The End Of Ownership: Tesla Software Updates Giveth... And Tesla Software Updates Taketh Away...

from the you-don't-own-what-you've-bought dept

A few years back, we wrote about how Tesla automagically extended the range of Teslas in Florida as a hurricane was approaching. While this sounded good, we warned that this wasn't a good thing, when you realized it meant that what you bought could magically and secretly be changed without your permission or desire. In the Florida case, it was for a good purpose, but that wouldn't always be the case. So, it's little surprise that approximately half of all Techdirt readers decided to send me this story from Jalopnik of how Tesla remotely disabled its Autopilot feature on a 2nd hand Tesla Model S after it had been sold:

Tesla officially sold the car to the dealership on November 15, a date I’ve confirmed by seeing the car’s title. On November 18, Tesla seems to have conducted an “audit” of the car remotely. The result of that audit was that when the car’s software was updated to the latest version in December, the Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving Capability (FSD) were removed from the car.

The Jalopnik story is very, very thorough. And, just to be clear, because this is important: Autopilot and Full Self Driving capabilities are not subscription services. It's a one-time payment and the car is supposed to have it for life.

This is all very puzzling. Alec bought the car from a dealer based on a set of features that the dealer understood the car to have when purchased at auction. If Alec saw that the car had Autopilot and FSD when he paid for it, how, exactly, did he not pay for those features?

Those features together are worth $8,000, but as they were already on the car when he bought it, it’s hard to understand how he somehow didn’t pay for them?

I realize that these are software features, but they act like any physical feature of a car. You don’t pay a subscription for FSD or Autopilot, you pay a one-time fee, just like you would for an electromechanical cruise control system on any other car.

If you buy, say, a used Ford Ecosport (not my first choice, but you do you) that has lane keeping assist and active cruise control, and Ford somehow thinks you didn’t pay for those particular features and sends over a service tech to physically remove them from your car, I think we’d all consider that pretty wrong. We might even consider that theft. I’m not clear how what Tesla did here is any different.

The article notes that the purchaser, Alec, then even tried to find out if Tesla would remove such a feature if he wanted a cheaper sale price on a used Tesla, and the company told him it would not. What's even worse is that Jalopnik points to other cases of this happening as well.

In an update to the original post, the dealer who sold the Tesla to Alec says that this isn't even the first time he's seen this kind of thing happen:

I sell dozens of Teslas a year, and sold my father in law a Model X P90D with ludicrous speed package. 60 days after the purchase of the car, Tesla removed his ludicrous speed package. Upon complaints to them they said he never paid for it. We have video evidence and multiple pictures of the vehicle with it. They even removed the line under the P90D. I am still shocked at these acts.

Tesla's only response at the time of writing this is that the car was "incorrectly configured." But, remember, Tesla itself sold the car to the dealer, who then resold it to Alec. And throughout this process, the car clearly showed that it had these features enabled. So, for Tesla to change that after the fact seems like it would dip into outright fraud. Indeed, I'm surprised lawsuits have not been filed.

On a related note, it also opens up a possibly sneaky business model for Tesla: if it takes back out of lease Teslas, or Teslas it's bought back, that had these expensive features enabled, and then disables them before resale, it could double sell these features to new owners who want them. That also seems pretty crappy.

But all of this just highlights how the very concept of ownership is eroding in a world where everything can be software updated automatically. While this has some potentially cool side effects (improvements on the fly!), it can also be used to remove features you paid for, without any obvious recourse. That should concern everyone.

Filed Under: autopilot, cars, elon musk, ownership, software, updates
Companies: tesla


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  • icon
    aerinai (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:31am

    Bait and Switch

    So, if Tesla sells a car with a feature, the feature is enabled, they sell the car, the seller touts these features, the customer buys the car, and then the original seller revokes a feature... That sounds an awful lot like a bait and switch...

    I can tell you that an $8,000 upgrade on a used car is enough for me to return it. And what sucks is, the dealer in the middle is the one stuck holding the bag since they 'bought' it from Tesla with an $8000 option that they can no longer sell.

    Sounds like a lawsuit or two need to occur to get Tesla to shape up.

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    • identicon
      Coffee, 11 Feb 2020 @ 10:19am

      Re: Bait and Switch

      Wait, you think that you can return a car? Some states might have a 2-3 day allowance, but not as many as people commonly think. And no where can one simple return a 60 day old car.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Bait and Switch

      Sound more like theft than bait and switch

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    icon
    Webmaniac (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:37am

    Amazing software for me

    This software is the biggest software update ever. We’re raising the bar for what people have come to expect from their cars with new entertainment, gaming, music, and convenience features designed to make your car much more capable, as well as making time spent in your car more fun.

