Show me the Carfax!

All about vehicle history reports

I’ll set the stage…

You’ve finally found the perfect car, after many late night websites searches, numerous email exchanges on with the “internet sales manager,” and then you finally finagled your schedule around enough and you have enough daylight remaining to go check it out…

Ok, now what?

The test drive was good, the salesman seems trustworthy (and didn’t babble the ENTIRE test drive) and the “math” is pretty much what you were expecting, so now what? Instinctively, like second nature you blurt out one of two statements: “do you have a Carfax?”, or the even more annoying catch-phrase: “show me the Carfax!”

I  used the word “Instinctively” on purpose. Carfax the company, spent MILLIONS of dollars on radio and tv commercials, even created the focus group approved “furry, harmless looking, kid friendly” mascot, all in an effort to subliminally make it so. Their ingenious marketing campaign beat into our heads to “ask your dealer for a free copy of the Carfax report.”

The problem is

Carfax actually got sued and lost in court for deceptive advertising, all because of the now infamous line in all their advertising: “Ask your dealer for a free copy of the Carfax report.” If you listen to more recent Carfax ads now you’d notice that that particular line was removed.

Nothing is free! Especially not Carfax! Those same marketers (with their expensive business school degrees hanging in their fancy corner offices of the corporate skyscraper) realized that after they got the masses to say “show me the Carfax,” they would restructure their payment plans, and significantly increase the price of those “free reports.” What used car shoppers like you didn’t realize, (why would they, how would they know,) is that every time we “show you the carfax” the dealership pays an outrageous price to do so.

For years we had a carfax account, and everything was fine. Slowly but surely, ever other “quarterly billing period” or corporate stock shareholder restructuring only did the price of the actual reports rise, but also the numerous fees associated with it did as well. Suddenly any semi-high volume dealership is spending thousands of “extra” money each month, in an attempt to sell their car, to a buyer that was told to believe that a Carfax report is the “end all be all” of this car.

Can you name ANY other business where the seller pays the for buyers “research” material? Think about it, when you purchased your families home who paid for your home inspection, you or the seller?

I’m not saying that Carfax (or any history report) is a bad thing. A vehicle history report is a great tool when considering a used vehicle, but, what more buyers need to realize is that that’s all Carfax is, it’s one of many tools that should be used before a purchase! Those same current Carfax ads also say: “no report can tell you everything, but a Carfax is a great place to start.” Do you really think that they wanted to include that line when they’re paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per minute to run that ad when every second and every word of that ad is?

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