Jan 22

The Car Is Not Dead

Many people might think that the traditional gas powered vehicle is on its last legs and basically dead. However, that may not be the case just yet.

Several people at the Detroit Auto Show representing companies such as Volkswagen, Nissan, Hyundai, and Honda wanted to let everyone know that they probably shouldn’t get attached to the thought of the dead car. According to MSN.com, it seems that automakers are confident that their sedans can still remain profitable.

This is a bold statement since other automakers like Ford, Fiat Chrysler, and General Motors have all expressed some level of confidence in being able to sell SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) and pickups. These types of transport vehicles apparently account for around 70-75 percent of the market in the United States.

Henio Arcangeli Jr., Senior Vice-President of Automotive Operations for Honda Motor Co.’s U.S. unit, said: “Many people are talking about the demise of the passenger car, but if you just do the basic mathematics, there were over 5 million passenger cars that were sold last year and will be sold this year — that’s a huge market.”

Despite their confidence, it doesn’t really hold up in every part of the world. The Asian and European manufacturers sell the sedan in locations where it is both profitable and popular. This means that they’ll likely be able to hold onto that model for a longer amount of time when compared to drivers in the U.S market, which typically favors larger vehicles.

Oddly enough, the automakers making a push toward electric vehicles are still keeping themselves in the gas powered sedan market. The bottom line is that the sedan has the ability to present an affordable option when compared to an SUV. When looking at Nissan, the company may have gotten around 60% of volume last year from light trucks, but it will still keep an eye on cars. As Chief Planning Officer Philippe Klein put it, the company doesn’t see “the sedan going to zero.”

It’s obvious that companies want to make more money, but don’t want to ditch an entire market area since that would hurt their profitability, especially if the demand for that specific type of vehicle was to increase in the future.

Better software. Better support. Better value. For over thirty years, Bluebird Auto Rental Services has been supporting its many, many happy customers around the world. Our flagship product, RentWorks, provides all the tools you need to run every aspect of your car rental business or service loaner department from the front counter to the back office.

Call us today toll-free at 800-304-5805, or email us at sales@barsnet.com and we’ll be glad to walk you through Bluebird’s Auto Rental Services.

Jan 21

Honda And Toyota Team Up For Hydrogen Refueling Stations

It’s not every day that you’re going to hear about competing car manufacturers teaming up to do something great for the consumer. But it does happen from time to time and this is one of those cases.

Both Honda and Toyota sell hydrogen-electric vehicles — the Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai. However, according to Driving.ca, there’s one issue with these types of vehicles, and that is how you would go about fueling them. The refueling options are limited, which can mean that the distance one can travel with these cars is extremely short when compared to gas powered cars.

Hence why both companies are moving forward with trying to install hydrogen fuel-cell infrastructures in the city of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Jean Marc Leclerc, the Honda Canada Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing stated: “For Honda Canada, this investment in hydrogen infrastructure is about supporting progress in clean mobility options.” He also mentioned that “In the short term, this investment will create an environment where we can continue to test our products and educate Canadians on the vast potential of hydrogen-powered vehicles today, knowing that mass adoption could take some time.”

This is seen as a good thing as the main obstacle preventing people from making the switch to electric or hydrogen-electric vehicles is minimal infrastructure for refueling (or re-energizing). This is why many individuals prefer the traditional combustion engine car as opposed to the hydrogen-electric one, there are just more gas stations than there are hydrogen stations.

With that in mind, one of the reasons this is being done is to help achieve Honda’s goal of reducing greenhouse gasses in a significant manner by the year 2030.  Honda, on the other hand, has been at this for a little while already, in fact, their lineup of vehicles has some of the lowest emissions in the industry.

All in all, it’s clear that Honda and Toyota want to improve the world of cars by introducing more sustainable options. While Honda has got large goals set in place, it doesn’t really mean that their goals are going to be reached just yet since they need to fight the battle of educating the consumer about it, as well as showing results in all areas of development — especially refueling.

Better software. Better support. Better value. For over thirty years, Bluebird Auto Rental Services has been supporting its many, many happy customers around the world. Our flagship product, RentWorks, provides all the tools you need to run every aspect of your car rental business or service loaner department from the front counter to the back office.

Call us today toll-free at 800-304-5805, or email us at sales@barsnet.com and we’ll be glad to walk you through Bluebird’s Auto Rental Services.

Jan 19

How Would A Fuel Ban Work

 Many people believe that an outright ban on vehicles that use petrol or diesel will result in less pollution. As a result, the United Kingdom plans to ensure that all new vehicles are at a zero emission standard by the year 2040.

As reported by the BBC, the ban on these specific types of transport vehicles is due to a few reasons. Chief among them being poor air quality, resulting in roughly 40,000 premature deaths per year. This in turn placed the British government in a position where they had to come up with a plan to try and lower the high levels of nitrogen dioxide — one of the hazardous gases emitted by vehicles.

