• May 11, 2007

As of January 1, 2008, anyone who doesn't have a digital-capable OnStar system in their GM vehicle is going to be out of luck. One customer who bought an OnStar-equipped Cadillac Eldorado in 2002 is so upset about it that he's filed a class-action suit against GM and OnStar for $5 million.

The cell phone companies that provide OnStar service will finish the switch from analog to digital service on the first day of next year. When Robert Weaver, the named plaintiff in the suit, bought his Eldorado, says GM and OnStar knew the analog service in his car would only work for six more years, and that there would be no way to upgrade to digital, but didn't tell him. And for that willful omission, they owe subscribers a whole lot of money.

OnStar says it's frustrating, but there's nothing they can do. GM and OnStar have been contacting subscribers to let them know, but have made no attempt to reimburse subscribers for the option or the subscription fees. Instead, GM is offering a year of free OnStar service if customers buy or lease another GM product. And even if you do have a digital-capable system, GM is going to charge you $15 to upgrade it.

[Source: Auto News, sub req'd]



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  • 26 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      I read thru the comments about onstar and a volvo comment let me add its also Lexus. I own a 2003 Lexus GX470 that I purchased the Lexus Link in for the safety feature. I was never told when I purchased the car that this would be happening. I am just now being told they will remove the service I paid a considerable amount for with a comment that it is because of the FCC mandate. Bunk! Lexus knew prior to the sell of the vehicle that it would become obsolete in 2008 but sold me the safety feature as a big portion of the sale. They have however offered a coupon for a new system in a new Lexus but say there is no upgrade for my vehicle. I can't believe car manufacturers are able to get away with this. I'm sure there are other going thru this. I hope to hear what others are doing if anything.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is not the same issue as buying a betamax or a PC or any of the other things mentioned. You would do well to learn the difference. If you bought a 486 computer and ran windows 3.1 on it, it would still work today. You could not go buy new games and run on it but that is to be expected. This like buying a XBOX and when Xbox 360 came out your old Xbox shut down. The list price of those items was not $42,000 either. GM has handled this badly. Their offer of a year of free service on a new vehicle is fluff. You get a year free when you buy a new vehicle anyway. GM had over 5 years to engineer an upgrade. They chose not to. They did start putting in "easy upgrade" units in 2002, but only some vehicles. Why only some vehicles? Maybe the had alot of inventory of the analog units. Lexus did engineer a upgrade and it costs $900-$1500 depending on model. (proof it has been done). Lexus is offering a $900 rebate on the upgrade so it would cost $600 out of pocket, worst case senario. GM chose to put the consumer on the hook and promote new vehicles. Do you think they will give you the same on a trade-in if your Offstar wont work?
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      The problem isn't just the analog versus digital.

      The problem is also that the old AMPS system used only 850MHz. But with the new digital systems, there is no operator which is 850MHz only. Most of the operators use dual-mode 850/1900MHz, while I believe Sprint and T-Mobile are essentially all 1900MHz.

      Changing frequencies means changing the antenna and antenna amplifier section.

      It would cost a lot of money to switch these vehicles over.

      I think I'm going to sue GM because the AM Stereo radio in my 1985 Pontiac doesn't do anthing useful anymore.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think that OnStar represents something different to potential buyers than the admittedly funny, but glib examples of VCRs and Betamaxes or Vista upgrades... Its a safety feature. More accurate metaphors would keep this in mind.

      Lawsuits in the US, while often used as a simple way to make money by the unscrupulous, are also a way to compel companies to live up to their promises or to pay for their neglect. In this case if GM failed to alert buyers that the system would be obsolete in X number of years, or would be in danger of doing so, that could be important information to a potential buyer (especially if it is a new, perhaps unfamiliar technology for a buyer). Most people on this site are statistically-speaking probably more well informed and would not be shocked to learn this. I would wager the average 2002 Eldorado buyer might not be so savvy. As has already been mentioned, this also should have been, and certainly could have been better handled by GM more adroitly by having a clear upgrade path, if even for an additional cost...
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm going to sue Netfix because they don't carry Betamax, anyone else on board?

