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TrueCar Launches National Compliance Campaign and Pro-Industry Product Changes

Sweeping changes include a more balanced advertising approach, revised billing model in some states, consumer membership program, and formation of a Dealer Advisory Council

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — TrueCar, Inc., which is devoted to bringing innovation to the car buying process, today announced a nationwide, multi-faceted strategy to tackle regulatory compliance issues and demonstrate its commitment to state regulators, state dealer associations and to better serve its dealer partners.  Among other changes that are taking place nationally, TrueCar implemented a new flat fee-billing model in the Commonwealth ofVirginia, which has been OK with flat fee billing since January 2001. This change marks a significant step in TrueCar’s ongoing compliance strategy. TrueCar’s proactive modifications will include introducing a new billing model in certain states, adjusting advertising presented through the TrueCar website, establishing a TrueCar National Dealer Council, and launching a new consumer membership program.


TrueCar announced this initiative as part of a “listening tour” by senior company executives that included visits with key constituents including dealer groups, dealer associations and manufacturers across the nation. “These meetings have been incredibly constructive.  We are in the business of innovation.  As such we have to embrace change as part of what we do,” saidScott Painter, Founder and CEO of TrueCar, Inc. “The feedback we have received, both good and bad, will enable us to better serve our dealer partners, and the industry overall. The changes announced in Virginia are a great signal that collaboration with state regulators can result in a constructive outcome for consumers and dealers.”

Compliance is an essential element of TrueCar’s mission. TrueCar has been engaged in discussions with regulators in several states regarding its fee structure and/or advertising issues.  TrueCar is responding immediately to any state concerns as part of a comprehensive national strategy, with a goal of achieving 100 percent national compliance. In the meantime, TrueCar has voluntarily suspended service in Louisiana, Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma in order to make certain changes to improve TrueCar’s service and to protect its dealer partners.  The company expects to have certain changes implemented in January.  “TrueCar’s dealer partners are central to our success and ensuring compliance is the foundation of TrueCar’s strategic commitment to dealers.  We will not put our dealer partners in jeopardy,” said Stewart Easterby, Executive Vice President of TrueCar, Inc.

Subscription Billing Model To Be Rolled Out Nationally

Most states have some version of either bird-dogging or brokering laws on the books.  TrueCar is taking a proactive national approach to this business model issue, shifting to a subscription-based billing model in those states where there is potentially an issue. For example, in California the company will be voluntarily and immediately commencing work on implementing its subscription-based model.

Over the long term, TrueCar will continue to work with state regulators in an attempt to identify ways to update existing laws and regulations to take into account innovation made possible by the digital age.  These innovations include the ability to help dealers achieve accurate performance metrics for their marketing spend and 100 percent visibility into their partners’ performance.

Dealer Management System (DMS) Data Practices

TrueCar is committed to maintaining the highest data standards including limiting the collection of information.  TrueCar does not sell dealer DMS data and does not use dealer DMS data for any purpose other than matching vehicle sales to customer leads and monitoring performance to enhance TrueCar’s service to its dealer partners. In addition to only collecting information with dealers’ permission, TrueCar is committed to working with dealers to enhance dealers’ control over access to and use of DMS data, including limiting the fields of data that are received from DMS to those fields necessary to perform the sales matching function.

Changes to Address Advertising Issues

TrueCar will implement important changes to the website to address certain advertising issues. As part of its commitment to its dealer partners, TrueCar will also develop new messages that focus on important dealer attributes, like proximity, selection and service rather than simply price. “Bottom line is we’re out listening and talking to the industry.  What we heard is that dealers feel our ads focused on price and did not tell a positive enough story about our dealer partners. We’ve listened to their concerns and are making adjustments. Qualitative considerations that drive purchase other than price will have greater prominence in future ads.” said Stephen Hansen, President of TrueCar.

