Report: TrueCar Drew Hard Line With AutoNation Over Data
The report details a May lunch between TrueCar CEO Scott Painter, President John Krafcik and Senior Vice President of Dealer Development Mike Timmons, and AutoNation COO Bill Berman and Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon. At the lunch, TrueCar executives reportedly said they would require data from all AutoNation sales — regardless if they were generated by TrueCar — for the two companies to continue doing business.
“Over my dead body,” AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson said later, according to Automotive News.
Last week, when Jackson announced the split between AutoNation and TrueCar he laid most of the blame at TrueCar’s “unconscionable and unprecedented” demand for more than 40 data points for each car sold at AutoNation. AutoNation sells more than 550,000 annually at its 240 dealerships across the United States.
The dealer said roughly 3 percent of its sales can be attributed to TrueCar leads, which it charges $299 and $399 per new- and used-car purchase. AutoNation said it pays TrueCar around $550 per sale, for which TrueCar unjustifiably takes credit. TrueCar said internal auditing revealed that they were responsible for nearly 7 percent of AutoNation’s sales.
“We know exactly the degree to which AutoNation underreported,” Painter said. “It’s massive.”
“Customers go many places before and after a TrueCar visit, and just because they were momentarily on the TrueCar site doesn’t mean I should have to pay them $300. So there’s a big disagreement there,” Jackson said.
In a May 23 letter to Berman and Cannon, TrueCar specifically outlined the customer data it was seeking and said it was already “firing” dealers who failed to comply.
“In the trailing 12 months, TrueCar suspended over 300 dealers who did not meet marketplace or customer requirements. We are prepared to take similar action here should AutoNation elect not to follow our marketplace requirements,” the letter states.
TrueCar’s request for data included customer’s names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses in addition to data on the newly purchased car.
Dealers have said turning over such extensive data could lead to privacy concerns and enable TrueCar to steal customers in the future.
AutoNation said it would start up its own portal for customers similar to TrueCar, and would back away from third-party vendors in the future.
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