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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 Ralph Paglia on May 6, 2012 at 12:52pm

David, thank you for sharing the traffic report for TrueCar... Although I have no insider information, I would imagine that this chart also reflects the reach and frequency of TrueCar's advertising media.  It seems that as their advertising peaked in December, their traffic peaked in direct correlation.  I personally no longer see the TV commercials that were so prevalent last November December and January for TrueCar.

Comment by David DeSantis on May 6, 2012 at 10:07am


       The graphic really shows the drop.

Comment by Jason Manning on May 5, 2012 at 7:37pm, showing traffic down at  Invest wisely:

Estimated percentage of global internet users who visit

  Reach Change
7 day 0.0062 -5% Change in Reach over the trailing 7 day period
1 month 0.0067 +4% Change in Reach over the trailing 1 month period
3 month 0.00694 -40% Change in Reach over the trailing 3 month period
Compare to:

Comment by Tom Gorham on May 3, 2012 at 9:51am

Welcome back Jim and I'm glad you're feeling better!

Comment by James A. Ziegler on May 3, 2012 at 5:47am

My apologies for my lack of visibility here recently. I had to deal with some issues following my March surgery which took precedence.

I am now back up at full speed and ready to continue to address the challenges we're all facing. I have painfully labored over my lengthy report I am writing titled... "Data Wars, Battle of Armageddon" addressing the vendors and data pirates in the auto industry. 

Although TrueCar will be a centerpiece, it will go deep and cover the entire gamut of data misappropriation and misuses. I can predict with authority a bigger response than the TrueCar issues received originally. JIM

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 12, 2012 at 10:06am

Ralph, I agree.  Reviews used to happen at the kitchen table, in restaurants, get-togethers and social gatherings.  Now they occur on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 12, 2012 at 9:31am

Manny - Where do you think Friends/Family/Word of Mouth comes from? Hint: the media used by friends, family and people who know each other to share opinions and product recommendations...

Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 12, 2012 at 8:03am

I am personally, for now, going to need to at least pause my discussions on this blog.  I'm investigating a relationship with a vendor, and I don't want anything I write to be misconstrued in that process.  There are no data issues with this other company, as they don't use 3rd-party data nor involve the DMS.  Good luck to all of you, and if this falls through then I'll be back!  Just being ethical.  Thanks!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 10, 2012 at 2:31pm

@ Jason:  RIGHT ON, my brother.  Well said.  It's **TIME**.

Comment by Jason Manning on April 10, 2012 at 2:09pm
My customers are not as much interested in saving money as they are time. You can take a whole month's pay from me and it will hardly affect me as much as taking one month worth of my valuable time. I can turn around and make more money in many different ways...with my valuable time. I can never make more time. Vendors can chase the dollar savings for consumers all they want. Those savings rank low in comparison to time savings. That will become more prevelant as we move forward into the future. Quality is another time factor. How much time did the dealer spend reconditioning my preowned purchase? The consumer's time is highly limited. Their money...not really.

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