Your Subscription is Overdue . . .

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It used to be you eventually paid off your car and stopped paying for it once you did. Well, at least insofar as regards paying the company you bought it from. You were – still are – obliged to pay the government (in a number of states) a regular mordita styled “property tax” as the condition of being allowed to retain possession of what you thought you bought.

And now the car companies want to get in on that action.

GM – emulating Tesla, which was the first car company to do something along these lines – announced the other day that it will no longer “support” Apple CarPlay and its non-Apple equivalent, AndroidAuto – so as to be able to wheedle people who buy GM vehicles into subscribing to its new proprietary infotainment system.

Edward Kummer, who is GM’s Chief Digital Officer – yes, they have these now at car companies – explains:

As we scale our EVs and launch our Ultifi software platform, we can do more than ever before with in-vehicle technologies and over-the-air updates. All of this is allowing us to constantly improve the customer experience we can offer across our brands.” 

Italics added.

What the customer will experience is not being able to use his phone in the car. Or rather, with the car. Instead, he will “experience” paying a regular fee to subscribe to Ultifi – a cheesy concatenation meant to convey the “ultimate” in “fi,” a likely reference to WiFi connectivity . . . with GM, of course.

If you pay, GM will let you play. If you don’t, the music won’t play – and various other “apps” – like the navigation system – won’t work. If you do pay, GM will play – with the data it mines (and sells) without cutting you in on a piece of the action.

This is GM’s more “integrated solution” to assuring you’re making more than just those monthly payments on the car, even after you’ve stopped making those payments on the car. 

The first new GM vehicle to come sans Apple CarPlay/Android auto will be the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV. And to make it go down easier, GM will not require payment for the first eight years. To get people used to what they’ll eventually miss when they stop making payments.

GM isn’t the pioneer here.

That honor falls to Tesla, whose business model GM (and it’s not just GM) sees and envies. When you buy a Tesla – which is a device more than it is a car – you pay to use certain options, such as the vaunted “autopilot” self-driving system, for instance. Italics to emphasize the fact that you do not buy – and so, own – these options. It is the business model of Microsoft, which was the first to pioneer the idea of making you pay in perpetuity for what you bought but never own.

At one time, you bought a software suite and then it was yours. Times changed – and what you bought was a license to use the software for a period of time, subject to renewal. If you did not pay the fee, the software was no longer yours in that it no longer worked. If you wanted it to continue working, you had to continue paying.

Tesla applied that same model to its models. People who bought a second-hand Model S that originally came with options such as autopilot discovered their option was to pay for them – again – if they wanted to have the use of the options the original buyer paid for.

BMW will sell you a subscription to heated seats – just $18 per month! The hardware – the heating elements, wiring and so on – are built into the car but they don’t work unless you pay – over and over and over, again.  This writer recently drove a new BMW that had a “store” in the car – which the driver-renter could tap to debit – in order to activate various pay-to-play features, such as a built-in camera system that lets you video record the environment around you as you drive, kind of like a GoPro except you don’t own it.

You get to use it.

These “microtransactions,” as they are styled, are “the future,” we are told. The very future envisioned by the man who says we will eat ze bugs, who tells us forthrightly that we will own nothing – which begs the question as to who will then own everything – and that we will be “happy.”

In the manner of a plantation slave.

If you read antebellum apologies for slavery, they literally state this same thing. The slaves were provided for; they had everything they needed. Ergo, they did not need to own anything!

They were far happier than the wage-serfs of the North, who had to figure out how to feed and house themselves and also provide for themselves in their old age. Down South, massa took care of all that.

And who wouldn’t be happy about that?

. . .

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  1. Recently bought a 2023 Ford F150 that came standard (not an option) with the info screen, inclluding their navigation technology. Had never had a vehicle with factory navigation so I thought it would be a useful feature that I looked forward to using. Recently received an email from Ford requiring an $80/year subscription to continue to use their “Connected Navigation”, otherwise it’s disabled and the tech I paid for is useless. Why did I have to pay for the technology when I need to pay again and again and again to use it? There is a similiar ploy used by hackers to restrict the use of systems used by businesses. It’s called ransomeware.

  2. I have a plug in Garmin Drive for the rare times I need sat nav. It replaced a small hill of maps I once had.
    I don’t use the radio in my car. I want to listen to the car.

    • Likewise, I never turn on the radio while I’m driving. It’s a distraction from the pleasure of simply driving. This allows me to focus on my driving, instead of worrying about what’s on the radio. Which is rarely of any consequence anyway.

