words mary von aue | image ted wang
As is evident from the surge of go-pros, selfie-sticks, and the morally dubious video drones, people are looking for new ways to record themselves in the midst of the mundane. Travel bloggers who want to record their road trips might want to consider renting with Hertz, as the company has begun placing video cameras in many of their rental cars. Now you can recreate that eternally awkward Lincoln MKC commercial where you’re a brooding Matthew McConaughey looking for a gas station restroom.
The only problem: Hertz claims that the camera doesn’t work, and they promise they aren’t using it to film you. Many drivers aren’t so sure.
The camera is the newest feature of the NeverLost navigation device, a system that comes standard in every rental. While only 1 in 8 cars currently include an inactive camera lens staring into the soul of the driver, Fusion reports that Hertz planned to activate a live agent system that connects the customer by video. With insecurities among drivers mounting, Hertz reps now insist that there are no current plans to launch the new feature.
This is not how you roll out a new initiative. Adding a useless camera to the dashboard adds virtually zero ROI, not to mention that it strikes paranoia in the hearts of consumers. How am I going to cry-sing to Selena Gomez knowing that I’m trapped inside an Orwellian clunker?
While Hertz is probably not secretly filming for the consumer insights (though they'd be pretty wild consumer insights), the apprehension of the consumer is valid. As the failure of Google Glass confirmed, people don't like it when a camera is pointed at them without consent, regardless if the thing is on. Hertz needs to either turn on the camera, giving drivers an off switch, or remove the feature altogether.