OnStar Service Quality

Sorry about this, but I guess this is my “absolution” blog…  :-/

One of my daughters drove her car through high water (references to 100 year flooding were made).  Other cars were making it through just fine, so why did her car then proceed to stall in the worst of it.  Good samaritans helped her push the car to a little-used turn lane.  Soon after, she pushed the little blue button in her car, and we thought all would be well.

Back to reality – she was told that due to the flooding, it could be 4-6 hours until it would be towed and could she leave the car unlocked with they keys in an agreed place if she needed to leave it unattended.  Her boyfriend helps her push the car to a Starbucks parking lot, and they hunker down (boyfriend shivering cold from having to push/walk through high water.  About midnight, the tow truck is nearby but the road is barricaded – what to do.  They agree that locking the car and calling again the next day is the thing to do, so she locks the car, and then the Starbucks fairy gives them a ride to their apartment – thank goodness for good people!

The next day – Friday before hurricane Ike – she calls OnStar again and gets put back in the 4-6 hour queue.  She waits several hours.  She gets a call saying they can’t get to her car and have to cancel.  She calls OnStar again, and they will be there to pick up the car in 4-6 hours.  She asks them to call her 30 minutes before they get there and she’ll be there to unlock the car/provide the keys.  She hears NOTHING.

Next day (Saturday – Ike day) she calls me and I call OnStar and get belligerent.  OnStar gets belligerent back – “we don’t control the roadside assistance people.”  I say “if you don’t, then who exactly does?”  That, sir, is between you and roadside assistance.”  I’m outraged, and continue to be, but this is a recurring theme.  I understand their frustration, but that’s part of the biz.  She 3-ways me in to the Roadside people, and they say the truck was there at 11 PM the night before but the car was locked so they couldn’t do anything.  “Why didn’t you call?”  “We tried, and no one answered.”  “What number?”  “217-xxx-yyyy”  “But my daughter’s number is 214-xxx-yyyy!”  No notes to say call before they arrive, no indication of how they can talk repeatedly on previous calls, but this one results in a wrong number and they couldn’t look back at the previous calls to see that they have a wrong number.  OMG!

Got all that out of the way – now, my daughter’s car is STILL in the Starbuck’s parking lot and I, along with 2 other family members, are on our way from MN to IL.  I’m sorry, sir, but there is flooding in the area and it will be 4-6 hours…  NO, THERE IS NOT – not since yesterday morning.  Yes, there is, sir – I just checked it this morning – oh, wait, someone removed it.  We’ll have someone out in under 2 hours.  This time they called and were met there and the car made is to the dealership about 5 minutes before closing time on Saturday – no time to even look at it so assured to be without a car for the weekend – Monday will be day 4 without a car.

Before we hung up from the Roadside folks above, I asked the OnStar person to stay on the line because we still had things to talk about.  She did, and when I asked what she was going to do for my daughter, she forwarded me to “Customer Care” – an interesting name.  Customer care listened to my story, said they don’t do rent cars, said they were very sorry about the delay, said the results of any given call were between roadside assistance and the customer and that there was nothing they could do.  She did say she would forward it to an executive review committee and they would get back with me.  To add insult to injury, as an apology for poor service (my understatement), she would like to tack 3 months of free service on to the end of our service time.  Wow – that’s just wonderful – NOT.

About 1 week later, I get a call from another OnStar customer care person – likely a screener for the executive review board.  She proceeds to ask me to go through my story, which strikes me as very strange since the first customer care person I talked to implied to me that she was taking meticulous notes.  She thinks I’m through after the first leg when the truck can’t get to the car the first night and says “sir, there is nothing we can do about that.”  I told her “you need to sit back and listen” because I’m just getting started.  At one point, she proceeds to tell me that if I will check our contract terms, I will see that the business arrangement is between us and roadside assistance once OnStar assigns the call.  I understand why they would wish a new business relationship upon their customers that doesn’t involve them, but the only money that I’ve paid to anyone is to OnStar and my logic and education says that the business relationship is between me and OnStar.  Anyway, no help from this person either, and to top of her apology, she says she is authorized to add 6 months to the end of our service.  I tell her I guess that is up to her, but I’m not sure I want any more service from them.

