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Gee, thanks, GM! - Onstar analog to go silent



  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    My 2002 Seville (which I no longer own) can be upgraded for $15. As far as upgrading a ten year old vehicle is concerned, I am not sure that makes much sense. Onstar is nice, but an aging vehicle should probably be replaced anyway.

    For those who are making a big deal out of this: do you know that your old TV will stop working in about 1 more year? who are you going to sue over that?
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    Not true about the TV.....if you have cable or sat your TV will still work fine. Does anyone on the planet still use bunny ears?

    But, still a reasonable analogy and don't think there won't be legal action about this as well. Keep in mind that people generally sue for 4 factors:

    1 - How much pain/grief was caused

    2 - How much they think can win

    3 - What are the chances of winning

    4 - Or, do folks just want to "stick" it to someone

    I don't think many people care that much about the TV issue, but you never know.

    There is a way to handle this mess....all GM needs to do is refund all owners of vehicles that were equipped with OnStar but that now can not be upgraded at a cost of $850 less a fair depreciation rate. I have a 2003. I would be willing to bet (though have not checked) that the KBB probably adds $150 to $250 to the fair market value of my vehicle. That is all I am looking for. Additionally, anyone that has unused minutes or paid for services in advance should be refunded.

    GM offerred me two years free services on a new car. A reasonable financial offer, but I don't think anyone should be forced into buying a new car.

    GM is handling this issue the way the Big 3 has done work since the exploding Pinto.....Risk Analysis. The problem with Risk Analysis is that it is hard to capture the impact of things like consumer loyalty.

    I currently own a Chysler, a Ford, and a GM product. I never owned anything but these brands. But when my Honda-Loving boss takes a ride in my car like he did a few weeks ago and said "hey, what do these buttons do?"...all I can say is "nothing".
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    GM does indeed have labor issues they may certainly not be the reason that my OnStar quit working, but when $2500 or so from each sale is used to pay benefits for retirees, that can't last forever (as reported in numerous places in the press).

    Well you need to watch what the press says as well. I've seen $1500 per car all the way up to $3000 a car for health care so obvious the large difference between the numbers I've seen in the press wouldn't be credibile. The bottom line is GM, did not fully fund the employees pension plans and future healthcare costs. They got behind on their obligation and tacked it on to cost of labor to slander and fire up the anti-union folks in the public to win support. I've seen reports from the media saying UAW workers are making $65, $70, $75, $85, $88, $90, $95 dollars an hour in different news articles over the last couple of years.

    The bottom line is the VEBA takes care of the healthcare obligations at GM, and the the new two-tired wage system has replaced a lot of high-paid autoworker jobs. They are making half the money and do not have a define benefit plan.

    As some have said in the past and that is our future especially my generation and younger will not even come close to having it as good as our parents generation.

    Well I do hope you can get your Onstar, issue resolved !!!!

  • sls002sls002 Posts: 2,788
    People who live in the country and don't have sat are using an antenna. My guess is that till the broadcasting stops people are blissfully unaware.

    My understanding is that if your onstar can be upgraded, the cost is $15. Some 2002's are upgradeable, more 2003-2004's are. I assume that anyone who wants to upgrade already subscribes to onstar. Anyone buying a used car that wants onstar should be aware (but of course they are probably blissfully unaware).
  • GM doesn't own the "station" as you put it. They buy service from Verizon Wireless. On Star is bacically a glorified cell phone, nothing more. It's not GM's network, they just recently switched to Verizon after a long run with Cingular, now AT&T. Verizon and all the other cell companies lobbied the FCC to allow them to break the charter and discontinue upkeep on the analog network. They claim they the burden of repairing 2 systems to provide the same service was redundant, cost too much, and the number of customers still on analog was not going to be an issue because all modern hand held cell phones are digital or at least dual mode. The FCC is not forcing them to discontinue analog, but said if things go out they don't have to fix them.

    I'm sorry to hear about your friends daughter, but how mad would he have been if her car did have On Star, but it was the analog system and she was in a digital only zone? He paid for the service and when it was really needed it didn't work. I'm pretty sure there would be a lawsuit, I would sue if that happened to me. Now that the FCC said that the cell companies don't have to repair the analog network unless they see fit to do so On Star can't tell you when or where outages will be because they can be random, and some areas might not ever be fixed. That's the reason On Star can't continue service to analog only equipped vehicles. It's too big of a liability and they can't risk the company on unreliable service form the cell companies. They are taking a huge hit with the decision not to keep analog only cars, but with everyone so sue happy nowadays keeping analog was going to be a huge risk that had the potential to cripple or bankrupt the company. As a person with a business degree you have to understand how this works.
  • Do you honestly think that all of the 400,000 vehicles out there still use On Star?! I'm willing to say 25% - 30% of them are in the scrap pile after a wreck, then you factor in that the majority of people don't renew the service after the "free" year. If it's a used car, I can't quote any hard numbers, but I doubt that the car was bought because it had On Star. After they find out it's $100 to activate and $200/year they tend not to care so much anymore. On a new car the activation is in the option cost, and the buyer never sees it, and the first year is free so if they didn't need it within that year it gets dropped. Now that insurance companies are offering a discount if you keep the On Star service active they might think about it a bit more, but only if the discount covers the $200/year service fee.

