Consumers Relying on Nation’s Largest Car-Buying Service Pay Much More Than They Need To, Study Finds

By Jamie Lettis
Consumer's Checkbook

October 15, 2018
202.454.3006
jlettis@checkbook.org

A Competitive Bidding Process Yields Far Greater Savings than the TrueCar Service, Which Is Heavily Promoted by Major Consumer Groups

WASHINGTON— Many respected consumer organizations, including AARP, Consumer Reports, AAA, and USAA, receive fees for steering consumers to the TrueCar buying service. Consumers are led to believe the price they get from TrueCar is the best, or almost the best, possible price. But testing reveals that consumers who make dealers bid competitively for their business can be expected to pay on average about $1,300 LESS per vehicle than if they use TrueCar.

Consumers’ Checkbook, an independent, nonprofit consumer organization, has been advising consumers since 1991 that the best way to save on a new car is by competitive bidding. Checkbook has written guides with a step-by-step explanation of how a consumer can effectively make dealers bid against one another to drive down prices. Consumers can do this on their own or, if they prefer, they can have Checkbook’s experts conduct the bidding process for a fee through a service called CarBargains.

Based on many actual transactions, Checkbook has identified a representative sample showing how much more consumers can save using the Checkbook-recommended competitive bidding system compared to the for-profit, dealer-supported TrueCar program. CheckBook’s comparison website details many representative examples of actual savings such as the following:

  • This competitive bidding process saved a Cambridge, MA, consumer $2,526 compared to the TrueCar TruePrice on a 2018 Toyota Camry LE
  • This competitive bidding process saved a Glen Ellyn, IL, consumer $1,242 compared to the TrueCar TruePrice on a 2018 Honda Accord Sedan EX-L
  • This process saved a Croton-on-Hudson, NY, consumer $1,247 compared to the TrueCar TruePrice on a 2018 Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited V6 AWD
  • This process saved a Marietta, GA, consumer $221 compared to the TrueCar TruePrice on a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited Ultimate FWD
  • This process saved a Prosper, TX, consumer $820 compared to the TrueCar TruePrice on a 2018 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring FWD
  • This process saved a North Bend, WA, consumer $2,720 compared to the TrueCar TruePrice on a 2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i

On average, in the tests, consumers got their vehicles at about $1,300 below the best TrueCar price. These savings are even after taking into account the service fee for consumers who use the CarBargains service.

“It’s amazing how much a competitive bidding process can save people and sad how much money people are wasting by relying on TrueCar,” said Robert Krughoff, President of Checkbook.

The problem with TrueCar is that it only steers people to TrueCar-participating dealers, which do not have to compete with low prices. TrueCar steers consumers to dealers that pay TrueCar a fee for customer referrals. In addition, AARP, Consumer Reports, AAA, USAA, and other widely-respected organizations that refer consumers to TrueCar get a fee from TrueCar for these referrals.

In order to make money, TrueCar needs dealers to participate in its service. If TrueCar requires prices that are too low for dealers’ liking, dealers might back out of the process. And the fact that dealers also have to pay a fee of hundreds of dollars if they make a sale via a listing with TrueCar creates even more reason for dealers not to be willing to offer a really low price through TrueCar.

In contrast, the competitive bidding process that Checkbook recommends consumers use, and that Checkbook’s CarBargains experts use, has no financial incentives that might reduce competitive pricing pressure on dealers. CarBargains takes no money from dealers. It is paid $250 by consumers who use the CarBargains service as a fee to cover the cost of having CarBargains’ experts do the bidding. Unlike TrueCar, which depends on set prices submitted by dealers, CarBargains actually gets at least 5 dealers to bid AGAINST EACH OTHER for the consumer’s business. These dealers know the consumer has paid $250 for the service, so the consumer is very likely to buy a car. And the dealers know that they have to bid and bid low or they won’t get the business.

In addition to the $1,300 consumers save on average through using competitive bidding with the CarBargains experts vs. using TrueCar, these consumers completely avoid the most distasteful, difficult, and time-consuming process of car buying: negotiating with the seasoned pros at a car dealership.

