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A modern auto-indudtry spin on the Dickens' Holiday classic.

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Comment by James A. Ziegler on December 23, 2011 at 5:39am

I apologize to everyone that I broke one of my own rules and fired back at Michael Timmons the TrueCar executive.

Also I put up a Pinocchio Photoshop picture, which I also took down, that too is ordinarily not my style, although it was funny.

I feel bad because I know the only reason a TrueCar representative would show up here is to engage us. There's an old saying... "Never wrestle with pigs. You'll only get dirty...and the pig likes it." 

BUT, when Timmons surfaced briefly I saw something that bears a lot of renewed attention...

Taken from Mr. Timmon's job description he posted on his LinkedIn page.

~The next milestone will be the launch of TrueTrade, a division dedicated to empowering consumers with valid trade values and assisting with the disposition of their current vehicles. Our vision is to help empower both the consumer and the marketplace by providing clarity through price transparency so that people can buy and sell cars with confidence.~

He's an ex-AutoNation top executive still living in AutoNation headquarters town... Mike Maroone president of Autonation, still on the board at Truecar? Notice the introduction of the next step in Truecar evolution he mentions "TrueTrade" launch coming? 

In the beginning there was speculation that TrueCar might be an AutoNation grab for the entire retail business, are we revisiting that now? 

Comment by Paul Smith on December 22, 2011 at 6:05am

Who would have "thunk it"...a parody video clip would get this much attention, folks leaving the ADM family and comments in a 24 hour period?  I am glad we have a unique site where all personalities can express, share and even disagree at.  I think it's time for another video and some red wine...lol

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 22, 2011 at 5:36am

Chip - Commenting after drinking a couple of glasses of wine should be prohibited... Maybe I need one of those breathalyzer interfaces hooked up to my laptop to prevent me from making mistakes like that! (I edited my comment to correct) - It is too bad that Michael Timmons left the ADM Community... I value diversity of opinion.

I think that Michael and a few others make the mistake of confusing ADM with sites like AutoNews.com or the Wall Street Journal and expect us to have strict editorial standards.  That is not what ADM was set up for... We are more like the "Mosh Pit" of the car business!

Comment by Chip King on December 22, 2011 at 4:36am

Ralph- it was not I that has issue with posting the "embarrassing comments and pictures"... the more the better---keeps me from having to read the newspaper! I have a collection of SS blogs which I re-read when I start to take all this too seriously.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 21, 2011 at 8:48pm

Brad - I personally enjoy your humor and I believe a lot of other people do... Please keep those videos coming, many of us thoroughly enjoy watching your clips and their deep insight into the car business (usually)...

Comment by Brad Alexander on December 21, 2011 at 8:11pm

@ralph- well said sir. Glad you posted that comment.  ADM is a diverse group; insights, experiences and opinions certainly vary and we can all learn from one another.  I would hope that my, sometimes sophomoric, attempts at humor would be looked upon as just that, attempts to add a note of levity in a stressful business.  Truecar has sparked some spirited discussions and has brought some new passionate energy here.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on December 21, 2011 at 8:00pm

Michael - I am sorry about the embarrassing comments, pictures, etc... Much like a true democracy, hosting an uninhibited, open and uncensored forum for automotive professionals can be a bit messy at times.  There are many other communities which do a great job of moderating and controlling what people are allowed to post, and I applaud the curation and management of those networks and sites.  However, when i created the ADM Professional Community, my actions were prompted by getting kicked out of another online network (which has since closed down), my contributions to that other community were deleted but the 300 people I had convinced to join it were kept and welcomed by the administrator who booted me for expressing my automotive technology product opinions...

Soooo... When I created this network, I committed to everyone I invited that ADM would not censor or moderate, except in the area of obscenities, pornography, spammers and other such non-relevant and abusive activities.  So, you can imagine how many times I have "winced" at what ADM members have posted, but bit my tongue and restrained my cursor from deleting in the name of our "Censorship Free" policy.

