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My Response to the Many Concerns I've Received Regarding Craigslist Block on Mass Posting Tools

Craigslist blocks on auto uploads, mass population tools and templates.  A system of checks and balances in software 'law' - Terms of Use

I have no desire to build an automated posting tool that violates the terms of use of another software company (Craigslist). Keep in mind, Craigslist is not a lead source provider, it is a mostly free, "bottom up" oriented classified website. That being said, do we want dealers to be able to sell their products and services on Craigslist? Sure - Our entire philosophy is to make it easier for buyers and sellers to connect. However, just like Auto Dealers know that we can never replace the emotional aspect of buying a vehicle, so does Craigslist about their advertising. There's a personal touch aspect that the developers of Craigslist do not want to lose to automation and mass posting mechanisms. Each time that a software company develops a way to violate Craigslist Terms of Use, Craigslist will fire back with a block; a means to protect the virtue of their product.

It is very unethical to violate Craigslist terms of use. I don't believe in free lunch; no pain no gain.


So what does this means to auto dealers? It means that they may need to put a little elbow grease into posting their inventory on Craigslist; this could mean adding a staff member or allocating this responsibility to an Internet or BDC manager. Our most valuable assets are our integrity and the integrity of our staff, vendors and advertising sources.


I’ve decided to take an alternate path and train our dealership personnel to properly upload their vehicles to Craigslist and abide by their terms and conditions. We will always ask this question and decide: is it just, fair, and right to do what we intend to do and put ourselves in their (Craigslist) position. The answer is obvious. We will prosper and grow when we obey their 'laws' even if we don't like them.

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Tags: Craigslist, Posting, Terms, Tools, Unethical, Use, automated posting, automation, cars for sale, inventory, More…of


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Comment by Alexander Lau on April 10, 2013 at 7:41am

Penny, touché.

Again what works for one group might not for another. Seems as if started to get a bit too greedy and like anyone taking too much advantage of a system, they were burned. It happens there, it's all too common. There is plenty of gray area in what's deemed as a "quality" advertisement and its genesis. 

Comment by Penny Vettel on April 10, 2013 at 7:36am

Alexander, there was a recent 'blow up' with the uploads to Craigslist, and I am not sure it is a nationwide problem, but it bit quite a few stores in the Greater Cincinnati Area. They went to work last Friday and found out their Craigslist uploads were blocked.. done.. fini... So I decided to take some time and try to figure out the core of the problem.  It turns out that the development team at Craigslist is committed to maintaining their business model and the uploads are blocked due to violation of their terms of use.  Consequently I tended to agree with their motivation. Rules are rules.

But, it doesn't mean that everyone needs to panic and shut down their used car departments!! I advised them to utilize some of the free time (ready and available in the sales department) and put some sales people to work.  It is a great exercise for salespeople to embrace how to market vehicles online, it's a positive!

I know, I know; Now I am going to have a flood of car salespeople saying that they work every minute of their 12 hour shift and have no time whatsoever to help market the vehicles that they stand to profit off their sale... But they know I will disagree

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 10, 2013 at 7:34am

Alexander: You say “It's not about defeating anything….”  I suggest that it is exactly what is intended.

“…creating a process that works within the confines of a systemic mechanism…….”

If a sign on my door asks that you remove your shoes when you enter my home, I would hope that after you take your muddy shoes off that you would not set them down on my carpet even though I did not specifically ask you not to.

Because I did not specifically ask you not to will not prevent me from asking you to leave.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 10, 2013 at 7:25am

Penny, if that process suffices for your needs, I'm glad you're happy with it. By no means trying to create a battle. However, what works for one dealer, might not work for another. Obviously, no one wants to get banned / ghosted. 3rd party management, like anything else, all depends on their processes as well. It's not a matter of blasting all of your inventory at once, generally it's a drip-feed process used. Wow, can't believe you had tons of calls and it overwhelmed you, seems like a good problem to have, a lot of dealer would LOVE it...! :-)

Comment by Penny Vettel on April 10, 2013 at 7:06am

My answer to the recent surge of questions around how to upload inventory to Craigslist now that they have begun to shut down third party feeds is quite simple; Sit down behind your computer and upload your vehicles, 15 per day, in compliance with Craigslist terms of use. Craigslist want to maintain a consumer-to-consumer environment, they have no desire to become a business portal.  Furthermore, from personal experience, I did not see any benefit in third party mass uploads to Craigslist.  This method generated a lot of phone ups but did not generate more sales.  If anything, the flood of low quality calls demotivated the sales staff and wasted their time.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 10, 2013 at 6:57am

@Thomas, you're right unethical business practices aren't uniform across the board, but it's still fairly prevalent. I was making light of the fact that it's nothing unusual per se.

It's not about defeating anything, it's about creating a process that works within the confines of a systemic mechanism, in this instance Craigslist. It's absolutely no different in SEO. Don't think for one minute, Google wants you to organically succeed within SERPs. It's the same dirty process. 

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 10, 2013 at 6:52am

I strongly disagree with your take Alexander. An entity has every right and expectation to maintain it’s digital property the way they have designed it to be. While defeating the intended results of the Terms of Service may be possible, it does not make it right. The same amount of time and resources spent on an ethical endeavor will likely produce lasting results. Not all dealers are part of the culture you reference when you wore your “pointy hat”…..Many are working hard to put as much distance as they can between those that take advantage of a weakness and those that embrace integrity.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 10, 2013 at 6:01am

Exactly Ken! Excellent point...!

Take zero offense, but I've measured this process to work / sell cars. From my experience, there was and is an absolute direct correlation between the inventory feed push processes utilized and many used car sales. It's up to you to figure out how to stay listed on Craigslist or any medium that better enables you to sell vehicles. 'Terms of Use' is all relative.

This surely reminds me of "SEO" and playing the gray hat card. The fundamental concept of "SEO" is exploiting a flaw in a search engine’s ranking algorithm. The difference between white and black hat tactics is merely a function of where Google decides to draw a line, and this line is at least somewhat arbitrary. 

*Puts on pointy and shiny sarcasm hat: "Automotive retailers using unethical business practices, you don't say???" 

Comment by Ken Luna on April 9, 2013 at 6:59pm

"It is expressly prohibited for any third party to post content to craigslist on behalf of another. Users must post content only on their own behalf, and may not permit, enable, induce or encourage any third party to post content for them."

The answer is for the "service" provider to teach the dealership personnel on how to post to Craig's List themselves. It can be time consuming, but for certain makes. models, and pricing, it can be well worth the effort.    

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 9, 2013 at 4:52pm

Penny, kudos!  And thank you!  It seems many dealers spend an awful lot of time and/or money trying to game other companies and consumers, whether it be Craigslist, Google, or the review sites.  For a short time, they are on top of the hill until they fall like a ton of bricks.  Then it's time to look for a new way to play the game.  I appreciate your straightforward ethical approach.

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