    This week, Tesla owners around the world will start waking up to Version 10.0 features via an over-the-air update. Here’s a look at what’s new:

    Cinéma Tesla
    Get the most out of Model S, Model X, and Model 3 center displays by connecting to your Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu or Hulu + Live TV accounts to watch your favorite shows, movies and content right from your car while parked. For our China-based customers, we’ll be launching with iQiyi and Tencent Video access, and we expect to add more global streaming and entertainment services over time. Additionally, all customers will have access to Tesla tutorial videos to learn more about their vehicle.

    Smart Summon
    With Smart Summon, customers who have purchased Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot can enable their car to navigate a parking lot and come to them or their destination of choice, as long as their car is within their line of sight. It’s the perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don’t want to walk to your car through the rain. Customers who have had early access to Smart Summon have told us that it adds both convenience to their trips and provides them with a unique moment of delight when their car picks them up to begin their journey. Those using Smart Summon must remain responsible for the car and monitor it and its surroundings at all times.

    My website : Link

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  • icon
    tom (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:45am

    Possible this crosses the line into theft. Not much different then a service dept removing a working AC compressor during a tune up because the current owner didn't specifically pay for the AC option when they bought the car used. Start filing theft charges against Tesla the company and specifically the person(s) that approved the feature removing update after the company audit and stuff like this will likely stop. It is one thing to have to activate lawyer banks 1-4 to defend against lawsuits from unhappy customers, it is entirely more attention getting when LEO's show up with arrest warrants and haul folks away.

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    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 11:02am

      Re:

      and if the courts say we can't sue Tesla for this, maybe congress should write legislation that does.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 12:30pm

        Re: Re:

        mmm... the courts haven't said anything yet. And even when they (district) have, they (appeals, supreme) have not necessarily finished speaking.

        And mind, there are both state and federal venues that might apply, between diversity jurisdiction, and various federal and state laws. The expensive bit will be choosing the right court to send it to first.

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        • identicon
          Rekrul, 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I'm sure there's a clause in the contract somewhere that says that suing Tesla isn't allowed and that all complaints must be handled through binding arbitration. Remember, the supreme court said that including such clauses in contracts was perfectly fine a few years ago.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 11:39am

      Re:

      Possible this crosses the line into theft.

      No. Theft of what? This is just standard computer crime: vandalism via unauthorized remote access.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Buckfarter, 11 Feb 2020 @ 11:50am

        Re: Re:

        I believe this would be considered a form of conversion. The item is still in your possession but has been altered to a state of uselessness or lesser usefulness. It's a scummy thing for Tesla to do and it needs to be addressed in the legal system.

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        • identicon
          Dan, 11 Feb 2020 @ 3:57pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That isn't what conversion means in a legal sense--conversion is a civil action for their taking your physical property. IOW, it's a civil action for theft. Vandalism, possibly. Something under the CFAA, perhaps. Some form of trespass to chattel, maybe. There's an action out there for this, but conversion isn't it.

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          • icon
            steell (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 8:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            IC 35-43-4-3 Version a
            Conversion:
            Sec. 3. (a) A person who knowingly or intentionally exerts
            unauthorized control over property of another person commits
            criminal conversion, a Class A misdemeanor.

            In Indiana anyway. 2014 version so might have been changed/updated since then.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:10am

        Re: Re:

        "No. Theft of what? This is just standard computer crime: vandalism via unauthorized remote access."

        It is. Except that Tesla can easily invoke IP law as the foundation for their pseudocriminal shenanigans. Anyone remember when Sony did the same with the "OtherOS" functionality on their PS3?

        In other words if you want to buy a Tesla, better make sure you jailbreak it. Needless to say that'll invite a John Deere-like lawsuit and require you to be VERY skilled at knowing which update packages are legit and which are aimed at screwing you.

        Under any normal circumstances a case where a vendor sells you goods and then swings by to cripple your property when they damn well feel like it would indeed be criminal.

        Intellectual Property law has always been in fundamental conflict with actual property law and we'll see a lot more of that conflict coming up as ever more sold goods comes to include an umbilical to the OEM by which they retain full control.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 6:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Anyone remember when Sony did the same with the "OtherOS" functionality on their PS3?

