back to article Car rental firms told: Tell your customers about in-car data slurps

Car rental companies should offer customers explicit information on what happens to data that has been sucked up by connected cars, a civil rights group has said. In a report published today, Privacy International criticised car rental firms for “relying on the small print in terms and conditions” when it came to dealing with …

  1. djstardust

    I tend to stick

    To the local companies with an older fleet of cars. Better personal service, no hidden charges and no two hour wait at the airport to get the car.

    Above that, the big companies seem to have a massive scam going where they bill your credit card a couple of hundred pounds for "dents" after the car is returned with no such damage.

    I would never connect my personal devices to something like that anyway.

    It's a bit like plugging your phone in so you can print one photo at Asda and the machine caches every single photo on the entire device.

    No thanks.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I tend to stick

      Above that, the big companies seem to have a massive scam going where they bill your credit card a couple of hundred pounds for "dents" after the car is returned with no such damage.

      Had that happen to me. Unfortunately it was after the last trip for a gig in N Ireland. If it'd been earlier then on the next trip an old colleague would have been able to have found a contact in the RUC Fraud Squad.

      1. Little Mouse Silver badge

        Re: I tend to stick

        I try to cover myself against the typical scams, but still got caught out last year when I was billed me an extra 40 Euro on top of the quoted price because the car they issued me with was a diesel.

        Apparently the helpful rental desk employee pointed this out to me in advance, and definitely offered me the chance to not throw money at them for no discernable benefit if I so wished. Anyway, I signed their contract, which clearly spelled out those particular terms, in Spanish, and No Further Correspondence Will Be Entered Into.

        Screw you, Goldcar.

      2. deadlockvictim


        previous commentard» ...RUC Fraud Squad.

        Why stop there? I'd go straight to the top and contact the R.I.C. in Dublin Castle. Stout lads.

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: I tend to stick

      Take photos all round the car when you return it in case they try it on. Wouldn't have saved us in Italy. After we got back we got done for a replacement spare wheel, whole thing not just the tyre. We never so much as lifted the floor of the boot, had no need to. I suspect they just decided to renew and stuck it on the foreign tourist. Fought it as hard as I could, including with Visa as they took the money without asking or advising except after the fact. I even threw my Dr title about. But no dice.

      The title got me some insurance hurry up once though. Designated repairers were recalcitrant after parked woman pulled out right into our rear end. Was advised fine to drive then got pulled over by plod issued with compliance notice. Ran the assessors as Dr, they assumed medical and expedited with new repairers including courtesy car. So it does work in some situations.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Rang the assessors as Dr, they assumed medical

        Yeah, that's right, Ronnie Pickering. Dr Ronnie Pickering.

    3. Tim Seventh

      Re: I tend to stick

      "after the car is returned with no such damage."

      Always if not often you should try this. Buy the second tier car insurance above no insurance (or the one where you pay a small sum if there's any damage) on top of any insurance you already have. For some 'greedy" reason, those car rental company no longer charging extra when there's no damage. Just "maybe" it's because they can't earn as much with the car insurance in place compare to no insurance.

      Also, do take pictures (especially existing dents) of the car right before driving out for your record in case they do charge you for unknown "dents".

      1. Blotto Silver badge

        Re: I tend to stick

        Just purchase annual rental car insurance

        Pay whatever the hire company want and send the invoice to the insurance company.

  2. Chronos

    Small fry

    Just wait until EVs enable full log slurps while on charge. Track, speed, control usage ("throttle" position, braking, steering input) listening habits, calls made, occupancy, times and dates, the lot. Autonomous vehicles will be even worse, especially if this idea of dial-a-shed becomes reality. The scope for private information leakage is enormous.

    With that, facial recognition and smart meters it'll only take getting out of bed and turning on the bog light before some beige numpty in a cardigan with a notebook (computer) can see what you're doing.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't access the data from the phone unless it's connected to the bluetooth therefore it's pretty pointless even if it stores data because you can't access it unless you spoof my phone. Sure the manufacturer might be able to get to it but how likely is that going to happen? They even stated they do a factory reset anyway.

    Have privacy international not got anything better to do?

    1. NonSSL-Login

      Had an Enterprise hire car where a copy of what I assume was the last persons address book was stored in the car. Some cars copy the address book locally so the cars computer can do the speech recognition and dialling rather than your phone.

      Obviously cars need to come with an easy reset for those parts of the system so hire companies and individuals selling their cars can wipe the data.

      You could blame the person using the car before for not wiping everything but like yourself, many are not aware it is actually copying the data rather than just getting it from your phone on the fly. The car hire peeps should be doing the resetting IMO. Ask the manufacturers to keep your business in mind when designing their systems.

