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single5-Jul-2001opiniondarmichar by votes1031867.7%


Is it OK for a rental car company to track you with a GPS system and charge you money every time you speed?

Recently, a man rented a car from a rental car company and took a trip. The car had a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) system installed in the car. Every time he was caught speeding his debit card was charged $150. He was caught speeding 3 times and incurred charges of $450. He signed a contract that stated this would happen. He is now fighting the charges in court.

50No (please explain)
20Yes (please explain)
10It depends on the situation.
4I don't care.
3Other (please explain)

posted 6-Jul-2001 6:40pm  
No, it's not okay and I believe it was illegal in that state. Only the police can issue fines for speeding.
posted 6-Jul-2001 6:42pm  
I don't think it's ok, but if they do it and tell you before they rent you the car that they will do it and you're a big enough moron to sign the contract anyway...then don't go freakin' crying about it afterwards! DUH!
posted 6-Jul-2001 6:43pm  
This would be just like you borrowing your buddies truck and he says don't speed in it. Right before you leave he throws his GPS behind the seat and you take off and go racing down the highway at 100 miles an hour. When you bring the vehicle back, your buddy is gonna be pissed, and he has the right to because it's his vehicle and you are borrowing it.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
posted 6-Jul-2001 6:58pm  
Yeah, hi Big Brother.
posted 6-Jul-2001 6:59pm  
Only as long as they make sure the person knows and agrees to it first.
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 6-Jul-2001 8:00pm  
The tools we use to take control are taking control of us and stuff.
posted 6-Jul-2001 9:36pm  
My god! What is this world coming to? i think that it's ridiculous and an invasion of privacy. These companies are Not "big brother" by any means, and they aren't cops...i just don't get it.
(reply to Enheduanna) posted 6-Jul-2001 9:38pm  
I didn't look at the answers before I wrote know what they say about great minds...
posted 7-Jul-2001 12:03am  
No! That's bad bad bad!!!!

And that's all I have to say about that.
posted 7-Jul-2001 12:29am  
If it was stated clearly in the contract he signed, then I guess they have the right to do it. I would think you should have to go at least 5 -10 MPH or KPH over the speed limit to be fined, since it's easy to accidentally go a bit faster than you intend to, especially in an unfamiliar car.
posted 7-Jul-2001 12:39am  
I don't think it should be ok, because it is none of their business how fast you're going. They are not the law, they just rent out cars. And they already signed a contract saying that they have to pay for damage on the car. So let them do whatever in it. They're playing for it.
posted 7-Jul-2001 2:58am  
I don't see why not. It was in the contract, which he signed.
I say, if you do the crime, you do the time.

Laws such as speeding are there for a reason. Why can't people wake up, develop a teeny bit of patience, and obey the law!smiley:::smile
posted 7-Jul-2001 6:19am  
I think it should be allowed provided prominent notice is given (and the rental company boycotted). I can't say I'm shedding many tears for the slap that the company in question got from their AG.
posted 7-Jul-2001 6:30am  
Whoever is handling the insurance should be allowed to. Yes.
If it was on his own insurance, then he's paying the gas, so no.
posted 7-Jul-2001 7:07am  
No, it's not OK. That means that the rental firm are profiting from someone else breaking the law - they're effectively issuing their own fines. I don't know about the US, but that's illegal here in the UK.

It would be OK for the rental firm to use the GPS system to report offenders to the police, because the police have the right to know when someone has been speeding. But if they know that someone has been speeding, and even make them pay for it, but don't report them to the police, that makes them an accessory to the crime.

The fact that it's in the contract is irrelevant. The rental company cannot give give permission for someone to break the speed limit, therefore they cannot impose a clause stating what happens if someone does. A contractual clause in the form of "If you do X, you must pay us for it" is only valid if the company can grant permission for X. Payment from an individual to a company must be for a product or service that is actually supplied by the company - if you pay rental fees for a car, then you are paying for the right to drive the car. If you are paying extra for going over the speed limit, then the "service" you are paying for is the right to drive faster than the limit - but that's impossible, as no-one (other than the government) can give this permission.

To use an analogy, suppose the rental firm had installed a camera in a car that was then rented by a thief. Every time the thief steals something and is caught on camera, the rental company charge him $100. What the company is doing here is to make themselves part of the criminal activity - the thief steals, the company profits. I don't think anyone would argue that this is acceptable.

