Red Rock Auto Group’s greedwashing campaign

Red Rock got this free media from the Daily Sentinel on January 19, 2023, with this photo of their donation to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). Red Rock also got Joy Thompson of CASA to say “We love Red Rock” on a January 19, 2023 local KREX-TV news segment about the donation.

After a company has been outed as over-the-top greedy, there’s nothing left for it to do but make conspicuous donations to local charities to score public relations points and blow smoke to make people forget about how their business has harmed the community in the long term.

That’s likely why, near the end of 2022, after all the unseemly tactics Red Rock Auto dealerships had been using on customers to fleece them out of thousands of dollars over the last 7 years were exposed, Red Rock suddenly started ramping up its donations to local charities and promoting their donations in ads on TV and through free media given to them by local TV stations and newspapers.

A company that ingratiates itself to reputable charitable causes as a way to distract from its immoral acts is engaging in a form of “greedwashing,” a term developed during the taxpayer-funded federal bailouts of the big banks during the economic crash of 2008-2009:

Red Rock’s greedwashing so far has included but is not limited to:

A decades-old corporate PR strategy

Greedwashing was pioneered by tobacco companies around 40 years ago in the form of so-called “corporate social responsibility” programs, like the “We Card” program cigarette makers rolled out in retail stores in the 1980s-1990s, and their fake “Youth Smoking Prevention Programs,” which sought to distract from how cigarette makers were marketing cigarettes to kids using cartoon characters, celebrity endorsements and flavored tobacco. These programs allowed cigarette makers to run ad ads claiming they were acting in the public interest, while working to distract people from the harm they were doing to kids. These programs also helped cigarette makers put the blame on others, like store clerks and kids, for their companies’ misdeeds rather than acknowledge the massive harm their products and marketing tactics were doing to society.

Red Rock Auto also got this huge, feel-good free photo promo in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel last November for hosting a dog adoption event, shortly after the information on the tactics the company was using on customers came to light.

Greedwashing campaigns also help delay any real consequences from regulators or law enforcement agencies for a company’s shady actions by putting a redemptive face on the company and giving its owners something to point to that ostensibly shows the good they are doing for a community.

Red Rock still hasn’t admitted to the harm they’ve done to our community — the financial straits they’ve plunged families into and how they’ve ruined so many people’s credit and made people’s financial lives a huge struggle for years to come. In the meantime, the profits Red Rock has reaped through the illicit tactics they’ve used on unsuspecting customers have allowed them to grow from owning just one dealership to owning five dealerships since they came to Grand Junction in 2016. This explosive growth indicates that what Red Rock donates to charity is probably a vanishingly small amount compared to the profits they’ve illicitly squeezed out of customers over their years of operations here. It’s also likely that weird extra add-on charges Red Rock has tacked onto people’s invoices without their knowing, like “Worry-Free Gas,” are surcharges that help the company pay for their charitable contributions.

For their part, the charities are going along with it, smiling and ingratiating themselves to Red Rock, and it’s hard to blame them, since big money is hard to come by for nonprofits.

But that doesn’t stop the rest of us from seeing through the ploy and knowing why it is happening in the first place.


Red Rock greedwashing example

Photo of Red Rock partners giving a donation to Roice Hurst Animal Shelter, featuring partner Brantley Reade (far left end of check), who was fired from the dealership chain earlier this year amid scandals over cheating customers




  11 comments for “Red Rock Auto Group’s greedwashing campaign

  1. Dear Anne & public,

    My name is Heather and I’m the community outreach coordinator at Red Rock Auto Group. I have been employed at Red Rock since Sep 2019. I have had many roles with the company but found the perfect spot that fills my heart. I have NEVER been treated this well at any job, I’ve been working since 16 and I’m nearly 39 now. This company is seriously my second family and I’m so blessed that I get to be a part of such a great group of people. I remember crying on the first birthday I spent at Red Rock Auto Group, I walked in, and my desk was decorated in Bees. There were handmade bumble bees made by my fellow employees hanging from the ceiling above me & a cute yellow chalk board that read “Bee kind” was placed by my keyboard. I’m not just a number at this Corporation, they know me, my interests and they actually care.

