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ARI Fleet Forum

Keynote speaker Amanda Lang asks us to ask "why?"


June 12, 2012
by Emily Atkins

Markham, Ontario: ARI’s clients and partners were treated to a great morning of information and thought-provoking entertainment on June 11, followed by lunch and a sunny round of golf at the Angus Glen golf club in Markham, Ontario.

More than 100 guests were treated to an ARI update and overview of the Canadian auto marketplace along with presentations on fuel cards, fraud prevention and fuel prices. The keynote speaker was CBC business reporter and author Amanda Lang.

Lang spoke about Canada’s lagging productivity and how we can all take individual responsibility for improving it. The key, she says, is to keep asking “why?”

As toddlers we are all “little scientists”, asking why about everything we come across, but our parents, the education system and our employers discourage inquisitiveness. For parents it’s often seen as undesirable attention-seeking behaviour, in school it’s just troublesome for teachers, and in the workplace it’s borderline subordination.

Lang’s thesis is that if we keep asking the questions, we will be more engaged in what we do, and the more engaged we are, the more innovative and productive we will be. Creativity plus engagement equal innovation.

ARI and industry update

Chris Conroy

Along with Lang’s presentation, guests heard from ARI’s senior vice-president of sales and service, Chris Conroy, about the current state of Canada’s auto industry. Sales are booming, fuelled by record business profitability since the 2008 recession. Companies are upgrading and replacing fleets, buying fuel-efficient models. “Our industry is on the comeback trail,” he said.

Conroy also presented an overview of recent and coming innovations and improvements to ARI’s services. The list was lengthy, with many new service introductions and enhancements, including new technologies like an asset reservation system and a lifecycle analysis tool. In addition, ARI’s vehicle remarketing service, ARI Buy Direct, is coming to Canada. Conroy also mentioned the company’s strategic consulting service which researches are produces best practices white papers and will perform company-specific studies and work with individual fleet managers to improve their practices and cost effectiveness.

History of the credit card

ARI’s vice-president of operations, Rick Tousaw, presented an interesting history of credit cards, starting with their humble beginnings in the 1800s as metal tokens inscribed with the name of the business. The only security feature of these credit tokens was possession. If you had it in your hand, you were eligible for credit.

Things have progressed a great deal since then, with security features having come a long way from invoice auditing, to data encoded in magnetic stripes, and now moving into chip and PIN technology.

Tousaw said one challenge is getting the oil companies to upgrade their systems to accept PIN-enabled fleet cards. Another is for companies with pool fleets; the fleet card needs to be useable by a number of people, so having a PIN is not feasible. Chip cards that don’t require a PIN are the answer, he said. However, an added wrinkle is that the US is not moving to adopt the chip cards, leaving an opening for fraud with old-style magnetic stripe cards.

New technology coming down the pipe includes the mobile wallet concept, in which a smart card inserted in a smartphone is enabled as a credit card. These are already in widespread use in Asia and will be arriving in Canada soon, as Rogers and the other telecomm providers are rolling out the service.

Preventing fraud

Fraud is popular for gangs and other organized crime groups because it has perceived lower penalties, says Detective Constable Andrew Quibell of the York Region fraud squad. Card fraud in particular offers criminals plenty of avenues to rip people off, but there are plenty of other opportunities such as phishing, mail theft, fake government documents, among others.

Andrew Quibell

Quibell offered a number of tips to protect yourself and your employees from fraud:

  • Always use the chip feature of your credit card. Fraudsters will pretend that the card reader is broken and read data off the stripe in a common scam.
  • Always give a tug on the card insertion point at the ATM. If it’s been set up for skimming the fake front will come off in your hand.
  • Be wary if one of two ATMs in a vestibule is out of order. Fraudsters could be diverting you to the one set up for skimming.
  • Be aware of people loitering near the ATM or in the parking lot. Fraudsters don’t stray far from their equipment for the hour they leave it set up.
  • Never share your PIN.
  • Always use credit before debit if you have the choice. It’s easier to get the money back with credit card fraud. With debit, the money is gone immediately.

Fuel prices

Roger McKnight

In the final presentation of the morning, Roger McKnight, senior petroleum analyst with En-Pro explained to the group some of the machinations that determine prices at the pump for consumers. It’s a complicated mix of geopolitics, the value of the US dollar and the number of refineries online all contributing to the profit margin (“crack spread”) the oil companies can get for their products.

McKnight said gas prices climbed early this year—in January, well before the usual April-May spike—because of several refinery closures. He also warned about wildcard factors such as the US election, which has President Obama waffling on the Keystone XL pipeline approvals. Another wildcard is the situation in Iran. If it destabilizes, it could send the price of crude “through the roof”.