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Carfax has a very unique business model.  Tell the consumer they need to ask for a “free” Carfax report from their dealer (who then pays a hefty fee).  The exclusivity contracts with and Autotrader helps keep would be competitors at bay.  i.e. Autocheck.

While Autocheck is up to one third the price of Carfax, with virtually the same data, it does not hold the same clout with consumers that Carfax has.  The worst part is that we, the dealers help perpetuate this condition by providing Carfax (who is owned by Polk by the way) with our service data.  I too am guilty of this practice.  As we continue to provide Carfax with vehicle service histories without charging them at the same time as we allow them to sell the data back to us at higher and higher rates.  

Carfax seems to feel they are irreplaceable and non-negotiable.  I am surprised to hear our rep put the Carfax brand ahead of their data quality and quantity when justifying the April 1st price increases.  In fact the data is what we all count on and pay for to protect ourselves and our consumers from damaged goods.

I am curious as to what the dealer body thinks of this situation. Do you freely give them access to your service data?  Are you able to negotiate their monthly fee?  What have you found about their attitude and values?  Is this part of a bigger trend toward Polk owning all automotive related data?  How do customers respond to dealers using just Autocheck?  Does the dealer body have any leverage to protect ourselves from the ubiquity of Carfax and their ability to extract money from us?

Views: 387

Tags: autocheck, carfax, cars, certified, extortion, polk, used


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Comment by Bob Collins on February 24, 2012 at 6:13pm
It is all in the presentation. Carfax has become synonymous with Car History Reports. It has become the generic term used for a Car History reports kind of like koolaid or qtips per se. I switched to Autocheck years ago due to the cost advantage. First off I always provide a Car History report (Autocheck) upfront before a customer asks for one. If they were somehow to request a "Carfax" prior to that we always say we will be more than happy to share the cars history report. We provide the Autocheck and clearly go over it with each customer and to this day have never had one complaint or objection to it. The biggest mistake one can make is when a Carfax is requested is to raise objections such as we don't offer Carfax , We offer Autocheck and then you get into objections that are unnecessary. It is all in the presentation. When someone requests a Carfax what they are really requesting is a comprehensive Car History report with the assurance of a buy back guarantee. I hope this helps and it will save you a bunch of money while still providing your customer with a top quality product in my opinion superior to Carfax.

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