Community

Share your automotive expertise

2 Write a Blog Post

Opinion: As R.L. Polk considers a sale, CARFAX still faces major challenges.

By Jeremy Alicandri on Mar 16, 2013

REQUIRED DISCLAIMER: This article is based on the opinions of the author and nothing contained herein should be construed as a matter of fact.


At least from my perspective, it seems 2013 is proving to be a difficult year for the folks at CARFAX. After years of being the nation’s top VHR provider, the company is facing serious challenges. Since I began blogging about CAFAX, there have been major developments. These developments include a controversial Automotive News story, a potential anti-trust lawsuit seeking treble damages, and a 20/20 investigative report that nationally portrayed CARFAX’s reports as misleading. But wait! There’s more! CARFAX’s parent, RL Polk, announced the company is for sale!
 

Last year, I published near 10 pages of material outlining what I felt was wrong with CARFAX’s business model. However, I’m going to keep this post short by just providing my opinions and insights of some of the more recent developments:

  • 20/20 Story – While I enjoyed the investigative journalism, from an industry expert’s perspective, I didn’t learn anything new. Both CARFAX/AutoCheck have limitations –neither report is infallible. However, the 20/20 report substantiated(opinion) my November 30 opinion to OEMs where I wrote: “I feel the OEMs are distracting their branding efforts from the reliability of their own certification programs and instead attempting to substantiate the reliability of their vehicles by promoting their association with CARFAX. This is a dangerous practice for OEMs since associations with CARFAX will also associate the OEM’s brand with issues that plague CARFAX.” Ok, so now what? In my opinion, I believe this 20/20 story is just another wake-up call for the car manufacturers to better brand their own Certification programs and reduce their dependence on co-branding with companies like CARFAX.
  • Potential Anti-Trust Lawsuit – Leonard Bellavia is building momentum for an anti-trust lawsuit against CARFAX. From what I understand, Bellavia is claiming that CARFAX used exclusive agreements with OEMs and other companies to force dealers to pay premium charges for VHR reports. Apparently, dealers who join Bellavia’s suit are seeking treble damages. I won’t provide legal advice, but Bellavia provides detailed information on his suit on this website: www.DealerLaw.com (scroll down for the red CARFAX box)
  • R.L. Polk For Sale (or IPO) – While a company executive is quoted as stating: “There was no catalyst that made this happen,” I naturally have my opinions as to why Polk is looking for a new home. Given AutoTrader’s canned automotive IPO, and other factors, it’s my opinion that Polk’s announcement is probably more about finding an exit plan for its owner Stephen Polk vs. an actual IPO. I’m not sure if Mr. Polk wants to retire or continue with his business, but I don’t feel there is Wall Street IPO appeal for this niche company – especially with all the looming issues. But I do feel Polk could be a great acquisition for a big data firm. With that said, I’d like to add that I never met Mr. Polk, but I did have one interaction with him via e-mail that left me with a favorable impression. I do know people who describe him as a friendly and classy industry veteran.

 

If you want to read a more detailed analysis of my coverage of CARFAX, and related articles, below is a timeline of events that started on October 3, 2012 with my first published CARFAX post:
 

CARFAX Timeline:
 

 

*The dates indicated above are right. Any correction, or update to a published post on DrivingSales.com will change the date on the post’s page, thus causing a discrepancy if you compare both. So please refer to the original dates posted above.

Comments

I did like the fact that the consumer advocate on 20/20 rightly mentioned that consumers should still check out the vehicle (i.e. their mechanic). I know that for years I have volunteered to drop the vehicle off at the customers mechanic so it can be checked out and almost none of them take me up on it. I'm sure it is part trust in our operation, but it is also laziness on the consumers part, which is what i see with Carfax. Instead of accepting the Carfax "guarantee" and its many holes. He should have mentioned getting a guarantee in writing, not unlike a certification warranty. On the very rare occasion that a vehicle slips through the crack, the increased trust and sales would more than make up for the hit of a repurchase. MN Dealer

Mar 19, 2013

CarFax has the best system to address concerns associated with negative online entries in the CarFax database. If you have a concern that a specific CarFax entry (in their database) is inaccurate then address the issue on their website by clicking on the "Data Correction Form" link on their home page. They will investigate the issue and communicate with you until a resolution is reached. Their resolution staff is the best in the industry and their system to resolve these issues is exceptional. Yes, there are errors in both CarFax and AutoCheck information databases but the resolutions can be reached if you spend the time to address the issues. There are more positives then negatives associated with CarFax and their staff will genuinely attempt to help you if you give them a chance.

