Complimentary services, such as car washes and windshield washer refills, leave customers feeling good about your service department. But there’s another way you can make them not only feel good but also safer, and it’ll only take a few minutes of your time.
But there’s another way you can make them not only feel good but also safer, and it’ll only take a few minutes of your time.
When a customer is in for service work and is provided a rental or loaner car, or when they trade their vehicle in for a new model, they’ve likely connected their smartphones to the vehicle, (sometimes unwittingly) uploading their personal data to the vehicle.
According to the report “Personal Data In Your Car” by the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Future of Privacy Forum, types of data that should be removed from the electronic system include phone contacts and the address book; location data like addresses or the routes the customer takes to home, work and favorite places may be stored in the navigation system; mobile apps’ log-in information; digital content such as music; and garage door codes.
So that customers’ personal data isn’t accessible to the next owner or user, Colleen Tressler, consumer education specialist for the FTC, recommends sellers take steps to remove this data, but many may not be aware that this information is still in the vehicle after the mobile device has been unplugged. Service departments can look at this as an opportunity to offer an important service to customers.
“Some cars have a factory reset option that will return the settings and data to their original state,” Tressler said. “But even after a factory reset, you may still have work to do. For example, (the) car may still be connected to subscription services like satellite radio, mobile wi-fi hotspots and data services.” Service managers should remind customers to cancel these services or have them transferred to their new vehicle.
Besides the information stored on the vehicle, check to make sure connections between the customer’s devices and the car have been cleared as well. For example, car manufacturers may provide an app that lets the owner/renter control the car’s functions or find the car — that app should be disconnected from the car when it is sold or traded in.
Remind or teach customers who rent or borrow vehicles while they are in for service to delete this information too. They’ll appreciate you looking out for their best interests and remember you the next time they require service or have a friend looking for a trusted dealer.
For more information about resetting and removing information, check the vehicle’s owner’s manual or visit the vehicle manufacturer’s website.
Here’s a quick checklist from NADA and the Future of Privacy Forum to use to discuss with customers regarding the information to be removed from a vehicle being sold or that has been rented/loaned.
• Phone Contact/Address Book — Personal contact information can be downloaded when a phone is synced with a vehicle. Remember to delete this information when selling a car or returning a rental.
• Mobile Applications in the Car — Reset/delete the car applications that contain personal information; also, delete applications that may have been purchased and should not be accessed by others.
• Vehicle Hard Drive Storage — Remember to delete the data on the hard drive that can store music and other entertainment.
• Home, Work and Favorite Places on Navigation
• Garage Door Programming
• Optional Plug-ins — Remove any devices that have been obtained for use in the vehicle, such as a dongle that may share car information with third parties. These devices are usually located under the steering wheel and are connected to a data port.
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