The same is true no matter what law is being broken - whether it's something trivial like speeding or serious like armed robbery - anyone who is aware that the law is being broken has a responsibility to tell the police, but has no right to use the crime to make money for themselves.
posted 7-Jul-2001 8:00am  
There's to much tracking of people these days. Big Brother really has arrived.
jettles Survey Central Subscriber
posted 7-Jul-2001 8:25am  
no, i think that is what the police and law enforcement are for. i think if you speed and they don't want to rent to you anymore then that is their prerogative but to charge you? no way!!
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
posted 7-Jul-2001 8:25am  
Yes, I think it's a good idea. A lot of motorists think it's okay to speed so long as they don't get caught but just an extra 5mph increases the braking distance by a large amount. We have a government ad campaign on at the moment that shows how much further - it's an incredibly long way. People who speed are breaking the law and are more likely to cause serious injuries or death to someone if they hit them - these devices should be fitted to all cars. The rental companies have an especial right - they don't want to see their cars written off because of speeding or involved in other accidents because that will put their insurance rates up. They have every right to fine drivers who break the law because they are a risk for the company. In this particular case, I don't understand how the driver has a leg to stand on - he signed a contract after all.
jettles Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to smurf) posted 7-Jul-2001 8:28am  
but car rental companies are not in business to police drivers, that is what law enforcement does!!! so a car rental company cannot convict you of a crime or ticket you or charge you with a crime!!
jettles Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Biggles) posted 7-Jul-2001 8:35am  
the driver in the car is paying for the insurance or paying for the car if it is damaged. the cars aren't "written off" because of a speeding violation or ticket, the driver is and it goes on the driver's license and the driver's insurance! the car rental company has no right to "fine" the driver.
i agree that the company has a signed contract but i am sure it is not something that they tell you they are doing up front.......i would never sign a contract like that. and i would never drive in a rented car with a gps, which i know may be hard the way things are going, but the rental company has no "right" to know where i am or what my vacation consisted of.......just that i return their car without any damage and with the proper amount of gas!!!!!!
posted 7-Jul-2001 8:43am  
No, it's not okay. Only the police can issue those kinds of fines. Plus, in the news story I saw, it wasn't explained to the customers that there was a GPS system tracking them. They thought they would get the fines if they were caught by the police and issued a summons, not by the rental company. Plus, this rental company was working in a poor, african-american neighborhood and the lawyer that took the case felt the company was preying on the economically underprivileged - making the fine large enough to hurt, but small enough so that it seemed economically unfeasible to hire a lawyer about it.

The whole thing is wrong, wrong, wrong.
posted 7-Jul-2001 9:25am  
It's not the job of the rental company to act as law enforcement. If the guy was speeding, then it's up to the local cops wherever he was speeding to take care of the problems. Also, he could have been going over the speed limit in the state where the rental company was, and not been breaking the speed limit in the state where he was driving. I understand the rental company is being protective of its merchandise, but they are going to lose business if they continue this practice as it's nothing more than another method of invading a person's privacy.
(reply to msgman) posted 7-Jul-2001 11:14am  
If you were a life insurance agent, wouldn't you consider it your right to know that your clients profession was 'thief'? If you loaned an art book, wouldn't you want to know that your friend intended to read it while in the audience of a paint gun battle?
I don't like it either, but I do think it their right as long as they (as they usually do) are covering the insurance.
(reply to msgman) posted 7-Jul-2001 1:43pm  
I can appreciate your analogy, and I'm not sure how laws differ between our countries, but here a traffic violation is a far cry from even a misdemeanor. I don't think knowing that someone is speeding makes a person an accessory to a crime. I assume the rental company figures that speeding causes excessive wear and tear on their cars and that is why they're trying to discourage it, not that they're trying to profit from a crime.

I think the whole thing stinks, but I'm not so sure that it's illegal for them to do it as long as they inform their customers. I don't think they will get much business if people have a choice of going elsewhere.
(reply to darmichar) posted 7-Jul-2001 1:45pm  
Do you know where this happened and which rental company it is? I'd sure be interested in finding out more details about the whole thing.
(reply to SueBee) posted 7-Jul-2001 1:48pm  
I just saw it on the news. It seems like it was some small rental car company in New York, or an adjacent state.
posted 7-Jul-2001 1:53pm  
Hell no. My explnation takes quite selfish stand. | would be speeding up, and I would get fudgeed.
(reply to darmichar) posted 7-Jul-2001 2:10pm  
Okay, thanks. Good survey!
posted 7-Jul-2001 2:32pm  
It is an invasion of privacy and should not happen. But, if someone signs an agreement, then they should stick to it.
(reply to Kristal_Rose) posted 7-Jul-2001 2:39pm  
The difference in your second example is that a paint gun battle isn't illegal. So it's a reasonable restriction to place on, say, the loan of a book, that they don't read it during one!

