Until a month ago, Acton Toyota of Littleton had a nice little side business for five years selling Toyota-sponsored extended service contracts over the Internet.
The Massachusetts store sold the contracts -- which extend parts and labor protection beyond the factory warranty -- for as much as $750 less than other dealerships.
Acton Toyota had two full-time employees handling about 100 online extended service contract sales a month drawn from all over the country, said Justin Brun, e-commerce manager at the Boston-area dealership.
Toyota Financial Services, though, pulled the plug on the business in May, prohibiting Acton Toyota and a handful of other dealerships from selling the contracts nationally online.
"It was devastating to us," said Brun, who advertised on Toyota enthusiast sites and used aggressive search-engine promotion to fuel sales.
Brun said the dealership is replacing at least some of the lost revenue with an expanded online offering for Toyota customers: prepaid maintenance plans.