Car payments aren’t the only thing people are falling behind on. All those shiny, new Harley-Davidsons you’ve probably seen (and heard) running around since the pandemic? Like their car counterparts — and nearly just as expensive — many of them are likely not being paid for either. We’re focusing on Harley specifically because the American motorcycle manufacturer says it suffered credit losses in the first quarter because people aren’t paying on their loans, and there are just not enough repo men to repossess its bikes.
According to Bloomberg, earlier this week Harley announced it had a rough start to 2023 with a $52.6 million credit loss. For all you non-financial folks out there, this just means it was money the company couldn’t collect on. In this case these are likely Harley bike payments financed through the manufacturer. Now, if you’re not paying on a loan, the item, or in this case vehicle, is obviously repossessed. But if there are not enough repo individuals to physically collect that vehicle, then what do you do?
We’ve been following these rising car repossessions across the industry, which has created a “booming” repo industry. The problem is, though, a lot of people also left the repossession industry during the pandemic and never came back, Bloomberg reports. Business slowed to a crawl as pandemic safety nets, like stimulus checks, provided people with a the extra money to pay their bills on time. With everyone gone, as soon as the surplus money and stimulus payments ended, repo companies were left scrambling to hire people and have yet to recover.
Until repo companies hire more workers, vice president and treasurer of Harley-Davidson, David Viney, says it will be taking a more active role on bike payment delinquencies. Some of this will include reaching out to customers whose accounts are on the verge of being sent to collections and enhancing its repo strategy (although HD didn’t outline what that repo strategy would consist of.)
So, if you’re reading this and you are behind on your Harley payments, don’t get too comfortable thinking the repo man isn’t coming for your bike. They’re coming, they just need to find someone to do the job first.