Friday, December 11, 2009

OnStar Failed Us

Last spring we acquired a Saturn Aura with OnStar, a satellite radio control system.  It requires a monthly subscription, but theoretically it offers some nice benefits, such as:
  • Monthly diagnostics, which come in the form of an email,
  • Automatic 911 calls if the air bags deploy, and
  • Remote door-unlock, in case we should inadvertently lock the keys in the car.
We haven't locked the keys in the car in years.  It's hard to do, actually, because these days we don't lock with the buttons on the doors - we use the remote, which is attached to the keys.  Today, though, Sunshine unknowingly dropped the keys into the trunk of the car, with the other doors locked, and when she closed the trunk the keys were inside.  You get that sinking feeling ...

She had never called OnStar, so she called me.  I called OnStar.  They agreed to unlock it, saying that it might take as much as ten minutes.

Well, ten minutes is a very long time when the temperature is zero (actual air temp) outside.  She was in Sam's Club parking lot, so she could go inside, but if she was concerned that OnStar would unlock the car and then the contents would be vulnerable, so she couldn't really stay inside.  She stayed close to the building where she could watch the car.

Meanwhile, not entirely trusting the system, I got in my car and started the 15-minute drive to her location, expecting to get a call at any moment saying that I could turn around.  The call never came.  When I got there the car was still locked, so I unlocked it with my remote.  Sunshine found the keys immediately.

When she got into the car she heard the end of a conversation on the car's speakers, and heard the caller hang up.  She didn't hear the beginning of that conversation, because she was LOCKED OUT!  OnStar did us no good whatsoever, and in fact my call to them only slowed me down when Sunshine was actually at risk.

I'm a little upset about that, and try not to make decisions when upset, but I wonder how long we'll continue to pay $17.45 per month, over $200 per year, for a system that let us down when we needed it the most.

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