Since Checkbook first began advising consumers about how to use the power of the competitive bidding process, the process has helped thousands of consumers save millions of dollars on car purchases. If consumers want to do the competitive bidding process on their own, with no fee and without relying on the CarBargains experts, the CarBargains.org website has a full “Do It Yourself” explanation. Checkbook encourages consumers to contact it with any questions at CarBargains.org or at 800-475-SAVE.

Another benefit of CarBargains is that there is no sales promotion or followup; Consumers who use TrueCar complain about endless haggling and being bombarded by phone calls and emails from dealers. CarBargains doesn’t sell or give the consumer’s personal information to dealers, so the consumer will never be bothered with phone calls or emails.

Checkbook Invites the Media to Test TrueCar vs Competitive Bidding Checkbook encourages journalists independently to test the competitive bidding system against TrueCar. CarBargains will refund its service fee to any member of the media who has conducted such a test using CarBargains and who requests a refund.

About Consumers' Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services

Consumers’ Checkbook (www.Checkbook.org) is an independent, nonprofit consumer organization, founded in 1974. The Checkbook mission is to provide consumers information to help them get high-quality services and products at the best possible prices. Checkbook publishes, in print and online, Consumers’ Checkbook magazine in the Washington, DC, San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound, Twin Cities, Chicago, Boston, and Delaware Valley areas with ratings of service providers ranging from plumbers to auto repair shops to hospitals and surgeons. Checkbook is fully funded through subscription and publication sales, fees for information services, and donations from individual consumers. Unlike other organizations ranging from TrueCar to Angie’s List to HomeAdvisor, Checkbook does not accept advertising dollars, referral fees, or similar support from businesses so there can be no question of conflicts of interest.

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FITZGERALD AUTO MALL’S DOTTIE FITZGERALD TO RECOGNIZE UNIQUE DOG TRAINER “YOUR DOG’S FRIEND” FOR HUMANE TRAINING

When:                  Friday, February 23, 2018 at 10:00 am
Where:                 Fitzgerald Subaru Rockville
                                New Subaru Showroom
                                11407 Rockville Pike
                                Rockville, MD 20852
 
Dottie Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Auto Malls will present “Your Dog’s Friend” (YDF) with special recognition and support for their extraordinary work with the humane training of dogs and their families. Their goal is to keep dogs from being turned in to shelters by educating and supporting them and their humans.  They promote positive methods of training and behavior modification because they are effective, build trust and unlike harsher, compulsion methods, cannot cause pain.
 
Dottie has been a leader in raising awareness of animal issues as well as offering adoption events at Fitzgerald dealerships throughout the region.
 
The event will feature brief remarks by Dottie Fitzgerald, President of Fitzgerald Subaru.  “I have always believed that education makes lives better – for ourselves, our children and yes our canine family members.  Hannah, my German Shepherd and I have personally benefited from the training at Your Dog’s Friend in their reactive dog class.  I believe that the traditional training we received elsewhere initially only exacerbated her reactivity.  Thanks to YDF we can actually go for a walk now.”
 
Bodhi the Collie, a student of Your Dog’s Friend will assist in the acceptance of the recognition.  Experts from YDF will be on hand to answer questions about their break through training that is known for being a great resource for new adopters.  YDF is a 501c3 non-profit.
 
For media interviews with Dottie Fitzgerald, please contact:
Rob Smith
Fitzgerald Auto Malls
(301) 252-7268 mobile
(301) 881-4000 office
robsmith@fitzmall.com  

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FITZGERALD AUTO MALL NAMED MONTGOMERY COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE GREEN BUSINESS INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR

ROCKVILLE, MD – November 9, 2017          Fitzgerald Auto Malls has been named the “Green Business Innovator of the Year” by the MOCO Chamber.  This award is presented to an individual or company in Metro-Maryland who demonstrates ecologically-integrated business practices and leads change in the marketplace through the goods and services they provide.
 
Fitzgerald takes their commitment to the Environment to an unprecedented level for business, including their every day practices when it comes to repairing and servicing cars and trucks.  Fitzgerald is an ISO14001 certified dealership for their Environmental Management System.  This system looks at multiple aspects that involve the service and repair of vehicles.  Everything from the fluids changed on the vehicle to the tires are recycled, leading the dealerships to a record 82% recycled waste to all waste generated at all of their dealerships.
 
