Miss a Payment? Good Luck Moving That Car
The thermometer showed a 103.5-degree fever, and her 10-year-old’s asthma was flaring up. Mary Bolender, who lives in Las Vegas, needed to get her daughter to an emergency room, but her 2005 Chrysler van would not start.At first blush, it's outrageous. Three days late with a payment and they disable your car? What kind of monster would do such a thing? Well, as usual, the truth is somewhere in between. Dig a little deeper into the article and you find this:
The cause was not a mechanical problem — it was her lender.
Ms. Bolender was three days behind on her monthly car payment. Her lender, C.A.G. Acceptance of Mesa, Ariz., remotely activated a device in her car’s dashboard that prevented her car from starting. Before she could get back on the road, she had to pay more than $389, money she did not have that morning in March.
Auto loans to borrowers considered subprime, those with credit scores at or below 640, have spiked in the last five years. The jump has been driven in large part by the demand among investors for securities backed by the loans, which offer high returns at a time of low interest rates. Roughly 25 percent of all new auto loans made last year were subprime, and the volume of subprime auto loans reached more than $145 billion in the first three months of this year.Translated: These are very high risk loans, people that 20 years ago wouldn't have qualified for any sort of car loan, new or used. Not only that, but they know from day one what the penalties are for missing payments. Kinda borks the sympathy-meter, doesn't it? I guess it makes for much less of a sensational story to write "actions have consequences" like I tell my kids...
But before they can drive off the lot, many subprime borrowers like Ms. Bolender must have their car outfitted with a so-called starter interrupt device, which allows lenders to remotely disable the ignition. Using the GPS technology on the devices, the lenders can also track the cars’ location and movements.
The one thing that jumped out at me was this, too:
“No middle-class person would ever be hounded for being a day late,” said Robert Swearingen, a lawyer with Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, in St. Louis. “But for poor people, there is a debt collector right there in the car with them.”That's because - wait for it - "middle-class" people pay their damn bills. They don't put themselves in situations where they need to go to shaky loan places.These types of loans are sought out by people with lousy credit. The eeeeeeevil middle class didn't go to their houses in the middle of the night and screw up their credit limit. This is something they brought on themselves. Rather than be happy they can get a loan - no matter how strict the terms - and afford a new or new car (rather than drive an old clunker than falls apart on a regular basis), they whine about how unfair it is that loan companies want their money back on a timely basis.
Now, if the car is shut while moving, that's another story entirely. That is 100% a safety issue, and if the system will allow the car to be shut down while it is running, that's something that needs to be addressed. If the trigger mechanism is so sophisticated that it can be run by a smartphone, it should certainly be able to tell if the car is in motion. I would imagine it would be easy enough to set it up so that the lockout only works on start-up - i.e. it interrupts the linkage between the ignition such that the *next* time the car is started after the signal is killed it won't work.
As for the "shutting down while the car is in a bad neighborhood", well, that's a case of tough rocks. As long as the car is not moving, it is fair game. If you signed on to a loan that had a stipulation that the car would be shut down remotely if you missed a payment, stay the hell out of bad neighborhoods when you're late on your payments. It's just that simple. Either that, or don't miss your payments. If you can't make timely payments, deal with junkers. It's how I got through grad school.
On a similar note, though, the mere fact this technology exists scares the hell out of me. It is only a matter of time before these lockouts become mandatory on all cars, and a short skip-and-a-jump until someone figures out a way to hack the lock. Won't car theft be so much fun when all you need are mad computer skills rather than a slimjim? And no more high speed chases with cops - which, while it sounds great on its face, it leads to more questions. Like, say, what happens when cops get used to being able to shut cars down remotely, then they come across someone that reprogrammed their car? Or shuts down the police car's engine?
Or, say, the next time you get into an argument with someone that knows their way around a computer and decides to teach you a lesson...
That is all.