- A five-year-old Irish company, called Yougetitback,
is quietly rolling out an unusual second security layer to warranty programs for
mobile devices that could put a few
extra bucks in retailers' and insurance providers' pockets.
The company, which
has extensive connections in Europe, is working with Best Buy in the U.S. now
and looking to add new partners from the CE retailing and warranty/insurance
consumers who have lost precious mobile devices, such as laptops, smartphones
and tablet PCs, an opportunity to remotely lock the information on those
products from prying eyes, while providing help in tracking down and recovering
those items from finders or the potential thieves who may have taken them.
The company's technology and services can locate
missing devices, take pictures of the thieves holding them, and remotely lock up
private data from unauthorized access.
"In short, we
provide peace of mind, just as the warranty program provides financial peace of
mind against device damage and loss," Paul Prendergast, Yougetitback co-founder
and head of sales, told TWICE.
service fee is $19.99 for smartphones and tablets and $29.99 for laptops. The
program is sold in several different ways, but typically users can purchase the
service integrated into aftermarket warranty programs through retail partners, and
they can also purchase it directly from Yougetitback.com.
the program works most effectively when it is integrated into a black-tie
device warranty program sold at retail.
"If you go into any Best Buy and you go to
purchase any black-tie smartphone warranty program, you'll find something
called â€˜Locked and Found' embedded into that program, and that's us," he said.
"We see ourselves as the back-end provider that helps our partners become more
accomplished, Prendergast said, by helping retailers and/or warranty company
partners increase attach rates, reduce churn on warranty programs, help
third-party insurance companies discover cases of fraud, and drive claims
When purchased as
a part of a warranty package, Prendergast said users are required to renew the
whole black-tie warranty program to get the Locked and Found component.
Yougetitback has an average user attach rate of 30 percent (people who purchase
a warranty and activate the Lock and Found element), which he called "massive."
Prendergast said the
company's business model has been to work with big partners, among which are European
retailers Tesco and Telefonica, several large insurance companies and Best Buy
in the United States. Prendergast said announcements are pending here on
several other large partners.
The company holds
15 patents on its technology, with 500 claims pending right now, and operates
back-end call center modules that can plug into partners' call centers in a
matter of one or two weeks, he said.
When a device is
reported as missing, Yougetitback sends a signal to the device to lock up the
data while triggering a loud, alarm. Simultaneously, a "device-locked"
confirmation message is sent to the owner's alternate number.
A message then
appears on the missing device asking whoever picks it up to "report found."
That can be done either by directly keying in the location (in the case of a
laptop or smartphone) into an onscreen message box or by calling a phone number
that appears on the screen.
When a response
comes back, Yougetitback's recovery team immediately notifies the owner with the
Device location also
can be determined via GPS, by triangulating with cell towers and via Wi-Fi
connections, Prendergast explained.
In some devices
with front-facing cameras, such as laptops and some smartphones, a picture of
the potential finder or thief is taken, and relayed to the owner to decide if
he wants to go collect the device or have law enforcement step in.
offers a recovery service of its own that will send agents anywhere in the
world to collect devices if the user, for whatever reason, is uncomfortable
doing it himself.
Prendergast said the
program has an average recovery rate of about 70 percent. In 80 percent of those
cases, users have misplaced their devices and get them back without a hassle.
To assuage the
privacy concerns of consumers fearing the technology might be used covertly to
track their movements, Prendergast said device tracking is initiated solely at
the direction of the user.
"We sign a
contract with our customers day one, saying that we are not [going to track the
device without their authorization]. To do otherwise would be breaking that
contract," Prendergast said.
Yougetitback "makes it very easy to give a 30-second â€˜it locks, locates and recovers'
pitch in a retail environment."
In addition, the
system gives users the ability to block incoming calls from specific geographic
areas -- such as Russia, for example -- if contacts from those areas are
considered unsafe or of no interest.