The longest 30 minutes of my life

Londynn in her car seat...but she definitely was not this calm today.

Londynn in her car seat…but she definitely was not this calm today.

If you saw a crazed blonde flagging down people on Vincent Road today, that was just me.  I had a HORRIBLE mom moment today that has really left me rattled.

On our way home from doing taxes, I had some time to kill so I stopped in at a nail salon.  I had Londynn with me and the line was too long, so we went back to the car.  I put her in the baby seat, set my purse on the floorboard, and then closed the door. I’ve done this many times. I don’t know WHY, but all of a sudden all 4 doors locked automatically.  This has never happened. (My mom also has a Cadillac and said the same thing has happened to her once.) My heart sunk when I realized what I had done because both keys AND my cell phone were in my purse…in the car.

I called 911 from the nail salon and in the meantime flagged down a Livingston Parish Gas Department truck simply because they had a light on the truck and I was desperate for anyone resembling authority to assist me. The poor guys were so nice, and while they had no idea what to do, they managed to calm me until the police got there.  I then called Brent and tried to get OnStar to assist us but the bastards wouldn’t help because I didn’t have a subscription. Now, I know they have a connection to my car because OnStar was on it when I bought it but they claimed there was nothing they could do.  Shortly after my neighbor (who is a state trooper) pulled up and then Brent was right behind him.  It took about 20-30 minutes in all to unlock it but it felt like hours and I could hear Londynn screaming the whole time.  I was thanking GOD that at least I was parked in the shade and it was a cool day, but it took restraint not to grab something heavy and bust that window.  Had it been the summertime, I would not have hesitated to do just that.

I want to thank everyone who helped me today, especially Eugene Williams of the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Department for responding and finally getting the door open.  When it did open, I couldn’t hold my screaming, sweaty baby girl fast enough.  She was fine….we were just both upset for a while.   Lesson learned: I will never set my purse down again until I am in the car with her.  I should probably get another key to keep at home also.

UPDATE (3.28.13)  OnStar Responds

About Venessa Lewis

A 36 year old graphic designer from Denham Springs, Louisiana. Mother of a 6-year old boy and a 1 year old baby girl. I love 80's music, history, photography and social media. View all posts by Venessa Lewis

179 responses to “The longest 30 minutes of my life

  • J

    Why didn’t you ask if you could purchase a subscription?

    • Venessa Lewis

      My husband made the call and to be honest I don’t know if either of us were in the frame of mind to ask. But had they offered it as an option in the moment, I am sure we would have. They missed a sale…although frankly I think they coulod have opened it anyway.

  • Nick

    I subscribe to Onstar just for this reason if they unlock peoples door for free there would be no reason to subscribe to the service.

  • Jenni Jones

    I’m so glad that everything worked out for you. I’d definitely send a little note to OnStar and discuss the lack of human compassion they had during today’s event. No business ever wants bad publicity, especially with mothers and babies locked in a car.

    • Venessa Lewis

      Thanks Jenni. I know I am accountable insomuch that I put the purse and keys in there, but I agree, I think they could have helped if they wanted too….WANTED being the operational word.

      • Eric Pierce

        Well if they did what you wanted them to do then, frankly, there would be no OnStar. Since they would be out of business. Nobody would subscribe to it if they could just use it for free whenever they wanted to.

      • outjie

        “Wanted” was not the operative word. “Think” is the operative word. You have no proof that OnStar has the technical capability to interact with a vehicle that is not in their subscriber database. There may be actions that need to be performed from inside the vehicle by the owner to activate the link. If not it would be a huge security loophole. Any thief could call up OnStar and say:” Waa waa my baby is in the car. It is an emergency. I have no proof the car belongs to me, but please unlock it so I can get the precious baby out.”

        You have no right to call people “bastards” just because they wouldn’t do what you wanted them to do.

  • Should OnStar Have Helped A Mom Who Locked Baby And Keys In The Car? – Consumerist

    [...] The longest 30 minutes of my life [No Ordinary World] (Thanks, Parrish!) [...]

  • Vickie

    OnStar is a private service. They are not the police or fire department and are under no obligation to assist you if you choose not to help you. Would you expect AAA to come out and fix your flat if you weren’t a customer of theirs?

