Thursday, January 18, 2007

How OnStar Turned Me Off

The following is the story of my ordeal with OnStar, the sattelite navigation device popular in many of today's vehicles, and how they failed to deliver in a crucial time of need.

On a very cold January morning, I went outside to start my car so that it would warm up from the freezing cold. At 8:25am my daughter and I got into my wife's mini-van that is parked in our warm garage and I took her to school while my car was warming up. Upon returning to my house, I noticed a young man, no older than 14 years of age walking down my sidewalk. He was almost to my house but I was able to pull in front of him and pull the van into the garage. I exited the vehicle and proceeded into the house. Just as I opened the house door, I heard a revving engine and spinning tires. I immediatley ran towards the garage door and saw my 2004 Chevy Tahoe speeding down the street. That 14 year old boy had just stolen my vehicle. I Immediately ran into the house and yelled "My car was just stolen!" I grabbed my cell phone and jumped into the mini-van and immediatley began chasing what was once my car.

I was on the phone with 911 dispatch and relayed to them my position as I was following them. The chase went on for about 8 miles, weaving in and out of traffic. Being in a mini-van, I just couldn't keep up. My car was gone. "But wait!...I have OnStar!" This was it, this was the moment when the OnStar purchase pays off. I reached an OnStar operator and told her my situation. She immediately started the verification process to make sure I was the actual member of the OnStar service and the owner of the vehicle. This included my name, make of vehicle and password. After confirmation I asked that we notify the authorities so they can pursue my car. "I'm sorry sir, first you need to file a police report, and call us back with that number and the officer who responded." she said.
"You have got to be kidding me! this is happening right now!"
"I'm sorry sir, we cannot give the location of the vehicle without a police report."
Meanwhile back at my house, officers had arrived. The officer was gathering information from my wife when the phone rang, It was OnStar. Police dispatch had contacted them earlier trying to get a location. The officer at my residence got on the line with them and told them they need to relay the position of the car to the Kansas City Missouri police departemnt.
"This is Officer (Name Withheld), from the Overland Park Police Departemnt, we need the location of the vehicle".
"Sir we need to verify that this is the owner of the vehicle"
"You just called the residence of the owner!" he stated. "We are losing precious time here" the Officer said.
"Sir we need the VIN in order to verify this call"
After 20 minutes of searching for the VIN number, the call was verified and OnStar gave the officer the information. Police investigated the position that OnStar had given them, but did not find the vehicle. Later an onstar operator said that it looked like the system had been tampered with.
In law-enforcement there is a window of opportunity to find something that has been stolen. Whether it be a kidnapping or a material posession. With every passing minute, that window begins to shut. There was a window of opportunity here and OnStar chose to shut it.
OnStar is not a government agency, it is a consumer product, one in which I and millions of others have bought. Thier first resoponse should be to aid thier verified customers instead of fearing a law suit.
I will never purchase another OnStar product again, and will tell everyone about this story.

If you have questions you can reach me at garydxd at gmail.com

44 comments:

bs_wtf_123 said...

Seems like OnStar was right on the money to me. Otherwise, people could use OnStar to track their wife or kids - or use it to track somebody down and kill them. It is all about privacy.

Today, most consumers would prefer a little more privacy and verification/security.

You probably didn't read the terms of service with OnStar either...

Greg said...

My cars VIN# is in wallet on my proof-of-insurance card. Not sure why it would take you 20 minutes to read that.

Brian said...

that sux.

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