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Transportation Businesses

GM Car Owners With OnStar Now Can Be Their Own Rental Agencies 195

Posted by timothy
from the what-an-enterprise dept.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the world of micro-rentals just got a whole lot more crowded, with the introduction of a nationwide partnership between GM and ride-sharing company RelayRides. RelayRides has been arranging short-term car sharing in just a few cities for several years; car owners can sign up to make their own cars available for short-term rentals to others, so their expensive investment (especially in cities where parking is like a second apartment's rent) isn't sitting idle. Now, the two companies are rolling out that system in a much larger market: the rest of the U.S. Owners of GM cars new enough to be equipped with OnStar monitoring systems will be able to sign up to take part with the OnStar system providing the ability to unlock and track those cars remotely, which might make the bargain more attractive to many owners who'd like to earn money from their cars (and reduce the total number of cars needed in a given area), but reluctant to hand the keys to a stranger. (Cars without the system can still be enrolled, but will require a key hand-off.)
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GM Car Owners With OnStar Now Can Be Their Own Rental Agencies

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  • Still Evil (Score:3, Funny)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:40AM (#40672985)

    Even though this seems like a good thing, there is a corporation involved so I'm sure there is evil involved.

    Gentlemen of Slashdot, affix your tinfoil hats and let's start dissecting this!

    • Re:Still Evil (Score:4, Interesting)

      by vlm (69642) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:48AM (#40673051)

      Even though this seems like a good thing, there is a corporation involved so I'm sure there is evil involved.

      Gentlemen of Slashdot, affix your tinfoil hats and let's start dissecting this!

      1) Find car you'd like to steal or strip.
      2) Social engineer the car to be a part of this "rental agreement".
      3) "rent" car using the usual fake ID stuff (or just tell them you're an illegal and they're not allowed to discriminate against you).
      4) Drive to steel walled warehouse or just strip the parts you want, after all they have fake ID.
      5) Profit!

      I am virtually certain GM is not prepared for the security implications of this.

      Another interesting topic is I rent the Home Depot truck when I'm transporting garden manure etc. I wonder how they handle borderline situations where its not illegal or wrong, but...

      The last topic I've never been able to understand is there used to be intense publicity about civil forfeiture, where you'll lose your car non-judicially just because a cop wants it. Now this could happen to anyone walking down the street, but how do these rental deals handle having the cops steal a car from a renter?

      • by Kokuyo (549451)

        "2) Social engineer the car to be a part of this "rental agreement"."

        Uh-huh, because if you want to strip a car, you're not just going to smash the window and hotwire the car with the little box you bought off of e-bay in under 5 minutes. Riiiight.

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:00AM (#40673859) Homepage

          "2) Social engineer the car to be a part of this "rental agreement"."

          Uh-huh, because if you want to strip a car, you're not just going to smash the window and hotwire the car with the little box you bought off of e-bay in under 5 minutes. Riiiight.

          Of course not. That little box you bought on eBay likely came from some sweatshop in China and, for all you know, contains lead (a product known to the State of California to cause Cancer).

          A little social engineering is pure, American made goodness (or maybe Nigerian, but hell, we're all free marketeers here, right?).

          Why do you hate America?

          • by gman003 (1693318)

            Why do you hate America?

            Do you *really* want the full list, or should I just point you to the last half century of American history?

            • by AK Marc (707885)
              Half century? Try a full one. The US screwed up in WWI by entering on the side of the English. If the US had refrained completely from entering, or entered on the side of the Germans, it's likely that WWII would never have happened. The US also started screwing with internal politics in gross and "illegal" means starting with the White Revolution in the USSR, helping cause nearly a century of animosity and trouble in eastern Europe. Then, with the failure of the US to endorse and push the League of Nat
              • by gman003 (1693318)

                Joining WW1 on the side of Germany would have been retarded. Britain had naval dominance, so it would be a military failure. Britain also was (and is) a massive trading partner for the US, so it would have screwed up our economy as well.

                And, while you may be right in saying if the US hadn't entered the war, WW2 wouldn't have happened, you could also make the case that if there had been an actual conquest of Germany (rather than surrender), WW2 would not have happened. And without the US, that conquest would

        • by vlm (69642)

          "2) Social engineer the car to be a part of this "rental agreement"."