  • Bobby J

    So…what would keep everyone who didn’t subscribe from calling and CLAIMING they locked their kid in the car just to get a free unlock? Nothing, that’s what. So pay the money if you want the service.

  • Dickey

    I’m sorry to hear of your situation. Please consider the business’s perspective. When a user subscribes with OnStar, they are granting the company permission to access those features of the automobile. Unfortunately, in your situation OnStar did not have legal permission to unlock the car doors.

  • Roy

    So the other day I was walking through the mall parking lot and saw a Caddy with a bunch of shopping bags in it. Hmmmm…nice. I would like an easy way to steal all those bags full of goodies, I thought to myself. So I called OnStar and told them I had locked my kid inside that car and begged them please please please to unlock it. Damn them, they wouldn’t do it. Those BASTARDS!!!!!

  • T. Bob

    TIL I should be able to get OnStar to do anything I want them to for free if I claim to have a baby in the car.

    • B.

      Hell…you can get the fire department to come to your house just by calling and telling them it is on fire. Crappy argument T. Bob.

    • Alice Longworth

      OnStar is responsible for YOUR baby? And it is more important than my grandmother with dementia, or someone’s dog? If it is truly an emergency you can break the window and pay to have it replaced. OR you can pay for the service; the choice and the responsibility is yours.

  • Terry

    If you were really that desperate to help your child you could have broken a window.

    • Venessa Lewis

      Had it been a hot day, believe me I would have done just that. But thankfully the police responded quicky. I appreciate your concern.

      • Pete

        Yeah right. That would have been hilarious to see – typical mommyblogger trying to break a car window. “I can’t believe they make these things sooooo hard to break! One of my fake nails popped off!”

        • Samson

          haha I’m surprised she didn’t ask the truck driver to dial the numbers for her!

          • Jennifer

            Pete & Samson… Wow. RUDE. It’s one thing to express your opinion on her blog but another entirely to assume that someone is prissy and shallow based on absolutely no factual evidence. Jeez. Nothing better to do?!

            • Rancid

              She named her kid Londynn and was whining about the line at the nail salon. Prissy and shallow? Yep.

            • Venessa Lewis

              What does the name of my kid have to do with anything? Wow, you are really making a point. And how did I whine about the line at the nail salon? I said it was too long so I left…as opposed to sitting in there with a fussy baby and annoying everyone.

            • B.

              And you chose “Rancid” as a screen name:
              1. Having the disagreeable odor or taste of decomposing oils or fats; rank.
              2. Repugnant; nasty:
              Stinky and ugly? Yep.

  • George

    “lesson in capitalism”

    If you are concerned for the success of your blog, you’ll leave your snarky comments aside.

    -George

    • Venessa Lewis

      Success of my blog? I write this for myself and my friends….all of whom love my snarkiness.

    • Paul

      It also may be that they don’t actually have the capability to unlock a non-subscriber’s car. Wouldn’t it be a little worrisome if some random company that you have no privity of contract with could remotely control your vehicle?

      • Venessa Lewis

        No, it wouldn’t be worrisome because no one in the past or future history of the world would ever ever ever be such a meanie and a baddie as to lie about having locked a child in a car. A CHILD! CHILD!!!!

        • Alice Longworth

          You ARE kidding right? Oh, sorry KIDDING, KIDDING. Yes Virginia, there are “meanies” and “baddies” who lie. (Have you considered spending some more time with adults? Perhaps you could flag down the gas truck again). In fact, they might even even even take the car with little Longdyn in it.

        • not in the tower

          You may want to get out of the ivory tower. Yes there are people who will lie about a child to get what they want. They also hurt them, abuse them, molest them. I know I’m one of the 911 people who get to patch them up.

        • Siobhan

          “Meanie and a baddie?” No one would ever? Yeah, not only are you prissy and shallow, you’re terribly naive. People would and indeed already have.

      • Barrayaran

        Paul — that’s exactly what I was thinking. Before slamming the company, shouldn’t the owner make sure that OnStar actually had the capability to do what she was asking? Saying “I know they have a connection to my car because OnStar was on it when I bought it” isn’t sufficient — it’s like saying the previous owner of your house has keys and should let you in, when in all likelihood those keys have been tossed and the locks replaced.

    • B.

      Watch out! It’s George… the successful blog judger guy!

  • Jason

    God this blog is stupid.

