GreenGiant

An Open Letter to Auto Trader

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Dear Auto Trader

 

What on earth have you done?

 

Back in the rosy, halcyon days of last summer, we (YOUR paying customers) were able to advertise our stock on your website by adding some simple details via your Dealer Portal. Other than a few minor adjustments via tick boxes to optional extras, the specification that was displayed to the car buying public (OUR paying customers) was sufficiently accurate to ensure that the full details of each and every car was displayed properly.

 

Whilst we have grumbled about the prices you charge, we understood that a premium product had a cost attached and, in the absence of a credible alternative with the market share you have, we reluctantly kept handing over the cash. Albeit safe in the knowledge that you would provide us (again, YOUR paying customers) with leads that, subject to our varying abilities and skills, would lead us to a profitable sale.

 

Then you went and spoilt everything.

 

You made two important changes that have seriously damaged your credibility and made our lives a whole lot more difficult. Firstly, you, without warning, switched your supplier of vehicle data. Secondly, you offered the car-buying public (remember: OUR paying customers) ‘valuations’ on everything – their cars, our cars, your mum’s car, everything.

 

Now, in order to advertise a car, what used to take a couple of minutes takes an eternity. The model/derivative descriptions and standard/optional specification you (via Glass) offer for huge numbers of vehicles is, quite frankly, rubbish. I won’t go into details about just how bad it is, because we already know – and you should already know. Despite many complaints and demands for action, you have, as yet, done nothing to rectify it. We have been told that you hope to have it sorted by Easter. Six months after making the change. I know that this will not happen. I suspect that you know this will not happen. But still you persist. I do not believe that Glass have the necessary resources in place to provide you with what you thought you were getting.

 

It is difficult to understand why you took this hugely erroneous step of changing your vehicle data supplier from CAP to Glass. Surely somebody must have checked that the accuracy and level of detail was adequate? I can only assume it was a cost-cutting exercise but, with the gift of hindsight (available for tuppence a bucket, don’t you know), you must now realise what a dreadful decision it was. And you’ve signed up for ten years!! Seriously?

 

And the ‘Valuations’…

Words almost fail me. Almost.

We are Motor Trade Professionals. It is our job to buy and sell vehicles. We do it quite a lot and have done for a very long time. We know how to value a vehicle.

At no time did we specifically ask you to tell our customers how much we might have paid for the car that they are looking to buy. Especially, and this is the nub, when the information you provide is spectacularly wrong and based upon a misguided view of the marketplace, using flawed data.

 

I am not interested in how you think you are helping our customers by providing ‘transparency’. I didn’t ask you to do this and it provides no benefit in reality to your customers (remember? US). It creates confusion, distrust and, ultimately, costs us business. Therefore, as I am YOUR customer, I am asking you to stop. I do not want you to do this for me. I am not paying you to do this. I can do it for myself if I wish to. So pack it in.

 

You have received many, many complaints about both of the above changes; complaints which you have not addressed satisfactorily and/or ignored completely. Nobody in a senior position in your organisation has had the guts to go public and admit you might have got it wrong. You are just continuing at full speed down this dead-end street, disregarding the opinions and feelings of your customers. When will you understand how wrong and stupid that is?

 

The final insult you have thrown at us is your decision to increase your charges (in many cases disguised within new ‘packages’). Frankly, this really is a Right Royal P**stake.

You have decided, in amongst all this, that you feel justified in charging us more for a substantially worse product. Your justification for this I would really love to hear. Or maybe I wouldn’t, as I wouldn’t believe a word of it anyway.

 

I am not alone with these thoughts. There are others who are too busy or are unable or unwilling to raise their head and voice their complaints. There will also be many who consider progress has to happen, whatever the cost. And that I should stop whinging and flog some motors. However, you have abused your position of market dominance and are taking your customers for granted. This is foolish and must stop. I, and many others, are seeking alternative ways of marketing our products and we will not hesitate in pulling the plug on you as soon as possible if nothing changes. It strikes me that you won’t necessarily give a chuff about that, as you see yourselves as being able to afford a bit of a bleed from the subscriber base, as ‘we need you more than you need us’. Apparently.

 

Don’t cover your eyes for too long though…

 

 

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we've come to the conclusion here that the top suits at autotrader dont even drive so how would they know what customers (thats us as we pay their wages) want,frankly ive despaired at this malaise longer than i care to remember

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I notice that you haven't posted this on the Auto Trader forum (which conveniently is much harder to find now that they have 'improved' Dealer Portal) - were you intending to?

 

For those of you with a Dealer Portal login, their forum can be found here:

 

https://explore.autotrader.co.uk/forums/?forum=general-discussions

 

If you don't use the forum perhaps one of us could post it on your behalf?

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I notice that you haven't posted this on the Auto Trader forum (which conveniently is much harder to find now that they have 'improved' Dealer Portal) - were you intending to?

If you don't use the forum perhaps one of us could post it on your behalf?

Tbh, I'm at the stage with them that I can't be arsed anymore. They don't listen. So there's no point.
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Hello,

 

Thanks for taking the time to share your honest feedback.

 

We’re sorry to hear about the problems you've had in recent months. Please be assured we’re working hard to iron out any outstanding issues on stock presentation. Could you please refer your specific concerns via your Auto Trader representative, or through Portal, where our team will be best placed to respond?

 

We also appreciate your concerns on valuations, but equally how important it is for potential buyers to get everything they expect in one place - to smooth their journey to you. The reality is that in the new information age there are a myriad different valuation sources that buyers  find online – and which they use. Our aim in providing this tool is to help drive business, something that I am glad to report we continue to do with increasing stock levels and the generation of more leads. In January for example we reported a 6.3% year on year increase in full page ad views for retail partners.

