Driver Stranded After 'Smart' Rental Car Can't Phone Home

from the dumb-tech-is-smart-tech dept

If there's one recurring theme for the internet-connected era, it's that smart technology increasingly isn't all that smart. Your smart locks bleed personal data and can be easily hacked. Your "smart" refrigerator can leak your Gmail credentials. Your "smart" oven can turn on in the middle of the night, potentially putting you at risk. Even your "smart" Barbie doll would be better left in its dumb incarnation given it can be used to spy on toddlers.

Some "smart" rental cars appear keen on continuing the theme.

Last weekend, Guardian journalist Kari Paul took a trip to rural California for a story she was working on. To get there, she rented a car through a local car-sharing service called GIG Car Share, which rents a fleet of electric Chevrolet Bolt EVs and hybrid Toyota Priuses to Bay Area residents. But Paul, who was headed to a rural area roughly three hours north of Oakland didn't have much fun on her trip. In part because the car she rented effectively became useless after the car's computer system lost cell signal. Without a tendril to the mothership, the rental car simply refused to start, leaving Paul stranded:

Ultimately the joy of modern technology didn't prove much of a joy, and the company added insult to injury via terrible customer service, which involved some 20 (!) calls to support staff, and the recommendation that the customer sleep in the car overnight:

As Ars Technica notes, the company does offer users an RFID card to use to lock or unlock the car in areas of poor cell service, though that clashes with the company's marketing for instant convenience and "on the spot" rentals. The company's messy design will now likely result in a massive PR nightmare, and a reminder that in the modern era, dumb technology routinely winds up being the smarter option.

Filed Under: apps, car rentals, internet connected cards, internet of things, kari paul, stranded
Companies: gigcarshare


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Peter, 19 Feb 2020 @ 4:45am

    Re: this seems familiar...

    Round here some enterprising scamps put up parking signs on a road, with a number to call to pay for parking with your credit card. Guess what happend to your credit card info?


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.