So there I was, tooling my way down the road to get to work, listening to NPR as usual and keeping an eye on the morning rush hour traffic so as to avoid any mishaps when my mind was called to attention with a little piece they were doing about so called “starter interrupters”.

If you’re like me, at one point in your life, you might have experienced some problems with your credit rating. Each of us probably has our own set of circumstances that might have driven it into the toilet but we probably all know how hard it is to regain your good standing in the credit community. Naturally, any lenders that are willing to extend you credit are presumably exposing themselves to a higher degree of risk and to make up for that exposure, they jump up the amount of interest you’ll have to repay. Sounds reasonable right?

Now let’s suppose the jalopy you’re currently driving around in is on its last legs and seems to cough and wheeze every time you try to start it. You offer up silent prayers to the car gods to please, please see you through this one last time, that you promise to take the bucket of bolts to your friendly neighborhood auto mechanic at your earliest convenience. After all, if you live in a city or town without a reliable mass transit system, this is your only mode of transportation. You rely on it to get to work, to run errands, and. God forbid if there was an emergency, to get you where you need to be. Without it, now you’re screwed.

The mechanic you finally take it to quotes you an astronomical figure to have the beast overhauled and can’t guaranty how long it’ll last after that. Rather than pour good money into a losing cause, you decide it’s time to make the dreaded trip to the local car dealership and get yourself a relatively new set of wheels.

Naturally, the honest salesmen at the dealership are more than willing to sell you something. After all, their livelihood depends on it and I’m sure they have mouths to feed too. Everything seems to be going smoothly. You pick out your new ride, haggle a bit over the price and strike a deal. The salesman disappears into the back room and comes out with a face that certainly didn’t look as friendly as it did when you first wandered onto the lot.

“Uhm, about your credit?”

Numbers don’t lie to people who rely on them for a living. You can try explaining all you want to the once friendly salesman and they might even listen with a sympathetic ear. Your lack of a sufficient score on your credit rating was probably considered a deal breaker though… That was in the old days. Thanks to the wizardry of modern technology, you can still get your sweet new ride if you’re willing to have a little gadget called the starter interrupter installed. Basically what the gizmo does is get back reports on your payment history from whoever fronted you the money to buy the car in the first place. You make your payments on time, no problem. Each month you make your payment on time, the friendly neighborhood finance company will send you a six digit PIN that you punch into the starter interrupter before you turn the key and presto – off you go. Should you fall behind on your payments, well, forget going anywhere. The starter interrupter will disable the ignition and basically you’re stuck. While I can see the benefits to the finance company for such an arrangement, I’m having trouble seeing how it benefits the consumer. Suppose the darn thing decides to shut itself off if you work out in the middle of nowhere or for that matter, even while you’re laden with packages from the grocery store. Suppose there was an emergency that required you to get to a hospital? Suppose you had an important meeting or function to attend? Although finance companies are reporting that the number of repossessions they need to do are down and that people who are going to be late with their payments actually contact them first rather than the other way around, mistakes are bound to made. After all, no system is perfect…

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