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Garden State Looks to Outlaw 'Subscription' Charges in New Vehicles

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As we continue to exponentially overdo our technological dependence, there are plenty of ways in which the corporate world has found to exploit this.

Take, for instance, car manufacturers who are now putting some of the features that your car already has behind a paywall.  Things like heated seats, which are installed in many vehicles, won’t function unless you pay a monthly subscription to the automaker to unlock them.

The sleazy tactic is now the subject of a new bill in the Garden State.

Subscriptions for in-car services: Nobody seems to want them—besides automakers, of course. Paying a subscription for things like heated seats or remote start is something most people aren’t enthusiastic about. Luckily for them, neither are lawmakers in New Jersey. Two state legislators are proposing a bill that would ban car companies from “[offering consumers] a subscription service for any motor vehicle feature” that “utilizes components and hardware already installed on the motor vehicle at the time of purchase.” Yes, that would include a pre-installed heating element in a seat. In fact, that’s explicitly mentioned.

But will it work?

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The bill has one stipulation, however. The subscription would only be unlawful if there was no “ongoing expense to the dealer, manufacturer, or any third-party service provider.” In other words, if an automaker or other associated party can prove that it costs money to maintain the feature and/or service in question, then it’d be legally allowed. This would include services like OnStar and such.

The way “ongoing expense” is interpreted is going to be key here, assuming the bill makes it into law. This, obviously, is not guaranteed. In theory, a car company could claim that over-the-air updates and their associated data costs constitute an ongoing expense. That means anything to do with connected features could theoretically be charged for. Since a car needs an internet connection in order to purchase subscriptions, well, that might make this particular piece of legislation worthless. On the other hand, if the core value of the subscription is derived from the pre-installed hardware as opposed to the data connection itself, then there is probably a case to be made.

Automakers could be fined up to $20,000 per instance under the new law.


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About the Author:
As a lifelong advocate for the dream promised us in the Constitution, Andrew West has spent his years authoring lush prose editorial dirges regarding America's fall from grace and her path back to prosperity. When West isn't railing against the offensive whims of the mainstream media or the ideological cruelty that is so rampant in the US, he spends his time seeking adventurous new food and fermented beverages, with the occasional round of golf peppered in.