          Uh-huh, because if you want to strip a car, you're not just going to smash the window and hotwire the car with the little box you bought off of e-bay in under 5 minutes. Riiiight.

          Seems like a lot of risk to take on in public which you can avoid with just a little paper and social engineering.

          This is sounding like why social engineer yourself past the front desk guard when you can just crash a car thru a ground floor window?

          Now you could have fun by setting up your enemy as a new renter so as to trash their car.

      • Re:Still Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Thiez (1281866) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:00AM (#40673189)

        Seems like a lot of trouble. Wouldn't it be much easier to steal the car the old-fashioned way? Presumably your method would result in the organisation having a picture of you (from your fake id), and the monitoring system would reveal the car mysteriously disappearing when entering your steel walled warehouse. So basically the police now know your face and your hideout.
        Even if that does not lead to your capture, they can put your picture in a database and the next time you attempt to steal a car you'll get flagged and arrested.

      • better to stage a fake accident with the rented car and have the deep pockets of GM / on star / RelayRide pay out.

      • Re:Still Evil (Score:4, Insightful)

        by danomac (1032160) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:16AM (#40674077)

        What I was wondering is in the case of legitimate rental use, I don't think regular car insurance will suffice. I wouldn't be surprised if one of the car owners finds that out the hard way.

        All you need to do is rent the car to a guy nicknamed Crash that can't afford to acquire/insure a car for his/her own use...

      • by slew (2918)

        1) Find car you'd like to steal or strip.

        Okay you found a generic GM car. Now why is this "GM" car special that you want to steal it?

        2) Social engineer the car to be a part of this "rental agreement".

        Why bother?, if you want this particular GM car, just steal it. At a minimum, you probably need the get around having vehicle account verification information to social engineer adding the to the rental system, So if you think you do this, just social engineer Onstar unlock the car instead of adding them to this rental company agreement. That's probably easier to do, since if you want to sign-up, they'll probably

        • by vlm (69642)

          At this point, I don't think there is much difference between this rental and a typical car rental...

          However, I could trash the car of the supvr who fired me with this scheme, as opposed to generic Enterprise renta-car model.

          Also I've heard in Vegas you can rent a Ferrari, but around here I've only seen the worlds most boring 4-door commuter cars, with the exception of a couple heavy duty trucks (but that's bordering on ripping off uhaul, not enterprise rentacar). Privately owned cars seem much more interesting.

          • Yes in Vegas you can rent a Ferrari as well as a host of other sports cars. When I was out there with my wife a few years ago I rented a Lotus Elise for a day. Of the fancy cars it was the cheapest and only like $10 more than a Ford Mustang but I like little roadsters so it was worth it for a day of driving around seeing some of the other stuff in the area. As much fun as getting something like a Lamborghini of Ferrari would be I still wanted the Elise.
          • Also I've heard in Vegas you can rent a Ferrari, but around here I've only seen the worlds most boring 4-door commuter cars, with the exception of a couple heavy duty trucks [...]

            I sometimes do this--not the Ferraris or Lamborghinis, mind you, but somewhat more modestly priced cars (Audis, BMWs, etc.). Check around for "exotic" rentals. You may not be able to find Ferraris, but you can probably rent more than just you standard econobox.

            One interesting thing about these agencies is that they do not provide

            • by slew (2918)

              I would assume that if you're doing a car-sharing type of arrangement, the insurance will be an important consideration. Before I let some maniac behind the wheel of my Corvette or Cadillac, I'd want to make sure that his insurance will be buying me a new one if he totals it.

              Most p2p car sharing services today have a umbrella insurance policy that superceed personal policies during the rental period (which is paid for out of the rental take). This used to be a murky areay of the law (some insurance policies were void if you rent out your car for money), but for many locales, recent changes in the law that require both that 1) insurance companies to accept personal vehicle sharing program insurance covereage w/o voiding their personal coverage, and 2) the personal vehicle shari

      • by jpapon (1877296)

        2) Social engineer the car to be a part of this "rental agreement".

        If you can do that, you can probably just find a way to use the on-star system directly to unlock/start the car. If you are able to submit a valid rental agreement, why wouldn't you be able to get a "I lost my keys" request through?

      • by chrismcb (983081)
        LONG list of things to do to steal car...
        I am pretty sure there are much easier ways to steal a car... Like say hot wiring it and driving it away.
    • welcome to Straw Man City.

