Our reputation is the foundation for our business.
Unfortunately, there are people trying to profit from our good name by sending out deceptive mailers that falsely claim to be from a dealer in the hopes of tricking our customers into buying supposed warranty coverage they probably don’t even need.
And they are alarming our customers in the process.
One of these misleading mailers a Virginia dealer got a hold of demanded a customer call a telephone number by a certain date to get so-called “vehicle service protection.” The flier also falsely suggested failure to do so would result in the customer’s vehicle being flagged as a “high-risk” with “pre-existing conditions” that would lead to high out-of-pocket costs.
Even worse, the mailer used the dealer’s name on the front of the mailer, making it look like the pitch came from that store. Of course, it didn’t. This isn’t the way we do business. But it is the way that the authors of these marketing gimmicks try to trick our customers into thinking they come from us.
Even if a customer realizes the flier didn’t originate from your dealership, they may get the mistaken impression you are selling their information to these deceptive marketing outfits.
We believe these mailers originate from out-of-state, which limits the ability of Virginia officials to take action to stop them. They may even originate offshore, which limits the ability of federal authorities to crack down on them.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take action. First and foremost, let customers know these mailers don’t come from you nor do you provide customers’ personal information to the people trying to lure them into buying these sketchy service contracts.
Here are some key points to highlight for customers:
1. Any information about the customer or their vehicle comes from publicly available sources and not from the dealer.
2. Your dealership does not market extended service agreements in this manner.
3. Your dealership stands behind its own extended service agreements if a customer bought them from you directly.
4. If a customer wants more information about a legitimate extended service agreement, then a dealership representative would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of those arrangements with them.
5. Tell customers they can rely on their dealer. Advise them they always should know whom they are dealing with.