New Jersey lawmakers are taking aim at automakers that charge customers a subscription to unlock features.
Feature subscriptions have become an increasingly popular tactic among automakers looking to nickel and dime their customers. New Jersey lawmakers are looking to ban the practice with a bill that has been introduced by Assemblymen Paul Moriarty and Joe Danielsen.
The bill specifically targets subscriptions to activate hardware that is already installed:
This bill prohibits a motor vehicle dealer or manufacturer of motor vehicles sold in this State from offering to a consumer a subscription service for any motor vehicle feature that utilizes components and hardware already installed on the motor vehicle at the time of the vehicle’s purchase or lease; and would function after activation without ongoing expense to the dealer, manufacturer, or third-party service provider. The provisions of this bill do not apply to any third-party service provider that offers features such as satellite radio or in-car Wi-Fi.
BMW is one of the worst offenders, charging users in some countries as much as $18 per month to have heated seats. To be clear, the cars ship with heated seats, but BMW charges customers the subscription for the “privilege” of accessing a feature they have already paid for.
Hopefully, the bill will pass and inspire similar efforts throughout the US, sending a clear message to automakers to stop trying to rip off their customers.