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The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
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Kelley Blue Book Can Make Buyers Blue and The Dealer Green (With Your Cash)


Auto Central August 8, 2001; For the past year or so, the publishers of The Auto Channel have been increasingly concerned that car buyers who utilize The Internet have been getting screwed by believing that Kelley Blue Book on-line is an unbiased fair and honest source for used car valuations.

Although the owners of TACH are capitalists to the core and believe that companies have an obligation to legally make a profit…when market power enables sellers to dishonestly exploit buyers, it's time for us to make this untenable situation known to our viewers.

Because most car buyers have been convinced that, Kelley Blue Book on-line is consumer friendly, and most dealers know its not, Kelley has grown to become the de-facto benchmark for "Real" used car values…but with this success we believe comes the so far unmet responsibility to actually be honest and impartial.

In spite of the ongoing research that we and others have done which consistently shows that KBB values are definitely not fair and are in fact complicity tilted in the dealers favor, no publication or broadcast entity has taken up the gauntlet for disclosure…until now.

TACH believes that just because KBB is “everywhere” does not prove that it is impartial and honest.

Kelley Blue Book’s widespread tacit endorsement from even the most upstanding auto manufactures and dealers web sites, has imbued Kelley with an undeserved impartiality, one that that really doesn’t exist.

This pervasiveness continues to lead to the belief by consumers, that because Kelley Blue Book pricing is used by "everyone", the used cars values it espouses must be unbiased and impartial.

Well our long standing argument that the used car prices in Kelley Blue Book are not unbiased, but unfairly tipped in the dealers favor, has been endorsed by the admission that appears in an article in the Money Making Minutes column which appears in this weeks Ward’s Dealer Business magazine. The publishers of The Auto Channel believe that this boondoggle is so pervasive and far reaching, that consumers should be alerted to what is really going on, to that end we are re-publishing the article in its it is.

The Article has been submitted by ASTN and is titled "Show Your Trade-in Customers the Facts":

“Many customers are now doing homework on the Internet prior to coming in to negotiate for a purchase. Most have visited an on-line service to get an invoice and to get a feel for what their trade is worth. But it is amazing that people seem to believe everything to get off the ‘net’ (sic). The information has legitimacy simply because it came from the computer! In trying to determine how to work with these folks and still preserve a reasonable gross, some dealer personnel have discovered that the Internet can actually work for them on occasion.

When working a deal that involves a trade-in, appraise the trade in the normal course of the deal. However, now, before serving up a trade allowance, go to the ‘net and log on to (Kelley Blue Book). Pull off the information regarding the trade-in value for the customer’s car. More often than not, KBB values are more conservative than your appraisals. When that happens, simply present the KBB value to the customer. It is a value from an impartial authority straight off the Internet. Customers have trouble refuting these values, and many times you are able to secure the trade for hundreds of dollars lower than the value at which it is eventually booked.”

Well there it is…Buyer Beware! When a dealer employs the Kelley Blue Book used car values, run out of the showroom as quickly as you can and do some more research before you really get screwed…check the value of your car many places…On-line: right here on TACH or Edmunds or NADA or Chrome Data, spend the time to visit other dealers in your area, also check the classifieds both on and off-line…but check and compare valuations before you accept Kelley Blue Book’s prejudiced low trade-in value or inflated high retail value.

As a dealer friend of mine said… “ Only the sharks use this book” …but hey, there sure have been a lot of shark attacks these past few months…always be wary of smiling people thumping a Blue Book.

Bob Gordon, President and Co-Publisher The Auto Channel