”

Mr. Boutot said allowing Vision Automotive Group to set up shop at the mall has turned him off to St. Lawrence Centre, at least for this year’s holiday season.

“I will not be shopping at the mall this holiday season, and I normally would be,” he said. “Maybe I’ll go to the mall in Rochester. Mr. Patnode (St. Lawrence Centre Marketing Manager Ronald J. Patnode) is always trying to get people to shop local. This is not local. They are from Rochester.”

Mr. Boutot also emailed The Daily Courier-Observer a copy of the Vision Automotive Group’s file with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which grades the business an “F.”

“This would be a company that is not currently in good standing with the Better Business Bureau,” BBB Public Relations and Marketing Director Peggy Benders. “They do have 56 complaints filed against them.”

Of those 56 complaints, all of which have been filed since January of 2011, 14 of them are labeled by the BBB as “serious,” and one of them has gone unanswered by the company.

So far in 2013 Vision Automotive Group has 21 complaints filed against them, with 15 of them resolved and six that Vision Automotive Group was unable to resolve to the satisfaction of the customer.

“Consumers are reporting to us that they are feeling misled in their experience with their advertising, while also having problems with their product,” Ms. Penders said. “This particular business is losing a lot of points because of the volume of complaints in relation to the size of their business.”

Ms. Penders explained the BBB scores businesses based on 16 different objectives.

A copy of their report is available online at the link the below.

On the web:

http://bit.ly/1cr132C

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