          They didn't, though. That stopped working when people "chose" to upgrade. The scare quotes are because networked games and new games wouldn't work if one didn't upgrade—but if the system were not used for gaming, one could live with that. (Fitting in with the "end of ownership" theme, Sony has no obligation to let anyone access or continue to access their network. It's an anti-consumer move, but those are not surprising coming from Sony—even before the original Playstation they'd earned this reputation.)

          To my knowledge, Sony never remotely accessed the Playstations to install that upgrade. Nor did anyone try to pursue a CFAA action. A similar action for Tesla might be if they refused to fix an out-of-warranty car until the owner let them remove the "unauthorized" features.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:49am

    control

    self driving vehicles are all about control
    Like slowly cooking a frog in a pot with no lid...Tesla (et. al) are testing the waters now to see who'll bite. Currently in these 'self driving vehicles' you still have a steering wheel, but eventually that will disappear -as will the gas & brake pedal.

    When you're paying for a vehicle that you can't steer, accelerate, nor slow down, who's actually controlling the vehicle? At that point, all you can do is request destinations and every vehicle is basically a "Johnny Cab".
    No thanks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Andrew (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:50am

    Tacking features via VIN

    One interesting potential concern in this (beyond the obvious ones discussed) is that most cars now have the features shipped with it tracked via the VIN. I can give my dealer the VIN of my car and they can tell me the exact model including every option it was bought with. Mechanics use this to work on the car.

    What happens when some mechanic relies on this and thinks one of these "de-featured" Teslas still has the applicable feature and does something wrong fixing the car?

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  • icon
    Caleb (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:51am

    Not really the case.

    My understanding of the original article was that the car in question had Autopilot enabled for demonstration purposes at the request of the original (pre-auction) dealer. Tesla was not paid for Autopilot to be enabled for the car. The car was then auctioned at some later point. Tesla was not informed of the auction else would have disabled the features which had not been purchased. The dealer who purchased the Tesla then sold it as is. When the buyer registered the vehicle, Tesla noticed that for that VIN, they had not received payment for Autopilot - so they disabled it.

    This is not a bait and switch. The original dealer failed to inform Tesla that the car had been sold (auction) so that Tesla could update the features purchased.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:57am

      Re: Not really the case.

      Yeah, pretty much. The car was incorrectly configured, exactly as Tesla said. The dealer screwed the buyer, then tried to blame Tesla for their own mistakes/fraudulent acts (not clear which), and everyone fell for it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 7:42am

        Re: Re: Not really the case.

        The dealer screwed the buyer, then tried to blame Tesla for their own mistakes/fraudulent acts (not clear which), and everyone fell for it.

        ...and then Tesla still modified the customer's product without permission. As much as the MPAA might like to remotely delete copies of movies that were obtained early (somebody usually gets the physical media and posts a rip 2-3 weeks before dealers are allowed to sell), it's not actually allowed. It's worrying that Telsa feels they have the right to do this. They should've simply sued the dealer for the $10000 or whatever. That would've been a commercial dispute of no public interest.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 10:15am

      Re: Not really the case.

      Just read the article and it seems confirmed to have the features in the spec sheet and it was on after purchase from auction, where are you seeing this info that ir was for demo purposes only?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 11:06am

      Re: Not really the case.

      Really the interface should prominently display a "dealer mode" indicator somewhere to avoid those sorts of issues.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 12:33pm

      Re: Not really the case.

      Whose responsibility was it to keep track of the vehicle?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:27am

      Re: Not really the case.

      "My understanding of the original article was that the car in question had Autopilot enabled for demonstration purposes at the request of the original (pre-auction) dealer. Tesla was not paid for Autopilot to be enabled for the car. The car was then auctioned at some later point. Tesla was not informed of the auction else would have disabled the features which had not been purchased."

      At which point the burden should lie on Tesla and the fraudulent dealer. The buyer obtained his car in good faith.

      If a con man defrauds you and then sells his ill-obtained goods to a 3rd party through a legal channel then in order for you to repossess your goods you still can't just steal it from the current owner. That's still considered "theft".

      Or in this specific case, unlawful conversion. The owner ought to have a case against Tesla for unlawfully crippling his property.
      I say "ought to" because when IP law is involved, ordinary property law goes out the window.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 6:31am

        Re: Re: Not really the case.

        If a con man defrauds you and then sells his ill-obtained goods to a 3rd party through a legal channel then in order for you to repossess your goods you still can't just steal it from the current owner. That's still considered "theft".

