OnStar prices lock out users

$$$ service.
OnStar prices lock out users http://preview.tinyurl.com/ktep34
Detroit -- With all due respect to the 63,000 GM car and truck owners who lock their keys in their vehicle every month, I ask this question:
Seriously?
More than 2,000 of you each day need an OnStar operator to remotely unlock your doors because you've somehow managed to lock yourself outside of your ride.
I understand, it happens. A buddy of mine in high school not only locked his keys in his 1982 Camaro, he left them in the ignition with it running. Made for a tough morning for him as we all walked by and heckled him mercilessly.
But that was when you actually used your key, not an electronic fob, to unlock the doors.
General Motors Co.'s OnStar division counts on mishaps like that for business and its tally of customers is now up to 5.5 million, but I'm no longer one of them.
The turn-by-turn directions, which were awesome, and the "peace of mind" of knowing an operator would notify the authorities if I was in an accident, simply were no longer worth the $299 a year the combined services cost. Especially when I can download a voice-activated turn-by-turn app on my iPhone for $100 or less and own it forever.
As it turns out, in the couple of years I had the services, I accessed the directions option 75 times, which averaged out to almost $7 per use. It was great to have, but not at that price. Service faces competition
And unless things change in the prices and packages the company offers its customers, it will be bypassed by other mobile technologies, including those for smartphones, which are dropping in costs but increasing in usability.
"I've tried a number of the iPhone navigation apps," Walt Dorfstatter, the incoming president of OnStar, told me this week at the company's command center in Detroit. "But they're not as good. The screens are small, and there are no people behind them."
True, there are no "Hello, Mr. Lopez, this is Christy from OnStar, may I help you" greetings from phone apps. But as much as I appreciated the usually friendly voices, even the $199 a year for the "Safe & Sound" package outweighed the benefits for me.
Increasingly, I am not alone. OnStar has enjoyed tremendous growth since its first customer came online in September 1996, but it has been flat since 2007. As the economy struggles and consumers continue cutting back, add-ons like OnStar will suffer. 'We're the lifeline to people'
Dorfstatter acknowledges their are challenges and says the company is evaluating pay-per-use models. He defends the cost and relays stories of how OnStar has helped save lives. You've heard the commercials.
"We're the lifeline to people, and they see us as their connection to safety," he said, recalling a story about a doctor who went hunting and accidently shot himself but was able to drag himself into the car and call OnStar. "We take this seriously."
No doubt they do.
But they risk locking out a significant group of customers if they don't change.
--
Civis Romanus Sum

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I let the service lapse after the first year that was free. I used it once for directions (before the turn by turn) and it was OK, used it once for traffic and it was useless finding an alternate route.
I just thought it was too much money for what you got. If the price was half I may have stuck with it for a few years.
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On Tue, 22 Sep 2009 05:50:28 -0400, Jim Higgins

Heck, you can buy a good GPS for that. Keeping a spare key handy solves the lock out problem. Having a cell phone covers virtually all other emergencies.
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I recall discussing the marketing benefit of On Star in a case study in business school. At that time (mid 90's), On Star was a unique automotive service and was intended to give GM a marketing edge by giving its customers a "touchy/feely" personal service. Press the button and someone would be available to help you. It was like having Mr. Good Wrench at your beck and call.
I, for one, was not impressed with the actual service On Star provided when compared to alternate, available technologies. For example, you could press the On Star button and speak to an On Star representative (and no one else) or you could use your cell phone (which was an emerging technology in the mid 90's) and speak to anyone in the world who had a telephone. Both On Star and cell phone service cost about $30/month at that time.
On Star is a marketing gimmick.
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I understand that some people like OnStar but you miss my point. OnStar was really intended to provide a marketing edge. It was intended to make the customer who purchased a car equipped with OnStar (which is to say a GM car) to feel special. The customer was empowered because they literally could press a button and have someone available to answer their car question. No other car company at that time had a similar button or could offer that level of personal service.
Separate from this feeling of customer empowerment was the collection of services made available after connecting to the OnStar Agent (help, directions, etc.) When OnStar was initially introduced (mid 90's), cell phones were around but not widely used and GPS, at the consumer level, did not exist as yet.
As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, now that cell phones, GPS, etc are widely available the uniqueness of the OnStar services is greatly reduced and there is little value hyping the value of the empowerment.
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All good services. I've never found them to be worth the money, but evidently, others do. They are selling peace of mind in a crash and that seems to be a big point. They also have diagnostics and service reminders.
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I have a '08 Volvo and, like many newer cars, the on board computer provides diagnostics and service reminders on a screen on the dash board. There is no charge for these service reminders.
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GM product has many more features, however. The fact GM offers it free is a plus. If you decided, after a year to buy the service, you can. Ford system is not free on lesser models. Ford offers satellite radio free for six months, after which one must pay $125 for a years service
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My 2010 Lincoln MKZ uses MS's Sync to connect my Blue Tooth cell phone that allows me to make calls using voice commands. There is no monthly fee however. Sync is standard, or an available option, on all FLM vehicles
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On Tue, 22 Sep 2009 05:50:28 -0400, Jim Higgins

I would really challenge any claim that GM ever made stating that there is a profit to be made in ONSTAR. I suspect that given the significant cost to develop and support the system, that it has always lost significant amounts.
It is a communications and navigation service.
GM is/was a car making company.
DUH!
One major flaw in ONSTAR, as I see it, is their uncompromising stand on method of payment. This alone caused them to lose me as a customer.
The last thing you ever want to do is give a communications provider free access to your money, by giving them your credit card number.
When they offered me what looked like a reasonably-priced service for $20 for an additional 9 months after the initial 3 months free, I offered to pay by cash, debit card, by cheque, on invoice - any other way they could take it.
But oh no - the offer was simply a ruse to get my credit card number - they would not accept payment any other way.
And we all know what happens at automatic renewal time once they have your card number, don't we?
This is the only thing they managed to copy correctly from the other communication companies, hahahaha!
Rather than take it, I suggested they place their offer in a convenient bodily orifice, preferably their own.
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GM would not undertake it if profit could not be made at some point. They are in business to make money, not help lost sould on the way to the mall.

Yes, they are but . . . . . Look back at the history of GM. They were in the aircraft business, the locomotive business, the electronics business, the data processing business, and others. Don't forget GMAC
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Oh yeah?

What business are "they" in now, hahahaha?
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Whenever I must give my CC# I use MasterCard's "Virtual Number" system to pay the amount due, not my actual number.
In addition once a year, or after anytime I have traveled outside of the US, I call the CC company and close my account and get a NEW number.
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On Tue, 22 Sep 2009 05:50:28 -0400, Jim Higgins fired up the etcha-a-sketch and scratched out:

Funny!
I actually have On*, but mostly as an insurance in case something happens.
I don't even have locks in the doors anymore on my Avalanche. Not sure if my wife does on her Vue.
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