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Monday, December 6, 2010

OnStar experience

During the months of owning the Camaro, I have taken full advantage of the free 1 year subscription with OnStar. Enough so that I could give a fair review on their services. Most of the people I know who has a GM car, never re-subscribed to OnStar after their free trial had expired, but I think we should look at the pros and cons before we decide anything.

OnStar provides many services, all to make the driver feel like they are taken care of, and in some respects, making the driver's life easier. OnStar's navigation advisor can be called at a touch of a button, and you can find the nearest restaurant, nearest gas station, or nearest restroom if you have to. When treading on unknown territory, it's always nice to know there is an eye in the sky watching where you are going. In simpler words, you'll never be lost with OnStar. I've used OnStar's navigation service more times than I can remember, but the thing is, once you know how to get to your destination, you'll hardly ever call OnStar again for that same destination. The question is, how many new and strange places would you visit per week? per month? per year? For most of us, we hardly look at a map, and the internet and cellphones are so accessible now that we can find everything for ourselves, and we wouldn't need OnStar for that. Heck, you can even buy a GPS from your local electronics store for just 100 dollars, and you don't even have to re-subscribe!

Now, my previous post was about my snow accident, and because my car was not drivable after the accident, I had to call OnStar roadside assistance. OnStar asked if I was okay, and asked if I was in a safe place. Once those details have been established, they proceeded in calling GM roadside assistance, which they then called a towing company to tow my car to the nearest GM dealer. This is also a nice one button call feature, but almost unnecessary. I was grateful to have this service however, it meant a free tow, but because there were so many companies involved, and interchanging phone calls, I ended up waiting up to two hours before the tow truck finally arrived. Again, both have pros and cons. I think I would have had to deal with another side of politics if I made the calls myself. In a way, it's nice to have everything done for you, but you can't trust anyone but yourself.

OnStar also has an emergency button, it's a nice little feature to call OnStar if you see any immediate danger, to you, or to others. Over the summer, on the way to a friends house, I drove past this terrible car accident. I mean the cars were totaled. If I recall correctly, it was a Toyota Camry, and a BMW 3-series. It was at an intersection, and I had to leave quite soon after the green light. However, I did spot a guy who was nose bleeding. Both parties were yelling at each other, and it felt like the accident had just happened. Although I was no witness to the accident, I decided to use this OnStar feature. They picked up and asked what was the emergency. I told them the makes and models of the car, where the accident happened, and to let the law enforcement know to send some help. OnStar called 911 right away after getting the information from me, and asked me if I wanted to stay on the line with 911. I told them that I had to get to work, so I couldn't stay on the line. OnStar proceeded in thanking me for being a good samaritan, and they dealt with the police from there. From what I saw, no one was badly hurt, which was great, because the cars were a another story. Eitherway, it's nice to have these one touch buttons, instead of having to "swipe to unlock" my iphone and actually having to dial 911.

OnStar also provides a month to month diagnostics report on various parts of your car sent via e-mail. They monitor stuff like: oil life, tire pressure, odometer reading, last servicing date, and all that fancy jazz. It's nice to have those all up to date, especially if you don't have the time to keep track of all of that.

Last but not least, OnStar's theft prevention and remote access. With just one phone call and your PIN, they can unlock your doors, start your engine, or shut off your engine. Shutting off your engine is just incase someone steals your car, and they can disable the car on the spot, and locate the car via satellite. Unlocking your doors is somewhat pointless to me though. I'm not sure how someone would lock their keys in the car in the first place. That always stumbles me. The Camaro does not have auto locking doors from what I understand. So the only way to lock your doors from the outside is if you have the keys on the outside. Personified question mark?

My verdict? There are two groups of people who will most likely continue to subscribe. People who want the luxury aspect of service, or if you are one of those people who is always in a rush to get to work in the morning and you have your coffee in one hand and a binder in the other, and your jacket is on halfway, you're talking on your bluetooth headset, and scrambling to get the car started. Eitherway, I think it's for the polar extremes of people who have no time on their hands, and people who have too much time on their hands. As for me? My subscription ends in a couple of months, April 6th to be exact, and I'm not so sure I would continue subscribing. There are cheaper solutions out there afterall, but who knows, maybe their customer service will win my heart in the end. We'll just have to wait and see.

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