    I have never needed or used any of the features enough to want to renew, the hands free calling is cool, but the voice recognition was a pain sometimes and the minutes are expensive compared to normal cell phone charges. I carry an extra key with me so the most used On Star feature is not my concern.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Factor in that the majority of people don't renew the service after the "free" year.

    That would be me. On my 2005 GMC PU I was never able to activate it. I tried two times in that year to get through for activation. Got no answer and gave up. I think it is a waste of money.

    The main reason Analog service was phased out is bandwidth. Depending on the type of cellular service, you can get 12 or more conversations in the same bandwidth used for one analog call. You cannot offer any of the fancy text, GPS and picture services with analog. It is strictly for voice.

    This talk of suing is crazy. When Verizon and at&t Wireless discontinue analog will these people sue Nokia or Motorola because their cell phone quits working?
  • Regarding the 400,000 users who have analog and will lose their service...that is out of approximately 2.2 million total analog installed vehicles - yes, only about 15-20% actually maintained the service.

    As for the comments regarding which digital system...that is why I limited my remarks to the 2002 vehicle years forward...because from 2002 forward, GM knew the system and in fact was installing it in certain makes and models...just not in either of mine. And, yes...therein lies the risk analysis - the "math". And yes, as with many large entrenched institutional businesses, the "math" often fails to take into account the less quantifiable issues of customer loyalty.

    Yes, I know that the OnStar system is in some ways just a glorified hands free cell phone system. And if that is all that it was for, I probably would not have maintained my subscription at 216.00/year per vehicle or even cared if I had the OnStar system. However, my upgrading of vehicles is more a matter of keeping up with safety technologies. And, OnStar provided me with another layer of safety. My family is priceless to me. I bought the Subaru VDC to replace a Volvo wagon in order to gain the variable dynamic control and all-wheel drive and OnStar...a great package of safety features. I bought my suburban to replace my older suburban to gain better safety including OnStar. I am in a position to be able to afford to do this. I understand that I can lose my family to accidents and I am willing to do the most I can to avoid this from happening to the extent it is possible, within reason and without slipping into paranoia. Lots can happen and safer autos is one way to reduce the odds/potential of this happening on the road. So, again, by way of review....

    - 400,000 is a small fraction of total OnStar analog installed vehicles that were produced.

    - by the 2002 model year, GM could have installed convertable systems into every vehicle they were producing.

    - by failing to inform their prospective customers of their inability to continue to have peaceful and full enjoyment of the OnStar system beyond 2007 (which they knew a at the time of sale), they basically defrauded and damaged every customer, who given the information would have made a different choice.

    And, their reason for not equipping every vehicle with convertible systems from 2002 forward and for not disclosing/telling every prospective customer of the limitations of the analog only systems was the preservation of sales and profits and the elimination of any additional expenses.

    I could have easily afforded to wait. I would have waited. I was buying the safety features and OnStar was a big part of my buying decision in the purchase of both my 2002 Suburban and my 2003 Subaru Outback VDC. Thus, I honestly believe that I was a victim of fraud by deliberate omission and I have been damaged by this decision...their money over the safety of my family...GM can do the math on how that makes me feel...

    So, who knew? GM knew...that's who!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    I was buying the safety features and OnStar was a big part of my buying decision in the purchase of both my 2002 Suburban and my 2003 Subaru Outback VDC.

    If you feel that strongly about Onstar, will you buy a new model with the latest Onstar technology?
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    You bringing up MY business degree....are you aware that GM posted the second biggest corporate loss in US History last quarter....all run by people with business degrees. My degree and training is in Chemical Engineering....I have an MBA. GM has become fodder in business schools by instructors. It used to be ENRON, and still is to some degree, but now GM gets much of the time.

    As far as the figures discussed earlier, these are reported figures and easy to calculate just by looking at an annual report. It is a mere fact of dividing the amount spent on retiees and dividing by the number of units sold. I think the descrepency in figures is due to what is being calculated. Is it medical bennefits? Is it total retiree bennefits?

    Want to blame someone? How about the investors. GM is a public company which forces GM to make decisions in support of a stock price. US investors are short-sided and always looking for a quick buck.

    Now, here is a little Business is not always about the is about doing the right thing, protecting the brand, and ensuring a timely, quality product that meets the desires of the consumers. Sometimes doing the right thing costs more now, but pays-off later.

