Follow-up to Truck stolen out of Black Dog’s parking lot

Follow-up to Truck stolen out of Black Dog’s parking lot

OnStar – False Sense of Security
We have learned the hard way about OnStar’s lack of assistance when you are in need of their services in Rocky Point, Mexico.   We need to get the word out to anyone who spends time south of the border who feels that they are safe because they have OnStar.  We were lulled into that belief 2 years ago when we purchased a brand new Chevy Silverado with OnStar

OnStar (and the dealerships that sell their services) fails to inform their subscribers of the shortfalls of their system.  Did you know that if you are in Mexico and have ANY problem (airbag deployment, keys locks in vehicle, stolen vehicle, etc.) that they can not assist you?  Or that if you are in the US and your vehicle has not been driven for 48 hours, they can not assist you??  Apparently their signal fades when the vehicle has not been turned on past 48 hours.  They can not active their services after this period of inactivity.  For instance, you park your vehicle and fly out of town for a few days.  You come back and realize you’ve locked your keys in the car!!  You call OnStar and they won’t be able to open your vehicle because your signal has faded!

OnStar’s commercials claim they are there for you and will help you out.  They fail to tell you that if your signal has faded, or you are not in an area where they have analog or digital service, or if you are in Mexico, they can not assist you.  I know there are thousands of Arizona residents who travel to Rocky Point, Mexico and have the false sense of security that they’ll be ok, they have OnStar.  We have learned this lesson of their failure to explain the hard way!!

In 2005 we purchased a Chevrolet Silverado Truck which came standard with OnStar.  The dealership talked up the advantages of OnStar.  Since we travel to Rocky Point, we asked directly if their services worked in Rocky Point.  The dealership said yes they do.  With the salesman right there, we called OnStar from our new vehicle and they went through the advantages of their system.  We asked the OnStar Advisor if their system works in Puerto Penasco, Mexico (Rocky Point).  We were told yes it does.  We left the dealership with our new vehicle feeling confident that if we had any problems in Mexico, they would help us!

In 2006 we called an OnStar Advisor from our vehicle to purchase minutes for the hands free phone system.  Once again, we point blank asked if their services will work in Rocky Point.  We didn’t want to buy any minutes if it would not work while down there.  We were asked to hold while they double checked.

On February 16, 2007 our vehicle was stolen out of the Black Dog Restaurant in Mexico.  We were parked 5 spaces down from their “Security Guard”, underneath a motion light and about 30’ from the restaurant door!  When we left the restaurant (about 45 minutes later) our truck was gone!  Needless to say, this can happen anywhere.  We were very upset & then remembered – we have OnStar!!!  We immediately went into the restaurant and called OnStar.  While we were doing that, the local police were called to the restaurant.  An OnStar Advisor informed us that they could not assist us – OnStar does not work with the Mexican Authorities and they could not offer us any assistance.  They stated that they needed an American Police Report and Police Officer’s information.  We then asked them to turn on their system and give us the GPS coordinates for our vehicle.  We had access to a GPS unit and had the local police standing next to us available to retrieve our vehicle.  They stated that they could not do that for us either.  Basically it all boiled down to – they could NOT do anything for us!!   They offered their sympathies for our loss and said there was nothing they could do.  We filed a stolen vehicle report with the Rocky Point Police department and found a ride back to Arizona.

When we got back to Phoenix we started calling various Police Departments to have a report filed out.  We even spoke with the US Border Patrol.  No agency wanted to make a report – most didn’t even return our calls!!!  It took calling back every 15 minutes until someone spoke with us.   We explained to them that there would be no insurance claim on the vehicle (we had found out our insurance did not cover us in Mexico), we just wanted it listed so that our legal responsibility for the truck would stop.  We believe it may come back across the desert with either drugs or illegal aliens in it and may even be involved in a collision.  We did not want any lawsuits or legal action taken against us.  We just wanted the stolen vehicle put into the system as a stolen vehicle!!  Ten days later, we were finally directed to DPS’s Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force.  A detective called us right back and we met with him to file a report.  We did have to show proof that there was not a lien on the vehicle and provide our insurance information.

  Remember, this is 10 days after the theft!  We spoke with an OnStar Advisor named Shaquiana.  She took our report, asked all kinds of questions and explained what they would do.  She said they would activate their system for 48 hours; at the end of this 48 hours if they have not received a signal from our vehicle, we will have a ONE TIME 48 hour extension.   In essence, they will look for it for 4 days.  She explained that if the vehicle has not been driven in the previous 48 hours, their signal will fade and they will not be able to locate the vehicle.   They will not be able to receive a signal until either the vehicle is turned on, the OnStar button is pushed or the airbags deploy.  After our 4 days of searching, they will turn off their system and we will have to work with the local authorities to find our vehicle.

She went on to explain that if they receive a signal, they will alert the US authorities first and then call in THEIR special task force to work with THEIR liaison and go into Mexico and retrieve our vehicle.   She explained that if our vehicle was still in Mexico, they would not have a street address for it, just a GPS reading.  Once they found it, we would then be notified to pick up our vehicle.  She stated that they have a high success rate of stolen vehicle recoveries.  She asked if we wanted updates at different time periods or when they located the vehicle.  We opted for the contact us once it’s been located.

Within an hour, Shaquiana called back.  She informed us that what she told us earlier was incorrect.  She spoke with a Supervisor when our call went into their review process and found out that they could not do anything to help us recover our vehicle.   She stated that since the vehicle was stolen on Mexican soil, their services are not available.  However, if our vehicle was stolen on US Soil and taken into Mexico, THEIR special task force and THEIR liaison would go into Mexico and retrieve the vehicle.  She could not explain why their policy is that way; nor could she explain why other Advisors had told us over the past two years that their services would assist us in Mexico.

When we got off the phone with her, our DPS Detective called us to state that he just got off the phone with an OnStar Advisor.  They verified the report and informed him that they were starting to look for our vehicle and would be back in touch with him.  They also told him that Shaquiana was on the phone with us at the same time.  I told him that Shaquiana was telling us they could not help us!  These two phone calls from OnStar Advisors were made simultaneously and they told both parties two different things!!  As of this writing, OnStar has not called the detective back to tell them that they are in fact NOT searching for our vehicle!  He would not be aware of that had we not spoken on the phone!  We will probably never see our truck again, but we will also NEVER pay for OnStar services again!

Another interesting point is that the GM Dealerships are not even aware of what OnStar will and won’t do!!  We went to two different dealerships in the valley looking for a new truck.  At each one, the salesmen were “selling” the advantages of having OnStar coming standard with their vehicles.  We directly asked them if it works in Rocky Point, Mexico.  Both told us “yes – it does”.  Even OnStar’s sales people don’t know what they will or won’t do!!  The same as the various OnStar Advisors!!

The end of the story is… if you call an OnStar Advisor with a question, you will get different responses from each Advisor you speak with!  They advertise how they will protect and assist you, but FAIL to make you aware of the locations where they won’t (areas in the state where there are no digital or analog signals)!  There are thousands of people from Arizona (and other states) that travel into Mexico with the false sense of security that they have OnStar so they’ll be ok!  Everyone needs to know this is NOT the case!!  Once they cross the border, you might as well rip their unit out of your vehicle because they won’t help you!  We will continue to travel to Rocky Point as we love it there and have met several nice people, but we will be taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of our vehicle.  It goes without saying that we will never pay for OnStar services again!