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Is your Dealership tracking your truck without your knowledge?

djwdjw

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Anyone purchasing a car lately seen any similar shenanigans like this at your local dealer? Long story, but I think it makes for an interesting read.

When I started shopping for trucks, one of my nearby dealers had the little “local dealer add-on” sticker addendum that included a couple of things: tint (a few hundred bucks), door edge guard (iirc), and a “theft recovery system for some $1500 ‘retails for $2400’)”. I never pay any attention to these things and if I offer for the car I tell them to remove or forget all that stuff.

I was curious about what the “theft recovery system” was because for the last 5 years or so all of our other work vehicles have used these little inexpensive OBD-II gps “dongles” that are dirt cheap, depending on the service you use free to < $100, with a small fee for the tracking app to know what is up with everyone without guessing. Many services out there to provide these today.

So I asked them what this “theft recovery system” was *exactly* and got a bunch of nebulous responses and dealer mumbo jumbo about their “Apex system”. I told them if it was just some $25 OBD-driven gps dongle they were trying to peddle for $1500, just unplug it and keep it. The last thing I wanted is some dealer gizmo to track me for the dealer’s unknown purpose. Uconnect services can already do that for FCA. You’d have thought I’d asked the dealer for their first born and over the course of the negotiations they finally gave it away “for free”, but didn’t remove it. I figured it would take me 30 seconds to remove it so I agreed and thought I would do the research and share what they were up to.

After I bought the truck it has rained non-stop, so I put off until a dry day to discover their “$2500 Theft Recover System”. I did feel under the dash for the OBDII port and it was not where it was supposed to be. I shot a couple of phone pics up under the dash (was dark and raining) to see what I could see – some odd stuff, and filed that away.

The day after purchasing the truck I got an email from “Apex Protect” about enrollment and a free 5-year service for their tracking service via their web site and smartphone app. It is similar to the other services we have already used but rough around the edges of the app and way off in the mileage it calculates on trips. But it does work to track the location and trips of your truck, not entirely dissimilar to the other services I’ve used. So sure enough, this was the dealer’s tracker turned product.

Doing some research on the internet shows https://apexprotectiongps.com and their main role is services to their members (dealers) in tracking their inventory. Along with that is tracking and other info provided back to dealers after the car is sold. Boggles my mind that they would be providing tracking info dealers on cars they have sold. I am sure part of the game is that it is no cost to dealers if they can get the customers to pay for it. I think this is a creepy process the dealers are pulling behind the customers back – surprise surprise.

Searched for other dealer installed gps tracker removals and found this post by a Toyota truck owner:
http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-gen-t4rs/260475-finding-removing-gps-tracker.html
.

It was a nice day finally today, so I removed the panel under the dash and extracted the “Apex tracker” (see photos below). It’s a dongle plugged into a OBD y-harness and it has its own lithium battery to continue to send data when the truck is off. The truck’s OBD plug was removed from the bracket in the cover and plugged into the tracker’s harness and all zip tied and velcro’d to a support member right behind where the OBD plug should have been. I removed it and put the original OBD plug back in its bracket.

Basically the same unit the Toyota owner found. The FCC ID pointed back to the manufacturer: http://connected-holdings.com/portfolio/, and there are docs on the unit there. These folks have related companies, example as https://www.connecteddealerservices.com/en/home/ , https://www.connecteddealerservices.com/en/customer-vehicle-connection/

If you dig around these web sites, my guess is that you’ll get the same impression I did in that the dealer gets inventory tracking (basically for free since he normally pushes the highly inflated cost on to the unsuspecting buyer) and then continues to get info of some kind from the provider (location? Mileage? Driving habits? They are all tracked). I think it is a(nother) sleezeball move by dealers to put this stuff on and monitor you without disclosure.

I don’t really get bent out of shape by the manufacturers getting tracking data when it is known and logically acknowledged for the most part – the Uconnect thing with FCA. I also have a 5-year old Tesla Model S and it’s widely known that the car communicates with the Tesla mothership *all the time* and gets a constant stream of enhancements, updates, and pushes buckets of operational data back to the manufacturer.

I am curious if anyone else has run into this dealership practice? Might be worth taking a phone pic or two under your dash or checking out where your OBD-II port is and what's plugged into it upstream. Especially if you bought from the dealership in Grapevine.


IMG_0687.jpg IMG_0690.jpg
 
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D

Deleted member 85

Guest
Anyone purchasing a car lately seen any similar shenanigans like this at your local dealer? Long story, but I think it makes for an interesting read.

When I started shopping for trucks, one of my nearby dealers had the little “local dealer add-on” sticker addendum that included a couple of things: tint (a few hundred bucks), door edge guard (iirc), and a “theft recovery system for some $1500 ‘retails for $2400’)”. I never pay any attention to these things and if I offer for the car I tell them to remove or forget all that stuff.

