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An Open Letter to the Automotive Industry from Scott Painter, Found...

Our world is changing. Unprecedented access to information and a massive shift in consumer behavior has resulted in a challenging new automotive retail landscape. It has also enabled a consumer appetite for data transparency. To hide from evolving consumer behavior is to deny change. At TrueCar, we embrace this opportunity. We also believe that transparency is the centerpiece of trusting relationships. Some in the industry disagree. We would like to make our position clear.

Our goal at TrueCar is to foster healthier relationships between manufacturers, dealers and consumers through data transparency. To deliver on this promise, we require a high standard from our 5,800 dealer partners – an upfront competitive price and a commitment to a great customer experience. A discoverable upfront price is the cost of getting noticed. Contrary to popular concerns this does not create a “race to the bottom.” The lowest price only secures the sale 19.2% of the time within the TrueCar network. The sale is still won by location, selection and good old-fashioned customer service.

At TrueCar, we believe that upfront price is at the core of a good buying experience for dealer and consumer. Informed consumers buy more confidently and are more satisfied. At TrueCar, we publish the most accurate reflection of the retail market that has ever been available. The goal is to establish an objective, credible and transparent baseline for fairness – both for the customer and the dealer. That being said, TrueCar does not set this market. Our dealer partners set their own prices 100% of the time.

Dealers earn their business every day and we believe that their marketing programs should too. TrueCar is the only fully accountable source of new business where our dealer partners only pay when they sell a car. Gone are the days when dealers have to assume all of the marketing risk and pay for advertising and for leads as a primary way to secure new customers.

TrueCar requires DMS integration for tracking of this accountable model, the core of what makes us unique. We use DMS feeds from our dealer partners for tracking and optimization of introductions made to the dealership. We don’t use our dealer partners’ information to populate the TrueCar pricing curve. That information comes from entirely separate sources of anonymized data that represent nearly 90% of all vehicle transactions in the U.S.

At TrueCar, data integrity, security and privacy are job #1. Our policies, systems and technology have passed the scrutiny of partners like USAA, Consumer Reports, American Express, AAA and many others. TrueCar has never, and will never, sell or repurpose DMS data for any reason.

In spite of all this, we recognize that change is threatening for some. Ours will always be a high-touch industry. The service of our dealer partners and highly-trained sales professionals becomes increasingly important the more consumers know. At TrueCar, our commitment is to relieve those professionals from needing to resort to high-pressure sales tactics or misdirection. These tactics have been an albatross for our industry and they are at the heart of why consumers have become generally mistrustful of the car shopping experience in the first place.

Is TrueCar good for all dealers? There will always be those that resist change. To our dealer partners, we applaud your understanding that truth, transparency, and customer service is at the center of success in our changing market. And, to those that still have questions, we invite an open dialogue. One of the great virtues of transparency is that we have nothing to hide.

Scott Painter


Tags: Automotive, Founder-CEO, Inc., Industry, Message, Painter, Scott, TrueCar, from, of

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Another parody, I think.

I'm actually not familiar with the man since I just signed up today but as I read his letter, he seemed a brilliant man. Regarding car dealership I found my new Audi A8 because of their help. And I'm happy having them helped me with all the papers and other stuff. Good thing car dealership is there.:) Anyway, here's where I learned about Audi A8: New Audi Allroad and six-cylinder A8 for 2013.

The situation we have found ourselves in with TC/Zag is not unique. The difference is “we have found ourselves in it”, thanks in part to Painter’s rather large ego I believe. Some vendors/consultants have forever worked both sides of the fence. Painter grabbed the bullhorn and announced it. Broadcasting his belief that there are too many dealers and predicting the demise of the salesperson as we now know them today through the use of his “service” struck a nerve with the industry that will smart for many years to come. If that weren’t enough, Painter made clear of his intentions to carry his model into all elements of our industry. Thank you Mr. Painter. Your blueprint/battle plan for our demise is well received and appreciated.

In Painter’s most recent open letter to our industry he stated “TrueCar has never, and will never, sell or repurpose DMS data for any reason.”   Then it is settled, the DMS data is collected to the inclusion of the purposes that Painter uses the data……without regard to where he collects it. If he will not repurpose data (he clearly states this), then in essence he is claiming that any data he receives was originally intended to be used for what he is using it for. I guess we need to figure out a way to explain this to the folks who’s information we collect.  Our silly customers  probably think the information we ask them to give us is being used to secure a loan and register the transaction of their purchase with our respective states or some such nonsense. Again, thanks for the heads up Mr. Painter, I am starting to understand how this all works.