    I fond this online....not sure if it is accurate, but reports to be GM's mission statement:

    "G.M. is a multinational corporation engaged in socially responsible operations, worldwide. It is dedicated to provide products and services of such quality that our customers will receive superior value while our employees and business partners will share in our success and our stock-holders will receive a sustained superior return on their investment."

    It is crisp and to the point. Is the last statment more of a bennefit or a hinderance to the organization?

    GM is a mere reflection of the problems of many business today...they certainly do not stand alone. I will stop here because this is a topic for another forum.
  • This is a good question and the jury is still out. I am looking at other technologies that I could potentially add to the vehicles, however to date, I cannot find the emergency system built into OnStar - the gps locator, the immediate response if air-bags are deployed...the very fact that the equivalent of 911 personnel would be available to my family if they were stuck some where - perhaps injured. That is what $216.00/year is worth to cover that unlikely but not impossible situation from being without adequate I suppose I will enter the Class Action, fight what I consider to be the fraud by omission and likely pursue options first and a return to OnStar second. Emotionally, I never want to do business with GM/OnStar again...however, my family comes first. So, there is a chance I will change my rhetorical "never again" for the sake of my family. Will I ever feel the same about GM after three generations of loyalty...not a chance. Am I a goner the moment I have an bet. Does GM care...not a chance...didn't even want to refund unused telephone minutes without a fight. As a consumer I feel abused. As a loyal customer I feel like road kill. As a citizen, I am not without recourse. Let the fight drive on to the courts...our only venue for resolution of these various issues.
  • quietproquietpro Posts: 702
    Regarding the safety of OnStar, here are some things to consider. I have used OnStar twice. Both times, they were unable to get a GPS location for me. The first time was with an '02 model Monte Carlo that was later determined to have a faulty GPS unit. Unfortunately, since I discovered the problem after the warranty had expired, it wasn't covered. However, I learned in my troubleshooting that OnStar keeps logs of the times you call them and each time, they "normally" get a GPS location. I had contacted them several times prior to my "emergency" (a defective battery) but had no GPS data in any of those calls. Was I informed of the fact that the GPS was not functioning? Absolutely not. Would you ASSUME, as I did, that the operator on the other end would advise of this problem? They will not! I had to ask each time afterwards for a verification of my location.

    The second incident occurred while I was in a drive-thru (defective battery again on my '06 Impala). for depending on the nifty feature of emergency crews showing up at your crash site without your input, you might want to be sure you crash in a totally unsecluded area without trees or other obstructions. I know I don't have a secure feeling regarding the OnStar GPS system.

    Also, of note, is that the GPS system only works if there is cell coverage in your current location. If not, not only will you not get emergency services, but you won't get the friendly voice asking if you're OK. Don't get me wrong, I still subscribe and suggest my sisters do the same, but I don't have a lot of trust in the system. For all who read this and are current subscribers, I would suggest verifying your GPS is working by making a call to the OnStar operators and have them tell you where you're located. You might be surprised! :P :sick:

    As for the changing technology, I believe it is a raw deal although I understand that times change. Concerning the refusal to refund prorated fees, that's absolutely unascceptable. I had my own concerns about the changing technology long ago but could not get an answer from anyone at OnStar about it. I made the assumption that my old '02 car was analog based on the reception and call quality. BTW, that call quality had already begun to degrade in '05.

    Regarding the analogy about TV signals, I'm willing to bet more people have heard about it than have heard about the OnStar switch. I knew about the TV switchover through TV news reports (which you can receive for free) and any electronics store employee would likely have the information. I PAY a lot of money for OnStar and my car (OnStar nor my salesman had a clue) but couldn't get an answer when I asked a DIRECT question. How is THAT a fair analogy? :mad: :cry:
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    Also, of note, is that the GPS system only works if there is cell coverage in your current location.

    I have wondered about that. I cannot imagine needing such a service in the city. Yet you do not have to get far out of many towns to lose Verizon Cell service. I think the digital Onstar will be sub standard to the old analog system. It is probably in GM's best interest to just phase it completely out.

    When you find yourself broke down in the desert and it is 120 degrees and your trusty Onstar has no service you will probably wonder why you wasted the money.
  • Agreed - worrisome and bothersome...again, nothing that I was informed of by my dealers or by OnStar. I have not assumed the best or worst - just that, as you and me and others - trying to figure out how best to hedge our risks and our willingness to pay to increase the potential for safety of our families. I hate the idea of being abused in the process of trying to protect my family. However, GM takes none of this personally - it was just another scheme to both address a real issue of concern and make a few bucks along the way. And, hey, if it doesn't really work out - the profits were all built into the initial price, carrying fees for the ongoing subscriptions and the extra profits from the prepaid telephone minutes (at several times the cost of regular cell phone minutes)...I certainly get it...and I accept GM's desire for profits and the need to satisfy a number of stakeholders from investors to employees to Federal regulators...However, it seems to me that more and more the customer is thought of as the dupe rather than the life-blood of corporate prosperity. Price is not everything...the value equation - price compared to benefits is the consumer's mission...and when it comes to safety, we should not be trifled with...and that is how I am feeling...who knew...GM, that's who.
  • So are you saying that On Star should pay to maintain or flat out buy up the analog system off the cell companies to continue service to analog only cars? What level of "the right thing" are you talking about?

