NJ Proposal to Ban Subscriptions For Features Already Built into Cars
TRENTON – Legislation awaiting a hearing in the state Assembly would ban car manufacturers and dealers from offering in-car subscriptions for features already built into the vehicle.
The bill – A4519 – would not apply to any third-party service providers of features such as SiriusXM satellite radio or in-car Wi-Fi.
Rather it focuses on components and hardware already installed on the car that would function after activation without ongoing expense, such as convenience or safety functions offered as an upgrade to consumers such as heated seats, remote starting or driver assistance.
Services such as OnStar would seemingly be permitted, as there is an ongoing expense associated with that.
The bill, which is sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, D-Gloucester, joined by Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, D-Somerset, says car companies are increasingly seeking to charge weekly, monthly or annual fees for subscriptions for features that are already part of the vehicle, then activated remotely.
“Car companies assert that a subscription-based business model would provide more choice to the consumer, but the practice requires installing all of the necessary components and hardware on the vehicle before the consumer decides to subscribe to the feature, which will likely raise the purchase price for every consumer, whether they intend to subscribe to the feature or not,” Moriarty said in the bill statement.
Moriarty added that “during this time of rising consumer prices, it is important to guard against business practices that primarily serve to increase corporate profits.”
A violation of the bill would trigger the state’s consumer fraud act and be punishable by a penalty of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, violations may result in cease-and-desist orders issued by the state attorney general, punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to an injured party.
Moriarty is the chairman of the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, to which the bill was referenced.
The committee is scheduled to next meet on Dec. 5. It’s not clear if the bill will be heard that day, or at all.
Moriarty has been the sponsor of nine of the 15 bills that the committee has advanced this session. But his sponsorship isn’t a guarantee that a bill will get a hearing; he is the sponsor of 19 bills awaiting a hearing in that committee, out of 70 bills he has sponsored overall.