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Rental Car Company Investigated

June 26, 2001

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The state Department of Consumer Protection is investigating a complaint against a rental car company that used satellite technology to track a New Haven customer’s alleged speeding.

James Turner complained about Acme Rent-A-Car of New Haven for using his rented minivan’s global positioning system to clock his speed.

The tracking system is frequently used as a navigational aid.

Acme billed Turner $150 for each of three alleged speeding violations last fall. Turner, 44, is suing in small claims court in New Haven to recover the money.

``It’s a scary situation to be given speeding tickets by way of satellite, never having come into contact with a law enforcement agent,″ he said.

Bernadette Keyes, Turner’s lawyer, said Acme’s policy is ``sort of creepy.″

``Who monitors this? Do they have someone in the back room monitoring where you go?″ she asked. ``I think there’s some sort of privacy issues there.″

Rental contracts inform potential customers about the global positioning systems, said Max Brunswick, a New Haven lawyer for Acme.

Turner signed a contract stipulating that vehicles driven ``in excess of posted speed limits″ will be charged $150 each time, Brunswick said.

``Most people applaud it,″ he said. ``We’re saving lives.″

The devices also are intended to reduce car wrecks and track cars that customers fail to return, Brunswick said.

Acme fines motorists who drive faster than 79 mph for two minutes or longer, but Keyes said her client drove 78 mph on two occasions and 83 mph once.

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