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CarGurus and selective rule enforcement

May 10, 2019
1
2
First Name
Matt
Like any UCM, I am always trying to get my cars out there, and make the best impression on as many sites as possible. Lately I've been getting killed by CarGurus and I've found out why.

All of my cars have been pushed into "High Price" or "Over Priced" category because larger stores in the area are selling their cars with conditional pricing. (*price reflects $2000 down payment) This is not allowed according to CarGurus rules, but has persisted for some time now. I've reached out to my rep, but the offending dealers are still listing their cars for $2000 below market price. The real kicker is that one of the largest stores on the east coast, with a massive inventory, is 10 miles away and has completely skewed the local market.

I'm posting this to remind other dealers to CHECK THE COMPETITION! CG is probably going to keep these dealers up as long as they are getting paid. If you see conditional pricing by your competitors, notify CarGurus and threaten to pull your subscription.
 
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mikesayre

3rd Base Coach
Jul 11, 2009
120
113
First Name
Mike
Like any UCM, I am always trying to get my cars out there, and make the best impression on as many sites as possible. Lately I've been getting killed by CarGurus and I've found out why.

All of my cars have been pushed into "High Price" or "Over Priced" category because larger stores in the area are selling their cars with conditional pricing. (*price reflects $2000 down payment) This is not allowed according to CarGurus rules, but has persisted for some time now. I've reached out to my rep, but the offending dealers are still listing their cars for $2000 below market price. The real kicker is that one of the largest stores on the east coast, with a massive inventory, is 10 miles away and has completely skewed the local market.

I'm posting this to remind other dealers to CHECK THE COMPETITION! CG is probably going to keep these dealers up as long as they are getting paid. If you see conditional pricing by your competitors, notify CarGurus and threaten to pull your subscription.

I'd be extremely interested in seeing this firsthand, could we get a zip code to search on CG? At $2k that would have to have a detailed payment disclaimer for the AG (for nearly any state) and would definitely be at the top of great deal searches.
 

Alexander Lau

Banned
Feb 11, 2015
2,493
763
First Name
Alex
Yeah, they're pretty much cocksuckers when it comes to that. I'd complain as much as possible if I were you dude.
 

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
4,067
1,523
Awards
2
First Name
Jeff
Like any UCM, I am always trying to get my cars out there, and make the best impression on as many sites as possible. Lately I've been getting killed by CarGurus and I've found out why.

All of my cars have been pushed into "High Price" or "Over Priced" category because larger stores in the area are selling their cars with conditional pricing. (*price reflects $2000 down payment) This is not allowed according to CarGurus rules, but has persisted for some time now. I've reached out to my rep, but the offending dealers are still listing their cars for $2000 below market price. The real kicker is that one of the largest stores on the east coast, with a massive inventory, is 10 miles away and has completely skewed the local market.

I'm posting this to remind other dealers to CHECK THE COMPETITION! CG is probably going to keep these dealers up as long as they are getting paid. If you see conditional pricing by your competitors, notify CarGurus and threaten to pull your subscription.

I’ve seen dealers play this game across other platforms. A few years ago there was a Kia dealer in the DC region doing this but with $4,000 down, if memory serves me correctly. I made a few phone calls and they were made to change their “pricing strategy.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one making phone calls. This was before there was any good, better, best value tagging. I can see how this can quickly throw off the data averages. I would hope someone at CG get this taken care of right away. I would be making phone calls, while getting other dealers to do the same, until it was taken care of.
 

bpreston

Boss
Apr 29, 2009
68
7
Awards
1
First Name
Bobby
Do you have an example of what this looks like? Checking the competition and not seeing anything that looks like a conditional price, but might be missing it....
 
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Chance Mayfield

Green Pea
Feb 15, 2018
8
6
First Name
Chance
I'd be extremely interested in seeing this firsthand, could we get a zip code to search on CG? At $2k that would have to have a detailed payment disclaimer for the AG (for nearly any state) and would definitely be at the top of great deal searches.

Yeah.. this could get them in deep shit bro. I would push the issue big time with CG if that’s indeed happening
 

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
4,067
1,523
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Jeff
Timely article from Tom Parkland, Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert just posted a quick read/rant over on Jalopnik's website - Why Do Car Listing Websites Let Dealers Post Deceptive Prices?

