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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 James A. Ziegler on December 14, 2011 at 5:02am

Spoke to Scott Painter yesterday. Long conversation. I don't believe it changed my opinions on TrueCar, may have clarified some misconceptions but validated others. JIM

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on December 14, 2011 at 3:59am

A full vetting of vendors/consultants by an independent body would be useful. Dealers would be amazed at the wolves running about dressed as sheep if they had the time and resources to research them. I think the thought of such a body would send chills down many spines who rely on the dealer for their livelihood. The key word would be independent.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 13, 2011 at 7:14pm

Guess who's been looking at my LinkedIn profile the last few days and today?  Seems everybody BUT Scott Painter, whom I attempted to email via LinkedIn.  What, did they forget to call me, too?  :)  Guess I didn't make the cut.  Maybe it was that technology and data background, even if it's ten years old?  Anyway, here's the access by TrueCar:

Comment by David T. Gould on December 13, 2011 at 11:51am is a good read Jim. I don't understand what makes anyone think that one price shopping and the extermination of automotive salesperson would lower a consumers price. Fixed market prices with less competition (dealers) would raise prices. Basic economics, no? Minimum wage employees as replacements? Hmmm... should be insulted for the industry. Clearly any individual that makes such a statement has not been held to task with monthly sales requirements, manufacturer customer satisfaction  survey scores, certification requirements, 9 - 9 work shifts, and dealing in a business where the majority of your effort yields no results. Guess time would tell how invested an hourly employee would be in a customer's current and future business. At that point a hamburger is a hamburger and a car is car. Interesting enough, the consumer would not even "need" TrueCar. OK. Off my soapbox for now. Good Selling! dtg

Comment by David T. Gould on December 13, 2011 at 9:44am
Comment by David T. Gould on December 13, 2011 at 9:43am

""They're trying to say Hondas are worth more than invoice, but if everybody's paying less than invoice, that's not true," Painter said."

Read more: <met...

Comment by Randy Holt on December 13, 2011 at 9:35am

Not sure why any dealer would want to pay another company ("TrueCar") just so they could lose more money selling cars ... seems that every dealer I've ever been associated with already knows how to lose money selling cars!


If dealers spent more of their resources devolping quality website traffic to their own website(s) - they would be way better off.


Below is a link to a page with the last 30 days of Google analytics and Youtube data for our store. Yeah, bragging a little but the numbers speak for themselves. Over 11,000 website visitors and over 16,000 video views in just thirty days. And remember, our store sits in an old pecan grove - you can't get to us without driving past one or more other Ford stores and a gazillion other franchise dealers...


Link to Google / Youtube data:

Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 13, 2011 at 9:24am

The Devil Made a Call to Georgia

by Joshua Hirsch

The Devil made a call to Georgia, he was looking for a industry to steal.

He was in a bind because of the forums chatter and was looking to make a deal.

When he came across a young man selling cars, and selling them HOT, then the Devil jumped on his speaker phone and said boy let me tell you what !! I guess you did not know it but I am a car guy too, and if you care to take a dare id make a bet with you.

Now you sell cars good son, but give the devil his due. I bet my business, against your industry because I think I’m better then you. The boy said my name is Jimmy and it may be a sin, but I take your bet your goanna regret cause I am the best there has ever been !! FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN, RUN BOYS RUN !!!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 13, 2011 at 8:24am

@ Debra:  THANK YOU!  Well said.

Comment by Rob Fontano on December 13, 2011 at 8:14am

@Debra Beautifully said.

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