This high rolling deal maker is only interested in the bottom line of his own deal. 

Why not take this transparency discussion to his own company and explain his costs to every one.  Where the cash came from for TC and what is his plan is to pay back his investors.  Stop pretending like there is a care about the dealers this will rape profit from. For those of you dumb enough to give this thief DMS access you might as well give him access to your personal checking account and assets.  Its been amazing to me over the years how concerned dealers have been about sales staff having access to their dealership information and yet allowing this guy who doesnt sell for a living to know your data and use it against you.


NADA is right around the corner.  I will look for the True Cars booth.  Meet me there guys.


Extremely insightful William. There are some really big surprises coming for TrueCar in the next week or so from a completely different direction than anyone has so far discussed. It should collapse any hope of additional investor money rolling in after potentials see that this entire regime might collapse. Originally we thought we would just stop them from the rotten things they were doing and saying about our industry. Now, there is a very real possibility they may go away entirely. 


Here is a request for equal transparency! Provide us access to your DMS and in the name of transparency provide us with your actual cost with which we will negotiate a fair profit if any for you to make!!!


Now there using the same information gathering system to post and price used cars. Here we go again:


TrueCar, Inc. Presents at Needham & Company, LLC's 14th Annual Needham Growth Conference, Jan-10-2012 11:40 AM. Venue: The Palace Hotel New York, New York, New York, United States.

TrueCar, Inc. Announces Release of ClearBook 2.0

TrueCar, Inc. has announced the release of the new ClearBook, the company's most comprehensive and fully-featured used car valuation tool to date. In the same way TrueCar benefits both new car buyers and sellers through comprehensive, unbiased new car pricing data, ClearBook will help those buying, selling or trading-in their car to know the real value of a used vehicle through unprecedented access to current sales data from around the country. ClearBook 2.0 features include a full price report for tens of thousands of different used makes and models; detailed vehicle pricing information including: expected sale price, recommended list price and trade-in price and an easy-to-understand transaction-based market curve that contains the most current car pricing and valuation data

I realize that everyone may already be aware of this one, but isn't or does'nt it look funny that several of the Company board members happen to be AutoNation Executives. The car company that still today is in a dealership purchasing frenzy?


TrueCar, Inc. Board Members*

Name Board Relationships Primary Company Age
Steven J. Dietz 18 Relationships GRP Partners 46
Michael E. Maroone 10 Relationships AutoNation Inc. 57

Watch what happens next :) JIM

I wrote this reply to another blogger who has blogged about TrueCar.  It really summed up my position very well, and so I'll put part of it here (some changes to remove other points I was making and to summarize some points).
... There are three direct questions that will clear up DMS for me, and I wish I had asked them on my call:
1) Does TrueCar use the data pulled from the dealers' DMS for ANYTHING else than verifying that particular dealer's sale to enable TrueCar billing the dealer accurately?
2) Does TrueCar sell or otherwise make available the dealers' DMS sales data to anyone, partner, employee, investor, etc. for any reason in any form, anonymized or not?
3) Why do TrueCar's agreements include verbiage to allow # 1 and #2 above, much less the DMS pulls are more data than is needed for the transaction verification?
And, even if these were answered directly to satisfaction, this is no way, no how comparable to home buying (as TrueCar so often points out). is comparable to me, however, especially to personalize this for Painter as he has done for the auto professionals and dealers.  As well, TrueCar pulling data from ANY sources and repurposing it in a false transparency of pricing AND also driving dealers to adjust their offered prices to such a falsely-origined curve is as bad a practice for our industry as any of those shady dealers actions you mentioned.  And, when it is,,, and when is fully active--what part is left to the dealer?  
Modernization of dealers is paramount.  This isn't modernization, and doesn't sell an incremental set of cars for the industry.  It merely redirects the profits to TrueCar.  The situation, at the moment, is that TrueCar under Painter's founding and leadership has to serve two masters, the consumer and the dealer, and now he harvests the fruit of taking two dates to the dance.
And he's welcome to that dance and that meal.  100%.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Attention All FADA Dealer Members

Important Information related to dealers and their use of True Car/ZAG

From: Ted L. Smith, CAE, President  (DD) 850-224-2580

True Car/ZAG is definitely in the news across the country and you should take immediate steps to educate yourself fully on all of the legal and business issues involved in your contract with this vendor.

