Monday, June 13, 2011

Grooming the Internet

Why does Hertz, like most car companies troll the Internet?

I received the following odd e-mail the other day:


Hi,

I am reaching out to you on behalf of Hertz Car Sales. I recently came across the following blog: http://livingstingy.blogspot.com/2010/03/car-buying-tips.html and had a few questions.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon!

Thanks,

Lindsay

Lindsay Parker
Content Analyst
Hertz Car Sales
www.hertzcarsales.com

I thought this was weird.  So I responded and a day later got this response:


Thanks so much for getting back to me! We are a division of Hertz that sells retired rental cars at great resale values. I noticed that one of your blog posts contains a ton of car buying tips! I was wondering if you would be interested in writing a blog post for Hertz Car Sales. We have auto resources that we would like to offer your visitors through your blog. Please let me know if you would like additional information.

Feel free to visit our site at http://www.hertzcarsales.com/ and take a look at the resources we provide.

I look forward to hearing back from you soon!

OK, that is really weird.  But it illustrates how major corporations troll the Internet and try to groom their image, albeit not so baldfaced as Hertz has tried here.  Companies have individuals in their employ - or they hire companies - that troll the Internet and make grooming posts.

Grooming posts usually try to ameliorate negative information about a company.  Usually, you can do this in one of several ways:

1.  Post a rebuttal to negative information.

2.  Make a shill posting, pretending to be from a consumer, saying how great the company in question is.

3.  Bait the original poster by saying contrary things, pointing out spelling errors, and saying "Your posting is chock full of misinformation!" while not elaborating on what is inaccurate.  The goal is to make the original poster appear to be a ranter.  If he rises to the bait - Bingo, you've won!

4.  Create fake websites that appear to be consumer review sites, but are little more than cheer-leading sites for the company, with one or two poorly written "bad" reviews to make it look real.

It can be very subtle and you may not even notice you've been had, until it is too late.

Other grooming posts are just attempts to raise a company's profile or create free advertising.

Hertz is at least being up-front here.  I'll give them that.

So, I will do a posting next on buying used Rental cars.

I bought a used '88 Camry back in 1989 from Avis, and while it was not a bad deal, it was no screaming bargain, either.  As I recall, the price ($11,000) was not far under book value.  That being said, it was a good car and I drove it for many years and then sold it for $6000, so I did not do too badly.

I looked at Hertz used rental car prices last year, and they didn't strike me as screaming bargains - not horribly bad, but not stellar either. I will update my search and do some comparisons to Edmunds.com KBB, and NADAguides.

There is one myth about used rental cars - that they are worn out or treated badly.  This usually is not true.   Most are sold with very low miles (mine had 22,000 miles, some on the lot had as few as 8,000) and most car renters are adults (over 25) and don't beat on the cars too badly.

But with the advent of Carfax, it is not hard to spot a used rental car these days - which could negatively affect resale value.  Some used car dealers try to sell these as "executive driven" or "program cars" which are euphemisms meaning nothing.

But I will do some more research and do that posting tomorrow.

Ask, and ye shall receive, Lindsay.  But be careful what you ask for.  Because I do not pull any punches.

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