Moral or not, they have an economic responsibility to sell a person the best bike for them, not necessarily the one they think they want.
Selling one bike is great, short term, but if a person gets good honest service and starts a relationship with a dealer and sport, then they will sell many more bikes in the future.
In this instance, you sell those two sportbikes, they will almost certainly drop them at the least. That will likely be enough to dissuade them from riding, and that dealer has lost a potential long term customer. Remember that the service departments are where they make most of the money anyway.
Worst case is they buy the bike, do something stupid and hurt themselves and now you've got potential lawsuits (legitimate or not, it costs money to defend).
What's best for the customer may be best for the dealer too.
I say we legislate this to make sure that all the businesses do what's best for them. Tiered licensing anyone?
Staying away from the Driver's license issue: It is completely irresponsible for a sales person to take the approach you stated. I have worked in the industry from every stand point of the sales, finance and insurance side of the business. Every company I have worked with would offer a MSF card and tell the customer to take the class first before considering a sportbike of 600cc or greater. Any bike for that matter. After that- it is up to the informed consumer to decide to purchase or not. I will tell you this- In 8 years of insurance I make the following bet with EVERY inexperienced rider (no matter the age) that picks a sportbike for the first ride: the bet- I bet Steaks and drinks that you break the bike within the first 6 wks of ownership. Doesn't matter if you drop it in the driveway or ride it off a mountain, but you will break plastic in the first 6 wks. In 8 years I have never had to pay on that bet and have collected more than a few times from the honest customer that will admit to the damage.
My own story is somewhat similar.. I had freshly minted MSF card and endorsement but was very clear to the salesguy ("Whats up, bro?? What bike you taking home with you today, man?") that I had only THAT experience on bikes and was nervous about starting on something that would get out of hand on me.
The Honda CBRF4i. Cuz "A ninja 250 can't go fast enough to get on the freeway."
Has the time passed where people can't take responsibility for their own lives? Do we all need someone else (government, dealers, bartenders, police) to monitor what we do, and how we do it? I can't understand the thinking that we need controls on everything and everybody because we can't figure things out for ourselves. If the dealer needs to watch out for these two, then don't we need somone watching out for the dealer? And then we would need someone watching out for the guy that is watching out for the dealer, who is watching out for these two. Anyone ever hear of personal responsibility?
If they're bound and set on a 600cc sportbike, then they're going to buy it, whether it's at that dealer or another. Just be glad they aren't getting a 'Busa or ZX14.
It's really not the dealerships responsibility, though if I were in the salesman's shoes, I'd try to set them up on something more durable, slower, easier to ride, and cheaper to repair. I'd also mention that at 18 years old, they're almost dead certain to have insurance costs of at least a few thousand $ a year on a sportbike.
In a retail establishment, the primary duty of the sales personnel is to move product. In a strict business sense, the only morality is to sell. That being said, as a means to secure future business and to add value to current business, a dealership should provide advice and counsel with regard to matching the customer's experience and abilities with the appropriate product. However, the customer votes with his wallet. No matter what advice the sales rep gives, the customer wants what the customer wants. Sure, the sales rep may feel that a Ninja 250 (a nice bike by any measure) may fit the customer best, but if the customer wants the Triumph 675 (and can pay for it) he will buy the 675 ... even if it's from someone else. It would take an extraordinary level of responsiblity for the dealership to give up that sale ... a level that I have yet to observe.
Does the dealer have a moral responsibility? Well, sure. Does this or should this become a legal responsibility? Absolutely not. There are already too many excuses made for people who act far more irresponsibly than selling someone a motorcycle they shouldn't have.
Where would this end? Are we going to require all vendors to amass every customer's life history before they can sell anything? Why stop at motorcycles? Why not pencils? A sharpened pencil can be a dangerous weapon. Better make sure the customer is qualified to use a pencil before you can sell it.
There's hardly one single retail business in the world that would refuse to sell a product to a customer until the customer proved he was capable of using it. Singling out the motorcycle industry for this would be ridiculous.
There are already far too many humorless busybodies who spend far too much time worrying about who or who isn't 'safe'. We don't need to invite it.
I sent a link in last week to an article in the local paper. It concerned a guy who had purchased a Yamaha YZF R1. He didn't make it home; he was killed when he hit a utility pole. There were no details on exactly what happened, but they did say it was his first bike. Aside from the basic issue of profit versus responsibility, I have to wonder how the guy who sold him the bike felt when he heard the news.
When I worked at the local HD dealer, there were several times when we'd watch the new owner bob and weave his way out of the parking lot. Twice I saw guys who had purchased choppers with the 300 rears drop their bikes right at the exit to US1; they had to lean over hard to get onto the street, and they quickly learned those fat rear tires just don't handle very well.
The dealers would hate it becuase their sales would take a huge drop, but I agree completely with the post that the license should come BEFORE the purchase, not after. At least they'd have a fighting chance.
I know of a sucessful lawsuit for "Reckless Entrustment" (I believe I have the correct term) here in FL. The case was made that a sailboat dealer sold a boat to a guy who had no idea what he was doing. He sailed the boat's mast right into a high voltage line, which killed his young daughter. I imagine that's the exception...if car/bike dealers could be sued for giving too much machine to the wrong person, they'd have been out of business a long time ago.
Very well said, there needs to be a balance between the paradox of social responsibility and dollar figures. A long term customer outlook and being responsible to the industry can help achieve that balance, however how can it be enforced? A tiered license program is probably the best and most simple solution.
My dealer carries Triumph, BMW, and Ducati. A few years ago, a young (25 year old) gentleman was in the shop, inquiring about a 998 Duc. I was standing nearby as the salesman, who was also a partner in the shop, engaged the prospect in a conversation. The usual questions regarding riding experience, current bike, experience, etc were posed. The prospect had: no riding experience at all, never owned a bike, no MC license, and had just that day taken the written test for his permit. The salesman discreetly suggested that the prospect start out on a less potent MC, and was very willing to discuss good starter bikes. The prospect was adamant- "If you won't sell me what i want I will take my business elsewhere" was the response. Back and forth they went, and the dealer went so far as to offer the prospect a new Bonneville, which he would take back after 90 days, and apply the cost to the Ducati. "Not gonna happen" says the prospect. The dealer finally relented, after considerable discussion, cash was proffered for the full price of the beautiful Ducati, which was destroyed a day later. The prospect was relatively unscathed, but his new Dainese suit, Arai lid, etc were all trashed. My point is, if you let people make their own informed decisions, you've done your part. This bloke had every opportunity to follow the path most intelligent riders take, yet he had to make that fashion statement with the Ducati....so be it....
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