Mar 19, 2013

I think the main issue with the 20/20 report was that the consumer could not detect the issue because it was not in the CARFAX database.

Mar 20, 2013

As always - fantastic coverage jeremy. Looking forward to seeing you next month in NY!

Mar 20, 2013

Thanks Jared!

Mar 21, 2013

Excellent coverage...keep it coming. Thanks.

Apr 4, 2013

Comments 1 - 6 of 6

You must be logged in to comment

Login Create an account

Add your comments:

   

Jeremy Alicandri's Recent Posts

Related Posts

  • 2014 DrivingSales Executive Summit Recap

    For the sixth year in a row, DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES) sold out to an enthusiastic and progressive-minded audience. With the Bellagio Hotel as our venue, we were all treated to an impressive main stage, plenty of space, and exquisite food catering—and, of course, the most advanced content in the industry!   Day One We began the conference earlier than ever before, kicking off at 1:30pm on Sunday, October 12th—and that's not considering our Canadian breakout session sponsored by e-Dealer, Glovebox, and SCI Marketview that started at 8:30am or the Cox Automotive brunch and panel presentation that commenced at 10:30am. DSES indeed had a packed schedule! And then, the audience was shown the 2014 DSES Kickoff Video: Introduced by event emcee, Charlie Volgleheim, the founder and CEO of DrivingSales, Jared Hamilton, provided a high-level overview of Executive Summit, what the attendees could expect from the conference, and a brief look at the auto industry as a whole....Read post

  • DSES: Can You Feel Me Or Is It The Customer Experience?

    DrivingSales Executive Summit 2014 is officially in the books. It was a sold out event once again that enveloped the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas for the better part of three days. Planned was a (digital) star-studded keynote speaker list plus some of the finest breakout speakers, many dealers, for those in attendance. Here's some highlights form the event from IM@CS' perspective: Day One Just as last year, there was a Canadian Breakout Session housing some of the top companies from our neighbors to the north along with some powerful presenters including Grant Gooley and Jeremy Wyant. Jay Radke and Brent Wees definitely brought the "eh" for a second time. Rumor is that next year will be bigger and better (and DSES will NOT be during Canadian Thanksgiving!). After Emcee Charlie Vogelheim’s grandiose welcome of the attendees, DrivingSales' founder Jared Hamilton managed a uniquely powerful opening recognizing a few members of the car dealer community from stage for thie personal tr...Read post

  • Dealerbaby Announces Newest Customer – Blevins Brothers

    Dealerbaby Announces Newest Customer - Blevins Brothers Blevins Brothers Launch Their First Native Mobile App  Saratoga Springs, NY: Dealerbaby (www.dealerbaby.com), a custom mobile app platform for auto dealerships, is proud to announce that Blevins Brothers, an auto group in Ogdensburg, NY has launched their first native mobile app via the Dealerbaby mobile platform.  “Dealerbaby allows us to connect with our customers like never before.  It puts our store literally in the palm of their hands, anywhere, anytime,” said Marc Blevins, Sales Manager at Blevins Bros. Blevins Brothers, a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram dealership, serving Gouverneur, Canton, Watertown, Potsdam and Fort Drum, NY, has been a family run business since 1983. Last year, Blevins Brothers, began looking for a new way to reach current and potential customers. After a thorough review of options, Blevins Brothers, choose to invest in mobile for the following reasons: reach, loyalty, and the future of car bu...Read post

  • DrivingSales Announces Innovation Cup and Dealer Best Idea Award Winners for 2014

