Dillsburg, Pa.- Bob Ruth Ford in Dillsburg has been in business for 37 years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced some serious changes.
“We had 131 employees prior to COVID and we have less than 50 today,” said Rob Ruth, President Bob Ruth Ford.
Like many other car dealerships is Pennsylvania, Ruth applied for a waiver to keep his business operating after the Governor ordered only essential businesses could stay open. Ruth says he can safely sell cars online. His waiver was denied.
The response from the Governor said, “With respect to online sales, any business that has the ability to operate remotely and provide sales via internet can operate. However, unless necessary paperwork was completed prior to vehicle dealerships having been declared non-life sustaining, a dealership cannot complete the entire process in Pennsylvania remotely. Pennsylvania requires a notary to be physically present to verify the identity and signature of the purchaser and under Pennsylvania law, remote notarization is not currently authorized.”
The letter went on to say while internet sales are allowed, an exemption would be required to complete the transaction at a physical location” and right now those are only being permitted for real estate transactions.”
“They are not allowing electronic notary. They are saying they are not allowing us to do it based on their technology,” said Ruth.
While the state isn’t allowing Ruth to sell his inventory, other companies are still selling cars in Pennsylvania.
“Carvana is a large corporation. They have operations in other states. They are going around the system and selling cars from Pennsylvania and delivering them to Pennsylvania residents and then using their large corporation out of another state and doing the same process that we put online. We can do the same exact things. We can provide that convenience for people. We want to,” said Ruth.
There is a bill on Governor Wolf’s desk that would allow businesses that follow CDC guidelines to re-open. It is not clear if it would help car dealerships open for business.
Wolf has already stated he is not in support of the bill.
“I am just asking for help. This isn’t right,” said Ruth.
Carvana say it has stopped all sales in Pennsylvania.
“Carvana closed its Pennsylvania locations on March 20, in response to Governor Wolf’s order, and from that date to the present, we haven’t sold any cars to Pennsylvania residents from our Pennsylvania locations. While historically Pennsylvania customers have ordered cars that were delivered by our employees from neighboring states, Carvana voluntarily blocked Pennsylvania residents from receiving deliveries from our out-of-state locations over a week ago. While we continue to believe Pennsylvanians should be permitted, as the residents of many states are, to safely buy cars during this time, we understand the goals of Gov. Wolf’s order and are doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania,” said Christopher Olson, Associate General Counsel, Litigation & Regulatory Affairs.