Blackrock, Ireland - A five-year-old Irish company, called
, 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 markets.
It offers 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.
The one-year 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.
Prendergast said 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 profitable."
This is 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 online.
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.
He said 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's location.
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.
Yougetitback also 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.
He 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.