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True Car and ZAG - Cyber Bandits or Good for the Business?

Jim Ziegler asks...

I am hearing a lot of discussion about True Car and ZAG.  I continually scratch my head and wonder if  desperate dealers are doing the marketing limbo "How Low Can You Go?" 

Are we so bad at what we do that we have to line up and pay vendors to lose money? AND, who is giving these people access to your data that is used against you? 


Who owns these companies and what might be their ulterior motive?  Sometimes I ask questions to which I already know the answer. 


Am I wrong?

What do you think... JIM







EDITOR'S NOTE: The ADM Professional Community has assigned a short-cut domain name to this blog post by Jim Ziegler to make it very easy for ADM members and readers to refer others to this web page. Please use the following URL:


Jim Ziegler's Guidance and Recommended Action Plan:

Ten Areas We Need to Concentrate on to Bring This Monster to It's Knees...

  1. Government investigation of ALL Data Aggregators taking consumer information from dealers' DMS. Sadly enough, dealers who do business with TrueCar are exposed to  liability charges. Cut off all access to unecessary data, no matter who takes it from the dealers DMS and make it illegal to "resell identifiable consumer data" and "transactional data".
  2. Educate Your Fellow Dealers; If anyone takes financial transactional data, they expose the dealer that allowed it to violations, especially if it is passed on to other vendors or shared.
  3. Educate Consumers to what they're doing with their information...
    a. You buy a car from a dealer, do you really want your personal information, and maybe even your financial information, passed along and sold and shared by "God knows who?"
    b. These People Charge the Dealer $300 which the dealers have to build into the deal
    c. Your Privacy and the Security of your Information could theoretically compromise your identity if you do business a company that takes data from the dealership.
  4. Educate Investors and potential investors they could possibly be mislead if anyone is telling them this is a safe investment because of all of the dealers pushing back, associations pushing back, and government regulators in many states coming after TrueCar's business model as NOT compliant, in some cases they're saying it is Not Legal.
  5. AMEX, USAA and all of their affiliates do not want the bad consumer relations this push back is creating with their members and customers.
  6. Cancel your dealership's Affilation with TrueCar. Tell people with TrueCar certificates that YOU don't honor TrueCar and you feel the company is NOT reputable. Educate consumers as to perceived data exposure if they buy from a TrueCar dealer. Make sure that each consumer knows that using TrueCar actually increases their vehicle cost by $300 to $400.
  7. Make the dealers selling at huge losses take all of those deals. Big problem right now is too many Nissan Dealers and others are taking huge losers to get the factory money. The TrueCar reverse-auction business model will continually push those numbers down until the factory money is non-existent. Consumers need to hear from many dealers, "We don't do TrueCar"
  8. Keep calling your National and State Dealer Associations demanding they get involved and stay involved... No excuses.
  9. Get the Manufacturers into the game. If GM, Ford, Toyota, and other majors change the rules about how we advertise and do business to protect the dealers, we can cut off their ability to set pricing. So keep it up at every dealer meeting. Call your Dealer Council Members and protest to your factory reps. Tell the manufacturers, if they want showroom and facility improvements, we need the ability to make fair profits.
  10. Tell everyone you know. Educate other dealers and industry people. Watch the Painter interviews... I believe this is the first time a vendor has publicly announced they intend to bring down the dealers and hijack our business, taking our profits and starving us out with our own data. Painter has said manufacturers and dealers should go bankrupt and he, in his God-like way "will control distribution..."
    When the TrueCar-Yahoo Deal kicks in we need to stand firm and "Just Say No" we don't honor TrueCar deals.


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Comment by Scott N. Mynuk on December 3, 2011 at 3:28pm

NO Question, This all about the Mega dealer controlling the market place and hiding behind the vendor to do it.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 3, 2011 at 3:16pm

@ Scott:  Thank you!  I agree, it's time to push back on vendors that don't have dealers' interest at heart.  I have an opinion, which could have been wrong, about TrueCar.  What's happened here, however, and on other threads is that folks have come to understand this as a real threat; THEY have validated for themselves, for me, and for others what the risk is as the CEO himself has stated. 

Comment by Scott Falcone on December 3, 2011 at 2:47pm


@KeithShetterly just wanted to say thanks for your efforts in fostering the education of dealers in this space. It's important to mention that the primary focus of this post has been education of dealer employees vs. vendor chest pounding...nice change. Hopefully other dealers appreciate your time and the time of the meaningful contributors who have shared their views and information.

@RobFontano Nicely said...I really like the delivery process idea for a consumer who has no need for the concept of reasonable profit on a car deal. Maybe True(Lies) Car is planning a concierge service to do this themselves. This concept should be shared with the OEM's as well to get them in line before they continue down the same destructive path of thinking it is ok for dealers to go broke serving customers properly.

Comment by Jim Kristoff on December 3, 2011 at 2:21pm

Great letter Jim........It should rally the dealers in a positive direction!!!

Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 3, 2011 at 2:17pm

I just sent out thousands of personally addressed emails to Dealers and industry influencers that I know personally. The email reads as follows:

Hello friend. I am writing this letter to appeal to you to get involved or to risk losing everything. I honestly believe this is a call that is necessary for all of us to get involved OR watch yourself go out of business in less than 18 months. Please get active AND please pass the word to every dealer you know. TrueCar and ZAG have openly stated their thinly-veiled intention to dismantle the retail car business AND NOW they have raised a $200 Million Dollar war chest that I believe will be used to will bring retail car dealers to out knees. Please READ THIS 4 days it has had more than 14000 views.

A worrisome point sending up a red flag is the fact that Mike Maroone, president of Autonation is on the board of TrueCar. PLEASE start at the beginning of page one of the Blog at and really try to understand what is going on here.

In my opinion, this is the battle of Armageddon for Car Dealers, your last stand. Discuss it, study it, and pass the word. I honestly believe based on information coming to light that  If you don't act and get on this we'll lose it all and there will only be large public company owned distribution centers. It appears to me that they're making their move and this is it.

Click this link and please forward this email (copy and paste the bold text) to your entire address book...

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 3, 2011 at 2:13pm

Jim, we need to stop them even CLAIMING any dealer participation to the public and to their investors.  That hurts us, too, and badly.  THEY NEED TO BE CANCELLED OUT OF EVERY DEALER IN THE USA.  Otherwise, it validates them to he consumer to say "Dealers Participate" and makes the line item in their investor prospectus look like gold when it is really tin.

My personal reputation is my most important asset, and I don't put my name on anything that hurts me, my family, or my reputation.  Dealers need to do the same!

Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 3, 2011 at 1:52pm

Someone on another forum pointed out...TrueCar claims to get most of their information from sources other than dealer data, okay then let's restrict their DMS Access to "Name File Only" what else do they need. 

Comment by Joseph B Antley; JB ANTLEY on December 3, 2011 at 1:15pm

Agree with Keith, Rob that post nails it!

Comment by Jim Kristoff on December 3, 2011 at 1:13pm

@Rob.....VERY well said!!!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 3, 2011 at 1:02pm

Rob Fontano!!!!!  GREAT POST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Thank you!!!!!!!

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