    A little about me, I’m a 4th generation Coloradan, my great grandparents homesteaded in Steamboat Springs in 1901. My grandparents both ended up at the Oaks in Fruita with my grandma being the longest resident of 15 years, maybe longer. I tell you all this because I want you to understand I am a person a native Coloradan. I love people, animals and serving. I’m passionate about making the world a better place and Red Rock has given me the opportunity to help do that. I’m a person who loves with all my heart. I have been volunteering since I can remember, and my family has always lived by “treat others in the same way you would want to be treated or better”. This all being said, I am the person putting all the events together that you listed in your blog on April 18th with Bryan and the company’s full support. I’ve been doing Community Outreach since April of 2021, but I went full time as Community Outreach Coordinator Oct of 2022, which unfortunately aligns with your blog and allocations. I do understand that no company is perfect and especially when you have over 200 employees. The owners must put trust in the GMs & other managers. I also know that anything that did slip by was resolved promptly and the bad apples have been plucked. I believe Red Rock is thankful for you bringing certain things to our attention and we have taken great strides to make sure it doesn’t happen again and put even better strategies into place. Red Rock Auto Group has always told us employees that our customers are why we are employed, and they should be treated like family.

    When I first took on Community Outreach I was in another position that required a lot of time & attention. I did however get Red Rock Auto Group started at Catholic Outreach soup kitchen right away, in which we haven’t missed a month since April 2021. We also started a R.O.C.K. Squad, an acronym for “Restoring Our Community with Kindness” again this was in April 2021. Let me brief you on the R.O.C.K. Squad. Two people get selected from each dealership, one from service and one from sales. The selected employees meet up once a month and represent their dealership. They also get to select the Employee of the Month without any management involved, completely employee selected. The Employee of the month gets a 32 oz custom engraved YETI with their name on it, a prime designated parking spot for the month & lunch with the other EOMs, Bryan, and me. Red Rock Auto Group wants their employees to be seen and heard. These representatives also can report back if they hear of an employee with a fixable problem. I won’t get into specifics with this as I don’t want any employee to feel uncomfortable but Red Rock simply takes care of their employees in MANY ways. We have helped many Mesa County residents in their saddest moments, and nobody will likely ever know about them as they will only be revealed if the recipient chooses, we don’t do it for recognition. We pay for our customers coffees if they’re in line behind us and started “free gas Friday” where we find a customer or two with a Red Rock license plate bracket and give them $50 worth of gas. We are constantly finding different ways to show our customers how much we appreciate them and their business.

    Now a little bit about the Partners/Owners. Bryan Knight is seriously one of the most caring and thoughtful individuals I have ever met. He has lived in Grand Junction for over 6 years with all four of his children attending D51 schools & that also means he is paying taxes here in Mesa County. He is not just some outsider from Utah or anywhere else, this is his home & his community. As for the partners in Utah I can say the same thing about their character. When they’re in town they visit all the dealerships and mingle with the employees and managers. You would never know that you were even speaking to the owners of a corporation, they are down to earth Compassionate and caring. They all attended our summer company party last year at GJ Motor Speedway, and both our both Christmas parties in Grand Junction. The owners raced with us and hung out with us employees and our families. They are also huge into supporting community, whether it be in Colorado or Utah. Red Rock Auto Group supports businesses all over Grand Junction including small businesses.

    Let me explain a couple of the community outreach efforts that you’ve mentioned and called “Greedwashing” and “unseemly tactics”.
    First, I literally cried when I read your blog. You said everything I’ve been working so hard on/for is a smoke show. Well, it’s not! These have been long term efforts and goals that were put into place before, during and will continue after your slandering. To compare Red Rock Auto Group to cigarette companies is ridiculous and just wrong.
    We do hold drives every month for different non-profits throughout the Valley. Some go great and others not so much but most of the donations come right from the employees. Regardless of how successful each drive is we know that they have more than if we didn’t hold one at all.
    More about some of the charities you’ve mentioned. Bryan and I took a tour of Roice-Hurst facilities and sat down with Joy from CASA after they were chosen by the employees. Every employee had and still has the option to make a voluntary contribution out of their paycheck in which Red Rock Auto Group matches the final amount at the end of the year. This is a great way to impact our community, even with employees just pitching in a dollar or two it adds up fast. Why Roice-Hurst and CASA were chosen? Easy, a survey was sent out to all the employees on 8/6/21, I can easily forward the email if you’d like. We support the GJ Fire Fighters Foundation because what they do is invaluable to our community, they see what is needed firsthand during residents’ tragedies. We catered food for the teachers at a D51 elementary school because they sent out an email asking for help feeding the teachers on a very busy and important day. We held a pet adoption event for Roice-Hurst so animals can go to new environments and ultimately get adopted. We promote CASA to give them exposure and to hopefully recruit more volunteers that they desperately need. Mesa County has a waiting list for CASAs and many people don’t even know they exist or what they do.
    In fact, I can answer any of the Community Outreach questions you may have. Feel free to reach out to me.

    Why on earth would you try to stop or make nonprofits feel bad about accepting contributions from RR? Also, what have any of the other dealerships in town contributed to Mesa County?