National Dealer Council/Dealer Initiatives

TrueCar is also announcing several changes to take into account feedback and better serve its dealer partners:

  • Effective immediately TrueCar will be enhancing its TrueCar Price Report to enable dealers to more effectively market themselves, by providing consumers and dealers a much more balanced view of the market.
  • TrueCar will introduce its first-ever National Dealer Council in the next few weeks. The Council will serve as an important venue for TrueCar to hear dealer feedback – good and bad – on TrueCar’s products, processes and policies.
  • TrueCar will enable statistical and other tools to identify dealers with extreme price outliers.  TrueCar recognizes that price outliers may interfere with a sustainable dealer/consumer ecosystem and will work to alleviate these issues and include important qualitative factors in the decision process.
  • TrueCar will be making product, policy, and process changes throughout the entire business to enhance dealer confidence in TrueCar.

Consumer Membership Program

TrueCar remains committed to innovating to ensure higher lead quality for dealers and enhanced brand protection for OEMs.  Based on OEM feedback, TrueCar will introduce a new consumer membership program, which TrueCar believes will substantially alleviate the concern. With this change, dealer partners can expect even higher quality introductions from TrueCar. In the end, consumers and dealers benefit.

About TrueCar, Inc.

TrueCar, Inc. is an automotive solutions provider focused on changing how cars are sold by providing a significantly better customer experience while helping qualified dealer partners to gain incremental market share and reduce costs.  TrueCar is a visual publisher of new car transaction data.  TrueCar price reports help both dealers and consumers to agree on the parameters of a fair deal by providing an accurate, comprehensive and simple understanding of what others actually paid recently for a similar car both locally and nationally.  TrueCar works with a national network of dealers that provide up-front, no-haggle, competitive pricing to assist some of the nation’s largest and most well respected membership and service organizations to meet the auto buying needs of their members and customers.  Collectively these audiences represent over 1M in-market customers each month.  TrueCar is headquartered in Santa Monica, CA and has offices in San Francisco, CA andAustin, TX.  With 131 percent annual growth since 2006, TrueCar has helped dealers sell over 400,000 vehicles and is developing a suite of products and services centered on radical clarity as a result of comprehensively analyzing market data and information.

You can follow TrueCar on Twitter and become a fan of TrueCar on Facebook.


This press release and the information contained herein is for noncommercial use on “as-is, as available” basis and may be used for informational purposes only.  TrueCar makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in this press release and the results of the use of such information, including but not limited to implied warranty of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement.  The information contained in this press release may include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors.  Neither TrueCar nor any of its parents, subsidiaries, affiliates or respective partners, officers, or directors, employees or agents shall be held liable for any damages, whether direct, incidental, indirect, special or consequential, including without limitation lost revenues or lost profits, arising from or in connection with your use or reliance on the information presented in this press release.

Available Topic Expert: For information on the listed expert, click appropriate link.

Scott Painter |

Views: 1016

Tags: change, model, press, release, subscription, truecar


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Comment by James A. Ziegler on January 19, 2012 at 4:49pm


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Contact us at 225-769-5500 or

TrueCar Dealer Alert!

It’s been all over the news!  You probably have been hearing the controversy regarding TrueCar and other lead generation programs. We have received numerous calls and emails on this subject.  LADA contacted LMVC several weeks ago to determine what was being done to protect dealers.  

The TrueCar business model is, in many ways, illegal in Louisiana.  The Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission has already called company management in for a meeting and a fine may be forthcoming.  TrueCar has also “voluntarily” suspended operations and advertising in the state.

You may be aware that R.S. 32:1254(A) of the Louisiana Franchise Law requires an LMVC license to become a broker in this state.  Brokers are only allowed to represent the buyer, not the seller.  Contacts must be signed between the buyer and the broker before any service may be rendered by the broker, and no fee may be paid to the broker by the seller.  Only the buyer may pay a fee to the broker.  Additionally, no one, seller or broker, may use the term “invoice” or “dealer cost” in advertising.

We will keep you posted on any changes.  As always, do not hesitate to call (800-375-5232) if you have any questions.

Thank you for your continuing support!


Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association
7526 Picardy Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
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Comment by James A. Ziegler on January 17, 2012 at 8:29am

Scott Painter, Charles Kim and TrueCar staff greet Car Dealers at The NADA Convention in Las Vegas...

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on January 17, 2012 at 7:37am

Well put Matt.

