GPS used to spy on rental drivers
Big Brother on board
A driver is suing a car hire firm, which charged him $450 for allegedly speeding in a van fitted with a hi-tech device for spying on drivers.
According to the New Haven Advocate, James Turner is taking Acme Rent-A-Car to court over penalties levied on him for "going at speeds in excess of 90 mph on three separate occasions."
The van was fitted with a system based on GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite technology whose primary purpose was to monitor drivers rather than help them with navigation.
Acme uses technology from wireless application service provider AirIQ called OnBoard which "keeps track of where the vehicle is, what direction it is going, what speed it is travelling".
OnBoard, which uses an on-board computer with integrated GPS (Global Positioning System) and wireless transceiver, can even be used to disable a vehicle or lock its doors with the "point and click of a mouse".
In the case of Turner, the technology reportedly recorded him speeding while he made a journey through seven states last October.
Tuner had been a regular customer of Acme and didn't notice the small print in his rental agreement, which said, "vehicles in excess of posted speed limit will be charged $150 fee per occurrence".
Acme levied the "fines" on Turner through his debit card; it had nothing to do with any police action. The company has defended its business practices and will contest Turner's claims when they come to court. Six other claims have also been filed against Acme.
Quite apart from whether the technology proves someone is speeding and whether due process of law was followed by Acme we reckon that the car hire firm has scored an own goal when it comes to customer management.
However you feel about speeding, would you be happy hiring a car knowing that the car hire firm can spy on you? This is a use of technology that deserves to be left in the lay-by. ®
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