Monday, September 29, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
FTC acknowledges auto dealer probe after discovery bust-up... Written by Harry Phillips.
The Federal Trade Commission's battle to get Ralph Paglia, a car industry blogger to hand over confidential communications, private email, subscriber lists and documents about Truecar, an online price comparison website has shed new light on the antitrust authority's ongoing and ill-advised investigation of what they claim to be potential wrongdoing among thousands of car dealers.
Harry Phillips is a reporter for "Global Competition Review" in Washington, DC. They cover antitrust news and frequently report on the Federal Trade Commission.
Mr. Phillips wrote a story last week on news that the FTC has filed a petition in Nevada Federal Court asking it to compel Ralph Paglia to provide documents and give testimony in connection with its ongoing investigation of the auto dealership industry and an alleged refusal by many car dealers to do business with TrueCar.com in late 2011 and early 2012.
The FTC alleges that Ralph Paglia failed to provide various records and documents requested by the FTC within each of several civil investigative demands (CID subpoena). FTC states that the first CID was sent to Paglia in May 2014, and is now seeking an injunction in a Nevada Federal Court compelling Paglia to cooperate.
The big question that Harry asked Ralph was whether or not Ralph would comply, and if so, he sought Ralph's confirmation that he now planned to comply with the FTC's demand... Or alternately, would Ralph oppose the commission's demand for an injunction? He sought Paglia's comments on the petition and the FTC's investigation of Car Dealers who either cancelled participation in the TrueCar Auto Buying referral system, or never signed up in the first place.
Ralph Paglia's email reply to Harry Phillips is shown below:
Thank you for reaching out, and I would like to speak with you about the matter via phone. Since the NSA and presumably the FTC is studying all emails I send despite the illegal nature of such surveillance, I would feel more comfortable speaking with you by phone.
I can tell you that I have never refused access to any information or records by the FTC, but I am not going to do their jobs for them. I believe slave labor was outlawed quite a few years ago and I am mystified about why the FTC seems to believe they can compel me into forced labor when their staff gets paid plenty to do the work themselves.
Beyond the Nazi-like zeal the FTC seems to have for compelling Americans to do work without compensation, I simply do not understand where the Federal government gets the authority to try and squash freedom of speech, freedom of the press and determine whether an individual should to do business with a particular company.
Point of Contact:
Harry Phillips, Senior Reporter for "Global Competition Review"
For more information, please visit: http://globalcompetitionreview.com/
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION, Petitioner,
RALPH PAGLIA, Respondent.
JONATHAN E. NUECHTERLEIN General Counsel
LESLIE RICE MELMAN
Assistant General Counsel for Litigation
IMAD D. ABYAD Attorney
FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Washington, DC 20580 Telephone: (202) 326-2375 Facsimile: (202) 326-2477 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attorneys for Petitioner Federal Trade Commission
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEVADA
Case No. Case 2:14-cv-01480-GMN-CWH
PETITION OF THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION
FOR AN ORDER ENFORCING CIVIL INVESTIGATIVE DEMANDS
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC or Commission), pursuant to Section 20 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTC Act), 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1, respectfully petitions this Court for an order requiring Respondent, Ralph Paglia, to comply with two civil investigative demands (CIDs) issued in an FTC investigation. The CIDs seek documentary materials, responses to interrogatories, and oral testimony relevant to an ongoing investigation into whether certain participants in the retail automotive industry, including dealers and consultants, may have engaged in "unfair methods of competition" in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45, by means of their participation in a concerted refusal to deal (a group boycott).
The Commission submits herewith the Declaration of Melissa Westman-Cherry, designated as Petitioner's Exhibit (Pet. Exh.) 1, to verify the allegations herein, and alleges as follows:
Jurisdiction and Venue
This Court has jurisdiction to enforce the Commission's duly issued CIDs under Sections 20(e) and (h) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 57b-1(e), (h). This Court also has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337(a), and 1345.
2. Venue is proper in this judicial district pursuant to Section 20(e) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(e), because Respondent, Ralph Paglia, is found, resides, or transacts business in this District. Venue is also proper pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391.
3. Petitioner, the Federal Trade Commission, is an administrative agency of the United States, organized and existing pursuant to the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 41 et seq. Section 5 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45, prohibits "unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce," and authorizes and directs the Commission to prevent such conduct. Sections 3 and 6(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 43 & 46(a), authorize the Commission to "prosecute any inquiry necessary to its duties in any part of the United States," and to "gather and compile information concerning, and to investigate from time to time the organization, business, conduct, practices and management of, any person, partnership, or corporation" subject to the Commission's jurisdiction. Section 20(c) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 57b-1(c), authorizes the Commission to issue CIDs that require the recipients to produce documents, prepare answers to interrogatories, or provide oral testimony under oath, relating to the subject of any Commission investigation.
4. Respondent Ralph Paglia resides or is found in this District, and transacts business in this District and throughout the United States. He is President of Automotive Media Partners LLC, which has its principal place of business in Las Vegas, Nevada. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.), ¶5.