    • by hsmith (818216)
      Strange, because in the 1900's governments killed 100's of millions of their own citizens, through intentional famine, war, and genocide.

      Not sure the last time GM killed 40,000,000 people like Mao in the Great Leap Forward.

      But yeah, fuck evil corporations!
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        Well, it was meant to be satire... my zero mod tells me I was completely unsuccessful. I thought the bit about the tin foil hats would show that I was being sarcastic, but alas...

  • Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TorrentFox (1046862) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:47AM (#40673043)

    Great news for people who want the shit beat out of their cars by random strangers.

    • Re:Sweet (Score:5, Insightful)

      by metalgamer84 (1916754) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:04AM (#40673219)
      My first thought as well.

      Piece of advice to people that cant afford their car so they need to rent it out: Find a cheaper car you can afford or switch to a different mode of transportation. If you are even considering renting your car out for extra cash, your car costs too much.
      • by cdrudge (68377)

        It's no that they can't afford their cars. Monthly parking can easily run more then a monthly car payment for a luxury vehicle. Even if you got a $500 beater, you'd still be paying $400-800 a month to park it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by cpu6502 (1960974)

          Then move to the suburbs where parking is free (in your own driveway, or in apartment parking lots).

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          Then take public transit. Name one city where renting a space for a car costs more than $300/month and they don't have excellent public transit options.

          • by russotto (537200)

            Then take public transit. Name one city where renting a space for a car costs more than $300/month and they don't have excellent public transit options.

            New York.

            (Nope, no excellent public transit options. Halfway decent public transit options in most of Manhattan and a few parts of the other boroughs. Rather poor public transit (as in slow-ass buses) everywhere else.)

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              The parts of New York that would have $300/month parking are generally the parts that have good public transit.

              You think people are paying $300/month to park on long island?

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Name one city where renting a space for a car costs more than $300/month and they don't have excellent public transit options.

            San Francisco. I lived in Bernal Heights and worked at the foot of Potrero Hill. I could drive to the neighborhood I worked in and park in 15-20 minutes, the variance being largely determined by the difficulty of finding parking. I had to spend at least 1h15m (pretty much always longer) taking a bus, the muni, and a bus to get to work on public transport. To do it on foot probably would have taken 30 minutes but I was still pretty damned fat then so I wasn't into it, though I probably should have been.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Great news for people who want the shit beat out of their cars by random strangers.

      Modern cars are so depressingly hard to abuse that this is almost a non-issue. The old gags, like neutral dropping the transmission to do a burnout in an automatic, are a thing of the past thanks to hyper-aware engine computers that know when not to let the operator do things that might hurt the engine. We are almost at a point where a service like OnStar could even put the car into "no speeding mode" and prevent the operator from violating the speed limit at any given moment. About the only thing that c

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        The car I rented was pretty beat-up. Only 5000 miles with a scratch on the passenger door, and scratches around the driver door handle. People just don't give a shit about taking care of other people's property. (Which is probably why everyone's so deep debt... constantly replacing the stuff they didn't take care of.)

        My first car lasted 360,000 miles and my second car looks like it will live to see 250,000 (it's japanese Mitsubishi so they don't have as much longevity). No scratches at all. Loan out my

      • Modern cars are so depressingly hard to abuse that this is almost a non-issue.

        I take it you're not around teenagers on a regular basis. No?

      • You can still check to see that the curbs exist (this will probably knock it out of alignment, if not repeat until it does), stand on the brakes and gas at the same time and cook the converter, ride the brakes until you boil the fluid, floor it immediately after the engine catches when starting, turn off the traction control and whip some shitties (go in reverse if in a front wheel drive vehicle), leave the emergency brake on.
        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          1: Rim Damage (obvious)
          2: Engine wont rev AT ALL when the brake is applied
          3: You will come to a complete stop way before that happens, see #2
          4: Traction control kicks in immediately even if you manage to get the transmission to go into gear above idle RPM
          5: Traction control wont turn off
          6: Brakes override throttle, see #2 again

          You really have no idea how much joy they have managed to suck out of modern cars. But "rental rage" should be a lot better than it was in days gone by.

    • Re:Sweet (Score:5, Informative)

      Seriously. I just had a rental with 5,000 miles on it. The thing looked, felt, drove, and smelled like it'd been used to drive angry pigs to and from a slaughterhouse by a lead-footed 9-day-old corpse with IBS. If there's one thing people don't give a fuck about, it's taking care of a rental.

