There is an auto dealership in Austin, Texas named Texas Auto Center that is using a technology that can disable a vehicle if the owner is behind in their payments. The dealership claims this is a way to remind people that their payments are late. The system from a company by the name of Webtech Plus can be remotely controlled by employees at the dealership who have access to the database. The cars that are equipped with what are being called ‘black boxes’ that are installed at the dealership can turn off the vehicle or sound the horn repeatedly.

According to one report here is what happened:

The alleged capers of Ramos-Lopez have shone a spotlight on vehicle-immobilization systems, which allow car dealerships to power down cars in the case of delinquent payments. Texas Auto Center, for instance, reportedly kept a database of more than 1,000 customers; if a customer began missing payments, an employee would sign onto the database, and use Webtech Plus to turn off the automobile through the same network technology that powers pagers.

Ramos-Lopez, who was eventually apprehended by a high-tech crimes unit in Austin, broke into the database using another employee’s account.

The suspect allegedly disabled or sounded the horns on some 100 vehicles before he was apprehended.

But to me that is not the story. What the real story is what right does the car dealership have to revert to such under handed methods to assure they get paid? Are the boxes removed from the cars at the dealers expense once the car is paid for?

What do you think? Should this be illegal?

Comments welcome.