What’s the deal?

After learning Metro Chrysler’s late-delivery penalty was cut in half, Rick Datoff feels “silly.

After learning Metro Chrysler’s late-delivery penalty was cut in half, Rick Datoff feels “silly.”

This time last year, the manager of Inland Kenworth delivered 10 trucks to the Yukon government.

Like Metro Chrysler’s delivery of 11 SUVs, Datoff’s trucks were two months late.

Datoff was penalized.

But it wasn’t an $11,000 penalty, like Metro Chrysler’s.

Datoff was fined $45,000.

“We paid it,” he said.

“We entered into a contract and we paid it.”

Now, Datoff learned Metro Chrysler got a break simply by talking to Premier Dennis Fentie.

“It’s pretty much an identical situation,” he said.

Both dealers were late delivering vehicles to the government.

In both cases the contracts stipulated penalties.

And in both instances it wasn’t the dealers’ fault, said Datoff.

Weather conditions held up many of Metro’s SUVs in Edmonton.

Datoff’s dump trucks were sent to a body shop to have boxes and ploughs installed.

“And the bodybuilder who put all this stuff together was late,” he said.

The only difference is after its manager groused, Metro’s $11,103 penalty dropped to $5,590.

While Datoff paid his full $45,000 fine.

 “It makes us look silly,” he said.

“It means the contracts they’re giving out aren’t worth anything.

“If he gives a car dealer that kind of money back, then I think I want 50 per cent of my penalty back too.

“I’d like my fine to be cut in half at $22,500.”

After reading in the paper about Metro’s break, Datoff called Highways and talked with senior purchasing officer David Knight.

“I wanted to know who to talk to about running our deal this way,” said Datoff.

Knight suggested phoning Highways Minister Archie Lang.

“He said, ‘Phone him up, given him a call,’” said Datoff with a laugh.

“(The minister) just opened up a can of worms with this.

“I’m going to start making some more phone calls.

“I’m going to go down this road and see if they’re willing to talk to us about this.”

Kenworth just delivered another new truck to the airport.

“It wasn’t late, but there was a whole bunch of stuff that was done wrong by our people that did the gravel box, and we just fixed it,” said Datoff.

“It cost us $10,000 to fix.

“And I told them not to accept it. I said, ‘We’re going to fix this for you guys,’ and we made it happen.”

Now, Datoff’s goodwill is dwindling.

“If they want to start billing charge-backs to people like ourselves and then go a year later and give back that kind of money (to Metro)  — why bother having contracts?” he said.

On the other hand, if it’s good for Metro Chrysler, “it’s good for everybody,” said Datoff.

“Lang probably won’t like my phone call.”

Highways refused to comment on the late penalties issue before Friday.

A press conference to discuss the issue on Tuesday was cancelled.

The department is waiting until after the legislature finishes its fall sitting on Thursday, said Highways spokesperson Kira Steen on Tuesday.

The press conference is now scheduled for Friday morning.