GeekNights Thursday - Scam Conventions

Personally I just don’t understand having such a complex, expensive, and for many, vital tool in your life, and not understanding it enough to know what it is. Like, this thing cost you a significant portion of their yearly salary, It’s hugely important for their work and social life. It makes their life so much easier, and all they know about it is what colour it is? That’s just weird.


There’s being a nerd about something and then there’s being a snob about it. Most people have no reason to know more about their vehicles than the basic controls and how to find it in a parking lot in the same way that very few people know any details about the builder of the structure that they live in.

No, that’s not my point. We have an amazing coffee machine that makes really good coffee, and everyone who visits is impressed. Do I know the brand of the coffee maker? Nope! I’d be able to tell you the brand of coffee beans before I could ever remember the brand of coffee maker.

It’s the same for all my other appliances. They work fine, and me not knowing the brand has 0% to do with my crappy taste.

If I bought a good car and knew the brand, does that mean I have good taste, but if I bought the SAME car, and two years later couldn’t remember the model, does that mean I have crappy taste? Nope! It just means I don’t remember the model. My taste is the same either way.

I’d argue that, for a modern user of a car (especially in America), there is no actual tangible benefit to knowing the details of what it is. There aren’t decisions to make that relate to this information unless you’re selling it or deciding on a major repair. And, in both of these cases, it’s only necessary to look up the value of the car.

Ford recalled 40,000 Focuses recently, because of a head gasket issue that could cost you a fuck of a lot of money to fix, if you skipped the recall because you didn’t know you had a Ford Focus. They also recalled over a million trucks for door-related safety issues. The Takata airbag recall had potentially lethal implications if not fixed, and affected many brands, makes, and models. Fiat Chrysler had to recall a million of their most commonly sold units for a serious safety issue. Honda had a recall for a parts gap on one of their more popular models that could cause the car to burn to the ground. Hyundai recalled nearly a million vehicles for potentially lethal seatbelt issues, along with a further recall for half a million, for a manufacturing issue that could completely destroy your engine. BMW recently recalled literally every i3 they have ever sold from 2014-2018 for a safety related issue. And that’s just last year, the year before that, a total of 52 million cars were put up for urgent recall in 2016.

If you don’t know the year/make/model of your car, so that you know if you’re affected by a recall, then you’re putting yourself(and others) in potentially lethal danger, or at best, potentially hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repair bills.

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Manufacturers are required to notify the owner of a vehicle that has a safety recall within 60 days by mail.

So how does that work? Like, does Ford have a database of everyone that owns a Ford? Do they send notifications to car dealers and then the dealers send notifications based on their sale records? It sounds like it must be very complicated.

I don’t know exactly how it works, but I can say that I received a letter recently from Audi saying that the car that I’ve not owned in years was being recalled.

That Audi burned on I95 about 10 years ago. I wonder if it was being recalled for it’s propensity to catch fire.

It was an A6 if you’re curious. I likely tossed the mail but maybe not, lemme hunt around.

In my experience the dealership closest to the person that can do the repair sends the notice. In regards to records the government at least knows who owns what vehicles with what VINs and an automaker would have records showing which VINs are part of each recall.

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The problem of tracking down all of the Takata airbags is directly addressed in this news story I read the other day:

Shifting topics a bit, as I just listened to the episode: There is more to the convention hotel block soup than what was discussed here. The convention doesn’t care so much about getting a sweet discount on rooms. They want the block stats to inform the hotels, the city, its tourism board, etc., what portion of the people coming into the city were specifically there because of the convention. The more you are doing for the city’s economy, the sweeter a deal you wing up getting from the convention center itself.

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Wouldn’t your local govt have records of which cars you have registered under your name? Is this public information that can be turned over to the local dealers?

If I buy an old BMW off a guy and register it, I’d hope that information was available to someone sending recall information out.

As with so many things, the answer is - It depends. Some dealerships will keep records and check in, but most won’t. Some brands will keep records of what was sold to who, and will get in touch, but that’s pretty much high-end luxury only. A lot of brands and dealerships, the onus is on you to find out and bring it it, or they just don’t bother until you bring it in for a dealership service. If you have a good mechanic - and if you can’t even be bothered to remember what kind of car you have, chances are you won’t have a good mechanic - they’ll let you know if any service bulletins have come in for your model of car when you come in for a service.

And finally, there’s also the requirement for recall information to be published for the general public, so you could always just check the recalls occasionally, and if your car is covered, or might be covered, you swing by a dealer, and they should sort you out(even if it’s not the dealer for that brand that you purchased from.)

Yes they do, and as far as I’m aware in most states, no it is not.

It definitely is not, private sale information is recorded at the DMV as a transfer(unless the seller keeps a copy of a reciept, or any other relevant paperwork, but that’s a side point) and not shared with third parties(barring law enforcement, and a small handful of other exceptions.)

Recalls in the US require significant notification efforts. I got recall notices for a car I hadn’t owned for four years after it was crushed at a scrapyard.

And yet, a lot still slip through the cracks. A notification effort doesn’t work if you have a customer who doesn’t know or care.

But even knowing still requires them to see the news. Recalls don’t appear in my Internet news feeds, so short of a notification or a high-profile incident, it’s not like I would be googling for my car’s make and model on a regular basis looking for recalls.

Also, the same is true of all appliances. Stoves, furnaces, refrigerators: they all have regular (sometimes crucial) recalls, and almost nobody ever knows about them or responds to them. It’s hard to see cars as different. A recalled hot water heater ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.

I got a recall notice for my fire extinguisher a while back. Turns out it would never have worked. Knowing the model number of that thing would never have helped me. In fact, the only thing that did help me was that I bought it on Amazon, who emailed me a dozen times warning me.

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Wait, so, it doesn’t matter because there are significant notification efforts, but it also doesn’t matter because those efforts don’t actually work?

Something is awry here, but I just can’t put my finger on it.

Either way, if you can’t be arsed to remember three simple bits of information about an expensive, and often vital bit of equipment where a lack of care can potentially kill people, you shouldn’t be allowed to drive. If you can’t manage to cross over that incredibly low bar, then chances are the person is too stupid, ignorant, or negligent to be in control of a ton of metal moving at speed. Can’t be bothered to remember three words? Then remember to get a bus pass.


It’s an irrelevant bar. You might as well ask people to remember the names of Donald Duck’s nephews and suspend their license if they don’t.

I don’t recall Donald Duck’s nephews being a large, heavy object you’re in charge of, with potentially lethal consequences for the people around you. Clearly, I need to re-read the comics. Also you missed the point. I’m not sure how it could have been clearer, since I literally just said it, right in the post.


Knowing a vehicles name and brand is not trivial knowledge, unlike knowing literally anything about any fictional universe.

If there’s ANY object you own of which the make and model is something easy to learn and actually useful to know, an automobile might be on that list.

You’re better off not knowing you own an Apple laptop, and that’s actually the one laptop where your brand probably matters.

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Coffee beans would be more equivalent here, but whatever.

Obviously you had crappy taste the whole time because you don’t know why you picked the good one.

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