  3. It was recently reported in alternative media that Pfizer was funding “independent” groups lobbying for vaxx mandates, leaving me to wonder if some corporation is funding groups lobbying for EV mandates.

  4. A couple of years ago I decided to look into upgrading my ancient version of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I had bought the software (version 2.0) many years ago and thought it might be a good time to upgrade. Well, much to my dismay, there was no option at all to upgrade! All I could do was rent the current version…..for $7 or $9 a month, depending on the features I wanted. Needless to say, I was pissed!
    So I chose to keep the ancient version of the software I own on an old PC with no internet access. Sure, it pops up a bunch of error codes and is slow to start, but hey, I own it and can use it whenever I feel like without paying a dime.

    I also saw this story about John Deere – not software but trying to make it so only their techs can fix farm equipment:

    • Hey Lee,

      I loved the old versions of Photoshop, too. Unfortunately, even buying an old disk is difficult, still in the neighborhood of $2k last time I checked!

      A good alternative is GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program), which is free an open-source, and lets you do most of what Photoshop allows.

      And screw John Deere for moving in that direction. I’m happy I have an ancient backhoe: Things are very basic and there is no software.

  5. And why not? I’m paying rent right now on my property I’ve owned outright for 25 years, to the county government. Same goes for “registration”. That’s what “leadership” does for you. The state leads, and corporations follow. With the blessings of the “leaders”.

  6. I suspect it won’t be long before you can buy a gadget that you just stick into the OBD-2 port that will enable those features for free or maybe someone that programs the computer for non upgrades (tires, wheels and such) will do it.

  7. I absolutely HATE, abhor and loath that business model… With a passion. This is the main reason I hate Apple, and now Microsoft has joined in with this nickel-and-dime parasitism.

    I only use Microsoft products at work, because THEY do, which I think is stupid, but they don’t think much of my ideas at times.

    Everything I have at home runs on Linux, and most of the software I use is open-source.

    Never, ever would I buy a car that requires my to pay monthly to use its features. These people can go straight to Hell.

    • Computers are the same thing. When I bought my Windows 10 computer, I had to pay extra for the Microsoft Windows Office (Excel, Word). Which used to come standard, but not anymore. I really, really did not want a Windows 10, but my Windows 7 eventually crapped out, and did not have a choice. I detest being nickel and dimed to death. And when the Microsoft Word does not work, I just use Libre Office instead, and say to hell with them!

      • I was able to transfer my older Microshaft Office to a different computer when the old one was retired, you do have to have the disk and license key though. Belarc Adviser will record any license keys found. A pity that the free Microsoft Works does not seem to work on Windows 8.1 but maybe it works on Windows 10.

      • Shadow,

        I use LibreOffice almost exclusively, even downloading it on my work PC. This foolishness of having to sign in every time I use an MS Office program is BS, and I had enough.

        Keep in mind, you can always “Ghost”, or clone, a hard drive, and have that in case your PC goes down. There is the original Ghost software, and there are also alternatives like Clonezilla.

        Also, if you don’t like what Microsoft is doing, definitely give Linux a shot! There are many, many distributions (versions) these days, and some that are just as easy as Windows to use.

      • There are plentiful open source alternatives to Windows Office. Many are equal to or better than. It just takes a while to figure out how to use them, while you are well versed in how to use Office.

  8. Hi Eric

    Long time since commenting here but I still read you regularly, still am edified by your insights and entertaining, sharp, flowing writing.

    Concerning slavery. That was the biggest takeaway for me from the contrivavirus op. Comfortable slavery. In our society there is a booming market for it. We of an affinity for the Austrian school understand the importance of market forces. I had previously been of the belief that our society cherished and valued freedom. I found out I was wrong. Our society cherishes and values comfort above all else. It will (and has) readily exchange its freedom for comfort. Huxley got it right.

    There’s something I’m hoping you or someone else here can help me out with. I used to see here advertisements for t-shirts and mugs. I foolishly neglected to buy the t-shirt I liked back then. Now I can no longer find links and I don’t remember the vendor’s website or name. I am referring to the products featuring biohazard signs and masks and various gesundheitfuhrer slogans and the like. Can you or anyone here provide links to those products, or any further information? I’m specifically looking for the t shirt with the masked cow containing the phrase – you say boo and we say moo – or something to that effect.

  9. There have got to be hacks around this shit. Here’s an opportunity for aftermarket companies to create a product to override this shit. The audacity to physically install a feature into a car, but to then disable it if future payments are not made is mind boggling.

    Even if I didn’t care about that feature, I would avoid buying the car as a result of maintaining my dignity.

    • “The audacity to physically install a feature into a car, but to then disable it if future payments are not made is mind boggling.”