His rant is legit and one that reflects your exact issue @M_Shaw with CarGurus allowing dealers to post a sale price that reflects a down payment in order to get to the posted sale price, allowing dealers to game the "Good Deal" "Not So Good Deal" labeling. Tom absolutely agrees "It’s certainly a shady practice, and for me, that would be a red flag to take my business elsewhere."

His conclusion being that these vehicle listing sites are possibly allowing this because it's the dealers are their PAYING customers and without their inventory they no longer have a business model. Could this be true? :banghead:

My argument(s) is that it's not only a bad reflection on the dealers playing these pricing games but it also causes a bad experience for the consumer, resulting in negative reflection on the listing site. And if the listing site doesn't think it has any impact on them, they've got their head up their A$$. I've witnessed customers complaining about it first hand, just as Tom is in this article on an extremely popular automotive website.

I guess it could be chalked up to dealers being dealers... but causing other dealers to say hey, if they can get away with it and reap the benefits then why can't we! See the growing issue here? Heck, why stop at $2000 down to game the labeling and not go for another $5-6K down guaranteeing you always having the absolute LOWEST pricing in the market on all of your pre-owned inventory??

You know where else this causes issues? With the dealer's sales employees. Can you imagine having to explain the shady pricing tactic to every used car customer that calls, submits a lead or just shows up?? What a headache to deal with.

@M_Shaw I was doing a bit more research (like it's last day of the month here at the dealership and I have nothing at all better to do... :nono:) and found a few of the dealers in your area playing these games. North Shore Certified being one of these dealers... huge problem here, this dealer DOES NOT point out to the fact that their sales pricing reflects a $1,995 down payment or equivalent trade-in anywhere on a VDP listed on CarGurus. However, they do have it listed out on the very bottom of the VDP on their own website. I don't know the advertising laws for NY, so I wonder if dealers are allowed to get away with this legally.

I found ANOTHER dealership in your area that does the same thing, Victory Mitsubishi. They tack on another $500. Again, NO disclaimer on their VDP listed on CarGurus BUT is found at the bottom of the VDP on their own website - **With approved credit. Terms may vary. Monthly payments are only estimates derived from the vehicle price with a 72 month term, 4.9% interest and $2,500 down payment.
All of their listed "Internet Special Pricing - Limited Time Offers" reflect the $2,500 down.

So basically - the SALE PRICE isn't the SALE PRICE. It's the Retail price MINUS the customers $2,500 down. I don't know about anyone else but I find this to be a blatant lie. NONE of the Sale Pricing for these 2 particular dealers point to any pricing disclaimer. No "?", no click here for pricing disclaimer, not even an *. You have to scroll to the very bottom of each VDP to find this pricing disclaimer.

Again, I don't know NY laws so maybe this is totally legal BUT I can't imagine there's no need for a disclaimer SOMEWHERE on the VDP for each of the listing websites they have their inventory hosted on.

Gunny thing is, it was really easy to find these dealers on Cargurus because BOTH of these 2 example dealers have GREAT DEAL badges with savings of well over $3000 on most of their vehicles.

It would be near impossible to be an HONEST dealer in these regions with so many dealers playing this game.

The question is, whose responsibility is this...
The States to mandate advertising guidelines?
The listing websites to keep dealers from playing pricing games, by default gaming the "Great Deal" labeling and causing a bad experience for the consumer?



Screen Shot 2019-05-31 at 11.25.47 AM.png
 

csabatka1

Rust & Dust
Jan 7, 2013
151
83
First Name
Chad
Timely article from Tom Parkland, Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert just posted a quick read/rant over on Jalopnik's website - Why Do Car Listing Websites Let Dealers Post Deceptive Prices?

His rant is legit and one that reflects your exact issue @M_Shaw with CarGurus allowing dealers to post a sale price that reflects a down payment in order to get to the posted sale price, allowing dealers to game the "Good Deal" "Not So Good Deal" labeling. Tom absolutely agrees "It’s certainly a shady practice, and for me, that would be a red flag to take my business elsewhere."

His conclusion being that these vehicle listing sites are possibly allowing this because it's the dealers are their PAYING customers and without their inventory they no longer have a business model. Could this be true? :banghead:

My argument(s) is that it's not only a bad reflection on the dealers playing these pricing games but it also causes a bad experience for the consumer, resulting in negative reflection on the listing site. And if the listing site doesn't think it has any impact on them, they've got their head up their A$$. I've witnessed customers complaining about it first hand, just as Tom is in this article on an extremely popular automotive website.

