Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New PriceHub launches!

The most annoying thing as a consumer is to find out that you got ripped off while buying something. Whether it’s overpaying for an item or buying something that’s defective, the resulting feeling of bitterness is similar to that of eating spinach as a kid. Two out of three people experience this crappy feeling when they buy a car -- they feel like they got ripped off because they don’t know what is the real price for a car. There is no actual price reference that can be used as an accurate basis for comparison; instead there’s just pricing estimates and numerous opinions.

With the launch of PriceHub, we are looking to turn the car shopping experience upside down by revealing the actual prices paid for every single vehicle. Armed with this information and data, consumers can feel confident negotiating any car deal because they will know what Jim, Bob, and Mary actually paid for that same exact vehicle. PriceHub has aggregated millions of pricing & research data from DMVs, dealers, and private individuals across all 50 states to provide the best and most accurate database of actual car prices, and we invite you to check out the data on our site and see how we are changing the car shopping experience. For example, you’ll be shocked to learn that KBB’s pricing estimates could be up to 11% higher than what people actually paid for a car.

Wouldn’t you want to know this?

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Can logo t-shirts drive web traffic?

Yes. Maybe. We recently got a batch of t-shirts with our new logo. In an effort to show off the shirts (besides at the usual pitch &industry events), I decided to see how effective our logo t-shirts could be for generating general company awareness. What better place to run my test than at Disneyland. We usually spend most of our time standing in line – wait times can easily span 30-50 minutes per ride. I can’t think of a more captive audience than families who are staring off into space while inching forward in never ending lines.

The weather at Disneyland (Anaheim, CA) was a comfortable 80 degrees and the park was packed due to the President’s Day weekend - perfect t-shirt weather. When I entered the Peter Pan ride line with my son, I noticed a few glances at my shirt, but nothing too obvious. After the first 10 minutes of waiting  and trying to keep my son occupied, I totally forgot about my experiment. Fast forward 10 hours later, countless lines for the Jungle Cruise, Winnie the Pooh, and other rides, we were finally headed home.

A couple of days later, I checked our Google Analytics stats to see if my branded t-shirt experiment made any difference on our website traffic. Looking at our direct-to-site and branded organic search visitors for the weekend, I definitely saw a spike. Drilling down further on these categories by location (Los Angeles / Southern California), I could see that visitors to the site more than doubled from what we usually get from the Los Angeles area. In fact, visits from Los Angeles area visitors (via direct or branded-organic searches) were twice as high then at any other point ever for our site.

While not exactly scientific, I would like to think those hours of waiting in line with hundreds of other people staring at my t-shirt made a difference, at least for a day or two - definitely worth the t-shirt investment.

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Tips to Avoid Used Car Scams

A great piece on USA Today on how to avoid used car scams. Some of these tips may be obvious, but many people fall victim to these tricks every year. You can never be too safe. Con artists have stolen an estimated $50M from fake car ads over the past few years. Here are some highlights from the article:

  • If they price is too good to be true, it is probably fake
  • Sob stories (divorce, lost job, etc...) are always made up to make you believe the 'seller' needs to sell the car fast - don't fall for this trick
  • Don't pay people using Western Union or even pre-paid credit cards - you will have very little recourse to get your money back
Here are some tips from eBay Motors to watch out for when buying a car online:
  • Sellers who want to move the transaction from one platform to another (for example, from Craigslist to eBay Motors).
  • Sellers who claim that eBay's Vehicle Purchase Protection covers an auto transaction conducted outside the eBay site.
  • Sellers who push for speedy completion of the transaction and request payments via quick wire transfer payment systems.
  • Sellers who refuse to meet in person, or refuse to allow the buyer to physically inspect the vehicle before the purchase.
  • Transactions in which the seller and vehicle are in different locations. Criminals often claim to have been transferred for work reasons, deployed by the military, or moved because of a family circumstance, and could not take the vehicle with them.
  • Vehicles advertised at well below their market value. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

More car loans are going to subprime borrowers

"Subprime borrowers received 56.46 percent of loans on used cars in the quarter, up from 52.70 percent a year earlier."

This fact in itself isn't too surprising since car loans are among some of the easiest loans to get. The 'no credit, no problem' mantras are always present at used car lots (especially the independent ones). Remember that car dealers have several ways to make money off an unsuspecting customer - unfavorable financing terms are one of the big ones.  Don't forget to watch out for the lowball trade-in values or phantom fees.

Some other interesting stats on car loans:

"The average amount financed for a new car rose $474 to $25,714. For a used car, the average amount financed rose $370 to $17,433."

"The average time to repay new and used car loans increased by one month, to 64 months for new cars and to 60 months for used cars."

Read the full article at the Chicago Tribune.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Tesla Electric Cars - Should they have a battery health gauge?

Recent reports have claimed that the Tesla Roadster and Model X can have their batteries completely ruined if they are completely drained and left uncharged for long periods. The Tesla Roadster, the older of the two models. cannot be left uncharged for more than 2 months. The new Tesla Model X cannot be left unattended for more than 1 year. 

When these cars are resold, I have to wonder if there should be some type of gauge, similar to the odometer which reports on the health and durability of the car's battery. If I were buying a used Tesla, the second thing I would want to know is whether the owner took care of the battery. Like the odometer, this mechanism should be tamper-resistant and not susceptible to owners messing around with the settings. Obviously, used hybrid cars don't have this problem because their gas engines automatically start when the battery reaches a certain level. 

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Features on PriceHub You May Have Missed

Here are is a quick overview of some of the features you may have missed on PriceHub:

The average, actual sold price for a make/model based on the mileage of the car. These numbers are calculated from REAL prices submitted from users, certified Car Dealers, and public auctions. This information is a great way to gauge how much your car is worth based on what other people really paid.

Here is the same dataset graphed with Price vs. Mileage. As expected, you can clearly see that a car's price declines as its mileage increases.

Here are the average prices for the most recent model years. Again, this is a great way to see what what make/model/year a car is worth based on what other people really paid.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

VIN Number added to Actual Prices Paid

We just launched a new feature that we believe will enhance the PriceHub user experience. Moving forward, with many of our actual price paid data points, we're now including the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) for the vehicle. Now you'll be able to see each actual price record tied to a specific vehicle (not just a random estimate or guess that other car pricing sites use). You'll also be able to verify some of the core details of the car through AutoCheck, an Experian company that provides vehicle history reports. Here is a screenshot of our new feature. Please be patient with us as our car pricing data continues to grow. Thanks for your support!

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