9/21/2014

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Website says dealers will bid on your car, but who is really bidding?

Website says dealers will bid on your car, but who is really bidding?

PORTLAND, Ore. – If you’re looking to trade in your car, it’s only natural you want to get the best price possible. With that in mind, you might consider a Portland website that claims dealers will bid on your car.

Seems like a good deal, right? Well, the site might not be exactly as it appears.

The concept for “Bid My Trade In” is pretty simple. You describe your car, then wait as auto dealers bid for the highest trade-in price.

“They bid, you win,” explains a promotional video on the site. “They have what you want, so let them compete for your car.”

We decided to give it a try and put in for bids on three different cars: a 1998 Honda Accord, a 1993 Toyota Corolla and a 2010 Honda Civic.

Here’s where things got interesting.  The winning bidder, in every case, was the same dealer – Seaport Auto on McLoughlin Blvd.

We checked the business licenses, and found Seaport Auto and Bid My Trade In share the same address on McLoughlin.

We stopped by Seaport Auto and asked about Bid My Trade In. An employee directed us upstairs to meet a man named Desmond Desrosiers. He told us he owns both Seaport and Bid My Trade In.

We told Desrosiers that every time we put a car in his website, it sent us to his car dealership, despite the fact it said dealers were bidding on our vehicle. He argued that the site is not misleading to customers.

“Dealers are bidding,” he explained.

Two dealers, according to Desrosiers: the two different locations of Seaport, the one on McLoughlin and one in Gresham.

“Multiple Seaport dealerships are bidding on it. It’s plural,” Desrosiers explained. “There is more than one right now that is currently bidding on it.”

Desrosiers said he launched the site in June, offering it on a free trial basis to more than 50 dealers. He hoped they would all bid and create a site that would give customers a great price.  But he said the dealers did not do much bidding and did not participate after the 90-day free trial.  He said, since September, it has been just Seaport bidding on cars.

He argued the number of bidders isn’t important; rather, he said, his site is beneficial because it gives sellers higher bids than other sites.

“We’re finding probably at least 15 percent higher than Kelley Blue Book. Ten to 15 percent,” Desrosiers said.

We put his claim to the test. For two of our three test cars, we found better prices elsewhere.

“(The website) does tell the full story, it really does,” Desrosiers said.

He said they are working to get other dealers involved soon.  He also seemed receptive to the idea of putting up a warning for consumers saying only the two Seaport locations are bidding on cars.

We checked back a week after doing our interview with Desrosiers and did not see a warning on the site.  However, when KATU started running promos for this story, we saw the website change.

There is now a statement at the bottom of the page saying, “While many dealers are members of BidMyTradeIn.com, no certain number of dealers may be actively bidding on your car. Some dealers with multiple, independently managed locations may present bids from more than one location.”

The company also added a “members” section that shows the companies the site says are actively involved in bidding.  The members section shows 13 “active” dealerships, some of which are affiliated with Seaport.  A representative of one of the “active” dealerships not affiliated with Seaport told us that Desrosiers called and offered them a chance to participate again for free, though the dealership does not know if it will actually bid on any cars.

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