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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 24, 2011 at 8:59am

Wishing all of you a Merry  TrueChristmas and a  Happy TrueNewYear...

Comment by Rob Fontano on December 23, 2011 at 5:36am
That's o.k. Jim, we'll blame it on the eggnogg ; )
Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 23, 2011 at 5:31am

I apologize to everyone that I broke one of my own rules and fired back at Michael Timmons the TrueCar executive.

Also I put up a Pinocchio Photoshop picture, which I also took down, that too is ordinarily not my style, although it was funny.

I feel bad because I know the only reason a TrueCar representative would show up here is to engage us. There's an old saying... "Never wrestle with pigs. You'll only get dirty...and the pig likes it." 

BUT, when Timmons surfaced briefly I saw something that bears a lot of renewed attention...

Taken from Mr. Timmon's job description he posted on his LinkedIn page.

~The next milestone will be the launch of TrueTrade, a division dedicated to empowering consumers with valid trade values and assisting with the disposition of their current vehicles. Our vision is to help empower both the consumer and the marketplace by providing clarity through price transparency so that people can buy and sell cars with confidence.~

He's an ex-AutoNation top executive still living in AutoNation headquarters town... Mike Maroone president of Autonation, still on the board at Truecar? Notice the introduction of the next step in Truecar evolution he mentions "TrueTrade" launch coming? 

In the beginning there was speculation that TrueCar might be an AutoNation grab for the entire retail business, are we revisiting that now? 

Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 23, 2011 at 4:59am

Before this is over...I predict government regulators will lock down many sources of loose data floating around. TrueCar data comes not only from our dealers DMS but from other sources that originally lifted the data from a dealers' DMS. I don't want to name those sources now because it would take the focus off of TrueCar and start too many side fragmented conversations. Just remember I said this.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on December 22, 2011 at 8:35pm

See yet another condescending "We don't get it" from TrueCar . . . I mean AutoNation . . . I mean TrueCar . . . I put this up from DealerElite because this site has seen the most interaction  from TC employees.  We've even had a TC investor come here and smilingly tell us this is just like buying a washing machine . . . well, it'll be a lot of washing to get that BS cleaned out.  Anyway, here's the screen snap, including yours truly:

Comment by Jason Manning on December 22, 2011 at 8:28pm
Dealers are the air that TrueCar (and every other vendor) breathes. Take away the air (data...and consumers-we give them with our INDUSTRY) and you cannot survive. Suffocate us and we will fight. Threaten us and we will defend ourselves. Attack us...and well, you know... You'll see our industry come into focus. Can you see us yet? Can you see our importance? Can you see why we care about Sales Associates so much? TrueCar, you weren't with us all along the journey. You just got ahold of our history (data) and thought you could erase us. Your arrogance was your mistake. Our customers don't like arrogance...and neither do we.

Vendors have had their run. It's time to strenghthen local dealers. We have to get more intelligent, genuine and secure. I gotta tell you, I'm over transparency as a foundation for business and relationships. We have so much more to offer for trust. Transparency is a simple veil that gets lifted. Trust goes to the core of business foundations.
Comment by Jerry Thibeau on December 22, 2011 at 8:01pm

I heard a rumor today that a good size dealer in Massachusetts was fined for advertising violations using TrueCar.  I do not want to say a name, but perhaps the source who gave me this info can shed more light on this.  Anyone heard about this?

Comment by Matt Tucker on December 22, 2011 at 5:53pm
Ha! I can hear him saying : "I'm a real entrepreneur now!"
Comment by Rob Fontano on December 22, 2011 at 4:04pm

When you decide to take on the most resilient men and women in the country, just to feed your own narcissistic desires, You get what you get!

Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 22, 2011 at 3:38pm

All I can say is watch what happens next!  These people were so arrogant, smug, and condescending they never realized what was going to happen.  Painter's superiority complex will haunt him for the rest of his life. It's over TrueCar. 

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