Why VIN Etching is Becoming Obsolete

The Rise of RecovR as the Superior Vehicle Protection Solution

First published on
May 24, 2024
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Christopher Schouten

Christopher Schouten

Marketing Director

Christopher Schouten is Marketing Director for Kudelski IoT (SIX:KUD.S) and has worked for more than 20 years for companies whose mission is to protect devices, data and high-value business models, making him an expert in embedded security strategy. He joined Kudelski Group in 2013, and prior to that he held various marketing and operational management roles in pay-TV security and mobile and fixed telecommunications in the U.S., The Netherlands and Switzerland. He is now based in Phoenix Arizona. Christopher is an honors graduate of the University of Iowa, having studied Mass Communications and Linguistics. Christopher speaks six languages and is a passionate early adopter of IoT and smart home technologies.

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As a franchise new car dealer, you are constantly seeking ways to enhance your service offerings and boost customer satisfaction while maintaining high-profit margins. One service that has been a staple in the industry is VIN etching, a high-margin product that promises theft deterrence. However, recent developments and consumer feedback suggest it might be time to reconsider its efficacy and explore superior alternatives like RecovR.

The Drawbacks of VIN Etching

VIN etching involves inscribing a vehicle's identification number onto its windows, a process intended to deter theft. While it has been marketed as a valuable service, several critical issues have come to light:

  1. Excessive Costs: VIN etching is often added to vehicles at a substantial markup. Dealers typically charge between $200 to $400 for this service, which can be done with a DIY kit costing about $20​ (MotorBiscuit)​​(Bensley Law Offices, LLC)​. This significant markup has led to consumer dissatisfaction and allegations of price gouging.
  2. Limited Effectiveness: The premise behind VIN etching is that it will deter thieves by making the vehicle harder to resell. However, empirical evidence supporting this claim is scant. Thieves motivated to steal vehicles for parts or quick resale are unlikely to be deterred by etched windows​ (MotorBiscuit)​.
  3. Consumer Complaints: Many consumers feel they are being charged for a service they did not explicitly request or consent to. VIN etching is often pre-installed on vehicles, making it a non-negotiable part of the purchase price. Some dealerships have even been accused of charging for VIN etching without actually performing the service​ (Consumer Law Group)​.
  4. Potential Legal Risks: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been cracking down on deceptive practices in the auto dealership industry. The new Combating Auto Retail Scams (CARS) Rule targets misleading fees and unauthorized add-ons, including VIN etching. Legal actions against dealerships for such practices could result in significant fines and damage to your dealership's reputation​ (Consumer Advice)​​ (Federal Trade Commission)​.

Given these drawbacks, it is crucial to explore alternatives that offer genuine value to your customers and align with regulatory expectations. This is where RecovR comes in.

Introducing RecovR: The Superior Alternative

RecovR is a GPS-based vehicle recovery system that offers numerous advantages over traditional VIN etching. Here’s why it’s a superior choice:

  1. Near Real-Time Tracking and Recovery: Unlike VIN etching, which only serves as a passive deterrent, RecovR provides active protection through near real-time GPS tracking. In the event of a theft, vehicle owners can quickly locate their car using the RecovR app, facilitating rapid recovery by law enforcement. This real-time capability significantly increases the likelihood of recovering the vehicle undamaged​(MotorBiscuit)​.
  2. Daily Utility for Customers: RecovR is not just a theft deterrent but a practical tool that customers can use daily. Whether locating their car in a crowded parking lot or monitoring the vehicle’s location for family members, RecovR adds everyday convenience and peace of mind, enhancing overall customer satisfaction.
  3. Enhanced Customer Trust and Loyalty: Offering RecovR demonstrates your commitment to providing high-quality, value-added services. Customers appreciate transparent, effective solutions, which can lead to increased trust and loyalty. Satisfied customers are more likely to return for future purchases and recommend your dealership to others.
  4. Regulatory Compliance and Reduced Legal Risks: By switching to RecovR, you align your dealership with the latest FTC regulations, reducing the risk of legal actions related to deceptive practices. The CARS Rule mandates clear disclosure and prohibits charging for services that do not benefit the customer. RecovR, with its clear benefits and transparent pricing, meets these requirements, protecting your dealership from potential fines and legal challenges​ (JD Supra)​.
  5. Profitability and Market Differentiation: While VIN etching offers high margins, RecovR presents an opportunity for even greater profitability through premium pricing for a genuinely valuable service. Additionally, offering RecovR can differentiate your dealership in a competitive market, attracting discerning customers who value advanced security features.

Addressing Dealer Concerns

We understand that transitioning from a high-margin product like VIN etching to a new system may raise concerns. Here are some common questions and their answers:

Q: Will RecovR be as profitable as VIN etching?

A: Yes, RecovR can be more profitable.  RecovR makes it easy by offering you the whole program at no upfront cost. You then set your own price for your customers! The much higher perceived value and everyday utility for customers justifies a premium price point. Customers are willing to pay more for services that provide tangible benefits and peace of mind.

Q: How complex is the installation of RecovR?

A: RecovR installation is even simpler than etch and can be seamlessly integrated into your vehicle preparation process. Our team provides comprehensive training and support to ensure your staff can install and explain the system effectively to customers. It takes no longer than 30 seconds to activate the device and place it in the vehicle.

Q: What about customer education and marketing?

A: RecovR comes with robust marketing support to help you communicate its benefits to customers. We provide promotional materials, training sessions, and ongoing support to ensure your sales team can confidently present RecovR as the superior choice.

Q: How does RecovR align with new FTC regulations?

A: RecovR is fully compliant with the FTC’s CARS Rule, which requires clear disclosure and prohibits charging for unnecessary add-ons. By offering a transparent, effective, and valuable service, RecovR aligns perfectly with these regulations, reducing your legal risks and enhancing your dealership’s reputation​ (MotorTrend)​​ (JD Supra)​.

Conclusion: Embrace the Future with RecovR

The automotive industry is evolving, and so are customer expectations. VIN etching, while once considered a valuable service, no longer meets the needs of today’s informed and tech-savvy consumers. The drawbacks of excessive costs, limited effectiveness, and potential legal risks make it a less attractive option.

RecovR offers a forward-thinking solution that provides real-time vehicle recovery, daily utility, enhanced customer satisfaction, and regulatory compliance. By making the switch to RecovR, you not only improve your service offerings but also position your dealership as a leader in customer-centric, innovative vehicle protection solutions.

Make the smart choice for your dealership and your customers. Embrace RecovR and experience the benefits of a superior, profitable, and compliant vehicle protection service. For more information or to schedule a demonstration, contact us today.