Carsales.com.au is suing Carsguide.com.au for an advertising campaign that accuses Carsales of handing over customer contact details to car dealers.
The BWM Dentsu-developed campaign alleges that Carsales withholds a dealer’s name and location details from a user until they provide their contact details. The information is then allegedly sold to dealers without the knowledge of the customer.
Carsales is calling the campaign “grossly misleading and deceptive” and have filed documents in the Supreme Court of Victoria to stop the targeted messaging.
“We have sent a cease and desist letter to carsguide.com.au but they have thus far refused to remove the ads,” Carsales CEO Greg Roebuck said in a statement.
“We believe that we had no choice but to go to the Supreme Court to stop carsguide.com.au and their attempts to mislead the Australian public.”
Mr Roebuck said Carsales would not be “Australia’s No.1 new and used car site” if the allegations were true and said consumer contact information was only given to the owner of the car.
“There is no significant difference between the way in which Carsales.com.au and Carsguide.com.au provide contact details to the relevant dealer. Moreover, if you’re enquiring on private seller cars (for example), on either site, dealers are not involved at all.”
Carsguide CEO Lauren Williams said they stand by their accusations, saying that the campaign “aims to drive broad awareness” on the alleged selling of contact details.
“We want consumers to have the opportunity to make an informed decision – either be part of the transaction, or use CarsGuide where dealer location and name are shown up front,” Ms Williams said in a statement.
“When I started as CEO, we could see that the old model of hiding information and selling contact details was not a sustainable practice for a modern online business. We re-engineered our business and dealers now pay for views of their cars and not for consumer’s contact details.”
Carsguide’s campaign includes an eyebrow-raising billboard on Punt Road in Melbourne. The billboard, situated right next to the Carsales head office, reads “Let lightning strike those who sell your contact details to dealers”. The punchline: a blimp depicting lighting above the Carsales office.