      They used to call that extortion.

  10. i got some more inside information from a US auto manufacturer, through a recently retired EV electrical engineer who spoke to a beancounter still employed.

    The beancounter claims the fecengtly published EV losses for his company are mainly due to upfront costs to launch new EVs that are not available for sale yet. That’s in addition to current EVs that are not selling well.

    The AM static problem can’t be completely eliminated with RFI shielding but most of it can be prevented. But money has to be spent. Maybe Mercedes would do that but not others.

    The EV cost reduction program with the goal of a $30,000 (IN 2022 DOLLARS, OR ABOUT $35,000 IN 2026 DOLLARS) so far has been a failure. That’s the variable cost beancounters want but the engineers can’t deliver. Deleting the AM radio feature is a nothingburger. Even a smaller electric motor is not a big savings. The cost and weight of the batteries are the problem to get the driving range people want (and few people even know that the actual driving range is much less than the theoretical range with a 100% charge in perfect weather, when you keep the charge between 10% AND 80% to preserve those expensive batteries).

  11. ‘Down South, massa took care of all that.’ — eric

    Ol’ Massa, he done gone crazy.

    Just in the past three days, Russia rocketed Ukrainian cities (amply supplied with NATO artillery and air defenses); the Ukies drone-bombed oil tanks in Russian Crimea; and today the New York Slimes is touting the Ukrainian “punch back” in a long-rumored, possibly fictitious, spring counteroffensive.

    This is how world wars start: gradually, then suddenly. And the US jackal gov is “all in.”

    Citing the Ukrainian front and numerous domestic aberrations, James Kunstler commented yesterday that “If these matters are not adjudicated, it will be a civil war strategy.”

    Shit, I reckon! Hunker down for chaos, folks. The “Biden” united front might as well be the Visigoths sacking Rome.

  12. The car manufacturers are contemplating removing AM radios from their cars and trucks. Is it a ploy to set up a market for charging a monthly fee for providing AM radio? Or will they be pressured to forego the fee so as to try to restrict conservative broadcasters? A further dilemma: doesn’t the discontinuance of AM radio cause all of those car sales commercials to vanish? That might not be the best idea when sales are declining.

    • Automobile companies have noted electromagnetic interference with AM radio’s reception created by electric motors. New EVs manufactured by BMW, Porsche, Audi, Volvo, Ford F-150 Lightning truck, Volkswagen SUV and Tesla Model S have dropped AM radio.

      I listen to CDs in a car but an alternative for me is conservative AM talk radio. Some of the conservative AM talk radio stations in SE Michigan are available on “sister” FM stations, with better reception. Most of the conservative talk show AM stations here are relatively weak signals and don’t sound so good in the home, if you can get them inside your home.

      I understand tgat electric motor RFI noise interferes with AM radio but a recently retired auto electrical engineer said you could avoid that by streaming an AM station in your EV, or the automakers could solve the problem with RFI filters, but chose not to. The engineers in 2022 think the 2026 model EVs they are working on will be priced much higher than they will be worth to most customers.

      Here in the Detroit suburbs only three AM stations I know of have conservative talk shows, and one is 35 miles away in Ann Arbor. MOST AM talk radio here feature sports, religion or left wing claptrap, not conservative talk. I listened to every AM station we could get in our home during a two day blackout earlier this year, when only a battery transistor radio worked in the house. Uninteresting, other than conservative talk shows.

      Of the 20 automakers surveyed by Sen. Markey, eight — BMW, Ford, Mazda, Polestar, Rivian, Tesla, Volkswagen, and Volvo — have removed AM radio from their EVs. Ten others — Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Lucid, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru, and Toyota — still have it. Mar 13, 2023

      • I have noticed that they have all but eliminated conservative talk radio in SE Michigan. You can find it on 660AM in the Saginaw area north, it’s actually in Sandusky. No question that “they” are trying to squelch it downstate. It’s an orchestrated effort, I’m sure.

        • Conservative talk radio that can be heard in SE Michigan:

          1400 AM and 101.5 FM
          Weak signal

          760 AM
          Not 100% conservative
          Strong signal.

          1600 AM
          In Ann Arbor (believe it or not)
          Weak signal

          • Thanks. I can’t get AA from here. 760 has changed dramatically since Beckmann and Limbaugh died and Mitch the bitch is nearly impossible for me, then there is that “independent” guy. LOL. Not sure where 1400 is. We had 1370 in Flint, 760 in the D and another in Flint that I can’t recall the call sign for. Anyway, they now play lame music on those with the exception of 760, which is pathetic. Oh well.