  • KKB

    aaa will allow you to sign up right on the spot. i don’t know much about onstar, but surely if you had offered to purchase the service they should’ve helped you. are you saying you expected them to help Just This Once for free? because you’re a desperate mother with a baby? i hate to think of my little one locked away from me in the car, but seems awfully entitled to just think they’re going to do this for you if you haven’t offered to sign up, hmmm?

  • Ricky

    How is OnStar supposed to open your car if it’s not registered with them? I mean this from a purely technical standpoint. The system that’s installed in your car would have to be identified to them in some way, or else they wouldn’t be able to connect to it. If you were an account holder with them, I assume the system would be linked to your account, but since you don’t have an account, how were they going to know which OnStar unit to connect to? Were they able to connect to it based off of the VIN of the vehicle or something?

    Also, how was the person on the phone supposed to verify that you were actually the owner of the car, and not a clever scam artist? They have no way to differentiate you from a car thief who is pretending to have a baby locked in the car to get them to open the doors. If that had been the case, and they had opened the doors, we’d be reading a story about how OnStar had helped someone steal your vehicle.

    I’m glad that your child was OK, and I’m sorry that you had such a stressful experience, but I think OnStar is in the right on this one.

      • Barrayaran

        According to the article you cite, this would only apply if she had been a subscriber, stayed one until Sept 2011 and cancelled the service — it’s not at all clear from this blog that this is the case. It doesn’t sound as if she were ever a subscriber. It sounds as if the previous owner or car dealer had OnStar or a demo installed, but a change in legal ownership would surely invalidate the contract for the vehicle.

  • pienoceros

    They aren’t “bastards”. You aren’t a subscriber. Period. If you had signed up for the service, it wouldn’t have mattered why you needed the doors opened, they would have done it without question. I don’t know why you thought it was your prerogative to call them in the first place.

    • B.

      Seems to me her husband called OnStar…maybe he is a subscriber and he thought they might help him out. Oh yeah…we’re talking about the life of a child. I mean really…the gaul of them to call OnStar!

      • Barrayaran

        Seriously? It’s hardly the case that “the life of a child” was at stake. It wasn’t hot (highs in Lousiana on 3/25 look to have been in the low sixties), the car wasn’t trapped in a sinkhole or flooding, and the mother had emergency personnel there and the issue resolved in what she herself estimates as “20-30 minutes”. And people are still assuming this is something OnStart *could* have done technically, when that is not at all in evidence.

        • B.

          I totally agree with you…but it could have been. If the child’s life was at stake I’m sure the mother would have just had someone break the window. Matter of fact, I don’t even see where the OP bashes OnStar…she could have just as easily have written “dang” in the place of “bastards.” Readers have made it an argument against or for OnStar…not the OP.

  • Anonymous

    Gotta agree with the masses here, Onstar did the right thing. That service is there for emergencies and you could have signed up for it at any point in owning the car. Maybe they should have made an exception, but in a world with liars and theifs, if I had Onstar on my car, I would rather they not make these exceptions..blame the bad folks of the world not the companies for doing what they’re suppose to do. At the end of the day however, it’s good to hear everybody made it through this ordeal safely.

  • jwbutler2005

    Cheapest Caddy is 33,095.00, an OnStar three year subscription is 499.99 or about 1.5 percent of the purchase price. Pennywise, pound foolish.

    Another way to put it. A manicure is about $25.00 a month-to-month subscription for OnStar is $18.00

    Another way to put it, the cheapest GM car to come with OnStar has 12,995 retail subtracted from the base cost of a caddy is $20,100 allowing the OP to pay for 88 years of OnStar service on a month-to-month basis

  • a

    This is a very tough issue. Frankly 30 minutes you should not be in going crazy. Instead you should keep calm. Onstar probably has policies in place to keep people from getting into to other peoples cars through social engineering. Unfortunately a telephone is not a good medium to pass information along. If you had kept calm you might have figured into purchasing an Onstar subscription and then having them unlock your doors. Instead you involved a number of people and resources. I would suggest you get an Onstar subscription.

  • HK

    A person of smart decisions, like naming her poor child Londynn.

  • Mike S

    So, are you going to subscribe to On Star now?

    Their entire business model is providing service in the event of an emergency, it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t provide the same service for free.

