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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 Keith Shetterly on March 4, 2012 at 1:59pm

@ Mike:  Will you be making announcements at DD around those tool changes?

Comment by Michael Timmons on March 4, 2012 at 1:51pm

I respect the position of the members on this forum that believe TRUECar, as an organization, didn't always act in the best interest of auto dealers profitability. I know many mistakes were made but the company has been focusing on their dealer tools and unquestionably provides some of the best dealer leads in the industry. With companies like USAA, American Express, Consumer Reports, AAA, Geico, Yahoo and over 80 additional partners, TC dealers are selling over 20,000 vehicles a month.

Our dealer count is down considerably from a few months ago but the dealers that have remained on the TRUECAR program have significantly increased their sales because our lead volume continues to increase. We need to do a better job at giving dealers tools that assist them with pricing guidelines and not tools designed to force undue price competition. We are working on this and I believe that Digital Dealer is a great place to showcase some of the new tools and also listen to any additional input the dealer community has to offer. I believe that our sponsorship and willingness to engage the industry in a more dealer centric environment is long overdue and I am personally looking forward to the event. Hope to see you at our booth.

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on March 4, 2012 at 10:30am
Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 4, 2012 at 10:18am

So, Digital Dealer, if you're reading:  Why the sponsorship?

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 4, 2012 at 10:15am

TrueCar clearly didn't have a booth at NADA because of what's gone on.  If they put enough zero's on a check to Digital Dealer to get a sponsorship, then I'm much more interested to see why they did that--and what will transpire around them at DD.  I'm not going to tell DD what they should've done here, because I'm much more interested to hear from them why the sponsorship?  Regardless, the TC presence at DD and events there will tell the tale...

Comment by James A. Ziegler on March 4, 2012 at 10:13am

There is a lot of commentary on the Blogs and my FaceBook page already... I think my feelings are known, but because of my personal bad blood issues between Digital Dealer and I; I am not going to comment on the fact they've accepted TrueCar as a Main Sponsor. 
I will just read what others say.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 4, 2012 at 9:51am

What I'd really like to see is someone from DD come to this thread and explain.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on March 4, 2012 at 9:35am

@ Thomas:  I'm sure it was a choice.  However, a sponsorship does not guarantee success of a vendor.  Not that I would expect a lawsuit had they been turned down, either, but I counted four other folks on the sponsorship that I don't care for nor find dealer-centric.  Singling them out would have been some risk, perhaps, then.  I don't know.  Whatever DD's reasons, it will be interesting now to see how the dealer body reacts to them there.

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on March 4, 2012 at 9:24am

For the record, I have walked away from profitable car deals for the reasons you mentioned.

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on March 4, 2012 at 9:22am

@ Aj, I would..... if they threatened my industry, the existence of my sales staff, purchased domain names like, and associated with money partners like GRP and Dietz who threatened my friends....Damn Straight I would!

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