‘Months, if not years, to fix’: Auto dealers and customers feel impact as CDK outage drags on


An outage to the CDK Global system has affected nearly every aspect of the Mazda dealership in Seekonk, Massachusetts, where Ryan Callahan is general sales manager. He says it won’t be a simple solution.

“The financial impact it will have directly on us will take months, if not years, to correct,” Callahan said.

Car buyers and dealers are grappling with the closure of the retail software provider, which has left nearly 15,000 car dealers across North America scrambling to serve customers and scrambling to find temporary analog solutions to operate.

CDK says it is working to restore its systems and expects them to be back online in several days, but in the meantime, customers and dealership employees continue to be plagued by long wait times, delays and missed opportunities to earn or save. money.

Tom McParland, owner of Automatic Consulting, a national car-buying service, said the disruption was hurting customers because they have fewer dealerships to choose from.

“It reduces your ability to reach an agreement,” he said. “Limits customer leverage.”

Some dealers are also unable to apply factory rebates without CDK software, so customers may miss out on money-saving deals. For customers looking to buy a car, McParland suggested casting a wide net and shopping outside their local market to find the best price.

Midway Automotive uses a CDK product to register cars with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Owner Michael Deveney says that after Wednesday’s closing, the dealership began sending customers to their local RMV office to register their cars in person after the purchase.

“That was until Thursday. Then customers started being told that (the RMV) did not accept walk-ins,” she said. “They were probably getting inundated with customers and started turning people away.”

Deveney said one customer became increasingly nervous because he couldn’t register his car. “Getting an appointment can take three or four days, and during that time they can’t drive their cars,” he added.

About 30 miles north in Lynn, Katelyn Salvato says she hasn’t been able to register a vehicle since last Tuesday. Salvato works as a title clerk for Pride Motor Group, registering cars for three dealerships.

“Today… I submitted 21 registrations to be done manually at the Massachusetts RMV,” he said, adding that the RMV will not accept transactions from dealership employees. “Transactions must be delivered within the designated hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and the broker cannot wait for them.”

Callahan echoed those concerns. Under normal circumstances, the CDK software allows the dealer to register a vehicle almost instantly, but now the process faces long delays.

“Our remote registration system becomes useless without CDK to communicate with it. We had to send a runner with the entries to the DMV to compete in groups, which took several days, whereas before it took hours,” Callahan said in an interview with CNN.

If a vehicle is not registered within seven days of purchase, the state penalizes both the dealership and customers.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which oversees the state’s RMV, did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Service and sales go analog

Salespeople and service employees who spoke to CNN say they have resorted to using pen and paper to process purchases, which has lengthened the amount of time it takes to purchase a car, according to Scott Campbell, a salesperson for Capital City Buick GMC in Berlin, Vermont. He estimates that wait times have doubled or tripled.

Nicolas, who declined to provide his full name because he was unsure of his employer’s stance when speaking to the media, is an employee in the parts department of a Porsche dealership in Los Angeles. He said he has been using “a combination of pen and paper, Excel sheets and extra care on each invoice” since the closure.

Since many dealerships use CDK products to manage inventory, Nicolas said his department is now forced to manually record inventory parts, which significantly slows down their work. “We don’t have a clear view of the stock and we have to do a regular inventory of our most used parts,” he added.

But sometimes analog solutions are not enough.

Several buyers and repair customers tell CNN they have experienced long delays.

Don Aycock told CNN that he drove 90 miles round trip from his home to a car dealership in Clay County, Florida, to buy a new Buick on Thursday, a day after CDK closed. He told CNN that he was able to purchase the car but was unable to sign the title.

“We got a call from them today telling us we can come next Thursday to sign the paperwork for the title and get a permanent license plate,” he said, noting it will be another long trip there and back.

In San Diego, where temperatures in recent days have reached 90 degrees, Robbie Jacob and his wife tried to make an appointment at a Kia service center to repair their car’s broken air conditioning unit. Jacob said the center told them they couldn’t repair the car, citing the CDK cyber incident, as there were no appointments available and all walk-ins were suspended until next week.

CDK Global is not the only management system used by dealerships, and back-to-back cyber incidents affecting the company have also put its competitors on high alert.

Cox Automotive, which operates the Dealertrack and VinSolutions software systems for document management and customer service, told CNN that it temporarily stopped integrating its systems with CDK after the outage “as a precautionary measure to prioritize the safety of our customers.”

“As we actively support our customers to continue running their businesses, we have established a secure microsite that our customers are now actively using to access support and guidance, workarounds and actions they can take while CDK systems are unavailable,” the company said. company. .

Tekion, another software company used by dealers, said it has “seen an increase in dealer inquiries in light of the recent CDK incident.”

And other industry experts told CNN that switching from one system to another is not an action dealers can take on a whim. Companies are typically locked into a multi-year contract with a software provider. Switching software also involves training employees, making it a long process.

Meanwhile, Asbury Automotive Group, one of the largest retailers and care services providers in the United States, warned investors on Monday that the CDK outage has hurt its business and it is unclear when it will end. Rival Group1 Automotive said CDK believed the outage would be resolved in days, not weeks, but it was unclear how much financial damage the company faced as a result.

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