I guess it could be chalked up to dealers being dealers... but causing other dealers to say hey, if they can get away with it and reap the benefits then why can't we! See the growing issue here? Heck, why stop at $2000 down to game the labeling and not go for another $5-6K down guaranteeing you always having the absolute LOWEST pricing in the market on all of your pre-owned inventory??

You know where else this causes issues? With the dealer's sales employees. Can you imagine having to explain the shady pricing tactic to every used car customer that calls, submits a lead or just shows up?? What a headache to deal with.

@M_Shaw I was doing a bit more research (like it's last day of the month here at the dealership and I have nothing at all better to do... :nono:) and found a few of the dealers in your area playing these games. North Shore Certified being one of these dealers... huge problem here, this dealer DOES NOT point out to the fact that their sales pricing reflects a $1,995 down payment or equivalent trade-in anywhere on a VDP listed on CarGurus. However, they do have it listed out on the very bottom of the VDP on their own website. I don't know the advertising laws for NY, so I wonder if dealers are allowed to get away with this legally.

I found ANOTHER dealership in your area that does the same thing, Victory Mitsubishi. They tack on another $500. Again, NO disclaimer on their VDP listed on CarGurus BUT is found at the bottom of the VDP on their own website - **With approved credit. Terms may vary. Monthly payments are only estimates derived from the vehicle price with a 72 month term, 4.9% interest and $2,500 down payment.
All of their listed "Internet Special Pricing - Limited Time Offers" reflect the $2,500 down.

So basically - the SALE PRICE isn't the SALE PRICE. It's the Retail price MINUS the customers $2,500 down. I don't know about anyone else but I find this to be a blatant lie. NONE of the Sale Pricing for these 2 particular dealers point to any pricing disclaimer. No "?", no click here for pricing disclaimer, not even an *. You have to scroll to the very bottom of each VDP to find this pricing disclaimer.

Again, I don't know NY laws so maybe this is totally legal BUT I can't imagine there's no need for a disclaimer SOMEWHERE on the VDP for each of the listing websites they have their inventory hosted on.

Gunny thing is, it was really easy to find these dealers on Cargurus because BOTH of these 2 example dealers have GREAT DEAL badges with savings of well over $3000 on most of their vehicles.

It would be near impossible to be an HONEST dealer in these regions with so many dealers playing this game.

The question is, whose responsibility is this...
The States to mandate advertising guidelines?
The listing websites to keep dealers from playing pricing games, by default gaming the "Great Deal" labeling and causing a bad experience for the consumer?



View attachment 4170

It's up to the states to enforce and fine these dealers for violations. It's usually up to other dealers to police this and turn in violations.

Most states are pretty lenient on placement of disclaimers, as long as they are somewhere on the ad (VDP).


In Nebraska this is how their law reads:
(8) To advertise the price of a motor vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer without including all charges which the customer must pay for the motor vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer, excepting state and local taxes and license, title, and other fees. It shall be unlawful to advertise prices described as unpaid balance unless they are the full cash selling price and to advertise price which is not the full selling price even though qualified with expressions such as with trade, with acceptable trade, or other similar words;

(7) To advertise by making the layout, headlines, illustrations, and type size of an advertisement so as to convey or permit an erroneous impression as to which motor vehicle, motorcycle, or trailer or motor vehicles, motorcycles, or trailers are offered at featured prices. No advertised offer, expression, or display of price, terms, downpayment, trade-in allowance, cash difference, or savings shall be misleading by itself, and any qualification to such offer, expression, or display shall be clearly and conspicuously set forth in comparative type size and style, location, and layout to prevent deception;
 
Apr 22, 2009
422
83
Awards
1
First Name
Ryan
It's crazy for me to read this. In Ontario (most regulated province in Canada) we have to advertise a used car like this:

Sale Price + HST (tax) and License fees (not admin... just the title).

OMVIC is the body that polices it and they are TOUGH!!! They run lots of TV advertising training customer to take the advertised price, add 13% and voila... thats your price.

It's a much more sensible model for both dealer and customer.

No more hidden $899 admin fee for the lowest online price.

Hope things change for my friends south of the border.

ALL-IN PRICING --- IT'S THE LAW!!
 
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