While it may sound like the ban covers every car that makes you fill up at the pump, that simply isn’t the case. Hybrids, a car that can use both gas and electric forms of energy, will not be included in the plans.

The British government believes that the ban would effectively remove 15,000 of the most pollution prone diesel and petrol vehicles in the form of a car scrap scheme. This means that the worst of the bunch could be taken off the road in as little as one years time. However, in order to make this initiative an attractive one (and one that would see widespread adoption), drivers would be given £8,000 (~$10,351 USD) to allow them to purchase a more environmentally friendly vehicle. The total cost of the entire campaign would amount to roughly £110m (~ $142.3 million USD).

While the entire project is great for the environment, the overall impact to the planet will be incremental. Looking at it on a macro level, it’s estimated that the car scrap plan could help reduce gas emissions by a mere 0.02%.

Despite the low reduction in gas emissions, an additional plan would involve the implementation of a clean air zone (CAZ) in the most polluted towns and cities. This would have the power to lower emissions by blocking certain vehicles from going into the zone or imposing a daily tariff on drivers of these specific vehicles. This means that someone would either need to pay to use a specific car type while being in the CAZ, or they wouldn’t be allowed to drive in the CAZ at all. However, all signs point to the government not wanting to impose this, despite it having the potential to reduce emissions by around 18%.

Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that at least in the United Kingdom, the future of both diesel and petrol powered vehicles is not entirely certain.

Better software. Better support. Better value. For over thirty years, Bluebird Auto Rental Services has been supporting its many, many happy customers around the world. Our flagship product, RentWorks, provides all the tools you need to run every aspect of your car rental business or service loaner department from the front counter to the back office.

Call us today toll-free at 800-304-5805, or email us at sales@barsnet.com and we’ll be glad to walk you through Bluebird’s Auto Rental Services.

Jan 18

Firms Starting To Look Into Electric Vehicles As The Future

The world of electric vehicles (EV) seems to be getting some more attention from manufacturers who are traditionally dealers and creators of combustion engine vehicles.

According to the BBC, Ford is said to be putting in $11 billion by the year 2020 to create a lineup of forty cars that are both hybrid and electric. What this means is that consumers might see a slight shift towards the hybrid market and as technology improves, perhaps, an entirely reliable and electric car.

Even Cadillac, owned by General Motors has plans to come up with a new electric vehicle architecture. This seems to be a new design for the vehicle type since Steve Carlisle, who’s the Cadillac president claimed that the design would essentially allow for battery packets to fit into the car in the same manner as “ice cubes fit into a tray”.

In terms of Cadillac, there wasn’t much of a time-frame for it all. So, we might all see this in two years or in a decade. GM’s chief executive Mary Barra apparently talked about making Cadillac GM’s flagship brand for the vehicle type. If this was to happen it’d be a unique take on a brand that has traditionally remained gas powered and is actually known for having high end gas powered vehicles. In short, this would be a take on Tesla since they’re currently the best option if someone is eyeing a high-end electric vehicle.

All this means that the world could soon see two things. The first is a new form of electric vehicle since there seems to be a want for more innovation in the sector. Some of those would be sports utility vehicles (SUVs), which have been a tool for car companies to rely on in their efforts of restructuring. The second would be new competition, which is actually a good thing since it forces companies to make the best and cheapest possible product that consumers would enjoy.

Despite all of the talk, it doesn’t mean that there are working models of everything just yet. You see, many of these devices are works in progress, this means that they’ll likely get better with time as issues are solved.  With that in mind, there was one SUV that appeared at the Detroit Auto Show. It was the Infiniti QX Inspiration, a fully electric SUV concept, but it unfortunately stalled and was unable to drive itself on stage.

Better software. Better support. Better value. For over thirty years, Bluebird Auto Rental Services has been supporting its many happy customers around the world. Our flagship product, RentWorks, provides all the tools you need to run every aspect of your car rental business or service loaner department from the front counter to the back office.

Call us today toll-free at 800-304-5805, or email us at sales@barsnet.com and we’ll be glad to walk you through Bluebird’s Auto Rental Services.

Sep 19

Bluebird Puts Car Rental in the Palm of the Renter’s Hand

Your customers can now book, rent, and return vehicles with no need for any rental staff to be present with the Bluebird PaaK (Phone-as-a-Key) Mobile App.