 

We don’t always get everything right, and we are genuinely sorry to read your comments. But we are committed to providing a better service and helping your business succeed, even if it may not always seem that way. Please do make direct contact and we’ll do everything we can to help address your specific concerns.

 

Many thanks,

 

Bethany

Auto Trader

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Bethany

 

No point talking to a representative as I haven't got one. I tried talking to the telesales person who deals with my account and even she was confused by the pricing stucture.

You say AT care but it seems it only cares at a cost. I dropped a product and was told that I would cost 50% more if I wanted that produce in the future, basicly trying to scare me into keeping that product. 

 

I put it to you that you don't care, why don't you personally make direct contact with us? Everyone in the trade is saying the same yet AT carry on as before because you are the market leader. Please explain why cost is going up whilst service is going down??

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Bethany, I would say firstly it's good of you to reply here on our forum, as I'm sure you read on many threads on here there's much concern about how the AT team treat us their loyal customers.

Could we perhaps have a new topic on this forum where we can suggest ideas to help improve what we get from AT?

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I notice that you haven't posted this on the Auto Trader forum (which conveniently is much harder to find now that they have 'improved' Dealer Portal) - were you intending to?

 

For those of you with a Dealer Portal login, their forum can be found here:

 

https://explore.autotrader.co.uk/forums/?forum=general-discussions

 

If you don't use the forum perhaps one of us could post it on your behalf?

Hello,

 

I notice you mention the new forum within Explore is now harder to find. We would like to contact you to discuss your feedback in further detail. We are keen to listen to all suggestions and idea's in order to improve the overall user experience. 

 

We'll be in touch shortly.

 

Many thanks,

 

Bethany

Auto Trader

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I'm biting my tongue for now. Except to say thank you to 'Bethany' (if that is your name) for the response.

Shame it doesn't answer any of the points raised

 

Anyway, I've said my piece - what do others think?

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I'm pleased to say, I now don't know what you are talking about! After jumping ship approx 4 months ago and maintaining the same level of business we was whilst with AT! I feel so happy to not be part of their brainwashed customer base! Again I say to people; VOTE WITH YOUR WALLET!!!

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I agree with every word said by Green Giant, I have posted many a comment on Autotraders Forum on the same subject normally with a pathetic reply of how Bethany "understands my frustration"!! This is obviously a statement which Autotraders staff have been told to use to try and pacify their disgruntled customers. This is the reply I received from Autotrader.

Chris Wheatley

Participant

th December 2014 at 7:52 am REPLY

Bethany Hibbert

Keymaster

Hi Chris,

Thanks for your post and apologies for the delayed response.

We are currently working with our data provider to refine as much manufacture spec as possible. As we want to make sure this data is as accurate as possible, this will take a bit of time. As I am sure you can appreciate this isn’t something we can improve overnight but I can reassure you that it is something the teams are working on.

We are looking to obtain all vehicle data for the most common models, introduced from 2008 onwards. This will probably take us up until around Easter time.

We realise some of the spec returned is deemed to be really basic and we understand this can be time consuming when changing these features manually. We should have this improved shortly after the New Year, meaning you do not have to manually edit the spec. As soon as I have an update on this I will let everybody know.

One thing you may also find useful is that our insight shows the majority of consumers have already done their research before they have decided which vehicle they are interested in. What they tend to be more interested in is things like ‘full service history’ and ‘3 years warranty’.

If you do have any specific vehicles whereby the vehicle data is incorrect, please let me know and we will look into this for you.

Many thanks

Bethany

Customer Community Manager

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..."If you do have any specific vehicles whereby the vehicle data is incorrect, please let me know and we will look into this for you. "

*sigh*

I believe that the number of different make/model/derivatives currently being 'valued' by Glass is well in excess of 52,000.

That's Fifty-two THOUSAND.

Plus different colours, trims and options on all of them. It would be easier to tell them which few they've got right!

I apologise for banging on about this, but this company made over £100million profit out of us in 2013. And probably a shed load more last year. Their product sucks, as does their customer service. And still they pretend to have all the answers and talk down to us. Tbh, i don't think A/T have any idea how big this cock-up is.

If they do, why aren't those in charge saying something?

Or are they just looking after the big boys and to hell with the rest of us?

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Having just recently found this Forum and read the letter posted above, it's probably one of the best worded letters of criticism that I have ever read against the Auto Trader.

 

However, their latest declatration of profits just goes to show how little effect us as customers have against a comany so powerful as this in the market place -. because they will never ever respond to this as they don't need to. This, in itself, is a great shame as they have managed to work out exactly how we buy and sell our vehicles and are indoctrinating our customers how to come to us to get more for less, we wind up with very little and the Auto Trader have the balance of any profit that we are likely to make.

 

Their greed will always persist, it is up to us to look for alternative advertising mediums.

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Hi A J

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

We're just putting the final touches to this years Car Dealer conference and expo at Silverstone on 9th June.

 

You will be able to speak to all the main players in this market, in one place and on one day. Its a great opportunity to find the best solution for you.

 

More information here and tickets are free !

 

Hopefully we'll see you there on the day

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GreenGiant you are a legend!

We have now been without Autotrader for over 2 years now, and apart from a slight slow down in stock turn and sales we are actually making more money per car sold!

Why be busy fools and slaves to The Autotrader regime ???

There are some real alternatives out there!

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Totally agree,

Best thing we ever did was to drop them!

Just a shame we never did it sooner as we could have saved a lot of money sooner!

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