I was curious about what the “theft recovery system” was because for the last 5 years or so all of our other work work vehicles have used these little inexpensive OBD-II gps “dongles” that are dirt cheap, depending on the service you use free to < $100, with a small fee for the tracking app to know what is up with everyone without guessing. Many services out there to provide these today.

So I asked them what this “theft recovery system” was *exactly* and got a bunch of nebulous responses and dealer mumbo jumbo about their “Apex system”. I told them if it was just some $25 OBD-driven gps dongle they were trying to peddle for $1500, just unplug it and keep it. The last thing I wanted is some dealer gizmo to track me for the dealer’s unknown purpose. Uconnect services can already do that for FCA. You’d have thought I’d asked the dealer for their first born and over the course of the negotiations they finally gave it away “for free”, but didn’t remove it. I figured it would take me 30 seconds to remove it so I agreed and thought I would do the research and share what they were up to.

After I bought the truck it has rained non-stop, so I put off until a dry day to discover their “$2500 Theft Recover System”. I did feel under the dash for the OBDII port and it was not where it was supposed to be. I shot a couple of phone pics up under the dash (was dark and raining) to see what I could see – some odd stuff, and filed that away.

The day after purchasing the truck I got an email from “Apex Protect” about enrollment and a free 5-year service for their tracking service via their web site and smartphone app. It is similar to the other services we have already used but rough around the edges of the app and way off in the mileage it calculates on trips. But it does work to track the location and trips of your truck, not entirely dissimilar to the other services I’ve used. So sure enough, this was the dealer’s tracker turned product.

Doing some research on the internet shows https://apexprotectiongps.com and their main role is services to their members (dealers) in tracking their inventory. Along with that is tracking and other info provided back to dealers after the car is sold. Boggles my mind that they would be providing tracking info dealers on cars they have sold. I am sure part of the game is that it is no cost to dealers if they can get the customers to pay for it. I think this is a creepy process the dealers are pulling behind the customers back – surprise surprise.

Searched for other dealer installed gps tracker removals and found this post by a Toyota truck owner:
http://www.toyota-4runner.org/5th-gen-t4rs/260475-finding-removing-gps-tracker.html
.

It was a nice day finally today, so I removed the panel under the dash and extracted the “Apex tracker” (see photos below). It’s a dongle plugged into a OBD y-harness and it has its own lithium battery to continue to send data when the truck is off. The truck’s OBD plug was removed from the bracket in the cover and plugged into the tracker’s harness and all zip tied and velcro’d to a support member right behind where the OBD plug should have been. I removed it and put the original OBD plug back in its bracket.

Basically the same unit the Toyota owner found. The FCC ID pointed back to the manufacturer: http://connected-holdings.com/portfolio/, and there are docs on the unit there. These folks have related companies, example as https://www.connecteddealerservices.com/en/home/ , https://www.connecteddealerservices.com/en/customer-vehicle-connection/

If you dig around these web sites, my guess is that you’ll get the same impression I did in that the dealer gets inventory tracking (basically for free since he normally pushes the highly inflated cost on to the unsuspecting buyer) and then continues to get info of some kind from the provider (location? Mileage? Driving habits? They are all tracked). I think it is a(nother) sleezeball move by dealers to put this stuff on and monitor you without disclosure.

I don’t really get bent out of shape by the manufacturers doing when it is known and logically acknowledged for the most part – the Uconnect thing with FCA. I also have a 5-year old Tesla Model S and it’s widely known that the car communicates with the Tesla mothership *all the time* and gets a constant stream of enhancements, updates, and pushes buckets of operational data back to the manufacturer.
But I am curious if anyone else has run into this dealership practice? Might be worth taking a phone pic or two under your dash or checking out the status of your OBD-II port.


View attachment 6714 View attachment 6715
As a dealer.

WTF.
 

knightro84

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I feel like that is something that the buy-here-pay-here dealers do so when it comes time to repo they know exactly where the vehicle is.
 

djwdjw

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Nothing to repo as I did not finance it. And it’s trivial to find and remove in 2 minutes.
 

jamesfg

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I feel like that is something that the buy-here-pay-here dealers do so when it comes time to repo they know exactly where the vehicle is.

That does occur but shouldnt happen at a name brand CDJR dealer. Me? I'd be calling corporate and raising holy hell especially since you paid cash and no lienholder.
 

djwdjw

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That does occur but shouldnt happen at a name brand CDJR dealer. Me? I'd be calling corporate and raising holy hell especially since you paid cash and no lienholder.

Well then this will be an interesting test. I’m sure FCA and corporate read this stuff. All of the manufacturers read the social stuff. If they give a **** they’ll reach out and touch someone, maybe me.