In the first example, if an insurance company knows that its client is a thief, they would simply refuse insurance altogether. The analogy with the care-rental firm is that they are entitled to say that if the client speeds, this nullifies the rental agreement and the car must be returned immediately. They can also say that if the client has an accident when speeding, they will not be covered by the rental firm's insurance. What they can't do is make speeding something that they effectively sell to the client by charging him for it.
bill Bronze Star Survey Creator
posted 7-Jul-2001 2:54pm  
Yes, as long as it's OK for me to never use that company.
(reply to jettles) posted 7-Jul-2001 6:16pm  
I guess legally they can't ... but for me, if people didn't "break the law" by speeding in the first place, this wouldn't worry them.
posted 7-Jul-2001 7:10pm  
I don't think I would like that.
Is that standard procedure?
I probably wouldn't like it if they fined me any amount.On that note I would ask the company if they did that sort of thing before even renting their cars.
Enheduanna Survey Central Subscriber
(reply to Pomeranian) posted 7-Jul-2001 7:31pm  
I think it's a serious invasion of privacy and stuff.
(reply to msgman) posted 7-Jul-2001 9:17pm  
One subtle distinction: the surcharge was not for speeding per se, but for exceeding a certain speed that is illegal in some parts of the US and legal in others.
posted 7-Jul-2001 11:08pm  
it seems to be creeping into some dangerous territory -- like, what consititutes "speeding" 1 mile over the limit? or 10? or 50? the situtation makes me very wary, and leery. what car company was this?
(reply to msgman) posted 7-Jul-2001 11:57pm  
Streisand's nose is insured. A thief can be honest and have life insurance just like a demolition engineer; it just cost more. The rental company could be seen as having an incremental dangerous driver policy based on actual proof. I met someone a couple nights ago who got pulled over for driving the speed limit because that wasn't normal behavior on that stretch of highway. It's not condoning a crime to charge for it's occurence. I don't like the system because I like to vacation on logging roads. I'd rather be charged for damages than be prevented from taking the risk. Everything is shifting from gov't to economic control though. It's sad that, like you said, it's also therefore is evolving into 'you can do the crime if you can afford it.' I knew one person that regularly paid very pricey speeding tickets as part of his cost of driving (effectively sold to client). We're just looking at a shift in who collects the fines that pay for public safety and amends. A person is free to rent from another company that doesn't monitor how it's vehicles are used. It seems reasonable, if you're going to keep loaning a book out, that if you expect it returned with wear and tear rather than replaced when damaged, that you charge 10 for people who plan to read it at home, and $1.00 for people who borrow it while attending paint gun battles. Whethar you hire your niece to spy on them and see if they take the book to a paint battle is something different. I'd rather pay extra to know the warranty on my portable sound system was not void if taken to the beach or on a boat.

So far we SC'rs have devisive philosophies about why this rental policy is wrong. 1) freedom from spying 2) personal choice about risk 3) privitization of police action 4) condoning crime or making it acceptable if the risks are paid for 5) and right of the lessor to charge for services based on individual risks.