 

 

PaaK is a branded/private label mobile app that offers the following features:

– Customers can make reservations without needing to go to your website

– Branded/private label mobile app with your own company logo and information

– Inclusion in the Apple and Android Mobile App stores (again, with YOUR logo)

– Complete Back-end Telematics, including the ability to transmit the fuel level and odometer reading to RentWorks

– Vehicle locator on the phone map

– Damage reporting

How does it work?  A small black box, called the Telematics Control Unit (TCU),  is installed into each vehicle.  It doesn’t matter if the vehicle has a push-button start or requires a key.  The TCU is very easy to install as it simply connects via one cable (or two for non-push-button starters) to the vehicle’s ODB Port.  Then smartphones communicate directly to the TCU via lightning fast Bluetooth.  This allows the PaaK to work in areas when cellular network is down or where no mobile cellular system is available, e.g., ten floors underground in a parking garage.

Are you ready to save money on staffing and still satisfy your customers all day and night? Reach out to Bluebird today at 973-989-2423 to find out more about PaaK.

Jul 26

Go Paperless with Electronic Signature Pad

Are your file cabinets overflowing? It’s easy to go paperless with the electronic signature pad for RentWorks.

Electronic Signature Pads Eliminate Need for Paper

There’s no need to use all that paper for signed rental documents. It takes up far too much space in your office. In addition, it’s much more environmentally friendly to stop using so much paper. Why kill trees if you don’t have to?

With the electronic signature pad available for use with RentWorks, paper documents can be a thing of the past.

Here’s how the pad can help your rental business.

  • The large screen electronically captures your customer’s signature upon check-out.
  • You can also prompt the pad to accept or decline additional coverages or features, like insurance, GPS, or satellite radio.
  • The signature pad stores the images electronically. This eliminates the need to save hard copies.
  • The pads can program all necessary wording to display on the screen to meet legal requirements.

The minimum system requirements for an electronic signature pad are RentWorks 4.1 and the Web Client.  Remote Desktop Protocol/RDP via Terminal Services will not work with version 4 Signature Pads. Only one signature pad can be used per workstation, along with the appropriate user level software license.

For more information on how to get electronic signature pads for your workstations, contact Bluebird today at 973-989-2423.

 

Jul 17

How RentWorks Helps Control Costs and Reduce Risk

At Bluebird, we understand that the vehicles you rent out are big-ticket items. You want to keep them safe while keeping your customers happy and making rental payments easy. We can help you with that. RentWorks now uses WordPay’s (previously Element/Vantiv) CardSense™ to help you easily and quickly identify your customers’ payment card types, including PIN debit, prepaid debit or healthcare cards prior to performing a transaction.

How It Helps

Here’s how this information will help your business:

  • Ensures cards are handled properly at the point of sale

  • Mitigates risk

  • Lowers processing fees to improve operational costs

For most merchants, accepting a debit card is not a problem. However, your customers are driving away with a valuable piece of merchandise, which they are expected to return. You may already require a credit card to initiate the rental, even if the customer will use a debit card to make final payment upon return of the car.

CardSense™, a PCI DSS compliant processing technology, fully integrates with business management software.

Making Rental Payments Easy

CardSense™ works when a customer swipes or key enters a card. Due to restrictions in the EMV (Chip & Pin) process, it is not possible to determine the card type prior to obtaining an authorization.  After receiving the authorization response, RentWorks submits a CardSense request using data received in the authorization response.  This data passes along to the WorldPay Express Processing Platform. Express queries the CardSense™ database. It then  issues a response to RentWorks indicating the card type.  If the card is a debit or prepaid debit card, Rentworks will notify the user. it will then convert the authorization to a sale (Paid Deposit) or reverse the authorization depending on a user defined setting.

CardSense™ fully integrates into RentWorks, so you can use it seamlessly. Do you have questions about RentWorks or CardSense™? Call us today toll-free at 800-304-5805. We can help!

Jun 29

Classroom Training Makes You a RentWorks Expert

Did you know that once you become a RentWorks customer, you can come to our headquarters office in New Jersey for a full three days of classroom training? Here’s what you need to know:

You’ve purchased RentWorks. That’s great, but now what? Maybe setting up a new system from scratch is something you find difficult. That’s not a problem! If you need help getting Rentworks up and running, our classroom training is for you. You’ll learn everything, from soup to nuts about getting RentWorks exactly where you need it to be.

Here’s How It Works

We’ll start you off with an empty data base and bring you completely through set-up, to the point at which you are ready to open and close contacts. This includes:

  • Background set up (Locations, Employees, Print Programs, etc.)
  • Setting rates along with fees & taxes plus miscellaneous charges
  • Entering vehicles into your system
  • Setting up extra features such as optional equipment and tour programs in your system
  • Setting up the loaner car module (for dealership loaner vehicles)

With our classroom training, we can help you get completely familiar with the software so that you will be quite comfortable renting cars using it by the time you leave.

While you’re here becoming a RentWorks expert, you can also arrange to meet with others in our company if necessary. In the past, we’ve had several customers sit with our analysts and go over their print program design.

We hold the training at our offices in Dover, New Jersey, which is 45 minutes west of midtown Manhattan. Since we aren’t slave drivers and won’t keep you working 24/7, we can offer you a list of local hotels, restaurants, and attractions so you can find things to do after hours. Please note that you’ll need to make (and pay for) your own travel arrangements.