      1. zaax

        For the last 6 years, every car I rented has had the previous renters information stored in it, and some of it is quite personal including there home address etc. in the satnav.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fair points however I've never seen one that copies locally, what's the point? It can't make calls till you connect anyway so that voice dialling is useless without the phone. My own bluetooth stereo has no problem accessing the address book when I receive or make a call so it's not like it's done to speed things up.

          Furthermore what use is someones address book when you have no idea whose it is? It's not like it contains personal information like name address bank details.

          I stand by my initial assumption there are better things privacy international could be doing with their time especially in the current climate of data slurping by every tom, dick and app.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Had an Enterprise hire car where a copy of what I assume was the last persons address book was stored in the car.

        I've seen that many times. Also recent destinations in the built-in SatNav history.

        And from the article...

        the drivers' responsibility to wipe their data from the systems."

        Well, it'd be nice if the hire companies (looking at you Enterprise) actually left the manuals in the car so we could figure out how to delete the stuff without having to spend an hour "playing" with the usually shite UI designs,

        Disclaimer: I don't hire cars, but my employer uses Enterprise when my company car is in for a service.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge

      What about those who use the bluetooth to answer calls hands free? You know, using a mobile phone behind the wheel legally?

      1. Ken Mitchell

        Bluetooth Headset

        Want to use your phone hands-free while driving? Bring your Bluetooth headset. NEVER pair your phone with a RENTAL car.

    3. Chronos

      Sure the manufacturer might be able to get to it but how likely is that going to happen?

      Big Data loves you. This data has value to be (I hate this word) "monetised" and Cerberus will be wearing little bootees¹ and a doggie coat before anyone with an MBA and a performance review forthcoming misses this opportunity.

      Please note that said MBA isn't inherently evil, just working in an environment that mandates such tactics to survive.

      ¹ Like these.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Anonymous Cowturd

      "Have privacy international not got anything better to do?"

      With comment like that, I'm surprised you haven't got a gold thingy at the top of your post. Get back to your car rental desk slacker.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anonymous Cowturd

        In total, your posts have been upvoted 26853 times and downvoted 4426 times.

        There you go smarty pants, I prefer to post anonymous because I value other peoples untainted opinions of mine.

    5. Flywheel

      the manufacturer might be able to get to it but how likely is that going to happen

      If it's the subject of a snooping order by the "Authorities" - whoever they may be - quite likely indeed, especially if the vehicle has allegedly been used in a crime.

  4. Zog_but_not_the_first

    Renting a car Paul...

    ... is like making love to a beautiful woman.

    Who goes through your pockets, wallet, phone....

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Renting a car Paul...

      More like screwing a goat in my experience ... you return it to its owner after a day or two and hope nothing nasty happens to you (or your wallet).

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "some said they would update their privacy policies as part of prep for the General Data Protection Regulation"

    They may update their policies. It'll probably take some fines before they update their practices but it looks like that's what they'll need to do.

  6. Stuart 22 Silver badge

    Wotta about the manual?

    Ahem, my problem is attaching my phone to a random rental car's bluetooth. The combination of minimalist number of knobs, maximum functions, designed by somebody who reads down and backwards and NO FLIPPIN' MANUAL to give you a clue.

    I mean the 2" manual you get with your own car is 10% car and 90% in car entertainment. Of course, those of us spent the best part of 50 years decoding undocumented progs do have a better than evens chance of a result, eventually - oh and kudos of helping friends and relatives to pipe their own music through the speakers.

    But really? Is sticking a quick-start guide on the back of the glovebox door so difficult?

  7. tiggity Silver badge

    Never mind the bluetooth

    Too many cars infotainment systems try to interact with your phone as soon as you out it in the USB socket to charge - I carry a cigarette lighter to USN adapter so can charge phone without the cars grubby infotainment system getting near my phone data.

  8. earl grey

    Thank googly for a rotary dial

    Guess I'll never have to worry about my phone data being slurped.

  9. Chairman of the Bored

    Depends on the airport

    Absolutely second the advice of the poster who advised buying the secondary insurance.

    Dozens of trips to Germany. Consistently get screwed in Frankfurt with bogus damage claims. Munich ok. Stuttgart is amazing... fast, clean cars and no B.S.

    London OK, get screwed in Paris. Go figure.

    Worst place in USA has got to be Los Angeles International. All the car lots are off-airport in an area that reminds me of some interesting times I had in Iraq. Having waited forever for a bus while inhaling clouds of diesel smoke, you are taken on a torturous route to the lots. Thoroughly disoriented and delayed 30-60min you are now a captive customer in the agency's filthy facility. Wait another hour and they figure you will sign damn near anything. And why not? Unless you reverse the process through the shuttles or take an exciting walk through Hawthorn - at night perhaps - for an identical shakedown at a competitor's site. This is an freakin' organized crime racket!

    If you've got to go to LA, fly in through John Wayne instead. If coming from abroad you will have to do a connection somewhere but time-wise probably come out ahead regardless. And you won't get shaken down, mugged, etc

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