  • JT

    It seems to me this is a debate about Onstar giving away the service, versus the author breaking the car window. It’s not about the baby’s safety – it’s about whether or not the author was willing to eat the cost of a broken window for not, in effect, buying in insurance.

    • Anonymous

      If she broke the window and her insurance wouldn’t waive the deductible, would they be bastards too?

  • Ellie

    So, you have no idea why OnStar wouldn’t unlock your car other than the explanation that they are bastards? Is that really the extent of your critical thinking skills? People above have listed off all of the very logical reasons (aside from capitalism) that it would be unsafe, illegal, impractical, and maybe even impossible for OnStar to unlock a car for a non-subscriber.

    Meanwhile, I’m concerned about the parenting skills of someone that takes no responsibility in a situation like this. You have “no idea” why the car locked not you accidentally locked the car. OnStar are bastards not you were stupid for not opting into the subscription. The situation was terrible and nerve-wracking but not terrible enough to just break a window and stop it immediately. You don’t even value your child’s well-being enough to break a car window but a call center employee of a private company who doesn’t even know that you’re telling the truth should stick their neck out on an act of faith?

    Rather than being self-righteous, you should be embarrassed that you posted this on the internet.

    • Venessa Lewis

      Thank you all for your not-at-all-juudgemental analyses of my blog. Please understand that this is a small blog I maintain for myself and a few close friends. I do not write for a large audience so forgive my lack of “critical thinking” skills which I admit are slim at the moment due to the many lost hours of sleep that come with a newborn. I pray that none of you are ever in such a situation, but that if you are, the people that assist you have a bit more compassion than most of you have exhibited. While I have read the arguments in support of Onstar and think they are indeed valid…many of which I didn’t consider at the time of crisis. While calling the company bastards was probably not necessary, I wrote this blog shortly after the event and was still very emotional. Please know that I have indeed foisted most of the responsibility on myself obviously, because a working mother of two should never make such a mistake. Sleep sundly knowing that I feel terrible about the situation and will never again have such a lack in judgement. Or if I do, I will keep a calm head and summon all the adrenaline in my body to bust the window, rather than wait for the police to assist. Snark aside, I would have done just that had I believed my baby to be in danger. Thanks for reading.

    • B.

      Ellie…you must not have kids…or shouldn’t.

    • JoeTheG

      Did you also consider that she was willing to expose a newborn to the noxious chemicals of a nail salon? I’m not sure what is more heartbreaking: that it appears (superficially… I have no proof, just a sneaking suspicion based on tone and maturity of the entire blog) that she was going to leave her kid in the car while she gets her nail done, or that she wasn’t! Every nail salon I’ve been in leaves me lightheaded from the fumes and I’m a full grown adult with more than adequate residual lung capacity, a non-hyperactive adult immune response, and a trachea that can respond to foreign chemicals with anything BUT asphyxia.

      • not in the tower

        @JoeTheG Don’t you know that mommy’s wants always trump baby’s safety and needs. After all guys like me can do CPR and stuff and are only a phone call. And if the baby dies well we bastards didn’t do enough.

  • Denali

    Good to see all these fine posters proving “John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F***wad Theory” is still relevant on a daily basis.

    Folks, you may not agree with how she handled it. Heck, you may not agree how OnStar handled it. It doesn’t matter. Coming here and attempting to tear her down just because you don’t agree simply proves that you’re a troll with the morality of a cockroach. Don’t agree? Fine, state it and express a cogent, well thought out explanation of why you don’t agree. Being condescending or passive-agressive is just you electronically stroking yourself at the cost of someone else.

    • Venessa Lewis

      Thank you Denali…I really appreciate some reason as I sit here with tears in my eyes.

      • sick of entitled people

        Oh for crying out loud, you wanted to trash a company and its employees for not immediately being at your beck and call when you declined to pay for the service. Even though there was no life threatening emergency, as emergency services was there to take care of it for you. If they hadn’t been, I might see your point, provided OnStar was actually unable to unlock the car for you.

        You throw a hissy fit, publicly calling them bastards. Then you get all butt hurt when people point out common sense things like you could have used the manicure money towards the OnStar fee. It’s one thing for the tax payers to pay for emergency services to get your child out of the car, that’s part of the social good. And all emergency services people get stuck answering calls which could have been prevented at one time or another.