        Do you have a citation for that? "Theft" normally refers to taking something from the owner; if stolen property is sold, the buyer would presumably not be an "owner" because the seller had no right to transfer ownership.

        It's likely not relevant here. There's no allegation that anyone stole anything. The dealer may have breached a contract with Tesla, but whether Tesla can legally do anything to the new (actual) owner depends on that owner's contracts with Telsa and/or the dealer.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:56am

    Was Tesla purchased by Sony?
    When did this happen?
    I need to stay in touch more often, who woulda thunk?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy Lyman (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 10:50am

    Dealer Update

    This is a little confusing to me because in the Service Invoice the concern says "now I have Autosteer only". That's Autopilot. Sounds like just his Full-Self Driving upgrade was removed.

    Also, what is the "it disappeared" in this statement from the used car dealer?

    One day, a random message popped up saying your autopilot has been upgraded after a software update. Then it disappeared. I figured it was a glitch. I already had an agreement with Alec to purchase the vehicle.
    He did come and test drive it a few days later, and we both agreed it was a technical difficulty or bug that would be fixed by next software update.

    If "it" is FSD then they both knew the FSD wasn't available, or at least something was wrong with it, when the dealer sold it.

    Still strange that a package was removed after Tesla Auctioned it, but slightly less nefarious timing.

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  • icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 11:00am

    Ownership > Tenancy

    But all of this just highlights how the very concept of ownership is eroding

    which is why I still (legally) download music files instead of streaming them. If you stream something, it can go away at the whim of the proprietor. Not so for files you own. Otherwise, it's fraud, like the case in this TechDirt article.

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    • icon
      btr1701 (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 2:13pm

      Re: Ownership > Tenancy

      If you stream something, it can go away at the whim of the proprietor. Not so for files you own.

      Not always true. Sometime the companies reach onto your computer or device and delete things you've paid for. It's happened with eBooks several times.

      The only way to ensure it doesn't happen is to backup your entire library onto media that the content company can't reach.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:32am

        Re: Re: Ownership > Tenancy

        "Sometime the companies reach onto your computer or device and delete things you've paid for. It's happened with eBooks several times."

        ^This.

        The most convenient solution is, of course, to obtain your software through piracy instead of through the platform which allows the OEM to remove or block installed software you legally purchased.

        "The only way to ensure it doesn't happen is to backup your entire library onto media that the content company can't reach."

        Which is often difficult or impossible for the average consumer since the entire point of forcing customers to install through a platform is to ensure the vendor retains control over when the software can run or the media can be played back. And when you "fix" this what you are left with is the "pirate" version.

        It's shit like this which removes all moral quandary over patronizing filesharing sites rather than legitimate outlets.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 11:41am

    This is not quite new.
    Sony did the exact same thing with the PS3 quite a few times.
    There was a joke running around that portrayed the PS3 as the only console in the market to lose features on each "upgrade".

    That it now affects cars makes it more serious, but not new.

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  • icon
    DB (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 11:56am

    Lemon law buy-back and subsequent sale

    A key missing detail is that this vehicle was apparently a 'lemon law' buy-back.

    That might change the analysis, both morally and legally.

    For me it moves the transaction away from a 'first sale' doctrine limit, where the manufacturer has no control after an item is sold. In this case the original sale was effectively reversed by a requirement of a state law. This was a subsequent sale, where the original window sticker and invoice might not be relevant.

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    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 9:34am

      Re: Lemon law buy-back and subsequent sale

      It might be a different type of sale, but it's still a legal one, where the retailer sold a car with a list of features, some of which got deactivated after the sale. You might expect defects in such a sale, but this is a case where a feature was willfully deactivated after the purchase, not a defect that existed before.

      This could have been relevant if one of these features not working was the cause of the buyback. This would then be documented somewhere (though maybe not actively disclaimed), and would predate the second sale. This might void the customer's standing to sue, but that case above doesn't seem to match these conditions.

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    icon
    Zof (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 12:18pm

    Balance? hahahaha

    You won't find that here.

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 12:18pm

    This is total grounds for piracy or jailbreaking.

    At the point that there's no drawback for reducing a device's utility after a detected second-sale, there's no drawback for just bricking it.

    This also just encourages piracy and jailbreaking, and conditions the ecosystem to better facilitate both.

    (Then Elon Musk and John Deere hire ICE to crack down on illegal appliance software and the next thing you know you have a 100,000 word cyberpunk thriller with nods to Neil Stephenson.)

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    • icon
      Samuel Abram (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 1:52pm

      Re: This is total grounds for piracy or jailbreaking.

