from the charge-me-extra-to-use-something-I-already-own,-please dept
We’ve noted several times now how automakers have started taking basic car functions and trying to make them subscription services in a bid to please Wall Street. Mercedes, for example, has started hiding better engine performance behind subscription paywalls. BMW last year decided it was going to make heated seats an $18 per month subscription option.
Wall Street loves this sort of nickel-and-diming because it provides a consistently new revenue stream that can be nudged ever higher by the auto manufacturer. Consumers unsurprisingly aren’t quite as enthusiastic, because it basically involves charging people extra to use technology that they already own, already exists in the car, and is usually already included in the retail price.
Unfortunately for BMW, they had to back off of the whole subscription heated seat thing because consumers hated the idea. At least according to BMW marketing boss Pieter Nota, who had this to say to AutoCar:
“What we don’t do any more – and that is a very well-known example – is offer seat heating by this way. It’s either in or out. We offer it by the factory and you either have it or you don’t have it.
“We thought that we would provide an extra service to the customer by offering the chance to activate that later, but the user acceptance isn’t that high. People feel that they paid double – which was actually not true, but perception is reality, I always say. So that was the reason we stopped that.”
By the “acceptance isn’t that high,” Nota means nobody wanted to be charged extra to use technology they already own. And while he claims that people weren’t paying double for heated seats (both as a subscription and included in the retail price), it’s extremely hard to believe automakers would imperil their revenues in any fashion. Once you open the door to this model, the bilking never really stops.
While BMW won’t be offering heated seats as a subscription service, they’ll absolutely still embrace subscription-based services when it comes to stuff like driver assistance features.
But for now, at least, you won’t have to pay extra to use your radio or use the highest windshield wiper setting. While it’s great to see consumer disdain make an impact, there’s no shortage of folks with more disposable income than sense; meaning similar, dumb ideas are all but guaranteed.