Auto Service World
News   June 7, 2004   by Auto Service World

Toyota Gets Frosty Reception to Dealer Data Sharing

Toyota dealers in the U.S. are opposed to sharing their repair information with Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., citing consumer privacy issues, but dealers suspect there is more to the program than customer service issues.
The effort to improve customer care has had Toyota using its computerized national data collection system, called DMI, to gather repair orders from dealership databases for nearly two years, but Toyota now requires every dealership to hook up to the central database system.
According to a report in Automotive News, some dealers are concerned that Toyota will use the records for more than surveying service customers, worrying that data will fall into the hands of other departments such as marketing.
The plan, which Toyota says is identical to one long used by Toyota’s Lexus Division has information from some 30,000 repair orders downloaded from Toyota dealership databases every Monday. Toyota says that the Lexus system improved customer service and retention and that is why they want to use it for the Toyota network, but dealers suspect other motives.
Part of the reason dealers suspect this is an inconsistency in policies.
"Toyota is surveying our internal repair-order customers. But at the same time, Toyota Finance sent us a letter saying they could no longer give us lease termination information because of right to privacy concerns," said a dealers who was not named. "They can’t have it both ways."
Still other dealers suspect that it may be the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Dawn Ziebarth, strategic planning manager in Toyota’s customer service division, says dealers own the customer information. "We won’t sell that data to other dealers or use it for our own marketing," she says.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. spokesman Xavier Dominicis says the company "has an entire department charged with maintaining privacy and compliance with state and federal laws."
But one dealership information technology manager worries. He says this program may be just the tip of the iceberg in terms of information Toyota wants from its dealers.
"Toyota has a PC server at each site to see every repair order and finance order we do," says the IT manager, who asked not to be named. "What’s next? Pulling my accounting data, my general ledger files?"

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