You’ve bought your lovely used car, did you even think about who has access to all the data and the online controls for it, did you even know these features existed?
I recently decided to buy myself a used car, the car has had a couple of previous owners. The last owner traded it in with the dealer against their next car, the dealer obviously had plenty of stock so they decided, as is very often the case, to put the car into the independent dealer market. So far so good, happens all the time and actually the significant proportion of used cars go through independent dealers.
Many of the current generation of cars have a host of online ‘connected’ features, Apps that allow you to interact with the vehicle even when you’re nowhere near it, mine has the ability for you to remotely control the climate systems, to call breakdown services, to upload GPS / destination details and much more, it also keeps a record of much of this information and stores it all against your on line account
Did you know that your car is connected to an on line account? I’m betting the majority of people have no idea about these features, don’t use them and wouldn’t even think that all of this data can be connected and collected.
I’m a bit of a geek so I decided that I would download the Apps to my phone and start to experiment…
After downloading the ‘InControl’ and ‘Remote’ Apps the first thing you have to do is setup your online account and use the last 8 digits of the VIN number to link your vehicle to your account, and this is where my problems started.
When trying to link the vehicle to my account the web site informed me that the vehicle was currently linked to another users account, that’s it, no help no assistance, just an error message. I decided to contact the local dealer as I wanted to get the car serviced anyway so thought I’d get this sorted out at the same time. Service done, the dealer also informed me that they’d changed the ownership online so that I can see the service history using my online account, great so now I’ll get playing with the Apps.
Back to my account, enter the last 8 digits of the VIN number…“This vehicle is currently registered to another user”
I phoned the manufacturer who asked me to send them a scan of the V5, 7 days later and no response and still not able to connect the vehicle to my account, I contacted their ‘Experience Centre’ and got the reply to take it to the dealer who can sort it out for me. Phoned the dealer and couldn’t speak to anyone in the service department, emailed them and got no reply, emailed them again and this reply staggered me…
Dear Mr Watts
We are not in a position to remove owner without their permission, previous owners would normally disconnect before they sell the car or if we took in part-ex we would have their written authority to remove from system.
I would suggest you contact previous owner and ask them to disconnect their car from the system (this can be done by them on their App), when this is carried out we would be happy to connect you with proof of ownership.
Seriously read that a few times and let it sink in. We are not in a position to remove the owner without their permission I am the owner, I have a receipt for the purchase, I have a V5 with my name on it, I took all of this to the dealer when I tried to sort this out and apparently it’s not sufficient.
Contact the previous owner ??? The process to get the manufacturer to update the online details for the vehicle is for me to try and find the previous owner and get them to do it for me.
Okay okay you’re probably thinking ‘first world problems’ right? but, the previous owner of my car has control over it, they can unlock it, they can remotely set the Climate Control without me knowing about it, even when the car isn’t running, they potentially can even look at the Sat Nav system, they can also call break down services to the vehicle and all of this without me knowing anything about it.
Someone else has access to a significant amount of data about myself and my vehicle and there appears to be nothing that the manufacturer is prepared to do about it.
Many of the cars that are sold today have these features, they are collecting vast quantities of data about the vehicle during it’s lifetime and therefore your behaviour, location, destinations, and the vast majority of these cars go through the Independent dealer market.
User data and information should be the very first consideration in developing new systems and capabilities, not an afterthought. In my case I feel this is a blatant disregard of my Data Protection rights and shows that this manufacturer in particular, in their race to develop new and sophisticated systems and on line tools have completely disregarded privacy and the approach to how an owner or future owner can manage their data.
So if you’ve bought a 2nd hand ‘connected’ vehicle recently, did you know your car has these features, do you know who your car is currently registered to and what information and control they have, have you even thought about it?
Love to hear your thoughts on this