     New Car IQ from Pearl Technology wins 2014 Innovation Cup Award and “YouTube Postal Service” from Robert Karbaum E-Commerce Manager, Weins Canada Inc./Don Valley North Lexus, wins the 2014 Dealer Best Idea Award; presented at 2014 DrivingSales Executive Summit     Salt Lake City, Utah – October 20, 2014 – DrivingSales today announced the winners of the 2014 DrivingSales Innovation Cup and Dealer Best Idea Awards. “New Car IQ” from Pearl Technology won The Innovation Cup Award for the most innovative dealership solution of the year. Robert Karbaum, E-Commerce Manager, Weins Canada Inc./Don Valley North Lexus took the Dealer Best Idea Award for “YouTube Postal Service.” This is the second year in a row Karbaum has won the award. The awards were presented in Las Vegas on October 14th at the sold-out DrivingSales Executive Summit (DSES). Over 1,000 dealers and industry professionals attended the three-day event, which concluded on Tuesday.   “It always gives me g...Read post

  • Auto/Mate Integrates DMS with etfile Document Management System, Streamlining Auto Dealer Workflow

    ALBANY, N.Y. – October 20th, 2014 – Auto/Mate Dealership Systems (http://www.automate.com) announced today the integration of its dealership management system (DMS) with etfile's electronic document management solution. Auto dealerships using the etfile document imaging, filing & retrieval system can now receive deals from F&I and Repair Orders (RO's) from service, via real-time delivery from Auto/Mate's DMS. The integration also allows dealers to identify all documents that were not scanned on a given day.   "Auto dealers can create hundreds of documents on a daily basis, and if they're using an electronic filing system the ability to retrieve documents out of their DMS in a timely manner is critical to increasing efficiencies," said Mike Esposito, President and CEO of Auto/Mate Dealership Systems.   "Partnering with Auto/Mate will allow hundreds of dealerships to take advantage of the benefits associated with our document management system, which include saving tho...Read post

  • The Importance of DrivingSales' Exclusive and Community Blog Sections

    If there's one thing that gets me riled up, it's the types and degrees of education in the automotive industry. The car business has always taken care of me, so I try to always take care of the car business. On many of the blogs and networks in our industry, there are sections for exclusive content and separate sections for "community posts" or syndicated content. Both serve an important role and I publish profusely in both. Here's why: Community Content is General There was a time when I didn't agree with posting the same article to multiple places. It seemed obtuse from a search perspective and annoying from a dealer perspective to see the same content republished over and over again on a wide variety of sites. A friend and someone who manages one of the sites changed my opinion on this. He pointed out that content of general interest to the majority of dealers are better served when a post is published in multiple places. While the vendors seem to be on all of the networks, he p...Read post

  • Autosoft Hosts Free System Utilization Training Events for FLEX DMS Customers

    Autosoft, Inc., introduced two new, free training programs to improve customers’ system utilization this summer, and achieved tremendous results. Summer Driving School, a live, weekly webinar series, and Boot Camp, an in-person, hands-on training event hosted at Autosoft’s corporate headquarters in September, were well attended and highly rated by those who participated. More than 1,700 auto dealers and staff attended Summer Driving School, a series of live webinars hosted by Autosoft every week in June, July and August. Each webinar was presented by a software support expert and provided instruction on common dealership processes, including month-end accounting procedures, bank reconciliation, service-to-payroll integration, daily operating controls, franchise financial statements and other frequently performed processes. The series was recorded and is archived on Autosoft’s website for customer access, and more than 800 additional customers have tuned-in to date.Read post

  • Pro Golfer Hunter Mahan Signs Endorsement Deal With Autosoft, Inc.

    PGA TOUR star Hunter Mahan and Autosoft, Inc., a leading software provider to automotive retailers, are proud to announce a new partnership to kick off the 2014/2015 season. This is Autosoft’s first sponsorship of a professional athlete and allows the company to feature Mahan’s name, likeness and image in all marketing and advertising. Mahan will display Autosoft’s logo on his left collar and make an in-person appearance at the NADA Convention and Expo (www.nada.org) in January, 2015 in San Francisco, California. “Autosoft is very proud to team up with such an accomplished athlete as Hunter. He shares our values, and will appeal to our customers with his winning drive, passion for cars, and accomplished golf career” says Bryce Veon, Autosoft’s president and CEO. Hunter Mahan is one of the elite players on the PGA TOUR, amassing six career victories and finishing the 2014 season sixth in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. “I’m excited to have Autosoft as a partner because we share the same winning spirit and commitment to being the best in our respective fields. I’ll also be closer to an industry that I love. One of my passions has always been cars and I look forward to being part of a team that serves dealers.” Read post