  13. ‘This writer recently drove a new BMW that had a “store” in the car.’ — eric

    My car’s interior is my private space, not be invaded by frickin’ hawkers.

    A “store” in the car is analogous to having stadium vendors hawking beer, hot dogs and peanuts from the aisles during a church service: that is, grossly inappropriate and unacceptable.

    When GM and BMW speak of a “store” in the car, my ear translates it to a “whore” in the car, always demanding up-front payment for seedy services I may not even want.

    Auto makers are our enemies. Shun them; destroy them.

  14. One other industry that appears to be selling a “service”, particularly over the past 3 years, is Big Pharma, i.e. “Immunity as a service”. At the height of COVID hysteria, the media, the government, corrupt public health bureaucracies, and the pharmaceutical industry treated NATURAL IMMUNITY like it didn’t exist, even though it has existed since the dawn of man. Perhaps because NO drug companies could make BIG MONEY off of natural immunity.

    Shortly after the rollout of the COVID jabs in late 2020, we were told that only 2 doses were necessary for Immunity to the Dreaded™️ ‘Rona but then over time, these vaxx pushers said it was necessary to get a booster, and then another booster, and then a brand new bivalent booster jab that was only tested on a few mice but was nevertheless deemed “Safe and Effective!” by the FDA. And then there was even talk of ANNUAL COVID shots. Not only that, Pfizer developed some brand new antiviral drug called Paxlovid, which seems to be as “Safe and Effective!” as the experimental mRNA jabs. Some other drug company made their own antiviral around the same time. I also read something not too long ago that the Biden Thing wants to launch “Operation Warp Speed 2.0” (to use someone else’s term for fast tracking) for developing “Updated COVID jabs” for future COVID variants. If they pull that off, the medical-industrial complex will likely push those jabs as hard as they pushed the existing COVID jabs if not more so, and they’ll definitely be selling “Immunity as a service”.

    • Hi John,
      Big Pharma is definitely pushing to have everyone, no matter their age, get an annual “shot” of whatever they concoct for that year’s boogeyman. If the carrots don’t induce enough sheeple to go along you can be sure they have some big sticks at the ready. Call for an ambulance if you’re having a heart attack – are your shots up to date sir? No? Sorry we can’t help you.

      • Hi Mike,

        There have been warnings from some over the years that the government and Big Pharma would be targeting adults for vaccinaton after the CDC added all sorts of vaccinations to the childhood vaccination schedule. Unfortunately, they ended up being RIGHT as we saw just with COVID.

    • Spring allergy season is in full bloom. The latest coffer dam of nasal suppression provides exactly 23 hours an 30 minutes of relief. Imagine the amount of bioengineering that went into that formation. And consider that “the science” has a pretty good understanding of the histamine feedback loop, at least well enough to get 24 hr relief. So why no cure? Seems like a permanent solution would improve millions of people’s lives and save millions in reduced productivity. Not to mention accidents and mistakes caused by drowsy workers and drivers.

      • One drop of oil of oregano twice a day. It ain’t fun, but it works. I used to be near blind this time of year. Better than any drug I’ve tried.

      • George Carlin explained that in one of his shows: there’s no money in a cure, the money is in a treatment. IOW one and done doesn’t cut it, something you need to use forever gives Big Pharma a nice income stream.

    • The perfect pharmaceutical “app” would be one which ostensibly “protects” you from the boogeyman du jour but which has “unfortunate side effects” which manifest only after the passage of time, thus requiring a “booster” (“keep alive shot”) to “save” the victim from the “side effects.” This would eliminate the need for “variants,” and thus be more cost effective.

      Obviously, the boogeyman would be the “hook,” while the “side effects” would be the “warhead.”

      • At the time of my late hypochondriac mother’s death, half the prescriptions she took were to counter side effects of the other half.

  15. It began with “satellite” radio (in most cities there are terrestrial transmitters to keep it working in urban canyons). First year’s free, then start paying. The automakers get a commission/kickback from Sirius/XM for every subscription. If you cancel the subscription they start calling (or did, DK if they still do) with the high pressure retention sales reps. The radio defaults to satellite radio, not iPod even though that’s what you always use. Oh, and the radio cannot be powered off. One trick is to set it to Sirus channel 0 if you want silence.

