In a letter recently sent to dealers, TrueCar Inc. identified several changes the company is making to practices that have alienated dealers. Some of the changes include: •Product Offerings: Shoppers visiting TrueCar’s website now will see prices for a specific vehicle only after they have submitted their names and contact information as leads to TrueCar certified dealers. The company is eliminating the page that formerly listed competing dealerships’ prices. •Dealer Relations: TrueCar’s subscription billing model, currently offered only in select states where required by law, will roll out nationally by year-end as an option for ALL dealers.•Data Security: TrueCar will purge certain consumer information from its databases, and use an outside monitor to ensure that it doesn’t gain unauthorized access to dealership information.•Marketing Messages: TrueCar’s advertising and website, which formerly were accused of denigrating dealers, will seek to portray dealers favorably.
TrueCar’s CEO, Chip Perry, acknowledged that the company had sometimes appeared adversarial to dealers, but is now committed to seeing dealers as the company’s customers. The changes came about after a change in company leadership and following a series of meetings Perry had with dozens of dealers to hear their unfiltered feedback.
Most of the changes are effective immediately for consumers accessing the TrueCar site by computer. Applying the changes to mobile devices will take a little longer. A new advertising message that is more pro-dealer is also expected to begin rolling out later this year.
NJ CAR has raised concerns about the TrueCar business model and whether it: 1) amounts to the unlicensed “buying, selling or dealing in motor vehicles,” which would be prohibited under New Jersey law; and 2) whether the TrueCar business model could expose TrueCar or dealers to enforcement actions in connection with New Jersey motor vehicle advertising regulations. It will remain to be seen if these changes to the TrueCar business model resolve either of these concerns.