      Then Elon Musk and John Deere hire ICE to crack down on illegal appliance software and the next thing you know you have a 100,000 word cyberpunk thriller with nods to Neil Stephenson.

      Or Cory Doctorow.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 1:34am

        Re: Re: This is total grounds for piracy or jailbreaking.

        "Or Cory Doctorow."

        Whose early writings now resemble divine prophecy when you look at the outcome today.

        Do we really want to live in a world predicted by Doctorow and Orwell?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 6:41am

          Re: Re: Re: This is total grounds for piracy or jailbreaking.

          His story Unauthorized Bread is readable online, and deals with the idea of companies being able to remotely change certain "owned" objects.

          "Things were good, until the appliances started to disobey her. … … Right up until that moment she’d felt like she had some intuitive sense of which things were objects-with-rules and which ones were objects-without-rules, felt it so readily that she hadn’t even named the two categories until just that instant. Now that she tried to come up with a rule to explain the difference between the two, she found she couldn’t."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 12:24pm

    What I think will be interesting; Is when somebody hacks their software and then decides to give themselves 50K worth of options and shut Tesla out of the resale. .. crap, google says it's already happened...

    https://electrek.co/2017/09/27/hacked-tesla-model-s-p90-sale/

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  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 1:27pm

    I wonder if Tesla disabled those features for Starman's Roadster. Wouldn't want them damn aliens getting features they didn't pay for.

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    • identicon
      OGquaker, 11 Feb 2020 @ 8:22pm

      Re: More hedge fund click-bait

      VCR's always came in basic and upgraded models for higher prices. The 'upgrade' was resident in the remote control, all tape players had these upgrades, accessible with the remote only.
      Also, the factory in Japan would run a predicted number of units then get gutted & rebuilt for a newer product, thus unsold units would be heavily discounted....kind of like cars.
      The dealer is lying, or Tesla. You Decide®

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  • identicon
    Anon, 11 Feb 2020 @ 2:17pm

    Not the whole story?

    A follow-up I read said the FSD had been turned on as a demo (as previous posters mention). It would then be the dealer/seller's responsibility to inform the buyer this feature was not "locked in", since that temporary nature of FSD is an attribute of the car they are selling. (And price it accordingly, since car dealers are honest) Also, at some times, FSD and AutoPilot are available as a free 30-day trial. AFAIK purchased options DO follow the car from owner to owner. The bummer is the options also (it follows) die with the car - people who bought FSD and totalled their vehicle must buy it all over again; better be sure your insurance covers this.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 6:52pm

      Re: Not the whole story?

      Since when do purchased options not go with the car? If I was just coming up in this generation, I would be insanely going after these fucking corporations.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        rick (profile), 14 Feb 2020 @ 6:21pm

        Re: Re: Not the whole story?

        I think the point is the options were not paid for by anybody. They were activated for a demo. Then the car got sold and resold.

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  • icon
    Dan (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 3:38pm

    Cars as a service

    Linus Tech Tips' WAN show had an interesting discussion as cars as a service because of this, regarding features being attached to a user, not the car. Interesting discussion. Unfortunately, I can't find which episode to link here.

    But it seems to me that until that happens, the feature set should be locked at the time of original purchase. Even then, I can see giving endless software support troublesome. It's one thing to stop giving updates to a navigation center, no one may die from that. It's quite another to stop updating self driving features, I would think. An interesting first-world dilemma. With corporate fleets jumping onto this bandwagon, someone in charge (private or gov.) is going to have to regulate the do and don'ts very soon.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 9:33pm

      Re: Cars as a service

      Buckminster Fuller would have approved cars as a service, as most drivers are using their cars almost within that mode.
      A 1982 C600 21k GVW stakebed, a 1984 MB 190D, a 1989 12 passenger church van, a 2001 GMC van, all with less than 70k miles when bought below scrap price & all use this driveway. Bucky would approve such a long service life.
      Fashion drives most car sales, buying the same car underneath over and over. My 1939 LaSalle had the same suspension as the 2001 GMC, GM's "G" platform was produced from 1969 to 1988. Trade it all for a Tesla striped of all bells and whistles? You bet, it will probably be driving past 400,000 miles.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 6:08pm

    Tesla is pulling a tax trick. Charging second buyer for those features already paid for by the original buyer should be illegal as fuck. Too bad. Of all the greedy corporations in the world, I honestly thought tesla was going to treat the people right-er.

