Monday, October 17, 2011
CARFAX - to be on board or not?
By now I'm sure you have heard of Carfax. Over the past decade the company has built its name selling history reports on motor vehicles. At first they only had state motor vehicle records. Then they added loss reports form insurance companies. Now they want to add service records.
They say they have signed up some of the big discount chains; Midas, Meineke, Pep Boys. So if you get a muffler or oil service at one of those places, the date and mileage where you did the work, and the address of the shop, will become part of your car's Carfax record.
We know service records (or lack thereof) are a big issue to used car buyers. Carfax claims that listing the repair shops will encourage new owners to take their cars back to the original service facilities, with may well be true. So the service may well benefit both used car buyers and shop owners.
But what of the current owners, our present customers?
Carfax says their service benefits our current clientele by enhancing the value of their vehicles in the used car market. At some point, most of our customers will replace the cars we service today, and when they do, that online record is there for all to see.
I suppose that's true.
Yet I can't help but feel it's one more little invasion of our privacy. Most Mercedes, BMW or Rolls Royce service managers I know are hesitant to release service records for a car without the permission of the owner, who is in many cases still their client. Carfax proposes to put the essence of that information online, without asking anyone, and sell access to it with their reports.
Carfax is not paying shops for the information. They claim they are giving the shops "free advertising" and they claim they are enhancing the value of our customer's used cars in the market. As I said, both things may well be true.
So what do you folks say?
Opt in to this program, or pass?