      • by karnal (22275)

        Someone I once knew always said "Nothing parties like a rental!"

      • Re:Sweet - Disagree (Score:5, Informative)

        by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:57AM (#40673819)
        I have purchased 2 cars through Hertz's Rent 2 Buy program. The first purchase was a very specific minivan that had a tow package installed (suspension but not a hitch). I bought it with about 40k miles on it. It was at least $2000 below KBB, and I've had it for 2 years now. It has given me NO trouble whatsoever. I just purchased a small SUV from their program and it was basically cherry. Again, $2000 below KBB and it too has been wonderful so far.

        I've had a lot of people raise their eyebrow at this. They typically recount a story where they treated their rental like crap. But they've rented many cars. Most are rented at the airport by business people who drive to a hotel and an office, and back to the airport to go home. Most rentals are like that minus the horror stories you hear.

        The nice thing about the Hertz program is that you rent the vehicle after finding it online near you. You can rent it for 3 days at $50/day. You get to drive it and see if the tire pressure sucks, or the car shimmies, or the tranny doesn't shift right. You bring it to a garage and have them inspect the car for damage and general road worthiness. If you decide to buy, you go to their website, click "Buy" and keep the car. They send you an fedex with all the paperwork, and even do financing through Chase or BoA. After you send them the downpayment, they send you the completed registration and plates for your state. You can even transfer your old plates if you sell your old car separately. I dumped a 100k+ mileage Honda Accord hybrid on CarMax. They paid me 4k for it, and the AC didn't work and there was significant body damage. We now have a 2011 late model SUV with 37k miles, the AC works, and the car has been like a dream in comparison. Gets the same mileage, and is from a reputable Japanese manufacturer.

        For all those who are going to reply that the car will be trouble down the road, I'd ask you to tell me how you treated your last lease vehicle. That is what you're going to get on a used car lot. One driver who didn't change the oil, and didn't give a crap about the car because it was just a lease and they will trade up in 3 years anyway. Is there really any appreciable difference? Yes. The rental company had an incentive to make sure the car was in its rental fleet, and so they did the maintenance regularly. It all depends on your POV... if you want to roll the dice that you got a good lease car over a bad one, okay. Or, you can buy the rental for thousands less, with the chance that a small number of drivers abused the car, while most treated it with care lest they end up having to pay the rental company for damage. I'll take the latter.
        • Sure, it's great when you can inspect it before plunking down money. I'm sure there's plenty of fine former fleet cars. But how would you feel about loaning the car out after you've already bought it?

    • Who among us treats a rental with the same tender care we treat our own cars?

      1. -- Speed bumps get more bump (just a touch).
      2. -- A little more torque off the line.

      I always check the tire inflation of a rental. I have gotten cars with 60 lbs of pressure. Does this make drifting easier?

      • Who among us treats a rental with the same tender care we treat our own cars?

        1. -- Speed bumps get more bump (just a touch).
        2. -- A little more torque off the line.

        I always check the tire inflation of a rental. I have gotten cars with 60 lbs of pressure. Does this make drifting easier?

        Mr. Thompson? Hunter S. Thompson [wikipedia.org]?

        You're still with us? Thank God! We thought you were dead!

    • "Professional *what*?"

      Save Ferris
  • Open questions... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by azalin (67640) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:57AM (#40673153)
    There are a few questions that would need to be cleared before I would even consider such an idea. Burden of proof on damages, specialized insurance (I'm pretty sure your normal car insurance won't cover it), wear, cleaning, smokers, tickets...
    The point is rental companies see their cars as an investment that is supposed to bring in some profit before being phased out. Private owners consider their own cars as "my precious" and renters as "who cares, it's not my car" and hope the rental company doesn't note the new scratches.
    • From the Relay rides [relayrides.com] website:

      Insurance is included with every rental

      • From the Relay rides [relayrides.com] website:

        Insurance is included with every rental

        Who does it insure? Liability insurance for the carrier/vehicle owner, or actual coverage of damage to the vehicle itself?

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @09:57AM (#40673159)

    If you think rent a car places are bad about dents just wait for this.

    Better take a video of the car before pick up so you don't pay for old dents.

