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It's 9:00 AM - Do You Know Where Your Inventory Is?

DID YOU AUTHORIZE YOUR INVENTORY TO BE POSTED ON ANTI-DEALER OR HOSTILE WEBSITES?

5:00 AM and the Alpha Dawg is on the Point. Actually been awake since 4:00 AM. Did you ever have so much on your mind you couldn't sleep because you were thinking so hard? Well, a lot of side issues that came out of this Cars.com battle that are bothering me and I intend to pursue them.


First of all many people reported on the blogs and on Facebook and in Private Chats and Messages. That your inventory was showing up on TrueCar and CarGurus. 

Well, that is troubling. One participant in the blogs emailed a statement that ALL of our vendors, or at least most them, are brokering off our inventory to other websites you didn't subscribe to. OR, perhaps buying and selling your inventory to brokers and listing services where other websites pick up your cars and put them on their own sites. The example they used in the email to me was a listing site the sender claimed to me was brokering your inventory back and forth between these lead generator vendors buying and selling inventory to each other... your inventory, for $6.00 to $12.00 each. I have not investigated fully but I believe there's got to be some truth to that in essence. 

I HAVE NO PROBLEM RIGHT NOW WITH TRUECAR
I think their model revisions are as in line with dealers' best interests as any of the others.

BUT, I have a severe problem with CarGurus. I believe they are anti-dealer and NOT good for us or the consumer... my opinion based on what I have seen. 

CarGurus is an alleged lead generation service that Tells The Consumer whether or Not Your Unit Pricing is a Good Deal or a Bad Deal (in their opinion?) During the course of all of this, one of my dealers discovered his Chevrolet Tahoes listed on CarGurus and labeled as a Bad Deal. The rub is He never gave any inventory listing to CarGurus. According to him, the only vendor he was aware of with his inventory was Cars.com. Have you checked, CarGurus to see if your cars are listed there when you don't do business with them???? 

I am not sure if Cars.com, AutoByTel, AutoTrader, or any of your vendors have the right contractually to do this. I am also researching that. They may be acting strictly within the rights you have signed away somewhere in the deep paragraphs buried in the text of your agreement with them. We will find out.

Here is the questionable language in the Cars.com contract you probably signed that allows them the right to ship out and export your inventory to God knows where to websites with questionable reputations?

4. Content. Customer grants Cars.com a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, transferable, license to access, edit, store, enhance, modify, adapt, translate, copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, publish, perform and display publicly, prepare derivative works of, and otherwise use Content, and to sublicense such rights through multiple tiers. Cars.com reserves the right to modify the Sites and Products, and to edit or reject any Content or portion thereof from use on the Sites or Products in its sole discretion and without notice."

You and your dealer need to get this renegotiated OUT of the contract completely for your protection.

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Tags: Alpha, BDC, Dawg, Generation, Internet, James, Jim, Sales, Supersystems, Ziegler, More…adwords, automotive, autotrader, bootcamp, brian, buy, cargurus.com, cars, cars.com, certified, dealer, dealership, dealix, digital, google, lead, marketing, negotiate, new, nurturing, pasch, strategy, truecar, used

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Comment by Steve Duff on May 11, 2013 at 9:55am

Oh yeah, and this is found on the FAQ page for web2carz.com

Finance:

Why is Web2Carz.com financing better than other options?

Web2Carz.com has a network of dozens of lenders representing some of the industry's most experienced and biggest organizations competing for your business. By using our online form, you are able to leverage our technology and in seconds have your car loan request presented to our entire network.

Our lenders know that you are a Web2Carz.com customer and you are not obligated to use their services. If you are not 100% satisfied, you will take your business somewhere else!

How does the process work exactly?

Upon submitting the loan request form, your information is immediately sent to our lender network. We will also send you a confirmation email that your information was received ok.

Step 1 in our process (the Ping) finds a group of lenders willing to give you an auto loan based on a subset of the information provided, and allows us to narrow down the list to several "best fit" organizations. Step 2 of our process (the Post) submits your complete loan request to the lender that best fits your profile and location.

Once the process is complete, we will notify you via email whether your request was accepted by our network.

=================

I've already had the talk with AT and Cars reps about how we depend on F&I to keep our doors open and profits up, so why are they competing with us? Also on Cars when you click on the finance link, they quote a potential rate and payment. How nice.

Comment by Steve Duff on May 11, 2013 at 9:52am

Update: I found our inventory on http://www.web2carz.com and submitted a lead. It came into our CRM as a Cars.com lead. In the lead details/raw data screen it says "<id source="cars.com" sequence="1">318124035</id>". Clearly marked by Cars.com.

Now I had informed my reps that we wanted to opt out of all feeds. They said no problem, but it would be about 3 days... this lead was submitted within that time frame so no problem there. I'll check in another couple of days to see if they have been turned off.

But the issue I'm looking at is... if that site I mention above is putting leads into my crm that are part of the Cars.com lead count, and assuming that there are many other sites out there that are also part of their affiliate/partner or company owned site network, I can see the value of the monthly spend with Cars.com quickly dwindling as I remove the feed from those other sites. So it might just be better for us to cancel Cars altogether, and we are prepared to do just that. Honestly, in the one and a half years we have been with them, I cannot say that our sales has increased one iota due to cars. So there you have it.

