Just saw that and forwarded to all of my friends in the biz. This is big news but far from unexpected.
You can only treat customers like trash for so long. Many lenders stopped doing business with them because of their unsavory (and oft-thought illegal) sales techniques. The nail in the coffin was hammered last month when GMAC pulled their support. Makes it real hard to stock and finance vehicles when your captive lender won't buy your deals or floorplan your inventory.
I've never met the man, but my boss has and said he's one of the nicest and most genuine people you'll ever meet. Unfortunately, he retired and left the biz to some people more interested in making a quick buck than taking care of customers and earning their money long term.
I grew up outside of Columbus, GA. My dad's first new car was a 64 1/2 Mustang which treated him well....his second, a Chevy bought from Bill Heard's Columbus dealership, almost did him in. Mr. Heard was nice, but even back then, he let bad people run the place.
It wasn't the car that gave him so many problems, it was the dealer. By the time they got done with him, he paid a 1000 more than he agreed to,for a car he didn't know he was buying. My dad wasn't "savvy" back then, but he is not dumb and he expects everyone to be as honest as he is. (keep in mind that this was in the early 70's when a thousand bucks was a LOT more than it is now).
To make it worse, he took the car in for service and Bill Heard wrecked it. Not a fender bender, but nearly a total loss. They refused to give him another car, but bondo'd up the sides of the car so poorly it looked like a clay sculpture. The car crabbed sideways down the road because the frame was bent and the paint was falling off in a week.
Bill Heard told my dad that was the best they could do and it was part of the risk of owning a new car.
He didn't buy another new car for more than 20 years. When Bill Heard came back here, I remembered that story and I also remember my brother, who was a car saleman a few years ago, telling me stories about their practices.
I had a salesmen at BH tell me I probably needed to look at a car instead of a Tahoe. He didn't think we could afford a Tahoe. I just wanted to see the Tahoes BH had listed in the Sunday paper. We left, went to Alvin, was treated like adults and paid cash for a 1999 Tahoe. We did eat BH's free hot dogs before we left. Maybe they should sell Hot Dogs. Second thought....I probably couldn't afford one of his hot dogs.