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Dear Autobytel, Dealix, Edmunds and KBB,
I would like some answers from you on a serious matter. Please continue reading...
Saturday I was experimenting with TrueCar to check out pricing on vehicles in Rochester, NY market. I used my real name, I used an e-mail address that I typically direct junk mail to and I used a phone number that was one digit different than my own. I was also using a computer with an IP address that would reflect my previous shopping habits.
I received TrueCar pricing information from dealers on the e-mail address I used to submit the leads, but noticed there were no Rochester dealers using TrueCar. The closest dealers using TrueCar were in Syracuse and surrounding communities.
Early Monday morning I start receiving e-mails from third party lead providers thanking me for submitting my information. The e-mails were on the same vehicles I shopped on TrueCar. Coincidence, I think not! Now here is where it gets interesting, my data had been corrected to reflect my current e-mail, and my current phone number. I also started receiving phone calls from dealers. I am guessing my information could have been taken was from the DMS of the dealership where I last purchased my Infiniti.
My questions to you, where did my lead originate from and how did you get my information?
I have been communicating with KBB and they are telling me that a lead was filled out on their site. I know that is not possible since I was not on their site.
I plan to get to the bottom of this even if it requires me to spend thousands in attorney fees. I would prefer one of you come clean and provide me with the answers.
If I was a betting man, I would bet that TrueCar sold my information to a company that in turn sold it to you. Could there reasoning for doing this be due to the lack of the Rochester, NY dealers using TrueCar? What is the going price for selling lead information these days?
Below are images of the e-mails I received from your companies. I look forward to hearing from all of you regarding this matter. If you need more information, please reach out to me.
Jerry, While I cannot comment on whether or not Truecar is wholesaling leads (simply because I really don't know if they do or not). I can absolutely, positively guarantee that we at Edmunds did not buy a lead from TrueCar, simply because we don't buy leads from anyone, never have, and never will. We have sold leads through lead aggregators in the past, however we have never aggregated leads from anyone. Additionally, most of the activity that used to go through aggregators goes direct now.
What really is a shame is that for real customers it's a major turn off. Example, I was shopping for term life insurance a week ago and same thing happen. I did my best to stay off lead generating sites because i knew what was going to happen. Guess what, all of the sudden the phone was ringing and emails. I took it out on the agents and told them to take me off their list and they didn't even give them a chance.
Now for dealers, if i get a phone call or email from you it's going to give me a bad feeling about your DEALERSHIP and similier to what i did to the agents - I DON'T WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU NOW and probly will AVOID YOU!
So, why are dealer still buying leads from lead spammers????
This is what dealers are paying for that allows all of this to happen. Most don't care, or understand the bad taste they are leaving in the consumers mouth. Very sad that this is what is replacing talent and personal care from a well paid professorial sales staff. Shotgun media effect. How's that workin for ya?
Thanks for commenting, your comments are spot on!
Now on to Sean. First let me thank you for joining the discussion. I do believe you when you tell me that you're not buying direct from TrueCar. I don't believe your second statement is correct, the one where you say, "we don't buy leads from anyone, never have, and never will." How do explain how all four of you managed to send me e-mails within an 8 minute window? Two of you e-mailed me at the exact same time. You may not be buying directly from TrueCar, but you're buying from a middleman who is buying from TrueCar. I am not the only person witnessing this issue. It's time to come clean and tell the truth.
Please answer my questions, how did you get my information and where did the lead originate? You should be able to provide this information.
I wonder if there is some automated process set up at John Holtz Acura where they buy third party leads, then run those leads through a pricing solution like Edmunds or Intelliprice. If the dealership is somehow "processing" leads from one source with another product that also creates and wholesales leads, that could mean exponential sharing of your contact info.
Jerry, So I've been doing some digging. You can believe me or not, but someone came to the Edmunds' site on Monday Dec 5th at 1AM Pacific and filled out a lead form with your information on it. It appears that it was an actual person, as the site path they took went to the Acura TSX page, then to the Options page, then to the "Get a Quote" page. Additionally, the lead comments included the following comment "Please call early in the morning before i start wrk." Now for the really odd part, the submitter's IP address is 126.96.36.199, which I can't trace to an owner (other than SoCal Road Runner Service), but it is located at 90401, which is where Truecar's offices are.
More than happy to setup a call with our legal council if you'd like to talk to him about verification of the lack of lead purchase agreements.
Ha Ha Ha Ha! Thank you, Sean, for your work. So, essentially, by this account TrueCar MAY have poached Jerry's personal data from his TrueCar lead submission because of his stand against some of their practices--and they then tried to "lead bomb" him? Is that even legal?? Amazing. Just amazing. And very, very stupid, if true. Or, let's say it's MAYBE just someone's JOB at TrueCar to migrate leads to other providers? I wonder why they would do that, if so . . . hmmmmm. I submit:
A $200 million funding plus ripping dealers off at $300-400 does go a long way. Believe me if that is the case they can afford to pay that labor cost.
Very interesting! Could TrueCar have some sort of automated program that enters data into your system? Perhaps they are doing this to alienate customers so that customers get fed up with the dealers and use TrueCar. This is sinister if this is in fact what is happening. Four leads were all submitted at the same time. I am not the only person this has happened with.
Anyone have any thoughts out there?
I believe you Sean and thanks for providing this information. I would like to hear from the other vendors as well. I will cross post this message to the other threads.
The information we receive about you or from you may be used or shared by us with our corporate affiliates, dealers, agents, vendors, and other third parties including in connection with your use of the Service."
You shouldnt be suprised this is from Truecars Policy Page. What I find a little deceptive is when you as a consumer click on Get Your Price Certificate, right under that it says "By clicking "Get Your Price Certificate", you agree that TrueCar may share your contact information and selected vehicle information with automobile dealers associated with TrueCar."
They forgot to mention it also go's to Affiliates, Agents, and Vendors and other Third Parties and hid it in the policy page. If they put that right in front of the consumer most would probly bounce right off.
Most consumers are thinking it is just going to automobile dealers and not spammed out.
Sounds like there's a wholesale middle man working everyone... Maybe DTX? who else sells lead data to all of those sources? Shouldn't be that difficult to figure out...
Jerry: I see emails from ABT, KBB, Dealix and Edmunds here above on a 2012 Caliber, 2011 TSX and 2011 CR-V - do they all think you requested different vehicles? Wouldn't the emails refer to the same vehicle if they were buying your info from one central source? Who's appending the info? Who HAS THE RESOURCES to append it regularly? Is somebody employing RL Polk to do that?
Good discussion, curious to see where this goes. Consumers have no clue just how much their info is passed around...
I submitted leads on three different vehicles and the third partly lead generators matched my submissions on TrueCar. I think Truecar had my data that was pulled from the DMS of the dealer I had bought a car from. I am trying to confirm this dealer has used ZAG.