The Commission's Investigation and Civil Investigative Demands
5. On January 17, 2014, the Commission issued a Resolution Authorizing Use of Compulsory Process in Non-Public Investigation, File No. 131-0206 (Pet. Exh. 2). The Compulsory Process Resolution sets forth the nature and scope of the investigation as [t]o determine whether firms in the retail automobile industry, including automobile dealers and industry consultants, may be engaging in, or may have engaged in, conduct violating Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. §45, as amended, by agreeing to restrain competition, including by agreeing to refuse to deal with TrueCar, Inc.
Pet. Exh. 2, at 1.
6. TrueCar, Inc. is in the business of helping auto dealers market their cars by operating websites that provide extensive information about specific vehicles to prospective car buyers, and that seek to match buyers and sellers. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶2. As part of the investigation, FTC staff is examining whether certain persons or businesses may have organized or participated in a group boycott of, or a concerted refusal to deal with, TrueCar, thereby unlawfully restraining competition. See Pet. Exh. 2 (Compulsory Process Resolution), at 1; Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶2-4. Mr. Paglia provides auto dealers with consulting services, information, and training relating to online marketing. Id. ¶¶5-6. Information related to the subject of the investigation has appeared on websites and web logs (blogs) that Mr. Paglia operates or administers. Id.
7. On May 2, 2014, under the authority of the Compulsory Process Resolution, the Commission issued a CID (Pet. Exh. 3), requiring Mr. Paglia to produce specified documents and to respond to written questions, no later than May 21, 2014. See Pet. Exh. 3, at 1. To date, Mr. Paglia has not produced any documents or information in response to the May 2 CID. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶¶8-10.
8. On June 18, 2014, under the authority of the Compulsory Process Resolution, the Commission issued another CID (Pet. Exh. 4), requiring Mr. Paglia to appear and provide oral testimony under oath at an investigational hearing, which was set for July 10, 2014, in Las Vegas. See Pet. Exh. 4, at 1. Mr. Paglia failed to appear at the investigational hearing at the specified time and place. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman- Cherry Decl.) ¶¶11-13.
9. Mr. Paglia's failures to comply with the May 2 CID and June 18 CID have impeded the Commission's ongoing investigation. See Pet. Exh. 1 (Westman-Cherry Decl.) ¶14.
Prayer For Relief
WHEREFORE, the Commission invokes the aid of this Court and prays for:
Immediate issuance of an order, substantially in the form attached,
directing Mr. Paglia to show cause why he should not comply in full with the Commission's CIDs, and setting forth a briefing schedule pursuant to LR 16.1(c)(4); and
A prompt determination of this matter and entry of an order:
(i) Compelling Mr. Paglia to produce the documents and information specified in the May 2 CID within ten (10) days of such order; and
(ii) Compelling Mr. Paglia to appear and testify under oath, as directed by the June 18 CID, ten (10) days from the date of issuance of such order, or at such later date as the FTC may establish; and
(iii) Granting such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
For my automotive sales article this month, I thought that taking a little quiz might make for a nice 10-minute or so break from the routine .
As we're talking about cars, dealers, and dealership business software here, I'm keeping that theme going for this quiz, which I'm calling "12 Great Events in Automotive History." Some readers may have to ponder their answers for a while. Others who've been selling or servicing vehicles for a long time may know most of the answers from memory—or from the study of automotive history.
There's no monetary reward for taking the quiz, of course, except the value you'll take away and find useful for filling lulls in conversation now and then. Write your answers on a separate sheet of paper, then look at the answers provided at the bottom of the page: Don't cheat!
I trust my research provides the right results; if you have something different, let me know. Either way, my hope is the few minutes spent to take this quiz will bring you some fun distraction and a smile.
Ready? Here we go (answers below):
- In what year did NADA introduce the NADA Official Used Car Guide?
- Which American make marketed the first front-wheel drive vehicle?
- What year did airbags first appear in vehicles sold in the U.S.?
- Who challenged consumers, "If you can find a better car, buy it."
- Upon what chassis platform was the original Mustang built?
- What current popular brand has its roots in WWII?
- Which upscale domestic once used V-12 power?
- When did the Third Brake Light law take effect?
- What company "invented" the dealer management system?
- Who "invented" online car shopping and in what year?
- What year did Dealer Marketing Magazine release its first issue?
- What company pioneered data mining and developed the opportunity selling strategy that helps more than 2,600 dealerships sell an additional 5 to 100 or more vehicles each per month to existing customers?
Answers: 1) 1922; 2) Cord 810, in the '30s; 3) Oldsmobile Toronado, '73; 4) Lee Iacocca, Chrysler Corporation, introduction of the K-car; 5) Ford Falcon; 6) Jeep 7) Lincoln, in its Zephyr model, 1936-1948; 8) 1986; 9) The Reynolds and Reynolds Company;
10) Ralph Paglia in 1988 using Bulletin Board Systems and Compuserve ISP while GM at Kearny Mesa VW and then Bob Lewis VW, San Diego, commercialized by Autobytel, in 1995;
Monday, September 15, 2014
The link below takes you to the deal packages...
For #CarPeeps attending conferences in #LasVegas these VIP Party Packages are a great way to show clients or colleagues your appreciation with a guided good time at the best clubs.
[Sent from Ralph's iPad Air]
Friday, September 5, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
[Sent from Ralph's iPad Air]