Comment by Matthew Swenson on January 17, 2012 at 7:31am


Other retailers aren't nearly as transparent as auto sales.  I have no idea what it costs Apple to build an iPad or what the individual retail outlets pay to Apple's corporate operations for each unit, other than the amount being less than the $500 it costs consumers to buy one.  I have no idea what it costs for Sears to acquire a set of Craftsman tools.  I don't know how much of a movie ticket's price goes to the studio when I watched The Muppets.  On the other hand, it's incredibly easy to find a very good estimate of what a Honda Civic costs to a dealer.

As I've stated before, it would be easier to trust TrueCar if they (1) were as transparent about their own operations as they are with auto dealers, (2) take action with dealerships that are abusing their system, and (3) adopt a model that does not encourage a "race to the bottom."  TrueCar will not do any of these, because TrueCar is not interested in seeing dealerships as equal partners.

Comment by William Phillips on January 16, 2012 at 10:57pm

Suggestion :True Car operates in the transparent mode it likes so much and disclose to the consumers (upfront) what they charge dealers for the sale along with the dealers cost information.  Explain to the consumers that these costs must be passed along to them in order for the dealership that services and warranties their car can make a profit and stay in business. That nothing is made up in volume with out profit.

Comment by Steven Dietz on January 16, 2012 at 8:29pm

Arnold raises an important point below; "Consumers love TrueCar"  In December, 3.4 million consumers used TrueCar to understand the market price of the vehicles they are buying.  This will increase in January with the Yahoo partnership.  I believe (with only dealer anecdote to support this statement) 25%-35% of consumers are using TrueCar today to help make their purchasing decision and to select the Dealer they want to work with who will provide an upfront price.

TrueCar is not folding anything.  The company is profitable and has cash and credit lines exceeding $100 million. With regulatory uncertainty resolved in Virginia just last week, there are more dealers signed up with TrueCar in Virginia today than there were on December 1 before this Blog started.  The 30 days ended January 15th delivered the highest sales volume in the company's history.

TrueCar has been perceived as a threat to the dealer community for one simple reason.  The perception of "race-to-the-bottom".  Regulatory concerns, data security lies and "Scott Painter is the devil" represent the unsuccessful attempts to make TrueCar go away but they do not address this root problem.

Every other retailer lives in a world of transparent pricing and the successful retailers have figured out how to work with this transparency.  There is no "race-to-the-bottom" in computers, office supplies, furniture or groceries.  The participants in these markets adjust to their market realities and behave rationally.  I believe the auto retailing industry can also succeed in a transparent environment.  In the meantime, the TrueCar team has ideas for mitigating this problem as do participating dealers and a number of alternatives will be tested during the next few weeks.  

There has been a huge amount of time and effort devoted to destroying TrueCar.  Given that it is not going away, perhaps some of this energy and creativity can be devoted to changing / improving it?  I welcome your suggestions.

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on January 16, 2012 at 6:21pm

TrueCar isn't going to "fold their cards".. ever. As for ousting Painter, I highly doubt anyone in this thread or any of the other threads that oppose TrueCar would be satisfied by simply removing Painter as CEO. I'm of the opinion that nothing less than the complete eradication of TrueCar would satisfy many of the opponents, especially the more vocal ones so what would TrueCar have to gain by removing Painter? Nothing on the dealer end.

Consumers are "starting" to get wind of these TrueCar discussions and are siding with TrueCar. As I mentioned really early in this discussion (in the other threads), all those high visibility/activity threads are going to do is reinforce the stereotype of car dealerships to the consumer. Im not trying to take sides, just reporting my observations.

Comment by Brian Pasch on January 16, 2012 at 5:48pm

Understood Arnold but before the fold their cards, wouldn't you consider this?

Comment by Arnold Tijerina on January 16, 2012 at 5:38pm

@Brian... at this point, I doubt it matters at all who the CEO is

Comment by Brian Pasch on January 16, 2012 at 5:36pm

Would it be too much to ask TrueCar investors and their Board of Directors, who want to "change" their perception by dealers, to ask Scott Painter to resign as CEO?  He is the one, recorded on video, that was associated with anti-dealer comments.  Would this be a first step in making a serious change?

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