    My Cherokee came with U-Connect. Again got a free trial. Actually paid for the service for a year or two after, as I did get some use out of it. But eventually the novelty of warming up the car from baggage claim wore off so I let it lapse, and hardly noticed. One interesting note is that when T-Mobile/Sprint shut down Sprint’s WiMax-based 3G network, the U-Conect quit working completely. FCA may have sent out a notice, but I don’t recall seeing anything. One day the icon changed to “no service” and that was that. I’m guessing that the emergency call button won’t function either. I imagine the cellular modem is buried deep in the dashboard, so even if it is just a module there’s not enough profit in replacing it to issue a fix, and because getting into the dash without screwing up the airbags isn’t a job for the home gamer, it just stops working.

    Will Teslas suffer the same fate when their wireless company EOLs their modems? Which will quit first, the factory tether or the battery pack? Will Tesla just stop “supporting” their vehicles at some point, much like Apple and Samsung decide to no longer send upgrades to old hardware?

    • I bought my Nissan frontier about 6 years ago, and it came with a free trial of Sirius/XM. Don’t remember if it was 6 months or a year, but whatever. At the end of the trial, I cancelled. But guess what? It never stopped working! To this day, it still works, and I’ve never paid them a dime. I never would pay for it anyway, it kind of sucks, same old same old after awhile. But hey, something for nothing, I’ll take it!

    • You’re right RK. I too thought it was cool to warm up the car remotely, but then, just like you I just stopped doing it. I guess it just wasn’t worth all the extra attention it took to keep these gadgets running?
      Man, buying cars now is getting really complicated. I guess all this crap just won’t work for me. So now the question to the salesman will be “what works right now in this car?” And they won’t know.

      • I’ve always been leery, and have never used remote start. You never know what might be wrong with an engine, which you could shut down if you’re in the drivers seat when you start it. Remotely, for example, if for some reason your oil happens to be low, and rods start nocking, sucks to be you.

        • I have to admit I do like my auto start. It is nice having the car cabin warmed up when it is fifty below in the dead of winter.

  16. You’re not buying a car, you are purchasing permission to drive around in the app-controlled moving apparatus.

    You’re a prisoner, sucker. You can’t drive until somebody says you can.

    You own nothing. You have nothing.

    The truth is, you’ll be happy that ‘whatever it is’ is gone.

    Dr. Peabody can fire up the WABAC Machine and take a look back in time.

    Here’s some:

    “In an opinion piece in Murdoch’s News Corporation Australian newspaper, headlined “Don’t shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths”, Assange said WikiLeaks deserves protection, not threats and attacks.

    “In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: ‘In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win’,” wrote Assange.

    He cited the late Keith Murdoch, Rupert’s father, who during World War One exposed the needless loss of Australian life at Gallipoli, where Australian troops under British command were slaughtered in a failed attack against the Turks.

    “Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign,” Assange wrote. “Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.””

    Old Rupert should heed his own words.

    There Tucker was… gone.

  17. Sort of like pushing drugs. Legal and illegal. They start you off with something mild and harmless, then progress to something you can’t live without. In the case of cars and trucks, things you didn’t know you couldn’t live without, until you had them. Guess what? You can still live without them. A connection to the internet is not a nutritional requirement. If a vehicle requires one to function, don’t buy it.

  18. These extra fees can only annoy the customers. That might be good practice for when customers get forced into electric vehicles … and get REALLY annoyed! Maybe the auto companies will try to lessen the disappointment with their 2026 model EVs by offering a navigation system “for free” with no monthly payments?

    I can see the 2026 model EV ads now:

    “Buy any 2026 GM electric vehicle and there will be no monthly charge for your power seats.”

    • Oh sure, this will be another “throw in the floor mats” sales tool… “I just spoke with my manger and he’s going to let me throw in the power seats too!” Then in two years when the seats don’t work anymore, no matter how much you complain, “Sorry it’s the company policy. Don’t know who approved that deal, it never should have gone through. Heck, the computer won’t even let me use that package code anymore. But I’ll tell you what I can do: If you sign up for the Ultra Premium Deluxe package for two years I can give you 10% off today.”

  19. And, the WEF’ers are trying to increase their income and reduce the population at the same time.

    It’s a business model that is doomed from the start.

    I spent some 30 years selling value-added products to businesses. The idea was to improve their product and/or delivery to improve efficiency and profits. This only works for so long. Eventually you have to grow your customer base. Without more customers you will reach a point where increased profits can’t be achieved due to saturation. A blanket will only hold so much water and if you want to hold more water you need a bigger blanket.

    Instead of having a realistic concept of growth and profits we have narcissistic, arrogant and greedy vermin at the top of the corporate world.

    It has resulted in GloboCap ( turning this into one big monetized world with the maniacal Klaus Schwab at the helm of the Titanic of all marketing pogroms.

    Icebergs, dead ahead.


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