      "Instead, GM is offering a year of free OnStar service if customers buy or lease another GM product. "

      Well why didn't you say so to start with! This guy can just go out and pick up an '08 Eldorado or ETC. Wait... make that a STS or CTS coupe. Wait... XLR maybe? This guy is driving what can be equated to an antiquated car (I like them, but they are still fully discontinued, even in nameplate and no comperable vehicle in production) and is complaning about an old technology in a subscription based service. This guy is a retard.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Big Mike, lets have you swap a dvd player into your VCR while maintaining all funtionality of all buttons and not making it look like a hack job.

      He might as well be complaining about the front drum brakes on his 1948 chevy pickup... technologies change, and older vehicles just can't keep up, nor should the manufacturer be responsible for keeping them up. It was the best it could be at the time it was sold, that is all that GM is responsible for.




      Toyota, please recall all prius's once per year to install the latest battery packs, computer systems, braking systems, etc. My 2004 should have the same technology as the 2008!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I bought a 2004 Volvo S80 and paid extra for the OnCall (soon to be OffCall!) telematics system for the SAFETY and peace of mind that I could get help in an emergency. I called Volvo’s 800 customer service and was told that I could bring my Volvo to a dealer and they would remove the soon to be outdated OnCall equipment and replace it with a storage box!!!!! This is outrageous. Volvo should be ashamed. “Volvo For Life” - I think NOT!


      • 7 Years Ago
      I still carry a dual-mode cell phone because I travel in areas that don't have digital service -- read any place more than 10 miles from an Interstate. It's a travesty that the government is allowing the analog service to go away before there is adequate coverage in the rural areas. I used the analog phone to make emergency calls in Yellowstone park in areas that were 15 miles from digital service.

      This is actually a serious safety issue and I think the guy has a right to be angry. He just misdirected his anger because it's the cellphone companies pushing for the phase out and the FCC that is bowing to that. I actually have been looking at getting a satellite phone now because of this issue.

      Yeah, calling up your web pages is fun but when you need help you just want ANYONE on the other end. Seriously, look at the current coverage of digital service vs. analog and you'll see how dangerously out of touch you are (or will be) if you like visiting the mountainous areas of the country.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think it's lame for GM to not even offer an upgrade plan.

      You don't buy a Cadillac unless you want luxury, and that's one of the features. The removal of his OnStar capability is also going to hurt the value of his car. Is it far that GM can arbitrarily decide (because of a third party, I know), to disable OnStar for a paying customer and lower the value of his vehicle and only offer one suggestion in reparation?

      "Hey, if you, ya know, buy a new car, or even better, /lease/ a new car, we'll give you OnStar for a whole year!"

      This is nothing like Dell's computers being Obsolete. Maybe, if your ISP decided to switch to a new kind of internet transmission and Dell knew about it years ago, and you bought a computer and two years later, there would be no way to get online, period. This new method was outside of the realm of upgrading.

      You'd be a little miffed too, because a huge function of your computer was now disabled unfairly.
      • 7 Years Ago
      When I first heard about this, I was surprised GM didn't offer an upgrade path. As I understand it (from reading about some common OnStar hacks), the OnStar system is a separate box, integrated into the rest of the car's electronics. If they wanted to offer an upgrade, it'd be possible to do it. Yes, it'd mean creating some specialized electronics that would be different than newer systems.

      But they probably couldn't justify the expense based purely on installation and subscription fees. And GM has rarely considered customer satisfaction when making such decisions - so old OnStar customers are left out in the cold.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Cry me a river. Technology became outdated, oh no. This is really sad if the Plaintiff wins, cause that means i could go after Dell in a few years when my computer becomes obsolete. Its just ridiculous. I understand the guy likes his OnStar and just wants to keep it, but I think he probably got his six years worth.
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