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A carjacker assaulted a 34-year-old pregnant woman in Illinois, stealing her Volkswagen, along with her two year old boy trapped in the back seat, and running her over on the way out. Although badly injured, the woman managed to call 911. With little idea of where the carjacker fled, Lake County sheriffs rushed to call Volkswagen's Car-Net service to track down her car.
But Volkswagen Car-Net refused to play ball — not because it had any qualms with forking over information to the police, but because the mother hadn't renewed her subscription.
Instead, VW insisted someone pay the $150 fee to reactivate the tracking service. Sheriffs pleaded with the company, explaining the gravity of the situation — but VW didn't budge.
While the fee was eventually paid by a relative, the dispute ended up causing a costly delay, which deputy chief Chris Covelli described as "16 minutes of hell," according to the Chicago Tribune.
And by the time it was over the information ended up being "worthless," Covelli said, because the child, alive and well, had been dumped at a parking lot, where a bystander found him and called the police. The stolen car was also recovered not long after.
Thankfully the child was found safe and sound in this case, but what if the carjacker managed to switch cars with the child because VW was too busy pinching pennies?
In response to the blunder, Volkswagen has tried shifting blame for the faux pas to its third party subcontractor responsible for running the Car-Net service.
"Volkswagen has a procedure in place with a third-party provider for Car-Net Support Services involving emergency requests from law enforcement," a VW spokesperson said in a statement. "They have executed this process successfully in previous incidents."
"Unfortunately, in this instance, there was a serious breach of the process," they added.
But if the automaker's find-my-car service isn't even available during an actual child kidnapping, what good is it for?
Not for much, apparently. Last year, many VW customers found out that their cars' Car-Net systems no longer even worked because they were lousily built on now obsolete 3G technology, even though the automaker knew it was already being replaced with 4G LTE, according to a lawsuit. The suit further alleges that VW never informed customers that Car-Net would be "rendered obsolete" by the switch from 3G to 4G.
Adding to that list of grievances against Volkswagen's services: in 2021, VW experienced a massive breach of its data — once again, through a third party — that compromised the personal information of over 3 million customers. VW sure doesn't sound like the safest pair of hands to keep your location data with.
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