        But now you expect a private, for profit company to act for your convenience? Who exactly do you think pays for the payroll and other expenses associated with OnStar’s operation? That’s right, the SUBSCRIBERS who pay money for the service. My friend subscribes to OnStar and pays part of her hard earned salary for it. Because she feels she needs it as she drives alone often. She and I have both had to cut back on nail salon visits because the economy has affected raises. Our commutes from work have grown longer from transit cuts and inspection/registration costs have gone up to raise more revenue. We had to make up the money somewhere, so we cut back on LUXURIES. Now we’re supposed to sympathize with you and call the employees of OnStar “bastards” because of your entitlement?

        You post this in public and then you’re surprised when people actually point out basic, common sense things, such as the possible logistics of OnStar’s operations and how you could have used your manicure money to pay for the subscription fee?

        And then you sit there and cry victim with posts about “tears in my eyes”? How do you know the poor person you spoke to at OnStar isn’t sitting there with “tears in [his or her] eyes” because YOU called them bastards and decided to smear them all over the internet because of the results of your carelessness and irresponsibility? Why don’t you try extending some of that understanding and compassion you think you are entitled to towards other human beings? Then I might actually be able to take you seriously when you pull the “tears in my eyes” card.

        Instead of whinging and moaning about OnStar, you should have stuck to praising the hardworking people who got your child out safely with no damage to your car. Yes, it was stressful. That will be a reminder to you to be more careful next time. Either by having OnStar or bringing your keys or leaving a spare set with a friend or relative.

        I’m glad your child is ok and your car wasn’t damaged. I had someone clip my mirror and not take any responsibility It stinks when you have to pay car damages through either no fault of your own or a mistake anyone could make.

    • Craig

      The thing is, this story made it to a rather large consumer blog. Visitors to this blog will increase exponentially within the day. Those visitors don’t know the intent or reach of this blog – so they will act like they normally would on any other blog with a story like this.

      Welcome to the Internet. It takes a village after all.

      • Alice Longworth

        Yeah, that is how I got here. This blog’s link was with an “OnStar right or wrong” type survey and I had to see if someone was really blaming OS for not providing free service. Anyone know if I can find a blog where a person is pissed off at State Farm for not paying for flood damages even though the person didn’t have flood insurance?

  • J. W.

    Honestly, this whole thing makes no sense. You hem and haw over breaking the window, saying if it were warmer, you would have. Yet, you clearly lost your mind over the whole thing enough to call a subscription service you don’t subscribe to, then attempt to publically chastise them for not giving you a service you don’t pay for, and this all encompassed 30 minutes. People lock their keys, children, pets, ice cream, and everything else in the car all the time, and deal with it without acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get what they want. If it was really that big of a deal and your child was that big of concern to you, you would either wait for the locksmith/police/person with the extra key to your car like normal people, or break the window. It’s a window. You can get them replaced the next day in most cases.

  • Jennifer S.

    I have to side with OnStar on this one. We had it for a couple of years on my Terrain. The first year was free and then I paid for two more years. When I cancelled it they read me a laundry list of terms and made it very clear to me that should something happen, they would not be able to help me. They wouldn’t even accept a certified letter saying I wanted to cancel. I still had to call so they could go over all the terms with me.

  • mamaraby

    Never underestimate the ability of strangers on the internet to be complete and utter assholes. No, scratch that, make that people in the United States. Sadly, their brazen asshole-ry is not limited to the internet.

    That’s a tough situatuion to be in. I’m glad to hear that everything turned out ok in the end.

    • Samson

      Thanks for your contribution!

    • Craig

      You’re right, it was a tough situation and would be for anyone.

      But there were other solutions. Break the window for example – most insurance policies include a minimal deductible to replace a broken window. Mine is $75 – a small price to pay IMO.

      But to call On-Star ‘bastards’? Did they have proof the car belonged to her (or her husband who made the call)? That’s why On-Star is setup from within the car and backed up by a call to the owner. The On-Star representative wasn’t there and had no way of verifying the person that was on the phone owned that car.

  • D

    I stopped reading after you called OnStar ‘bastards’. Your 5 year old probably shows greater maturity.

  • Craig

    As I understand the On-Star service, it must be activated from within the car using the little button on the rear view mirror. Otherwise On-Star cannot access their systems within the car. It’s also how they verify you are the rightful owner of the car – or imagine how many people would just call On-Star to get doors unlocked. Doors to cars they don’t own but may have contents they want to steal.