Our next classroom training in Dover is scheduled for August 7-9, 2018.

We also offer training classes elsewhere if we have enough customers in the area that would like the full three-day session.  A few years ago we held one in Anchorage, Alaska!

Do you want to know more about classroom training, or make arrangements to come the next session in August? Call us today at 973-989-2423 or send an email to info@barsnet.com.

 

Jun 20

Bluebird’s Online Call Center Tracks Support Calls

As much as we want it to be, we know that RentWorks isn’t perfect all the time. Every so often, something will go wrong, and you’ll need our support. Did you know that Bluebird has an online call center? It’s one-stop shopping for all of your RentWorks support needs. Read on for more information.

Here’s How it Works

Once you have finished requesting a login and password for our call center, you can go to our web site – www.barsnet.com. From there, you will click on the Support tab. Next, you will click on On-Line Call Center at the top of the left column. At this point, you can:

■ View a Support Ticket

■ Enter a New Support Ticket

■ View an SAR

You can also click on https://helpdesk.barsnet.com/scripts/callsys.wsc/login.html to get started.

The initial screen goes to View a Support Ticket and prompts you for a date range. Once you have entered that, you will see a list of all the calls you had placed within the date range, along with a Summary description of the call. To view the details, simply click on the Ref # field. When entering a New Support Ticket, you can enter as much detail as you want. Indicate how you would like to be contacted, either via email or phone. However, you must enter both methods of communication. You will receive a confirmation email with your Call Reference Number.

When this is done, you won’t have to call us any more to see who picked up your call! After you see which Product Support Analyst (PSA) has your call, you can call him/her directly or just send an email.

This service is free for any customer with an active Hotline Support/Software Subscription Agreement.

If you have any questions about how to use the online call center, reach out to us at 973-989-2423.

May 25

How to Ensure that RentWorks Runs Safely

Secure communications between computers over the Internet have used SSL (Secure Socket Layer) protocols which were originally developed by NetScape. It is used by every browser out there.

As with everything, over the years vulnerabilities have been discovered in SSLv2 and SSLv3. After SSLv3 the protocol was renamed to TLS (Transport Layer Security) v1.0. The latest version and only protocol now recognized as safe is TLSv1.2. TLS is a cryptographic protocol used to establish a secure communications channel between two systems. It is used to authenticate one or both systems and protect the confidentiality and integrity of information that passes between systems. It was originally developed as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) by Netscape in the early 1990s. Standardized by the Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF), TLS has undergone several revisions to improve security to block known attacks and add support for new cryptographic algorithms, with major revisions to SSL 3.0 in 1996, TLS 1.0 in 1990, TLS 1.1 in 2006, and TLS 1.2 in 2008.

Many of RentWorks’ interfaces require secure connections to other computer systems using a secure protocol. As RentWorks runs on top of Progress Software’s OpenEdge development platform, we rely on their support of these various versions of the secure protocol. Some of the interfaces that require the upgrade to TLSv1.2 include credit card processing via CenPOS and Vantiv, as well as our interface with Equifax, and also our interfaces to DMS systems such as Reynolds & Reynolds and CDK (formerly ADP).

It became necessary to upgrade Progress OpenEdge to a minimum of version 11.6 to enable support for TLSv1.2 for all of the above interfaces. This necessitated upgrading 70+ servers at Amazon Web Services as well as client PCs where the connection was being generated from the client. This was an enormous task that has taken weeks to implement.

June 30, 2018 is the deadline for disabling SSL/early TLS and implementing a more secure encryption protocol – TLS 1.1 or higher (TLS v1.2 is strongly encouraged) in order to meet the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) for safeguarding payment data.

Between now and June 30, organizations that have not completed their migration should provide the Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV) with documented confirmation that they have implemented a Risk Mitigation and Migration Plan and are working to complete their migration by the required date.

Migrate to a minimum of TLS 1.1, preferably TLS 1.2. While it is possible to implement countermeasures against some attacks on TLS, migrating to a later version of TLS (TLS 1.2 is strongly encouraged) is the only reliable method to protect against the current protocol vulnerabilities.

Patch TLS software against implementation vulnerabilities. Implementation vulnerabilities, such as Heartbleed in OpenSSL, can pose serious risks. Keep TLS software up-to-date to ensure it is patched against these vulnerabilities and have countermeasures for other attacks.

Configure TLS securely. In addition to providing support for later versions of TLS, ensure the TLS implementation is configured securely. Ensure that secure TLS cipher suites and key sizes are supported and disable support for other cipher suites that are not necessary for interoperability.

If you need help running your RentWorks software with these new connections and protocols, call us today at 973-989-2423. We will help you ensure that your system stays safe and protected.

 

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