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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 language in the Cars.com agreement you probably signed that authorizes them to do this to your dealership.

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 need to get with your dealer and have this re-negotiated out of the agreement. 

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Comments

  • 5:30 AM and the Alpha Dawg is on the Point. Thanks to those on the call yesterday I think we are solid going forward. The video Tim Martell and I made yesterday should be out later today and we'll be sure that gets a lot of play with dealers and decision-makers. I still want to know where CarGurus gets their inventory? We know Cars.com is feeding them your inventory, and probably AutoByTel and a couple of other names we've talked about. Regardless, YOU need to check and see if CarGurus has your inventory on their site, and; if you didn't put it there, and if you don't want it there, YOU need to track down how they got it and have it removed and whoever did it NEVER do it again. That is if you don't want CarGurus having your inventory.

  • That's good to know. They have been trying to get me to sign up with them.

  • 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.

  • TOP SECRET CARS.COM INTERNAL DOCUMENT DISCUSSED

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