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  • icon
    TKnarr (profile), 11 Feb 2020 @ 6:32pm

    One reason to modify buying a car in the future. I've already seen it with features like LoJack which combine on-car hardware with a service you need a subscription for, but with this it looks like the same care needs to be applied across the board. When you buy a car other than brand-new from a dealer, you need to get a copy of the original dealer invoice showing exactly what was part of the car when first purchased and possibly original invoices for anything that's been added since so that you have the paperwork to prove what features you own.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2020 @ 8:20pm

    Mike, you used the example of Tesla reselling the same car, and charging extra to reenable a feature which is already had. There is a huge difference though.
    When you buy something, you know what features you are getting. You have the decision to pay for what you are getting or not buy it.
    If a dealer bought a used car with a tow hitch, and removed the tow hitch, then sold the car, and offered to install the tow hitch for an additional price, it is the buyers choice to pay extra for it or not.
    The difference is when you buy a car with certain features, can those features be removed once you pay for it.

    There is another more important issue, ala the Autodesk Autocad decision. when you purchase a used Tesla, do you have to agree to the terms of service/contract with Tesla?
    1) I buy a used Tesla from my friend. At that moment, Tesla is not a party to the contract. I have not agreed to any of Tesla's terms. When I start the car, and start driving, is there a shrink-wrap type warranty or contract that I am required to agree to prior to actually driving the vehicle? Is there any notice that by driving it, I am agreeing to privity with Tesla?
    2) When I buy a Tesla from Tesla, is there any terms that I must agree to which limits my ability to sell to a 3rd party? Must I agree to require the new owner to agree to the any terms or assign the contract to them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 4:44am

      Re:

      To own a Tesla, you create a Tesla Account which allows you to manage your car, keys, and payment options. Creating that account accepts the Customer Privacy Policy and Supercharger Fair Use Policy.

      I guess you could just take the card from the previous owner and not make an account. But then he'd have owner access on your car, which includes remote unlock, start, windows, etc.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Feb 2020 @ 3:42pm

        Re: Re:

        To own a Tesla, you create a Tesla Account

        One seriously can't buy a (Tesla) car without creating an online account? What happens if the terms change to something that the customer is no longer willing to accept? I suppose they just have to hope the new agreement doesn't ban resale. It all sounds very dystopian.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 4:05pm

          The dystopia of corporate-to-customer GFYs

          During the early aughts I ran up a bit of debt (as my lenders were eager to have me do), but with careful management / reckless wheeling and dealing I was able to get all of my debt onto a couple of low interest consolidated loans. (I assume. is a 3.0 APR low?) I was paying my monthly and all was relatively well.

          Then the subprime mortgage crisis happened. And the economy tanked.

          Suddenly all of my creditors decided it just wasn't right that I taking my time paying my monthly minimums while they were only making three percent. And arbitrarily (because they could and I couldn't stop them) they altered the contract and raised my APR to 12. Just because. What was I going to do? Borrow more money to hire a lawyer?

          So yes, big companies routinely alter contracts with their customers which they have to except or get stuck in dire straits, especially if they depend on the service being rendered.

          So yeah, Tesla could choose to brick their cars the way Microsoft bricks XBox Ones or Apple bricks iPhones. And there's nothing for it.

          Welcome to the new neofeudal order.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Feb 2020 @ 4:07pm

            Because homophones.

            _...big companies routinely alter contracts with their customers which they have to accept...

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Tanner Andrews (profile), 15 Feb 2020 @ 2:16pm

            Re: The dystopia of corporate-to-customer GFYs

            they altered the contract and raised my APR to 12. Just because

            It strikes me as more likely that the agreements were similar to the common types of credit card agreements I have seen.

            In one type, the bank may change the rates because they are keyed to something, and not always something scrutible. This is nasty, but in theory you are sort-of warned in advance.

            The other type is where they may send you a new set of terms and conditions, and you "accept" by (their choice of) using the card, not objecting, being out of town when it arrives, not cutting it in two and sending it back, or not checking their website often enough. This is nasty.

            Fair warning: some agreements contain arbitration provisions, which are also nasty and contain either no or very short opt-out periods. And you cannot properly quote the term "accept" because this silly markdown stuff mungs quotes.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 12 Feb 2020 @ 11:11am

    But all of this just highlights how the very concept of ownership is eroding in a world where everything can be software updated automatically. While this has some potentially cool side effects (improvements on the fly!), it can also be used to remove features you paid for, without any obvious recourse. That should concern everyone.

    Sadly, nobody in the general population seems to care.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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