Wednesday, November 11, 2015

1553 Hummm

1553 Hummm

Hum?  Perhaps you’ve heard of it.  Hard to miss these days.  Hum is a jolly new service that turns your car into a high tech wonder.

It’s a little thingy that plugs into your under-hood computer and warns you if anything is going wrong.  It alerts you to a small problem before it becomes big.

So far, so good, right?

Okay, here comes equal (or greater) time.

The daddy company of is Verizon.  That should make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up all by itself.  In case it doesn’t, let’s look a little closer.

Here’s what Verizon says about Hum on its website:

hum gives you vehicle diagnostics, better roadside assistance and other helpful features with a single subscription. It makes your car smarter, safer and more connected.

Ducky.  Now, how does it do this?  By doing what VZ does best, collect data.  What does it do with the data once it’s collected?  Why stores it in the cloud, of course.  

But what can it do with the stats your engine puts out?  Not a whole lot.  It can gather metadata on what goes wrong with which cars.  Helpful to buyers if anyone cares to publish the figures.

It can offer your numbers and codes to your mechanic/technician. Helpful to owners who want to get their cars fixed before they break.

But wait, there’s more. Hum also is a GPS. Helpful if your car is stolen and the thief isn’t aware the system is running and disables it with the oh so tough deactivation process:  pulling out the plug.

But now, Verizon will know where you are whenever you drive. So, how about a fast look at their privacy statement:

Verizon is Committed to Protecting Your Privacy

Protecting our customers' privacy is an important priority at Verizon and we are committed to maintaining strong and meaningful privacy protections. The privacy of your information is a significant responsibility and we value the trust you place in us.
Of course! How silly of us to question VZ’s good will and good intentions. The privacy statement goes on encyclopedically in its detail.  But the essence of it “We won’t give your info away unless we have to and you can opt out of some of our marketing nonsense if you can find where on our many websites we hide the little boxes you have to check or uncheck.  
Privacy, of course, is vestigial these days, so what do you care, right?  Your cell phone tracks you. So does your EZ Pass.  And the chip the NSA planted in your head if you were born after 1990 covers the waterfront pretty well, too.

Hum costs 15 bucks a month. For now.  Here’s another piece of fine print from the website:

Limited-time offer for new hum subscribers. First month free with a two year subscription. $14.99 for the first car and $12.99 for each additional car, up to 3, per month thereafter. Other fees, taxes, equip. charges & terms may apply. Up to a $120 early cancellation fee may apply. Cancel the service at any time with no early cancellation fee; provided you return the hum equipment within 30 days of cancellation. Pinpoint roadside assistance provided by Signature Motor Club, Inc., up to 4 events per year. Many services require GPS service and/or network availability, not available in all locations. Not all incidents or problems will be detected. Compatible vehicle model restrictions apply. Automotive discount services not available to residents of AR, CA, DE, MT, NE, NV, NM, OK, SC, TN, VA, WI, and WY. © 2015 Verizon.

Emphasis ours.  We especially liked the part that says there’s no cancellation fee unless there is.

-We salute the men and women of the armed forces, past present and future on this Veterans Day 2015.

-And we remember with sadness the deaths of 29 men on the great ship Edmund Fitzgerald, eaten alive by the waters of Lake Superior 40 years ago yesterday.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to
© WJR 2015

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