Dottie Fitzgerald, the younger sister of Founder Jack Fitzgerald accepted the award on behalf of the company and credited the passion of their people.  “It takes more than vision, it takes execution.  But execution doesn’t last without passion, and we have passionate people in our organization” said Dottie Fitzgerald.
 
Fitzgerald is proud to join past winners of the award include AstraZeneca/MedImmune, EVEN Hotel Rockville, Scott Nash, MOM's Organic Market and Seth Goldman, Honest Tea. 
 
“On behalf of all the associates at Fitzgerald, I thank the county for the recognition, but it’s really our people who take the commitment seriously and turn it into action on the front line” said Jack Fitzgerald, Chairman of Fitzgerald Auto Malls.  “Our management team is always looking for new ways to be good corporate citizens.”
 
Fitzgerald uses 100% Wind Power for all the Maryland locations, and green power for all locations.  Fitzgerald was the first auto dealer group to become a Green Energy Partner of the EPA. 
 
Ike Leggett, Montgomery County Executive, expressed his congratulations to Fitzgerald when he said “We have many outstanding individuals and businesses when it comes to preserving and protecting the environment here in Montgomery County, so it came as no surprise to me that Fitzgerald was named by the Chamber as the Green Innovator of the Year.  They are truly exceptional.”
 
For more information the Fitzgerald Environmental Management System please visit www.FitzMall.com

Media Contacts:
RobSmith@FitzMall.com     
Rob Smith
Fitzgerald Auto Malls
(301) 816-6030

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Jack Fitzgerald Receives Powermeter 100 Lifetime Achievement Award By El Tiempo Latino

WASHINGTON DC – June 27, 2017 Jack Fitzgerald was amongst the hundreds of guests gathered at the Washington Post Live! last night to celebrate the Inaugural POWERMETER 100 by El Tiempo Latino. The Powermeter 100 is the list that recognizes the one hundred most influential people for the Hispanic community of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

Jack Fitzgerald was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for the commitment he and Fitzgerald Auto Malls has made by protecting children through their Child Safety Seat Program. For six years running, an annual Hispanic Child Safety Seat Check event has been organized and hosted by Fitzgerald for the Hispanic-Latino community. Bilingual certified seat technicians and interpreters were on hand to educate parents and to install seats properly. Fitzgerald partners with media and sponsors and purchases 100 child safety seats to be given to needy families.

“Fitzgerald Auto Malls was founded in 1966, and I wanted to do more than just sell cars. I believe that ‘good people like to do good things,’ and for over 50 years, our ‘good people’, our associates, live and work with that belief and in that spirit,” said Fitzgerald.

Jack Fitzgerald believes the character of the community is reflected in the company’s associates and knows the hard work and dedication of the Fitzgerald family of employees furthers the FitzMall brand. The Fitzgerald Auto Malls dealerships have historically provided employment to many Hispanic families and continue their diversity recruiting efforts today. Excellent programs are in place with paid training for career paths into management.

In his acceptance speech last night, Founder and Chairman Jack Fitzgerald said, "People who come from other countries have great courage. We have some. It is breath-taking the grit and determination so many have, and I commend your hard work and dedication. We need more people like that, please send them our way!”

For more information about Child Safety Seat events and employment opportunities, please visit www.FitzMall.com.

Media Contacts:

Rob Smith
Fitzgerald Auto Malls
(301) 816-6030
rob@FitzMall.com

Patricia Shao
Dragonbridge Inc.
(240) 686-4555
pws@dragonbridge.com

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FITZGERALD AUTO MALLS AWARDS A NEW HYUNDAI LEASE TO THE MCPS TEACHER OF THE YEAR

MCBRE is a non-profit organization comprising of senior business leaders who share their expertise with MCPS leadership and sponsor programs that connect what students are learning in the classroom to the real world. The Champions for Children awards program as a way to honor the commitments of distinguished educators, MCPS staff, and organizations in the community that demonstrate a high regard for youth education and a passion for reaching each and every student. Jack Fitzgerald and his sister, Dottie Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Auto Malls are proud to support Champions for Children and commend members of the community who devote time and effort into making a positive difference in the lives of our children.

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