Most states are focusing on the potential or alleged violations of their state advertising laws and laws concerning brokerage or “bird dog” fees.  Please remember that under Florida law you as the licensee are responsible for any violations with respect displaying and advertising vehicles.  (F.S. 320.27(9)(b)3 -  Misrepresentation or false, deceptive, or misleading statements with regard to the sale or financing of motor vehicles which any motor vehicle dealer has, or causes to have, advertised, printed, displayed, published, distributed, broadcast, televised, or made in any manner with regard to the sale or financing of motor vehicles.)

As important are the issues surrounding the collection of data from a dealer’s DMS system and the issues involving privacy and security of that data.

With so many issues being discussed and the potential for concerns we would urge you to contact your attorney to discuss your options and the impact of Florida law on your dealership’s advertising practices associated with this or any other vendor that you employ to display pricing scenarios.

Florida law requires that the advertised price include dealer pre-delivery service charges and it appears that the True Car web pricing excludes these charges and adds them later on the pricing page.  The Attorney General’s office has not yet, to our knowledge, ruled on whether this methodology is a violation of S.501.976 of Florida statutes.

The states of Kansas and Colorado have issued warnings to dealers about per se violations of brokering and advertising laws.

Please be aware that there are legal issues of privacy, data use and ownership, as well as data access, when you allow an unrelated third party to access your DMS system.

You should pay specific attention to what information is being mined from your DMS system and how that data is being used and/or controlled. Does your new Privacy statement take this sharing into account?   If you are an open portal for data mining, you may also find yourself drawn into a complaint about data misuse.  You must decide for your store(s) whether it is a good idea to give any vendor or business partner access to your DMS.

CLICK HERE to access Florida Advertising Guidelines (login required)

FADA is pleased to provide the advertising guidelines (not all inclusive) to FADA dealers as a means of assisting you as you place advertisements in paper formats and in electronic sources throughout the state and on the Internet.

The regulatory authority for dealer advertising in Florida is the Office of the Florida Attorney General and various others, such as municipal governments that may have local ordinances governing dealer ads.  Our industry has some specific statutes (Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act  – FDUTPA) and a body of opinions from the AG’s office and localities to guide our practices.


For more information on FADA, visit or contact FADA, 400 N. Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. This email may contain an advertisement of FADA services. Any opinions or statements contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views of FADA. Questions, comments, or corrections for this content may be directed to

Trust me.  I have had a chance to experience TrueCar for a full week.  They are taking over a whole market.  A dealership that gets 600 normal leads from their sources (that are not out to hurt them) now gets 1600.  1000 comes from TrueCar and they sell 30-40 cars per month out of it.  That is a 3-4% closing ratio when we should be at 10%.  I found out calling these leads that the customers are being steered in that direction.  TrueCar has done a great job getting in front of the consumers with their commercials and marketing. But when 70% of your leads are 80-120 miles away and they do not want to make the drive no matter what value you give them or how good of a closer you really are you start to really see what a horrible company TrueCar is. If you want to clutter your CRM with garbage and let your DMS be used to extract data that will be used against you then TrueCar is your solution.

TrueCar is not a friend to the industry.  TrueCar is worse then cancer.

I spoke to a BDC manager from a NY Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership.  He called me because he was looking to contact his TrueCar rep and when he googled to get contact information he stumbled on my blogs.  He actually defended TrueCar saying that he does well with them and they are good.  When asking him how he feels about getting the runaround from leads that are 80 miles away he simply responded that he does not waste time on internet leads at all.  He follows up with them for 7 days and if nothing happens he just gives up.  He did not believe that a lead needs to be managed for 90-120 days.  I wonder what training he got.  That is not a good BDC Manager at all.  I cannot believe that dealers allow things like this to happen.

There is nothing out there that can prove that TrueCar deserves to have a place in the marketplace.  I was going to go out and see the operation for myself.  But I realized I want nothing to ever do with them after TrueCar started submitting bogus leads with my information to their own dealers.  I had 100s of dealers from NJ, PA, and even CA call me to follow up with me because they thought I was an internet lead.  These leads came from TrueCar.  A company that is supposed to be a partner in helping dealers sell more cars is not only hurting them by taking their data but it is wasting their employees time calling on bogus leads instead of focusing on the real leads that should be coming in.  Come on dealers, wake up!!! How can you let this happen?


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