Alas this is a step towards the day when your HMO charges extra for health insurance if the urine test indicates you eat barbequed meat. ..your gas bill increases if you gun the accellerator or brake excessively, you get charged a higher rate for heating utilities if you let some fresh air through the house. Already companies are lining up to charge annual crop seed licensing, and medications like viagara are becoming commonplace. Soon all life functions: sex, eating, dancing, communicating.. could all be intercepted by corporations, and your behavior freedom comes down to a cost issue.
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to sally) posted 8-Jul-2001 8:31am  
Speeding is breaking the speed limit whether that is by 1mph or 50mph! What the rental company chooses to call speeding is, I suppose, up to them.
(reply to Biggles) posted 8-Jul-2001 12:58pm  
Do you drive? It can sometimes be tricky to keep a constant speed, especially in an unfamiliar (rented) car. I'd be furious if I accidentally crept up to 1 mph above the speed limit for just a few seconds and was fined $150. Here in the US it is actually illegal to drive too slow, too, if you're impeding traffic, so what would a person do?
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to SueBee) posted 8-Jul-2001 2:05pm  
I agree, I don't think it's fair to fine someone for going 1mph too slow or too fast. *But* the law *is* the law. If someone wants to be pedantic...........
(reply to Biggles) posted 8-Jul-2001 2:51pm  
Okay, your but makes sense. smiley:::grin
Biggles Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to SueBee) posted 8-Jul-2001 2:56pm  
lol I had to read that a few times before it made sense to me! smiley:::wink
posted 8-Jul-2001 3:26pm  
I could see charging him a fine if he's doin mach 10 down a busy street, or highway. ...but if he's just doin 10, 15, or even 20 over, I don't really see any justification in that seeings people should go with the flow of traffic, and if traffic is goin faster, you'd be screwed...
posted 8-Jul-2001 5:04pm  
I think that's an evil thing for rental car companies to do, and I'd avoid rental car companies that had this in their contracts. The question is, did he know it was in the contract? I tend to believe him when he says he didn't know that; he had a reasonable expectation that speeding tickets were a matter between him and the cops and what's more he had a reasonable expectation that the terms of the contract would apply only to matters in which the rental car company has an interest, which doesn't include whether he drives at 80mph or not.

It's clearly fraud for the rental car company to put in small print saying that by renting the car, you sign over some unrelated right. The question in this case is, how small was the print and how unrelated was the right. It's a fuzzy question, but I come down on the side of the customer.
(reply to SueBee) posted 9-Jul-2001 9:57am  
posted 9-Jul-2001 10:39am  
Bet that car company doesn't stay in business long.
posted 9-Jul-2001 11:07am  
No. As long as the car comes back in one piece, it's none of their business. Someone needs to invent a GPS blocker.
posted 9-Jul-2001 1:14pm  
i wouldn't sign that contract. he is responsible since he did sign it. i don't think it is right to charge for speeding. if you cause an accident and speeding is involved, they could hold that against you, sure. but to charge you for it? no.
(reply to Pooh_Bear) posted 10-Jul-2001 12:58am  
Thank you! I'll check those out when I have more time.
posted 10-Jul-2001 11:23am  
Why should they care?
posted 10-Jul-2001 1:24pm  
Hey--- A contract is a contract.
(reply to msgman) posted 10-Jul-2001 1:28pm  
Actually, I changed my mind, no. Thanks for your analysis there, msgman, I didn't think of those objections.
posted 10-Jul-2001 7:30pm  
Always read the fine print. Always.
posted 10-Jul-2001 8:24pm  
that's cool
He deserved it if he signed the contract.
posted 11-Jul-2001 12:57am  
You can't pass others safely without speeding(at least here). GPS system is fine but it should be used only for navigating and tracking a car if stolen or missing.
posted 12-Jul-2001 2:12am  
it should not matter what speed you are going. the truck is in your care and if you get caught by the police, it is your problem, not the companies. you have to pay the ticket, not the company.
posted 12-Jul-2001 9:07pm  
Given that people are not really expected to read the car rental contract, I think this guy has an excellent chance of beating this in court. If a car rental company wants to initiate a policy like this, they should go out of their way to make sure that the customers are aware of it. That being the case, I wouldn't object. Given the choice, most people would choose a company that didn't have that policy.
posted 15-Jul-2001 1:22am  
The car belongs to the rental company. If they inform you in advance, they have the right to do this.
(reply to natsim) posted 15-Jul-2001 3:20am  
I always do. Have you noticed how surprised people often are by that? I've had people ask me if something was wrong just because I was actually reading before I signed. It's obvious that most people don't take the time.
(reply to SueBee) posted 15-Jul-2001 7:36pm  
Yeah, I've had the same problem, but I'm a bit inconsistent about it. I tend to rely on the honesty of others, which is admirable I guess, but not always wise. smiley:::smile
posted 17-Jul-2001 5:58am  
I don't think it's fair but he should have read the contract first. Also, the company had no right to. The money should have gone to the police and that isn't even a good excuse because if he was caught the number plate is registered to the company and he could have been contacted. The company has broken the law of privacy so it's hard to take sides, he shouldn't have sped in the first place.
posted 18-Jul-2001 11:57am  
Just a remainder not to sign anything without first checking the FINE PRINT!!!
posted 1-Aug-2001 8:40am  
They should of explained that to him, but he also should of read the contract he signed more carefully.
posted 1-Aug-2001 9:28pm  
What's to explain? Their car, their rules.
posted 2-Aug-2001 4:42pm  
Hell no!!! Sometimes it makes absolutely no sense to go the speed limit.
posted 6-Aug-2001 4:20pm  
As long as it is clearly explained to the person that this tracking/fining system is in effect, then I think it is perfectly fine to do it. Everyone is at risk with speeders on the road, either physically (accidents) or financially (insurance rates). If these jerks can't drive according to the rules of the road, then they should be punished. The last time I checked, driving was a privilege, NOT a right!
posted 30-Aug-2001 12:15pm  
Just a few tidbits of information:
1. The "fine print" was approximately 12 size bold font(I saw a copy of the contract he signed on TV) across the top of the contract.
2. The rental car company stated that they did this (tracked the cars) to get a SUBSTANTIALLY lower rate on their insurance for the cars.
posted 2-Sep-2001 8:18am  
I say sue the driver for criminal negligence andsoforth as well. Speeding is a criminal offense and should be persecuted by dramatically harsher penalties than *merely* 150$ per offense.
(reply to darmichar) posted 2-Sep-2001 11:01pm  
Thanks for the update. Now it doesn't sound nearly so unreasonable, although I still think it would not be fair if you got fined the same amount whether you were going 1 mph over the speed limit or 20 mph over.
(reply to bill) posted 3-Sep-2001 11:16pm  
I've been trying to ask Jenn what color she would like her name painted? It's been sculpted for about a week now.All I need is a color then it's in the mail.It is two n's isn't it?If not no problem.I can fix anything.smiley:::smile
(reply to darmichar) posted 5-Sep-2001 12:06am  
That makes it sound reasonable! Do you know any more about what's happened with this case?
(reply to Cleo) posted 5-Sep-2001 11:47pm  
Better chop off that extra n. Maybe you can sell it to Pat and Vanna. smiley:::smile
(reply to SueBee) posted 6-Sep-2001 1:54am  
lol lol Yeah,she finally E mailed me & she gave me the 411 on the double N....So,I guess it's back to the drawing board for me.smiley:::wink
bill Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to Cleo) posted 6-Sep-2001 8:03am  
one n! ...
(reply to bill) posted 6-Sep-2001 11:45pm  
Thanks Bill! I'm sending Jen three names......smiley:::smile
(reply to Cleo) posted 7-Sep-2001 3:04am  
Well, I'm a little late getting on the computer tonight, but...

