Rental company tracks rental car via GPS...
June 21, 2001 5:16 AM   Subscribe

Rental company tracks rental car via GPS... fines rentor for $450 for speeding 3 times. The newest Big Brother incident? Rental companies have been using GPS's for a few years, but what gives them the right? How long before Onstar starts fining its members for speeding?
posted by da5id (23 comments total)
We're talking a rental here. There is no inalienable right to abuse property you rent from someone else. If technology is available for people to track the use of their borrowed/rented property, and the renter/borrower is told clearly right from the get-go what's a no-no, what the ramifications are and that the property will be tracked, there is no invasion of privacy since the expectation of privacy never existed. Don't want a rental company tracking the use of their car? Buy your own car.

If Onstar were to start fining people for speeding, I bet people would simply turn it off.
posted by dchase at 5:58 AM on June 21, 2001

I think the biggest problem here is the potential for a GPS glitch.
"Well Mr. Smith, you were clocked doing 344mph in your Toyota Tercel. That's a fine of $675."
posted by Grum at 6:02 AM on June 21, 2001

I don't consider speeding to be abuse of property. "You have a problem in rental cars that people don't treat them like their own cars," Brunswick said. (from the article)

I speed in my car, so most likely, I will speed in a rental. Abusive actions are what I would consider to be anything that damages the vehicle or could damage the vehicle. Granted, speeding and getting into an accident could damage the vehicle, but so could following the speed limit.
posted by da5id at 6:24 AM on June 21, 2001

It wasn't that the guy was merely speeding, but that he was driving 25 miles an hour over the limit. As long as a customer is aware of this rule when he rents a car, the company should be allowed to set whatever speed limit they wish. I don't think asking customers to stay within 24 miles an hour of the 55 limit is terribly unreasonable.
posted by MegoSteve at 6:31 AM on June 21, 2001

I like it. Insurance companies should offer super-low rates to people willing to have similar equipment installed in their private vehicles.
posted by pracowity at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2001

Ok, so the next step is putting in cameras, to make sure people aren't spilling pop on the seats, or making babies in the back seat...

Or anything other actions for which the car rental company might be liable for... They have to protect themselves don't they??? <<>>
posted by da5id at 6:34 AM on June 21, 2001

I don't consider speeding to be abuse of property. "You have a problem in rental cars that people don't treat them like their own cars," Brunswick said. (from the article)

I speed in my car, so most likely, I will speed in a rental. Abusive actions are what I would consider to be anything that damages the vehicle or could damage the vehicle. Granted, speeding and getting into an accident could damage the vehicle, but so could following the speed limit.

It doesn't matter what you think is abusive - it's not your car. It matters only what the rental company thinks. If you don't like their policies, don't rent their cars.
posted by ljromanoff at 6:53 AM on June 21, 2001

MegoSteve, there are a lot of places where the speed limit is 65 or 70 miles an hour, and some places in Montana where there is no set speed limit at all. Still, 80 mph is pretty fast, and if I loaned someone my car I doubt I would want them going that fast.
posted by donkeymon at 7:18 AM on June 21, 2001

There is honestly no place in Montana where there is no set speed limit anymore. The point is valid, however, that if I drive 55 around here, I am 30 MPH over the limit and yet probably will not have to pony up fines to my rental company.

The fact that rental companies have accrued sufficient capital to purchase cars that you want to pay them to be allowed to use is what gives them the right to do essentially anything. Your alternative is to use your own vehicle.
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 AM on June 21, 2001

If stated in contract, they have the right. In a contract, your F@#%*% if you sign and break any small infraction. They can confiscate your money, put you on a list. boycott these bastards, or start putting up directions on disabling these things.(Ive disabled an Onstar several times) from people who bang on it with impatience."Oh, mr Nero we see that the GPS unit is broken on your rental return" C.G.Nero: Really?, I want my money back for defective equipment". W. Smith: Oceania can sue you for tampering.
C.G.nero: Prove it....HAHAHAHA. If ya want i can have disabling plans to MeFi upon request. This is were Luddite dreams of our late teens, early twenties comes into play.
posted by clavdivs at 7:50 AM on June 21, 2001

I can agree I wouldn't want anyone I loaned my car to driving it that fast(that's my job). The thing that scares me is they were able to show him on a map exactly where he had been speeding.

Maybe it's just the paranoia talking, but I'm not thrilled about them tracking me everwhere I drive, just because I'm in one of their cars. Yes, I can just not rent from them. What happens when all the rental places are doing it.

Do I do anything illegal? No. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy my privacy. It's really none of their business where I go or how fast.

Now, if they want to not rent cars to people that have speeding tickets. I say go for it.