  • fuzzmanmatt

    What year and model Caddy was this? Older ones can’t be activated at all because they don’t have the right hardware, and newer ones come with free roadside assistance for 5 years/100,000 miles, there’s an 800 number on the windows.

    • Venessa Lewis

      It was a 2010. I got 3 free months with it. That is why I thought they probably still had some sort of link with it. Perhaps not.

      • fuzzmanmatt

        I’m assuming it’s an SRX with pushbutton start that you purchased used. Call up your dealer and ask them how to disable the auto-lock feature, and this wont happen again. The instructions are also in the owners manual. Your fob battery is probably low and should be replaced, as well. That’s usually what causes the doors to lock while the transmitter is inside the car still.

  • Sick Of

    Since you need to be INSIDE the car to activate an account, and you have to have an ACTIVATED account in order for them to even be able to access your vehicle, how did you expect them to do anything? They are bastards? Grow up and stop acting like an entitled little brat.

    • Venessa Lewis

      Actually, I’ve had several friends say that they have activated it in similar situations when they didn’t have the service…and from the outside. They purchased it on the spot. That wasn’t offered, and had I been in the right frame of mind, I would have asked. Thanks for your concern.

      • jag_elissa@yahoo.com

        I wouldn’t bet on it. My year-old nephew got locked in the car (and it was hot…about 95 degrees). My B-I-L called OnStar and offered to purchase a month subscription to get him out of the car but they refused. Luckily the fire department showed up to help. But OnStar sucks.

      • David

        Bullcrap lady. Go to the OnStar website and it clearly shows you that you have to have access to the button inside the car to subscribe.

  • tz2026

    OnStar has an ad where they flash the lights and cut the engine of a stolen vehicle because the Police ask them to. I think you said you dialed 911. Are they saying they can or cannot kill the engine of a non-subscriber if the police says the vehicle is stolen? If they can do so for a stolen vehicle at the request of the police they could have done it for you and your daughter.

    • David

      Quite simply, OnStar isn’t going to do what the cops tell them just because someone gets on the phone and says they are a cop. They aren’t going to take on the liability when the alternative is $100 worth of broken window and someone with the ability and means to break the window is standing there next to the car. You would be asking a company to take on liability so you could save $100. There’s nothing in it for them – no reason for them to do so.

      • Paul

        A cop would just break the window. They wouldn’t waste time calling OnStar if it was that serious.

      • tz2026

        OnStar has no way of telling if they are being called by the police, i.e. how do they know in the case of the stolen vehicle. Smashing glass around an infant isn’t a good idea either. I asked if they can or cannot kill an engine of a non-subscriber. I think they can’t if the point about the EIN is correct – but that they didn’t retain it from the earlier activation.

  • Jerry Vandesic

    My guess is that their system wouldn’t let them do anything to your car as it had not been put into the system with a confirmed account. They probably couldn’t access your car for security reasons. To prevent random people from calling to break into a car they would need to set up an account, identify the owner, and then create passcodes. I would be very surprise If their system didn’t lock them out of accessing an unregistered car. To be honest, if I were the owner of a car with Onstar, that’s the way I would want it.

  • tz2026

    Also, I have always kept a spare key (for both house and car) in my pocket or wallet – something so I can get inside – I don’t think it needs to be a $200 key if I don’t want to start the engine with it (nor be as fat).

    Perhaps a case for a 3d printer if they can’t be made at a local hardware store.

  • MikeZ

    Seems like a bit of a mess for OnStar actually. How do they go about proving that you in fact are the legal owners of the car and making a valid request? Suppose I walked into a mall parking lot and just called Onstar on the first vehicle I find with an OnStar symbol and provide the VIN number I read off the dash. Should OnStar open the door for me? How do they tell the difference? I’d guess before doing anything OnStar would need for you to Fax in your registration, (which is likely locked inside the car), Fax in proof that you are the person that matches that registration etc. I’m guessing that wouldn’t be a particularly fast route that could be used in an emergency.

    • B.

      If the service was once active…which it was…then it is as simple as providing your name, address, secret password, etc in proving that it is your vehicle. I mean seriously, what if I knew my neighbor had an active OnStar account and I wanted to steal something from his car? Do you think I could just call OnStar and get them to open it up? I don’t think so.

