Comparing Wegmans to Buying a Clunker (Part 1)
If you've ever visited a sleazy used car dealership to purchase a vehicle, you've been exposed to the challenges of negotiating a good deal. While a reputable car dealer serves a vital purpose - connecting buyers to vehicles that will meet their needs; a small percentage of untrustworthy dealers have given the industry a bad name.
The bad car dealers use all kinds of tricks to convince you that you are getting a great bargain. Unfortunately, they've got more schemes than we can list here, so lets highlight some of the most common ones and see how that compares to our Wegmans shopping experience in Hanover.
(While you are at it, see if you can identify the movies where we got the pictures below from. You will need to come back for the future installments, but we will give 100 fake internet points to anyone that can name all five.)
Dealer trick #1: Preying on your lack of information.
When car dealers have all the information and relevant experience, it puts them in a position where they can take advantage of customers. The County and Wegmans both had an enormous amount of information that private citizens were NOT privy to.
Hanover residents first heard about the Wegmans Distribution Center announcement on December 11, 2019. As evidenced by this email, county officials had been working with Wegmans to bring them to the county for almost a full year. The whole process was done in secrecy so that they could try to ram this project through before residents could respond. There is a quote in the FOIA documents that even says
"The Board was also amenable to flexibility with the proffers but it is an election year and several members expressed concerns regarding traffic...."
You can read the full document here.
Dealer trick #2: Making it all about the monthly payment.
Dealers love it when they can get you to tell them a monthly payment that you would be comfortable with. Once they have that number, they can play all sorts of math games to charge a higher price while keeping the monthly payment the same. You still pay a higher price, but it is harder for you notice it when you sign the deal. There were similar games taking place throughout this entire project. Examples include using beneficial assumptions around traffic to back into capacity calculations and adjusting the assumptions used to show sufficient payback periods as pointed out in the post here. The truth of the matter is, if you do the math right, this project is a complete failure for residents of the county. The proponents of this plan are using some real creative math to try to make it look good, but we are too smart for that.
Dealer trick #3: Imposing finance charge markups.
When you agree to finance your purchase, the dealer is legally required to show you all the figures before you to sign on the bottom line. That doesn't mean they won't hide a lot of the scariest details in the fine print.
Where is the fine print in the Wegmans deal? Wegmans has been granted special tax credits that will benefit them for years to come.
Who will foot the bill for that decision? The answer is - Hanover Citizens. Look no further than the proposed 3% tax increase that you and I will be paying. Three percent is a significant change! Telling residents that this project is great for the economy, while raising our taxes and exempting Wegmans, does NOT sound so great to us. This is from the Mechanicsville Local dated February 26, 2020.
Do you have comparison of your own? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org . If they aren't already slated for part 2 or part 3 (coming soon), maybe we will write a bonus piece from user suggestions!