But if you wait for them to come up with a privacy invading policy that bothers you, it will be too late.
posted by monkeyboy at 7:53 AM on June 21, 2001

well, if it's in the contract, there isn't really much you can do about it. However, you'd think that included in the price of the rental, insurance, etc was the fact that people do abuse rental cars. Renters have abusaled the vehicles since the beginning of time. That's why a rental costs x amount of dollars.

additionally, what happens if a company rented the car for an employee? who pays for the over the limit fees then?
posted by modernpoverty at 7:58 AM on June 21, 2001

Given, it's not the guy's car, and the rental company can do whatever they like. But the contract argument loses some ground when you consider the wording that was actually there: "Vehicles in excess of posted speed limit will be charged $150 fee per occurrence. All our vehicles are GPS equipped" (as reported here) The contract doesn't say vehicles that speed will be charged, AND the GPS is in the car for _the express purpose_ of tracking those occurrences. The language is not specific enough--you could read it and not necessarily realize that you were being tracked. It's phrased evasively. Naturally, IANAL, but this hardly seems like fair notification, and I would be pretty pissed off about the violation of my privacy.

As the happy speeder says: "Even if I had seen the GPS warning, I'd think it was for getting lost, not to track my every move," said Turner. If he had understood the warning came from Big Brother, "I would've requested another car without GPS." I think that's a perfectly understandable reaction to the actual language of the contract.
posted by sfz at 8:11 AM on June 21, 2001

I thought it was up to the local law enforcement to serve up fines to those who are speeding. The rental company should be turning over any fines they levy to the local police.
posted by slackbash at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2001

Enterprise is apparently the only rental company that will rent to people without a major credit card, and they do so only if you have a debit card or checking account and bring in a bill with your address on it and either tax forms or a pay stub. They said they do this because they've been losing too many cars to people who don't have a credit card (for liability) - people just driving off with them. I think the GPS system would certainly help calm their fears about THAT.

But shouldn't the speeding tickets get left up to the police? I mean, you're already responsible for the car, and have to pay for it if you damage it. It seems like part of the risk of renting cars is that sometimes things get damaged. But the car in the example came back FINE and they wanted to charge him for it? Yeah, yeah, if it's in the contract... but in my mind it shouldn't be in the contract and seems like just another way of making money while quoting safety and risk management reasons. I hope some companies decide NOT to do this, then it won't be such an issue and we can decide if we want to rent a non-GPS/Onstar car (or disable it) even if it costs more or whatever. BLAH.
posted by thunder at 10:17 AM on June 21, 2001

"Rental companies have been using GPS's for a few years, but what gives them the right?"

the fact that it's their car?

sheesh, that wasn't hard to figure out.
posted by jcterminal at 10:25 AM on June 21, 2001

How hard can it really be to disable a GPS system in one of these cars? Pull a fuse or two? It would have to be done in such a way as to allow you to return the car undamaged, obviously. Can you block the antenna, or can they build it into the body of the car?
posted by donkeymon at 11:00 AM on June 21, 2001

routing through the power system would be the best. Some computers will register a shutdown if GPS is off-line. Onstar can be shut down a few ways, the best is to shut it down in diagnostic mode. Take down the antenna could work but is a tuffy to get back together. Some units have a power/computer plugin clip, take it off and no com. Im not sure about these GPS in rental cars, finding the unit would be half the battle. I cant blame the corpse(corp) for capitalizing on others driving habits, but you cant blame someone who fights back. They would have to prove you tampered with it. They could if the unit was ALTERED. disconnecting it, one could just blink and say PROVE IT, it came loose, it was the transportation spooks, gremlins, the germans. Plus if the unit goes-offline, the company will know its off line(no signal) and what, comeafter you. Then you may as well hire O.J. to do the commercials.
posted by clavdivs at 11:31 AM on June 21, 2001

Not to give anyone ideas, but the best way to disable the GPS is by jamming it. No outer evidence, not even fingerprints on the fuse box. Just find out where the antenna is and put something that creates a jamming signal near it.

The rental company gets a nice big "no signal"
posted by Nothing at 1:08 PM on June 21, 2001

I thought of that and it does seem the most passive method, but one would need a jammer or build one. im not sure if one could just cover the unit to jam it.
posted by clavdivs at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2001

I think fine is the wrong word. The law fines you for traffic infractions. The rental company has no legal authority so cannot impose a fine, but could impose a fee for violating the rental contract.
Violate the contract, get an extra fee. Hmm. I don't like it. Many a rental car was put though some serious torture tests not too long ago.
posted by a3matrix at 2:23 PM on June 21, 2001

just because it is in the contract does not necessarily mean that they have the right to do this. some rights can not be signed away, no matter what the contract reads. there is a minute chance that some state law prohibits this.
(yes, i have been fighting with my landlord over the lease)

the real question i had about this issue, is what prevents gmac [insert your finance company] from doing something like this when you purchase a car with their money?

i am not a lawyer. (obviously)
posted by lescour at 2:46 PM on June 21, 2001

They wanna stick with the Chevy Cavalier huh? You sure you tried to talk 'em into an upgrade?

Meanwhile 75 floors upstairs:

Revenues and share price have been holding steady. We're not exactly losing money, but our salaries are not going to grow quite as exponentially they were a couple of years ago. Send in the GPS consultants.


Agreed, if it's written in the contract you sign and you know it's there, it's your fault when they stick it to you. But why do you have to pay for their insurance then?

Flat and simple though, this is an example of gouging--and even more so if all the companies jump on board. Of course one doesn't have to speed. But the policies seem to be devoid of error correction. Many factors could corrupt the downloaded data.
posted by crasspastor at 4:30 PM on June 21, 2001

« Older Write here, write now!   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments