Pete Baur was not about to be hoodwinked.
Baur, owner of Pete Baur Pontiac Inc. in Cleveland, was approached by a vendor who had registered his dealership name as an Internet domain name - petebaurpontiac.com. Knowing Baur was launching a Web site, the vendor hit him up for $1,500 in exchange for the domain name. But Baur felt he was entitled to use his own business name and refused to pay the vendor.
With legal help from the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association, Baur took the dispute to an arbitration panel and settled the case. The panel sided with Baur, saying he had the right to his own trade name.
Baur narrowly missed becoming a victim of a new type of scam - cyber squatters. The con men often promote themselves as Web site developers, register a dealership name as an Internet domain name, then try to weasel money out of the dealer in exchange for the domain.
The Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association has seen three such cases, including Baur's. The squatters usually demand $1,000 to $1,500 - too small for most dealers to quibble over. The dealers just quietly pay the squatter.
But Baur was unwilling to put up with these shenanigans. His case should encourage other dealers to do the same.
In other dot-com news:
CarsDirect.com, a Los Angeles online auto broker, has postponed going public because of unfavorable market conditions.
J.D. Power Clubs' carclub.com will offer members a wireless global positioning system for less than $200. The service will include roadside assistance, accident assistance, route support and concierge services.
Microsoft CarPoint is expanding its Personal Auto Page feature to include traffic updates, driving directions and weather reports. About 2 million consumers have signed up for the Personal Auto Page, which lets owners register vehicles online to receive recall information and service reminders.
You can reach Staff Reporter Donna Harris at (540) 668-7295 or [email protected]