Happy Birthday, Cleo!!

(reply to Cleo) posted 7-Sep-2001 6:05am  
Wow. I didn't know it was your birthday. 40 must be creeping up on you quick, you vivacious thing, you.
bill Bronze Star Survey Creator
(reply to Cleo) posted 7-Sep-2001 7:40am  
smiley:::smile What shade of green did you decide on?
(reply to Cleo) posted 7-Sep-2001 9:13am  
Happy Birthday smiley:::smile
posted 13-Sep-2001 8:06pm  
He should have read the contract!!
posted 26-Sep-2001 12:22am  
speeding is a job for the police, not the rental car company
posted 27-Sep-2001 8:47pm  
No, its not OK, the rental companies should have no right to take the law into their own hands. As for the contract being signed, there are usally some sort of laws that prevent the person being singed from getting extremly ripped off. I think that there are such laws, in one form or another, I think.
posted 4-Oct-2001 6:19pm  
It is the police who charge you, not a rent a car company
posted 15-Oct-2001 3:38pm  
It would bother me less if there were a clear relationship between loss to the rental company and the fine. But you are already responsible for your own speeding tickets, and for any damage to the car, so they are just imposing another charge on driving their cars.
posted 9-Nov-2001 4:21pm  
ABOSULTY NOT. Police officers are trained to watch for speeders, it's not the rental car company's responsiblity. I would have never signed the contract.
posted 29-Nov-2001 3:43pm  
That's what we have highway police for, isn't it?
posted 2-Dec-2001 5:02am  
Read The F#%!ing CONTRACT fool
(reply to cyconet) posted 2-Dec-2001 5:59am  
are you telling me you read every word on those pages of disclaimer when you join a typical chat site to make sure there's no 'offer your first born' clause in there?
posted 18-Jun-2006 4:07pm  
I see several problems with this
1) Speed laws can differ from state to state.
2) It's the police department's job to enforce the speed laws
3) It's spying by the car rental company

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