Since I bought my 2004 Cadillac new in 05' I complained to On-Star (owned and operated by General Motors) about the poor phone service, static, and dropped calls when using the factory installed On-Star phone service. Not only is the service unreliable as I have had numerous dropped calls (even when calling 911 or calling On-Star during an emergency) but they charge ridiculously high rates for phone service. On-Star has been installing analog phones up until recently. My complaints resulted in nothing tangible from On-Star. Now because th FCC is compelling cellular phone providers to provide only digital service, On-Star needs to replace phone equipment on all GM vehicles. They are not doing this because of all of the complaints they have had from consumers, but because of an FCC ruling
I received a letter from On-Star telling me I need to upgrade my phone equipment on my Cadillac for a small sum ($15.00) so it will be analog, but they also say that I need to renew my service. It's $400 a year if you want directions, phone, and emergency service. But they will no longer allow you to transfer this service to a new GM vehicle.
What this means is that if I buya new GM vehicle in 2008, the $400.00 I pay On-Star doesn't transfer to the new vehicle, AS IT USED TO! To me this is a rip-off. Only if you read the fine print on the back of the letter do you learn of this little trap which unsuspecting consumers could end up getting scammed.
Essentially I was told by Brian, a "supervisor" (after talking to three reps--three because two of my calls using the GM installed phone were dropped mid call) that if you pay to have the upgrade and renew your service you cannot transfer what you pay for to a new GM car you might buy in 2008.
On-Star uses a terrible carrier for phone service and they have known this for years but did nothing about it because they were making money as a third party vendor for the minutes which are prepaid. But when the FCC made its ruling that all cell services must be digital, this was a way for On-Star to essentially charge you to renew at full price (between $200 to $400 per year), but unlike in previous years, you cannot transfer the services to your new car. So if you renew with On-Star right now and need to have the phone equipment upgraded to digital, and then decide to get a new car in 08, General Motors/On-Star benefits, but you receive no service. then when you gt your new GM car you get three months free, but then have to pay again anywhere from $200-400 a year to have On-Star.
General Motors has been in serious financial trouble for sometime, and they own On-Star, but they have created no incentive for me to renew my service by refusing to allow consumer to transfer the service I would pay for to any new GM vehicle I might buy next year. To me this is bad business and the fact that they do not clearly and overtly disclose that the services you pay for are NO LONGER transferable then many buyers will be ripped off if they decide to renew and buy a new car sometime next year.
I buy a new car every three years since I drive so much because of my work. I doubt I will buy another GM product and it is highly unlikely I will renew with On-Star. If you plan to keep your GM car for several years then by all means pay the money for the upgrade on the equipment ($15.00) and renew, but if you plan to puchase a new GM vehicle or any vehicle equipped with On-Star, be warned that they will charge you for the service, but they will not allow you to transfer it to another GM car as they did up until recently.
No wonder GM is in the tank. These little things all add up and sooner or later, it will catch up. On-Star has known for years that the phone services was marginal at best and did nothing to resolve it. They charge a premium price for poor service and they make money because most consumers don't read the hidden or fine print.
I will buy a Thomas Guide or another road map for $30.00 rather then pay these people $400.00 which they will not let me transfer to a new car....which is really stupid since they should do whatever they can to keep current customers happy so they will keep buying GM and On-Star services.
Beware of On-Star because they charge too much for phone minutes, the communication equipment is unreliable, and they will charge you money for services you cannot transfer to another On-Star equipped vehicle. That was a promise made to me by the salesman and by On-Star, but I guess since they are broke they cannot afford to keep their promises anymore.
I will look at another car company perhaps because you cannot depend on GM or On-Star--especially when your calls get dropped when calling for help. I guess I will never do one of those stupid radio commercials I hear all the time when the lady locks her baby in the car. She was lucky...her call got through.
Los Angeles, California
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