I’m sure you can relate to the statement in my headline above. Who can possibly be passionate about every issue that’s out there floating around? As I get older, I pick and choose the subjects I get flustered about very carefully. There’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and worrying about some particular things tends to be a distraction rather than a productive use of the ever-decreasing amounts of energy I have on hand. I also guard against getting too sweaty about anything I can’t control.
Usually, I find that the ones I allow myself to get lathered up over are the ones that affect family, my personal friends or me. Now, of course, there are those pet peeves that I have always carried the sword around over, but we don’t need to waste time here on such longstanding personal axes to grind.
I thought I had pretty well supported the data issue that is alive in our industry. I have written several columns on it and sponsored numerous industry initiatives to draw awareness. In my mind I thought I was passionate about the subject and supporting it. Then, the letter came in the mail recently.
The letter was from my auto insurance company and seemed pretty mundane. It was not marked as a bill and did not feel like the usual 14-page declarations change document – just a single sheet of paper. I opened and started half-consciously reading it. The insurance company had acquired data from a third-party source that stated Mrs. Shriber is driving more than we usually do, and it put us into a higher rate structure. Wait, WHAT? Now they had my full attention. Of course I didn’t like the rate increase, but if we’re in a different mileage band, so be it.
What was this third-party mumbo jumbo? I have nothing jammed into the OBD II port to report driving habits to anyone. Moreover, I have not authorized anybody to stalk our driving habits. Then it dawned on me. Every month we get a report in our e-mail on the health and well-being of our vehicle. This includes our current mileage. Bingo. Third party, my eye. Our vehicle manufacturer sold that data to an aggregator, which then sold it to the insurance company.
Again, it’s not the rate increase at issue here. We owe that if we are driving more. The problem as I see it is that driving data should be in our control. I have never knowingly signed away that right. Someone just seems to think it is theirs. What else do they think is theirs? Repair data? Repair procedures? Parts specifications? Where does it stop?
If you think this won’t affect you or your business, think again. Now is the time for us in the automotive aftermarket to speak up. The industry had to fight for more than a decade to get ‘Right to Repair’ passed. Now is the time to start this battle before existing practices become accepted as business as usual. Contact your associations and your representative and let them know where you stand.
Personally, I am buying a lead shield for my car until we get this ironed out.