Car "digital services" rant / BMW

I am livid.

We drive a 2017 BMW which I am generally very happy with. The car is well specced, but for some time the high beam automatic has not been working. I did not miss it much, but now at service asked the garage to fix it. They charged me for it, but it still did not work. I tried several times with different headlight settings, nothing.

Today, my car sends me a message that I have the chance “to unlock the full digital performance” of my car. What this means is that I can buy this function now for 12 CHF per month. I read a bit and apparently in newer models BMW even disabled the seat heating and asked people to pay for it.

It is probably assholes like the big consultancies who push this shit called “after sales marketing” on car manufacturers. The polled willingness to pay is astonishing. I might have some understanding for this when it comes to new cars, but in our case you bought he car, selected and paid for the feature and now have to pay again? It is like I take my son’s laptop away which he paid from his pocket and tell him he can get it back if he pays me 10 per week.

Am I just old-fashioned when I feel robbed here? How on earth are those “premium manufacturers” thinking they can keep their customers loyal with shit like this? It does not seem to be an April Fools Day joke.

It’s the same with anything now - get the basic service but if you want extras unlocked (which are already there) then pay extra - preferably a subscription which gives the manufacturer a passive income stream.

Youtube do this - pay extra for no adverts.
Twitter - pay extra for a blue ‘tick’ logo.
Amusement parks do it - pay extra for queue jumping.
Fast food - go large.
Pay extra and unlock a feature of a game.

Car manufacturers have been doing this for years - pay through the nose for a special addition or extra features which do not reflect the extra paid.

It’s called Optional pricing and consumers go for it so it will stay.

It’s also much much cheaper for a manufacturer to build all vehicles the same and differentiate by subscriptions unlocking features that all cars have.
(unless the parts are cheap, snap or bolt on extras like “Swiss Edition” stickers or colour-coded bumpers).

I understand that we are going in the direction of “everything as a service” which means to end of having suscriptions.

But in this case really not comparable because people used to pay for the features to be installed, and now this is taken away and charged again. I would maybe be OK if there is no initial charge, but this is outrageous.

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You have every right to complain to your local dealer about this and even take it higher up to BMW Suisse.

As you said, you already paid for it when you specced the car and it used to work. With this logic they could change every single spec to a subscription model one whenever they feel like it. Disgusting indeed.

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I didn’t see that it was something you had had already.
Perhaps they made a mistake.

Maybe they made two mistakes:

BMW has decided to stop charging car owners a subscription fee to use their heated car seats, though the German automaker remains committed to paid on-demand services.9 Sept 2023


My subscription to BMW digital something ended more than a year ago. Only “app” I miss is the cloud and rainfall map. Any other functions of the car are working. It’s a 2019, Should I worry?

Last year, at the end of the leasing I took a test-drive on the newer model and I said. No, thank you. I work with 3 screens. Last thing I want to get up in my car and feel like still at work. I also ranted at the subscriptions and said that’s the reason I was not taking the newer model :slight_smile:

Yeah, all of this sucks big time. Also implies that for the feature to work you need to be connected so that the subscription status is verified. Dreadful idea, and with no view on long term ownership.

But since it’s a software thing - you can also unlock it via other means. There are apps like Carly for BMW that do basics, all the way to dedicated coding services that hook up an ethernet-OBD plug to the car, connect remotely to your computer, and then can go pretty deep in customising the car’s features and behaviours.

Americans do it all the time to enable Euro-only features, there are a couple of places in Switzerland as well.

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