I do understand that this can create disappointment, and my only request is that you and others speak out and comment on anything posted to decry it's inappropriateness or irrelevancy, or simply that you strongly disagree! Because, after all, freedom from censorship works both ways... You are free to criticize anything, or respond with counterpoints in any manner you choose without fear of moderation or censorship...  In fact, I try to make a point of featuring dissenting and minority opinion so that it is less likely to get lost in a sea of opposing opinions, if they are the majority of visible content.  We appreciate your participation and hope you will continue, and express dissenting views when you have them.

Comment by Michael Timmons on December 21, 2011 at 7:40pm

Chip--I appreciate your thoughtful post but after viewing some of the unprofessional, and yes, downright embarrassing comments and pictures over the last hour I realize that my interests and the interests of ADM are sadly misaligned. My interest in joining was to hopefully share some of my findings in the many consumer focus groups I have been involved in over the years, debate current and future business practices and openly engage with automotive professionals.  I would be happy to continue discussions privately if you wish to email me or chat on Linked in. Good luck in the  coming year and I wish you and yours a happy holiday.

Comment by Chip King on December 21, 2011 at 12:03pm

Michael-- It appears that we will soon have no choice! And that is not necessarily a bad thing.There is no question that this is a self inflicted wound. We are in essence getting there on our own, by creating an environment that allows 3rd parties to come between us and our customers. This alone will bring the inevitable change. These discussions have been incredible eye openers, and I value your input and the sometimes very thoughtful input from bloggers like Jeremy Alicandri, Jerry Thibeau and others... (though one or two others have been downright embarrassing!) I certainly am learning as I read from all extremes. Some of my conclusions so far follow..

The reality that we have negotiated our way to the bottom has never been more apparent. Our customers distrust us to the point of seeking "Protection" from us. They don't believe us or even you when cost is disclosed. And how surprised should we be when even the manufacturers create obviously deceptive language like "Hold Back", "Advertising Assistance", "Dealer Rebates" in an effort to allow the dealer body to operate profitably under cover.

And, if the purported "email from a former exec at TrueCar" is anywhere near true, the distrust is even well placed regarding the integrity of the lead providers....the "algos" are designed to send the customers to the dealers that have the highest closing ratio and not necessarily the best price?? Further I find no measurement of the quality of the experience for the customer in the decision where to send the leads. Would that information be of equal value if presented accurately and objectively?

The need to create profit from this mess has forced many dealers into another pending train-wreck--even less transparent roads to profit with trade manipulation and finance creativity. I am sure there are plans afoot to protect the consumer in this arena (at a profit) as well.

In a world where the price is the price, the finance package costs what the value received is, the trade value is driven by the local market, and the customer is provided good choices for the optional other products that best fit their needs....we can get back to the real competition between us.... Who sells the best cars (New and Used) and who provides the best overall experience for the customer that is purchasing one the 2 most expensive things they will ever buy?

Afterthought- It would be naive to not consider the power that the dealers and manufacturers provide the buyers with financing packages---certainly a large percent of car buyers would have to spend inordinate extra time arranging outside financing, often at considerably worse interest rates, or perhaps not be able to arrange financing at all-- and ask any customer that has had a breakdown outside of the manufacturer's warranty if the OEM or Dealer Provided Extended Warranty out performed the one they bought on TV....

Welcome your thoughts...

Comment by Michael Timmons on December 21, 2011 at 11:02am

Chip,

Over the last 25 years I have held nearly every position in the Automotive Industry from new car salesman to executive officer and the profitability of the dealer has always been paramount. I also believe that profits must be maintained by adhering to honest business practices (like transparency,great service and consistent pricing) but unfortunately that is not always the case. If I, as a father, needed to pay an additional $300 for their protection it is money well spent. If, as a dealer, I could get my customer acquisition cost down to $300, I would be ecstatic. Many of my closest friends own dealerships, as much as I love them, they all have different views of what the customer wants and how to service them. Do you believe that as a dealer body, the industry will ever get to consistent pricing on its own?

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