However my recent experience with a dealer issue with my wife’s car demonstrated clearly they the manufacturer doesn’t g.a.s (American Honda in this other example), they take no issue or responsibility for dealer behavior.

From one of the tracker's partner web site, the scheme seems apparent here:

"The future vision of the connected car is here today. Our GPS based connected car system enables your dealership to maintain a direct connection to your customer’s vehicle for life of the programs service. Service department customer retention levels remain an ongoing challenge for Auto Dealerships. In today’s market, Auto dealers are still losing a significant percentage of new car sale customers to the service aftermarket. By maintaining an ongoing connection to your customer’s vehicle, CDS can be a new tool for dealerships to improve this critical metric while at the same time provide new car sales opportunities. The same issue faces sales departments."

and

"Our new GPS cloud based system helps Auto Dealers protect their vehicle assets, manage inventory, reduce costs, improve service retention and provide a value added profit center at the point of sale.
The system offers the latest in advanced GPS technology that has been designed around the unique needs of new car dealerships to create a comprehensive system that enables faster, smarter and more streamlined operational decisions.
Key benefits for new car dealerships are as follow:

  • Protect dealers vehicle inventory assets
  • Manage dealers new car and loaner Inventory
  • Improve service department retention
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduce cost
  • Create new profit center with a value added consumer add on at the POS
Connected Dealer Services focus is exclusively targeted on providing New Car Dealers with advanced GPS based management tools and services that help dealers manage their vehicle asset inventory, optimize operations, reduce cost and drive more profits to their bottom line. "

Not exactly sure where I might have consented to this, but it does seem either deceptive or possibly not very transparent. I'm not an expert but as I understand tracking and some of opinions of experts, not entirely legal.
 
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djwdjw

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Crazy thought.....time to hit up your local "on your side" news station? I think its definitely be something that'd not only peak the stations interest but the general public too.

I did and it did. We'll have to see what happens in the end.

The whole scheme of dealers installing GPS tracking devices and then selling them on to unsuspecting owners with open-ended access back to the dealers seems to be an accident waiting to happen.
 

CornTrucks

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Our local dealer does something similar. They call it the “Extra Mile Package”. I call it the “Extra Margin Package”. It is advertised as though it’s a free perk, and then your bill shows a $695 bill for add ons. A few of the things are okay, like free maintenance, car washes, door edge guards, etc., but nowhere near that much money worth. It includes the GPS tracker as well. They will not sell you a car without this package.

This allows the dealer to advertise prices $500 lower than competitors and recoup that discount on the after-market side.
 
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Rammit

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I have been getting monthly service reports indicating the “health of my truck” including mileage and tire pressure. Not sure if that’s part of u connect or something else
 

djwdjw

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@CornTrucks, my dealer did not want to remove it either and got to my price then still imbedding the charge net for this "Theft Recovery System" (GPS Tracker). It is only an OBD tracker providing location mainly and battery voltage, with the system in the cloud connecting the dots for trips and mileage. I took the tracker off. Did you leave it on? Who's your dealer?

@Rammit, I have not gotten any monthly reports yet. The GPS tracker I have could not report tire pressure and none of the other OBD-based GPS tracker systems I've seen could. Must be something else, or Uconnect or just something I've never seen before.

Thanks for the info guys.
 

Zinger

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I imagine the company providing the devices is doing it completely free to the dealer, and probably is kicking back money to the dealer for every device installed that goes out the door. Why? Because the tracking company is then selling you services to recoup the cost. In addition, I'm sure the tracking company is also selling your driving data as well. It's the same model used everywhere now. Think Google, Facebook, etc. There is big money in data.

As a consumer, I would NEVER pay extra for this. I actually would expect this to reduce the price of my vehicle since undoubtedly the dealer is making money on the back-end from the tracking company. I would make sure it's removable and the first thing I would do is take it out after the sale.
 

RichRios

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Where do you look for the GPS tracker system? And is that factory installed GPS tracker or dealer add on ?
 

djwdjw

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Where do you look for the GPS tracker system? And is that factory installed GPS tracker or dealer add on ?

First of all (as in my case) the dealer would have installed/sold some sort of “theft recovery” add-on. Typically among any other local dealer add-on accessories.

GPS trackers attach to the OBD-II port under the dash visible at the bottom of the lower panel under the steering wheel. In my case they popped the OBD plug out of its normal bracket and had it zip tied in a bundle connected to the tracker. Two minutes to find, remove, and reinstall the OBD plug where it was supposed to be.

The OBD plug missing from where it is supposed to be is a good clue some local dealer tracker has been installed.
 
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syddog 2000

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I have been getting monthly service reports indicating the “health of my truck” including mileage and tire pressure. Not sure if that’s part of u connect or something else
Rammit, This is part of the UConnect system. I am still receiving them on the truck I traded as well as the new one.
 

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