It’s not a bug, it’s a feature?

I’m not sure I’d tick off a guy who blogs under the nom de plume of Ernie the Attorney. Here’s his story: It’s raining inside my car – I wonder if that is the sign of a major design flaw?. Well the drought finally ended last night, and it looks like we got about 2 inches of rain.  I know this because I measured the rain collection in my BMW X5’s center console cup holder.  So how could I be so stupid as to leave all four of my windows and the sun roof open during a major downpour?

Believe me I didn’t.   Here’s what happened.  Last night, during the rain storm, the car spontaneously lowered all of the windows and opened the sun roof.  Really. 

And this is not a design flaw, or a bug.  It’s a feature.

Here’s how it works: BMW makes their ignition keys so that you can wirelessly lower the windows to your car by holding down a button on the key.  It takes a good 30 seconds of holding to open all of the windows, but you can do it just by holding down that button.  Obviously, the problem occurred not because of a key button being held down, but because of some stray electrical signal in the car’s vicinity (perhaps from the electrical storm).

So I asked the service manager (after I explained this problem, which apparently has occurred before) if he could disable the “feature.”  He said “it can’t be done.”  I asked him if he thought it was a good idea for a car to be susceptible to opening all of the windows because of some freak electrical activity in the car’s vicinity.  He made an effort to understand my point, but obviously I’m biased.  He said most people like the ability to open the windows with their key.  So he didn’t think there was any sort of design flaw.

Oh, and any damage that might have occurred won’t be covered by the BMW warranty.  Remember, guys, this is not a bug it’s a feature.  And a mandatory feature. 

So what if, while parked outside a downtown restaurant, the car decides to open all the windows and invite a few thieves to get inside and poke around, where they can find the valet key and drive away?  (hint to the thieves: bring a bathing suit)

I can’t wait to talk the boys from BMW NorthAmerica and commend them on their fine engineering.  I am definitely going to ask them what frequency their key system operates on. 

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.