      • MikeZ

        That really doesn’t prove anything. You could have sold the car in the meantime. You would still need to prove that you still own the car.

        If your owner had an active OnStar account that is the key point. If it is an active account, then OnStar will be keeping track of current ownership, and likely have passwords setup so that not just anybody can call and open the locks. If it is an inactive account, they shouldn’t be doing any of that.

        Honest question, suppose your current car had an OnStar button. Assuming you don’t want to waste money subscribing to the service, would it make you more or less comfortable knowing that some random company could lock/unlock your doors, turn off your engine whenever they wanted to? Oops sorry, we had a technical glitch and accidentally turned off your engine, have a coupon for our mistake.

  • TR

    On-star works via cell service. Every On-Star equipped vehicle has a communications module, on most current model cars it is in the trunk area and in suvs and trucks it is under the radio in the dash.

    The service works over CDMA (Verizon). If you do not activate the service or cancel the service, you must (re)activate from the vehicle by pressing the blue button. Similar to dialing *2 from a Verizon cell phone. This calls On-Star and provides them the EIN number to turn back on the cell service and give the communications model a phone number. That is the key point, if the device is not activated, they don’t have the EIN in the system, they can’t just call it.

    I hate On-Star, but you can’t fault them when they don’t have the proper means to do something.

    As a side note, I have had the same issue with my 2011 Suburban. If the car is unlocked and I use the rear window or hatch then close them, it locks the car. There is a fault within the computer.

  • JulieK

    Wow – I am terribly sorry that happened to you, but are you serious? So I pay for a service that you expect for free just because your baby was in the car? If you accidentally locked your baby in your house and locked yourself out, would you expect a locksmith to come open your house for free? Shame on you…what entitles you to this?

    • B.

      Are you kidding me? We are talking about a child here. She didn’t want OnStar to open the doors after a night out on the town. What entitles you to value something more than a human life?

      • SusieK

        As has been pointed out in numerous posts, the OnStar people have no idea if there is an ACTUAL child involved. Any crook could call up and claim to have locked a child in a car. Anyone who used to have OnStar but just wanted a free unlock could call up and claim to have locked a child in a car. OnStar isn’t responsible for anyone’s child and isn’t responsible for finding out if there’s an actual child or a fake child involved. If it’s that much of an emergency, break the window.

        • B.

          So…with your thinking…the fire department should send a scout out to the address of someone who claims that there is a fire…just to see if they are telling the truth? Interesting.

          • DawnK

            Your comparison is lacking. When did the fire department become a subscription based service?

            Take a breath and go outside, hun. You’re way too invested and worked up over this.

            • B.

              Hey hun…I don’t know where you live…but my taxes pay for my fire department. But you probably live in DawnK Land where you don’t benefit from any government programs.

          • Jesusita

            Actually, in some places, you do have to subscribe for fire service. The fire department will show up to make sure the fire doesn’t spread to subscribed buildings, but will not lift a finger to stop the fire in the unsubscribed building. Check out this link: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2011/12/07/9272989-firefighters-let-home-burn-over-75-fee-again?lite

            And this one wasn’t the first time it happened.

          • not in the tower

            That’s what often happens with automatic alarms. Since there are so many false alarms if a building has multiple episodes often a very limited response is sent. Cities also fine repeat offenders.

      • Barrayaran

        A frightened child who was, nonetheless, in absolutely no danger.

      • JoeTheG

        Are you talking about the commenters on this post or the person posting? The best definition of “asshole” I’ve come across is someone who expects society to conform to their individual views and situation…

      • JoeTheG

        You keep defending her by pulling on people’s emotions by reiterating that there was a child involved. Should the situation be any different because “OMG! WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!?”? That’s debatable, but you are ignoring the flip side of using that emotional manipulation: She has a higher standard to herself. Because she has a child and chooses to take the child into a car, she should feel a greater obligation to retain the OnStar service from the start.

        In short, why should OnStar be more likely to be helpful because of a child, but she is not more a “bastard” for not having OnStar in the first place? She has two children!