The ONLY reason we still have OnStar now is the possibility that we will be able to use the little blue button on the 2 lane roads on the way to and from the Texas Panhandle.  If we had an alternative, we’d be GONE in a heartbeat.  Monopolies are a curse and that’s what OnStar finds themselves with in the form of a little blue button.  Part of me hopes that when we experiment with it on the way there the next time we find that it doesn’t work – but then again, we want it to work so that we can have an out if the car breaks down!

I wish I was through complaining, but I’m probably not.  It is State Farm’s turn next.  My daughter STILL doesn’t have her car back at 2 weeks and counting.  Saturn may get a turn too since the service representation told me that to avoid a cracked engine block in the future, you really want to keep the Ion’s away from water and the engine intake arrangement SUCKs – I guess she meant water.

When I consider the situation, the part I feel worst about is that I started out trying to let my daughter learn something from the situation – dealing with OnStar, Roadside Assist, the Car Dealership, etc.  What I feel bad about is that she was basically “punished” beyond human endurance by these incompetents.  Yes, the first night was excusable.  The rest weren’t and OnStar isn’t being accountable.  I’m sorry, daughter, that you had to go through this – you ROCK!  🙂

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Family Positions on Politics (cont. 1)

The Republicans sure know how to make things difficult for voters.  Coming into the week, I would’ve said they needed a miracle to be competitive.  Coming out of the week, McCain can say more of the right things and he can let Palin say the wrong things.  I must say that I tend to be in general agreement with McCain’s economic and foreign affairs policies – to the extent that I understand them (and that’s almost certainly inadequate).  I like the idea of strengthening the existing health insurance system.  I suspect I depart in a fairly big way when I add that we should make it mandatory for everyone to be covered at some basic level at a minimum.  I can see using something like school choice vouchers for this, and then we should add an FDIC/Pension Guarantee kind of function in to back up the system.   Do I have too much confidence in Market-based systems.  Would this mish-mash qualify as a Market-based system…

I believe the free market has been good for our country, but I also agree that individuals can amass more wealth than can be justified given what else goes on in the other 95 % (or pick your own %) of the population.  It is admirable that so much of those resources go back to the rest of “us” in the form of giving, but it seems as though a lot less giving would be needed if the system weren’t balanced so far in the favor of amassed as opposed to distributed wealth.  Of course, then you get into discussions about whether or not overall our country would have prospered so much had it not been the way it was/is – you know the type of impossible discussion…

So where does that leave me other than continuing to be “undecided”?

Family Positions on Politics

I must say that I am impressed with how the Republican pick for VP turned out for the party.  I don’t know yet whether I can support either party, though, for the election.  I love a lot of the words Obama uses, but I don’t understand how he thinks he can do many of the things he says he wants to do, not to mention the fact that I am concerned about regressing to protectionism.  There are other things, but that’s not really the subject of this post.

What I do really struggle with is the recent degradation of our world standing and the things that led up to it.  It makes me ill to consider what happened in Abu Graib and other places like it.  It makes me want to cry when during a political discussion my son tells me that “what it all boils down to — at the most personal level for me — is that I made a decision to serve in the Army (in response to 9-11 – my addition) and gave this country five solid years in my mid-twenties because I believe in a set of principles…” and i was sold out; “…they’ve betrayed everything I stand for.”  Strike the “want to” in the last sentence.

I think this is one of the things Obama hopes to address/has been addressing.  You would think that it would be one of the things that John McCain would want to fix as well – referring to the type of disaffection being experienced by my son and millions like him here in the US, not to mention those abroad who thought we were better than we apparently are.  How does one fix something like this?  With respect to Vietnam, we just buried it and I guess it went away (?!) – but that war was certainly no better, and probably in many ways a lot worse than this last one in Iraq.  Maybe THAT’s why many of us from “that” generation are so jaded and willing to accept what happened more recently.

I suspect there will be more later, but I wanted to get the most pressing things on “paper” – the whole experience is turning out to be very affecting.