This is a Federal lawsuit and it is public information (for a small fee of course). I am not a lawyer so all of this is just my personal opinion after reading the complaint and adding two and two together. Links to the mentioned documents are below.
This begins with a screen capture of an email from over a year ago. The screen capture was taken by me without permission during a webinar of AOSWare. I do not know if I was intended to see this email, or it was, as I have done myself many times, the presenter happened to have emails or other files open before a webinar starts.
This email screen shot may be difficult to read, because it was hastily grabbed, but if you blow it up and scroll, you can see that it is an email chain originating from Glenn Bousquet at SP Richards and addressed to Sonny at AOSWare.
This is not about an individual at SP Richards. I do not even know Glenn Bousquet, and I don’t need to. I can see the inherent SP Richards culture in the framing and phrasing of this email. The same culture that has permeated SP Richards for some time now. A culture that has effected many, but certainly not all, SP Richards representatives.
The email starts out with a question “Are you going to be at the ABC this year?” Not by coincidence this exact same question is repeated again in the chain. Understand that this is an ill-concealed threat. SP Richards uses the ABC show as leverage to keep the system providers in line. You can take my word for it: If you don’t give SP Richards what they want, you will be banned from the ABC show.
Glenn goes on to say in the email, “I was finally given the approval to move forward to establish a fair agreement in paying AOSWare for the setting up and maintaining data feeds.”
This was clearly SP Richards attempting to entice AOSWare into surreptitiously providing SP Richards with confidential dealer data. Confidential dealer data that AOSWare would supposedly have access to as a normal course of their business.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME
That was my first reaction, and why I grabbed the screen shot before it quickly went away. As you read further you see much more in this email. Glenn did not really need “approval.” This was just a veiled attempt to make it appear that AOSWare was special. Because as you read on you see: “this is very consistent in what we have set up with the other software vendors.”
Notice Glenn doesn’t say “some” of the other software vendors, or “a few” of the other software vendors, but “the” other software vendors. Glenn is making a clear point here: Your competition is doing it, and AOSWare better get on board or suffer the consequences. Glenn also seems to be saying that this is standard operating procedure at SP Richards. Everyone is in on it, no worries, nothing unusual going on here, move along.
Then there is the money. Lots of money. Assume just 100 dealers and you are looking at SP Richards offering AOSWare a $25,000 prebate (set up fees) and $10,000 per month “on-going” for SP Richards to gain what I assume to be full access to AOSWare confidential dealer/customer data. Pretty tempting huh?
If you are an AOSWare customer, understand this is your data, your property, that SP Richards is negotiating to buy. SP Richards will of course dodge all responsibility claiming that it’s all on AOSWare. AOSWare should disclose to the customers that their data is being hijacked. AOSWare should share this windfall revenue with the customers. Do you really think this is SP Richards plan? Full disclosure and fair sharing of revenue?
At the top of the email you see that AOSWare is declining the SP Richards offer. This is going to be a HUGE problem for AOSWare.
You do not say “no” to SP Richards if you know what’s good for you. I know from personal experience that certain SP Richards representatives can turn into vicious vindictive assholes if you dare stand in the way of what they want. Never mind their vitriol may cause harm to dealers. It’s all about puffing the ego and putting people in their place.
One last point about this email and we’ll move on. Notice that Sonny ends his reply to this email with “Sorry I will not be at the ABC show.” Sonny knows, everybody knows, that AOSWare will now be banned from the ABC show for refusing to do SP Richards bidding. Vicious, vindictive assholes.
Switching to the complaint filed in Federal Court, as I read it, paragraphs 12 and 13 state that SP Richards and AOSWare shared confidential information including AOSWare’s customer list.
Paragraphs 14 and 15 of the complaint I believe to be references to the event taking place in the email. Paragraph 14 speaks to “key employees of SPR” approaching AOSWare requesting AOSWare cooperation. Paragraph 15 states that on each occasion AOSWare declined these requests.
I read paragraphs 18, 19 and 20 to claim/imply that SP Richards and ECI approached AOSWare customers using the confidential customer list provided under the claimed non-disclosure.
In my opinion, very briefly and in a nutshell, what it appears that the complaint is alleging:
SP Richards did not take kindly to being told “no” by AOSWare to set up a direct feed of dealer data from AOSWare to SP Richards.
SP Richards then went to their second source of obtaining dealer data, ECI’s Acsellerate. Second because SP Richards knows that ECI will likely cost more than dealing directly with the system provider.
ECI was given AOSWare’s customer list (allegedly) and told to go market Acsellerate to the AOSWare customers. This is a ploy hoping to force AOSWare into an integration, by having AOSWare customers demand an Acsellerate integration with AOSWare, wherein SP Richards would then gain access to the dealer data VIA ECI, allegedly.
It appears that SP Richards’ unquenchable thirst for dealer data was denied by, and if you believe the email, the only ethical system provider in the industry. SP Richards then pitched their usual tantrum, but this time overstepping bounds and winding up in Federal court.
This behavior by certain SP Richards representatives is inexcusable and indefensible. It’s high time they were called out on it. Thank you AOSWare for having the courage to stand up for and protect the dealers rights.
If you are a system provider, stop putting up with the bullying. The ABC show isn’t all that. If you are a dealer, call your system provider and ask if your data is being sold to third parties. Glenn seems to imply that they are all doing it, so find out for sure and get a cut at least.
You know that if SP Richards is offering $100 per month for your data, it’s worth a HELL OF A LOT more than that to them.