On Apr 10, 2006 my son was involved in a single car crash with my car. He had fallen asleep at the wheel and went off the road into a ditch and through a telephone pole before the car stopped.
By the Grace of God, he wasn't seriously injured and called us from his cell phone. We went to the crash site immediately. The police told us they were notified of the crash by people passing by calling from their cell phones. The car was a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP equipped with Onstar. We had the service since we purchased the car new and had only used it twice to unlock the car doors. When we arrived, after making sure our son was ok, we realized that Onstar had not contacted my son or emergency personnel. We then went to the car (which was still in the same place), hit the emergency button and Onstar came on immediately. When asked what the emergency was, we replied Other than the fact that the air bags deployed in the car? They knew what car we were in and exactly where we were; the road we were on and the closest intersections. The person from Onstar also informed us that the emergency activation had not happened. They had no idea that the air bags had deployed. Discussions then ensued as to why this didn't happen. They told us one reason Onstar will not work is if the battery is damaged or if there is no cell phone coverage in the area and that it was obvious that this was not the reason since we were talking to them from the car. And we were able to turn on the key and have what was left of the lights on the car and the radio come on. They were not able to provide an explanation.
The next day, I called to cancel the service and told the representative about what had happened. He put the supervisor on and they the transferred me to Executive Relations to let them know what happened. I then talked to Michelle 877-248-2079 and told her what had happened and asked her why the service did not work when we so desperately needed it. She took down the information and told me they were going to research it with GM and would get back to me.
I called back on Apr 21, 2006 to see if they had found out why the system failed. She said that a letter was going out to me explaining the limitations of Onstar. She told me that the emergency activation would not work if the battery was damaged or there was no wireless coverage. I reiterated the story again, reminding her that neither situation applied since we were able to contact them (which is on record). I got the same response. Again, I reminded her that that was not the case. Her solution was to give a free year of Onstar if we purchased another vehicle with the service. My reply was Why would I want something that I cannot count on?. I asked about a refund and was told No.
At this point, I pulled out the Terms and Conditions paperwork. This agreement is 42 paragraphs long.
Paragraph 8 states that the service can't work unless the car is in a place where they have an agreement with a wireless service provider for service in the area (They must have since we were able to contact them). It also states that GPS satellite signals must be unobstructed (again we were able to contact them and they knew where we were). The car must also have a working electrical system (it did). Then it states that there are other problems they can't control that may prevent them from providing the service. Some examples are damage to important parts of the car, hills, tall building, tunnels, weather, electrical system design, and architecture of your car or wireless phone network congestion. Again no problem for us to contact them but a pretty good out for them.
Then the clincher:
Paragraph 32 NO WARRANTIES ON EQUIPMENT, INFORMATION, OR SERVICES FROM ONSTAR.. WE DON'T MAKE ANY WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, OR IMPLIED, ABOUT OnStar equipment or any other equipment used with OnStar service. . This means, among other things, no warranties of quality, accuracy, timeliness, completeness, merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. All such warranties are expressly excluded by this agreement.
Paragraph 33 LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY. YOU AND OnStar ARE EACH WAIVING IMPORTANT RIGHTS, UNLESS FORBIDDEN BY LAW IN A PARTICULAR INSTANCE,.
9 subparagraphs follow ensuring they are not liable for anything.
We have to waive IMPORTANT RIGHTS??????
If we had not been able to contact the emergency service from the car after the crash, I would have been inclined to believe that there may have been damage preventing the notification. Our ability to contact them proved it wrong and they were not able to give a reasonable explanation of the failure. They just provided that standard caveat form letter and we had already proven that the situations they described did not apply to our situation.
So, for all you people out there who believe, like I did, that you can feel secure in the knowledge that if an emergency happens that Onstar will be there for you, take heed. It's a crapshoot if it will work and you have no recourse if it fails. After paying $16.95 a month for 4 years, it was a total waste of money and an extreme disappointment.
So, regarding those wonderful, warm fuzzy commercials about Onstar being there: Our new name for OnStar NonStar!
South Berwick, Maine