March 7, 2010


No Stars for OnStar

I loooooooooove my colleague Jil McIntosh at the Wheels section of the Toronto Star. She's a hoot. She has this no-nonsense way about her that never fails to crack me up. And, she knows her stuff. She has a direct way of telling you about a car that makes her one of my best resources on cars. And, she throws great parties.

Anyway. She has a column this week about GM's OnStar. I love it. She pulls no punches. And she shouldn't. I've been hating the OnStar for years.

In a column I wrote over two years ago, I got crap. And not just from GM. I mean, they weren't pleased. But I can live with that. We write for the readers, not the manufacturers. No, I had an editor (not the regular ones; an assigned fill-in) call me. First, that never happens. They don't call you. They just change stuff, or email you. But the phone rang.

"Uhm, hi Lorraine. This is Editor," he said.
"Hi Editor"
"Listen, I'm editing this OnStar piece you've written. It's, uhm, pretty harsh," he continued.
"Yeah, it is. OnStar is pretty stupid. So actually, it's really just pretty honest," I said.
"Yeah, but, can't you say anything good about it?"

I considered this.

"Nope."

And I couldn't. It was an overpriced piece of junk that never failed to unimpress me over the course of the year it was 'free' on my van. Renewing it would have been like asking for labour to last a few more hours because it was so rewarding.

No auto manufacturer has a crystal ball, but even GM should have noted that the entire world has a cell phone in their pocket. Many young people don't even bother with residential lines anymore; it's all cell. They also made the colossal mistake of stranding their early customers. Apparently, OnStar installed on vehicles prior to 2002 were equipped with an analog version. When GM switched to digital, they effectively tossed 10% of their customers to the crapper with their excuses and explanations.

This does not make for happy customers. And while I've had a lot of GPS systems steer me wrong, most of them aren't harassing me to purchase them for exorbitant costs like GM does.

I was an early OnStar bitcher. I'm glad Jil got to make her point - there is a razor thin edge for success in the car industry these days. I get lost enough without my car doing it for me.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous buzzwhack said...

Onstar...it includes emergency accident location and recovery. Need I say more? This option is the modern stand in for the 1950s air bag suspensions on Buick and Cadillacs.They didn't work, were expensive and people changed them over to coil springs. GM was a bit sharper back then and dropped the option after a few humilialting years. According to Onstar, my cottage is in the middle of the lake, approachable by going through a pine forest.Good luck with that one GM.

March 08, 2010 10:37 AM  

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