Comment by James A. Ziegler on May 7, 2013 at 8:38am

Comment by Timothy Martell on May 6, 2013 at 2:58pm

Comment by Steve Duff on May 4, 2013 at 7:32am

Ultimately there will only be one answer... to create and then be a part of a co-op of dealers which holds a an almost POA type of contract with the dealers that supersedes or otherwise overrides any vendor contract. It may be that the individual dealers must ride out current contracts with vendors, but when it comes time to renew, the vendor's contract must pass the smell test of the co-op contract and be subordinate to it. The co-op contract of course will have language that addresses all of the issues we are presently discussing (and others as they come up). A true dealer advocacy organization that all vendors will have to answer to. It's about time no?

Comment by James A. Ziegler on May 4, 2013 at 2:37am

A Cars.com representative today told one of my dealers that they could only cancel the inventory feed to CarGurus if they also canceled all of the feed to all of the other websites they're sending your inventory to. EXCUSE ME! That is such a big pile of crap they're serving up there. I view that as a tactic to keep you with CarGurus. Okay, either they WON'T do it... OR... is Cars.com saying they are such a LOW-TECH COMPANY they can't perform such simple operation as excluding individual sends out of the feed. Actually there are some sites I'm sure the dealers would be glad their inventory is sent to if they were given an option. BUT, Cars.com chooses to be so NON-TRANSPARENT as they refuse... as in they refuse... to disclose who all of their affiliate and partner vendors are that they are sending your inventory to.

So much for all of the flowery language like customer friendly transparency, great shopping experience and a list of other buzzwords they use on us. Excuse me, Cars.com, we're ready for you to start giving us a good selling experience and being treated as customers instead of advertisers.

CarGurus and a host of other renegade vendors have the audacity to tell our customers our paid ad is a bad deal by their standards. Most of you never asked anybody to put you inventory on this malicious website to start with. That was Cars.com business deal with them and it's NOT in your best interest.  I'm sick of paying vendors to tell people we're bad and they're protecting the consumers from us and we'll screw you if the vendor doesn't protect you from us.  That goes for CarFax and all of the pigs getting fat feeding at our trough. Finally, The Automotive community is standing up to all of these pretenders and saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. 

We've been told repeatedly that Cars.com is the BEST of all of them. Probably TRUE, and isn't that sad... some of the others must be really really bad. 

Comment by Timothy Martell on May 3, 2013 at 12:36pm

Amen to that! Jim and I have something BIG cooking and its going to drop early next week! We're putting to bed all of the skepticism with facts and hard evidence that will be impossible to ignore! What happens when the Dawg and The Animal team up!? Watch out! 

Comment by James A. Ziegler on May 3, 2013 at 12:06pm

You might be wondering why this page has gone a little quiet today. Well, all I can tell you is we're doing some really-really huge things offline about the Cars.com situation. The Alpha Dawg Tribal Council is working overtime and will be rolling out an intensified campaign next week... there will be a lot of Twitter on the right conference Hash Tags.

Comment by James A. Ziegler on May 3, 2013 at 10:32am

TOP SECRET CARS.COM INTERNAL DOCUMENT DISCLOSED

Comment by James A. Ziegler on May 3, 2013 at 4:24am

I just received an internal document that Cars.com sent to the field staff. It is basically their talking points to answer dealers' questions concerning this Blog. I am flattered, I am mentioned by name in this "Do Not Distribute" internal document. It is two pages and plain English.

One thing I am very pleased to hear is that Cars.com does NOT sell "Leads" not to anyone. They do however, in the document discuss "Their Affiliate" sites and YES, CarGurus does receive an inventory feed amongst others they feed out. Of course the document I have says "CarGurus is focused on a great shopping experience and helps dealers reach serious shoppers".

Okay, of course I contend they don't offer the DEALER a great selling experience.

Regardless, Cars.com refers to CarGurus as a "Partner" and they also mention another partner "Autotegrity" that I am unfamiliar with.

This document is clever in that it says "The dealer can opt-out of the CarGurus feed" by calling (888) 252-7731 or online at Support@Cars.com

BUT it also says they will NOT provide a list of their partners to dealers. This is their version of transparency I suppose. They will give up CarGurus (Because we've already outed them) BUT THEY WILL NOT disclosure who their other partners are. (until we 'out' them one at a time I guess) The document also mentions their "Santa Monica sites" may be selling a small percentage of leads to third parties. BUT Cars.com only sells leads to dealers. (AND, of course as of this week, they only sell that lead to the dealer that paid for it once)

Now, this document is labeled FAQs for Internal Use Only... No need to say how I came by it. I suspect however, they actually wanted me to have it. It might have actually been written for me to see. All of the language in the document talks about customer shopping experience and why these policies are good for dealers BUT there are many issues it does NOT address such as what monetization does Cars.com receive by these "Partnership" and "Affiliate" relationships? Are you guys at Cars.com just shipping dealers' inventory to undisclosable sources because you want the dealers to have more exposure as the document says? OR is there some profit motive that is not discussed here. Is all of this Partner and Affiliate action FREE like a barter system? OR is someone cashing in somewhere in this relationship with all the customer rosy language surrounding it?

I will not publish the document because I have it in paper with watermarks and identifiable things that might compromise who gave it to me.

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