Confessions Of An Ex-Cars.com Employee - "Cars.com Takes Dealers' Money & Then Slams Them Behind Their Back"
As a former cars.com employee, here are three of the Santa Monica sites (not sure if they have more now). NOTE: The Santa Monica sites used to power the NewLeadsPlus pay-per-lead program but I'm not sure if they feed the numbers into the Cars.com numbers now when they report leads or VDPs. I was told by a Cars.com employee at one point, that they included the numbers from these sites in their new car lead reporting numbers which brings me to the point I have always said:
Advertisers who say "we aren't about leads" are being condescending to Dealers. EVERY AD is designed for one thing if I am giving you money: To give me more customers to speak to so I can try to sell them. Whether you call those customers "customers" or "opportunities", at the end of the day these are leads. Advertisers stopped focusing on leads and started focusing on VDPs when their lead volumes went in the toilet.
Here are excerpts from the 3 Santa Monica Sites so that Dealers can see for themselves how they are portrayed to the consumer...a.k.a. the potential lead. (Wonder why consumers think ill of Dealers in spite of all the hard work Dealers have done to improve their reputations? Maybe it's because the people you are paying encourage that thought process so that the consumer will trust them before trusting you!) Don't believe it? Read on.
(NOTE THE LOOK OF THE EVIL SALESMAN)
Excerpts from the landing page:
The old fashioned way (basically, this is their representation of the Dealer experience)
1. You can't leave. You're pressured to buy the car today, without the chance to comparison shop.
2. Endless negotiation. You're stuck for hours going head-to-head with a salesman.
3. You're overwhelmed by numbers. APRs, fees, payment schedules—you have to sign right away and there's no time to think.
Your inventory is powering this site from the place that supposedly treats you as important. Really? How can anyone do this in good conscience!
1. "Did you know every New Car has a secret price?"
2. "It's the price you'll never see published in the paper."
3. "Discover the dealer's secret price."
It get's better in the description area when you scroll down:
"Most dealers work hard to offer the public competitive prices. These incentives can grab your attention, but they can also obscure the actual terms you're getting on your purchase."
"Your current car's value can be used to lower the price on your new car. However, most people underestimate their used car's value when going to a dealership. How can you maximize your value?"
They start with many sentences that sound dealer friendly and then WHACH...they remind the customer that even though many dealers are nice, they could get screwed over by some so better just submit a lead because you can't really know which dealers are trustworthy. Read it yourself gang, don't just take my word for it.
Does that sound like the type of actions taken by a site advocating or even supporting dealers? NO - and your inventory is used to power this site too!
This is the only site that actually bears the Cars.com branding and doesn't appear to have anti-dealer language. Interesting that they only put their branding on the site that doesn't make the dealer look like a crook. I wonder why?
The real question is how many of these non-dealer friendly sites are they powering with YOUR INVENTORY? And of their 'partners' like Autotegrity.com, how many partners does Autotegrity share your inventory with...and how many do their partners share with...etc?