    In my mind the right thing to do would be to come up with some kind of digital to analog converter, but how that would integrate into the system is beyond me. I don't even know if that is possible with today's technology, but in the next year the cable and TV companies are going to have to figure it out, in '09 TV is going all digital and they have to come up with something to keep all the old TVs working. Maybe there can be some type of borrowed technology from that to make an adapter to retro fit into the analog cars. It would have to be something between the antenna and the module it's the only way it can be affordable for On Star to develop. You only have so many cars effected and that limits a production run of the adapter boxes to make, so the cost for development and manufacture will have to be extremely low budget or the cost will be to high and the people won't buy it.

    It has to be a universal adapter because each module is integrated into the car a different way and installed in a different location. It's not feasible for them to redesign a box for each of the 35 or so models effected. A model by model fix would be a much more expensive for the end user, and that's who would pay for it. Are you willing to shell out $400 for a digital box? You know On Star will want one year up front to wave the $100 activation fee so it would cost around $600 per unit to do! I don't think the majority of the customers would pat that kind of money to keep On Star. When these cars were purchased On Star was an option so everyone already paid once. I didn't pick $400 out of the air either, that's how much it was just for the box w/o labor when the dealer had to replace the box in my '04 Yukon XL.

    That is GM's mission statement, but it wasn't GM cutting the analog cord it's the cell providers. Since the cell providers won't be able to guarantee consistent analog service it's more responsible to shut down the analog On Star services than let people think it's all working, then when it's needed it's not there. Look up On Star's mission statement, because they are the ones making the call.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    but in the next year the cable and TV companies are going to have to figure it out, in '09 TV is going all digital and they have to come up with something to keep all the old TVs working.

    HDTV is a much simpler fix than the analog to digital cellular conversion. One is simplex (one direction) the other duplex (two way conversation). It looks like the consumer will have to buy a new TV or a digital to analog converter box.

    On February 17, 2009, federal law requires that all full-power television broadcast stations stop broadcasting in analog format and broadcast only in digital format. Here’s what these requirements will mean for you and your television viewing.

    If you have an analog television, you will have to purchase a digital-to-analog set-top converter box to attach to your TV set to be able to view over-the-air digital programming
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    There are some serious downsides to having your car equipped with Onstar. For those being dropped off it may be a blessing in disguise.

    OnStar is also one of the best tools available that the government and big business could use to invade your privacy. In some cases, OnStar data has been used against the owner of the vehicle. Below are some examples of how data collected by the OnStar service and/or other devices similar to it in operation have been used:

    OnStar data to be used in California courts and possibly elsewhere. Information is circulating on the Internet that tells you how to get at your OnStar unit and download its databank. This information can also be used by anyone else.

    OnStar can be used to listen to all conversations within a vehicle, despite assertions by OnStar representatives to the contrary. A recent court decision has by the 9th Circuit Federal Appeals Court has declared this practice improper, but not for privacy reasons. The reasoning the Court relied upon was this: if the device is being used to spy on the occupants, it can't be used to make a call to emergency services. The Court sidestepped the entire privacy issue, and it is very likely that we will soon revisit this issue in Court.
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    This is a very interesting argument. Did you know that people said similar things about cell phones? How about flouridated water? Trust always seems to come down to intentions and most law abiding citizens do not worry about such things.

    I suppose if I was a law abiding and my car was hit by a speeding drunk driver and technology could be used to prove the other driver was going fast, I would like this idea. Or, how about if my car was car-jacked with my kids in it.....I might be glad to know that the authorities to listen to what was going on in the car.

    I am not really dissagreeing with you, but looking at the other side. It is always a trade-off. Personally, I am concerned about loosing personal liberaties, I just wish there was a way to better differentiate the good guys from the bad guys - lol
  • waterdrwaterdr Posts: 307
    I really don't care how they do it. I just want it to work. That is for GM to figure out,

    I already offereed what I thought was an ethical solution. My solution was a lot cheaper for GM and would demonstrate solid intent by GM.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,681
    I suppose if you never break a law while driving it would be no big deal. I am thinking if you get from point A to Point B in too short of a time for the posted speed limits and a week later you receive a ticket in the mail, it may be a point of contention. I think it was Newt Gingrich that was brought down by a cell phone call that was monitored. If you have no reason to care who listens to you on the phone it is a non-issue.
This discussion has been closed.