  • Why just cars? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:09AM (#40673275)

    My closet is full of clothing just hanging there unworn.

    And my sock drawer is a virtual gold mine!

  • We have two cars, parking for one, and variable (relatively low) needs.

    I actually looked into this, but our cars are too high mileage (they limit to 120K and we racked up miles quickly prior to our move) to rent out through their service.

    But when one dies, this will probably be better vetted in practice and if it's still going this provides two more options for me depending on frequency of need.

    1: More convenient and cheaper rental
    2: A way to partially offset the cost of the newer car.

    Either way, I like.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @10:34AM (#40673569)

    If I'm renting my car out under this arrangement, how can I be sure that the renters aren't abusing it in subtle or hard-to-detect ways? Burning up the brakes, doing donuts in parking lots, weird stuff with the transmission... there are lots of ways to damage a car that won't be immediately apparent. By the time it's noticed, it may be too late. And even in the case of overt damage, expect a major fight with the insurance company over just who caused it and whether your insurance or Relay Rental should pay. Dealing with insurance companies is always a nightmare, every time.

    For rental recipients, this poses its own set of problems: how do you avoid being blamed for damage you didn't cause? How can you be sure that the car isn't missing basic functionality – you wouldn't be happy to get a rental in the middle of July with broken A/C.

    • while the kids drive. I can set the maximum speeds and even the volume of the radio with Ford's mykey. I would hope OnStar is as advanced if not more.

      After all, if the car leaves the proscribed area it should turn itself off.

    • by fermion (181285)
      When I see ads for this kind of rental, it is like saying you are going to get free money. In reality, a car is somewhat delicate machine and even when used with care requires usage incurs non trivial costs. So renting your car is not like renting your house. Yes, there is risk to renting a house, but the car is certainly guaranteed to come back more used. The rental structure appears to externalize most costs to the car owner.

      The second thing I see in the ad is that insurance is provided by the firm

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If I'm renting my car out under this arrangement, how can I be sure that the renters aren't abusing it in subtle or hard-to-detect ways? Burning up the brakes, doing donuts in parking lots, weird stuff with the transmission...

      All of that stuff can be detected with onstar. Burning up the brakes? You can detect whether the brakes are depressed, the vehicle speed, and the throttle position. Donuts in parking lots? If you have electric power steering the computer knows where the wheel is, and it knows the throttle position. Weird stuff with the transmission? I don't know what you're talking about, but the entire transmission state is known by the computer, as well as the throttle position and brake status.

      For rental recipients, this poses its own set of problems: how do you avoid being blamed for damage you didn't cause?

      If Onstar is being used int

  • relayrides insurance (Score:5, Informative)

    by bloosqr (33593) on Tuesday July 17, 2012 @11:04AM (#40673915) Homepage

    Its worth remembering what happened to a poor boston student who rented her car for a carshare out using relay rides (and their liability insurance (same 1 million dollar liability insurance GM is using):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/14/your-money/relayrides-accident-raises-questions-on-liabilities-of-car-sharing.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

    • I don't understand this. If I go to Hertz, rent a car, and plow through a playground, I'm liable. Hertz tell you so, repeatedly, when you get the car and they try to sell you insurance. Why should it be any different for an individual? I can see if there's a maintenance or other issue with the car. But if the driver it is on them and their insurance (either through the rental company or their own private insurance) to cover the damages.

    • Its worth remembering what happened to a poor boston student who rented her car for a carshare out using relay rides (and their liability insurance (same 1 million dollar liability insurance GM is using):

      An unusual case. The person renting her car killed himself and injured others. Since the person was dead, he couldn't tell anyone that there was insurance through the company organising the car rental.

      That student is not going to pay the cost of the accident, because quite simply, the accident wasn't her fault, so she has no liability. At worst it may be that her own insurance will pay and her insurance will become more expensive. Where I live, that can happen if your car is hit by an uninsured driver, y

  • I'm somewhat dubious about this. Given the propensity of people to mistreat stuff they don't own, I don't know that I would be willing to rent my car out. I depend upon the reliability of my car. I've heard tell of people beating up rentals. Plus, imagine the insurance you would have to carry and I'm sure it would not be inexpensive. In fact, you would have to incorporate yourself just to shield anything personally-owned from potential loss due to a lawsuit. If your customer got injured because the br

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