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Jun 13

ShakeUp in the Interlock Industry, Part 1

Most people who get an Ignition Interlock don’t spend much time thinking about how vendors are approved and monitored by the State. Customers are just looking for a quality vendor who provides good service.

But a recent shakeup in the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program recently should cause customers to think a little harder about who they want to give their business to.

Each year, all Ignition Interlock companies need to be certified by the State. This process involves agreeing to all of the terms that the State lays out, such a device capabilities, that the State has determined make the Minnesota Ignition Interlock Program better. Further, vendors need to agree that their devices comply with the National Traffic Highway Safety Association (NTSHA). This is a future topic of discussion.

One provider this past year was not re-certified, Interceptor. Although they appealed this decision, the State of Minnesota decided to not renew their certification for the 2014-2015 year.

Vendors who are not re-certified, or are decertified or revoked or suspended, have certain obligations to their customers. This includes: Notifying clients of the pending de-certification, removing the de-certified interlock equipment for free, and paying the costs associated with installing with a different vendor.

Smart Start MN immediately reached out to Interceptor’s Minnesota office and offered to help them with their client base. We offered to remove Interceptor’s equipment and install Smart Start equipment for no charge to the client. That offer still stands: Smart Start will remove any Interceptor Interlock and Install a Smart Start Interlock with No Removal/No Install Charge

However, the parent company of Interceptor, located in New York, would not discuss this matter with the Interceptor MN office. It appears that Interceptor’s corporate office was busy trying to sell their client list to the highest bidder. We believe that Draeger Interlock, LifeSafer, Guardian and Intoxalock (according to email that we received from Intoxalock, they were not part of the bidding war for the Interceptor clients) were all involved in this bidding war for the rights to Interceptor’s client list.

It appears that the highest bidder for the the list was LifeSafer, as a notification email went out to Interceptor clients on June 10, informing them that while Interceptor was de-certified, clients now had to go to LifeSafer immediately to have new equipment installed in their vehicles. At no point did the letter correctly inform the clients that they were free to go to any vendor that they chose for a replacement interlock, at Interceptor’s cost.

But it gets worse. Yesterday, a Smart Start client was contacted directly by a representative from LifeSafer. This person told our Smart Start client that Smart Start had been decertified and that the client immediately needed to go to the nearest LifeSafer service center for immediate removal of our equipment. This information was patently false.

While we caught this one, it is not clear that this isn’t happening to many other Smart Start customers or other ignition interlock companies. This is a bad business practice that LifeSafer is engaging in, and we believe that the Driver and Vehicle Services is currently looking at these practices.

At Smart Start, we believe in good old fashioned competition. We don’t need to cheat and lie to get clients. We respect the intelligence of our clients and try to provide them with the most accurate information about the Minnesota’s Ignition Interlock Program. If you need answers about Interlock, come to Minnesota’s oldest and most respected Ignition Interlock provider.