    On another note, Red Rock Auto Group employs over 250 people here in Mesa County. If you really want to make this community better, why would you try to end Mesa County residents’ jobs?
    I’d guess 90% or more of the Red Rock Auto Group employees are from Colorado and most are right here in Grand Junction. These are average people supporting their families, not these evil villains that you have been painting us out to be. RR has gone above and beyond improving operations once it was brought to our attention that certain things could be better. Red Rock Auto Group hired Dale to head up our compliance as well as installing cameras in all the finance offices where customers sign documents. Dale is meticulous and knowledgeable; he has put safeguards into place that other dealerships haven’t even fathomed. It would be nice if you could give credit where credit is due instead of spinning it into a conspiracy.

    It appears most of what you focus on is the negative & I’d like to challenge you to find some more positive things to write about. I did see you were excited about Paonia opening the first after school Satan club and the great news that Archer was found and returned to his people. I am all about “each to their own” but I also believe we should work together to bring out the light in everyone and celebrate growth and accomplishments.

    To address your question about what “worry free gas” is, I can answer that too. It’s a worry-free maintenance package on a gas vehicle, nothing fishy like you’re trying to make it.

    Anne, you have called our customers, confusing them, and making them scared for no reason. You have called the nonprofit organizations that we donate(d) to and ask them why they are taking RR’s donations, and presumably making them feel guilty or bad for doing so, that’s pure craziness. Why not be happy that we have a business in town that does such great things. Thousands of our customers are happy and grateful but you found a hand-full of unhappy customers and put it on blast. I’m not trying to sound rude when I say this but… It feels as though you thrive off negativity and want it to grow, at least that’s what keeps running through my head.

    Moving on, I want to let you know I’m working on several upcoming community involvement events so please reach out to me with any questions. We don’t just write checks, we put boots on the ground. Red Rock keeps employees on the clock and sends them out to serve the community. We only want to make Mesa County a better place. I am proud to work for Red Rock Auto Group & honestly, I’m tired of you spreading rumors and misrepresenting Red Rock Auto Group and its employees.

    I would like to ask you a couple questions.
    When did you move here?
    Do you volunteer your time at any nonprofits?
    Can you name a perfect company of our size that never had a bad apple role through?
    What exactly are you looking for from Red Rock Auto Group?

    Regardless of how horribly you tear me and this letter apart, please know I choose love over hate and only want to lift people up, not tear them down, including you. You are knowledgeable, composed and a great writer, I am not. I don’t like confrontation, but I am hopeful for resolution and peace. I feel that I must stand up and speak for what I believe in, even if I’m standing alone. I sure hope our community sees the good and doesn’t focus on the spec of negative that you found and put under a magnifying glass.

    I’ll end on this note. Red Rock Auto Group is an all-inclusive dealership that cares & supports Mesa County residents whether they be an employee, customer, or both.

    Peace & Love,
    Heather Dedduang

    Community Outreach Coordinator

    Direct (970) 446-8547

  2. I poked around online a bit. Anne, you have all the relevant information and contacts with injured customers.
    Have you considered filing a complaint, perhaps along with one of your contacts, with the Colorado Attorney General’s office?
    Since the Colorado Department of Revenue, Auto Dealerships won’t do more than smack them on the hand for their behavior, maybe the AG’s office will be more open to investigating this.

  3. Again, I ask, what can we do to stop this grift? Obviously, the State of Colorado is not responsive to our requests for help. The news outlets are not responding as well. Janice Rich and Matt Soper, both Republicans, legislators for Mesa County are not going to help us either.
    And it is next to impossible to get a response from the Governor’s office.
    Can we contact the local lenders to make sure that they vet all loans that are initiated by this company?

  4. Your blog homepage link isn’t working and instead links to your post about the election which is dated quite some time ago…
    At least that’s my experience.

    • The blog home page is working okay, but some people have had this problem after I unpinned the candidate rundown from the top. Try refreshing or reloading the page, or clearing your cache. That should fix it.

  5. Mesa County is known for its scenic grandeur, tasty agricultural products, and benign climate. Unfortunately, such scofflaws as Red Rock Motors, US Third Congressional District GOP Rep.Boebert, and discredited GOP County Clerk Tina Peters have brought law-breaking, grift, and ridicule onto our area and residents. I have spoken with friends from a thousand miles away and they always ask about the scammers Can we sue for defamation?

    • Lauren Boebert is brilliant and above reproach…especially when compared to:
      Joe Biden
      Nancy Pelosi
      Kamala Harris
      Chucky Schumer
      Elizabeth Warren
      Dick Durbin
      Cory Booker
      Dick Blumenthal
      Adam Schiff
      Jamie Raskin
      Hakeem Jeffries
      Maxine Waters
      Sheila Jackson Lee
      Sandy Cortez
      Eric Swalwell
      Debbie Wasseeman Shultz
      Jerry Nadler

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