  • michaela

    To give an example of how much power GM has over your non-subscribed vehilce, I recall an article from a couple years ago about cops in hot pursuit contacting Onstar, providing identifying information (I’m sure the License would pull up the VIN at the DMV), OnStar then FLASHING THE LIGHTS on the subject vehicle to confirm identity with the following police. Then, with confirmation that it was “safe” to do so, Onstar shut down the engine on the suspect vehicle. Also, OnStar can turn on the microphone inside the vehicle to listen for baby sounds. It is ludicrous to claim that because of account settings that GM “cannot” access the vehicle.

  • Venessa Lewis

    Here is an interesting read from the same website that posted my blog about the capability of Onstar to access your vehicle even if you don’t have service. Seems they can if they WANT to. http://consumerist.com/2011/09/26/onstar-says-not-to-worry-about-it-tracking-your-car-even-after-you-cancel-it/

  • B.

    Here’s a little something for everyone out there claiming that OnStar couldn’t or shouldn’t have done anything: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/09/onstar-tracks-you/

    Remember…we are talking about the life of a child! I guess if all you assholes get stranded after a hurricane or in a flood you would want the National Guard to come rescue you for free…even though you were told to evacuate. Oh yeah…you know you would. Again…remember…we are talking about the life of a child!

    • Buck

      Life of a child? The child’s life was NOT in danger, you moron. If it were in danger, the cops would have broken the window. Or the mommy, if you believe her, would have broken the window.

      Quit being so stupidly overdramatic.

      • B.

        Oh…my bad Buck. Didn’t I see you getting rescued from a roof during Katrina? Dramatic? Hah! As if you can see how I am typing.

        • Buck

          I have no idea what you are talking about. You are an idiot.

          No child was in danger. Period.

          • B.

            Wait…you don’t know what I am talking about and I’m the idiot? Tell me again how you know a child was not in danger? Are your kids in danger?

            • Madderakka

              Because the author SAID her child wasn’t in danger.

            • not in the tower

              Well I am one the guys who does these rescues. The description by the author states the child was in no danger. That being said by wasting time with onstar rather than calling 911 delayed the rescue of the child.

              For the person talking about auto glass – we duct tape it before hitting it with the center punch so the shatter is controlled. We also would use a window as far away from the car seat as practical.

  • Carla

    I’m so tired of these big companies just caring about profit profit profit! The other day my children were hungry, so I called Domino’s. Do you know that they absolutely refused to bring us food for free? I told them my CHILDREN were hungry, but they didn’t even care!

  • B.

    Carla…seriously? I don’t think your apples are being compared in the best fashion. Besides…you called Domino’s? Some parent you are.

  • OnStar and bad expectations

    [...] The longest 30 minutes of my life | No Ordinary World I feel bad for the blogger and am glad her child is ok, but don't think she understands how OnStar works. When you don't have a subscription, there is no active data link between your vehicle and OnStar. Reconnecting that data link would take longer than the 30 minutes she was in her crisis. Should OnStar Have Helped A Non-Subscriber Who Locked Baby And Keys In The Car? Apparently, Consumerist readers don't understand OnStar either, based upon the current results of the poll. Reply   Reply With Quote [...]

  • freetoairphoenix

    You, madam- are an idiot. A regular Onstar customer service representative can NOT access your vehicle. There is no “vehicle” in the system TO access! It’s not about just pressing a button- they’d have to access a particular auto, IN their system in order to assist you. The fact that police in the past have accessed one, was completely different. They have a very, VERY special and specific protocol that handles that (Infragard/ICE) and it cannot be accessed anytime someone feels like it, or locks themselves or a baby in a car. You are a selfish, whiny person. It must be a DREAM to be married to you. God bless your husband. Whew.

    • Anonymous

      You people criticizing this post are missing the point of it completely. This was written from a mom’s perspective of how she felt during the moments of utter terror when she was rendered helpless to her newborn babies needs. NO decent mom ever wants to be put in this position but many of us, including myself, have locked our kids in the car before. You aren’t thinking clearly. When you hear that click and realize what has happened, panic sets in. What Your main concern is getting the baby out. And rationale goes out the window. You aren’t thinking legality of what onstar can or can’t do. You are thinking if they can make the doors unlock –then do it and if they won’t, your damn right they are bastards. This is your thought process at THAT moment. And for the record, venessa is not some prissy,suburban, dont let me break my nails kind of mommy. She raised her first born child pretty much on her own while her husband was in Afghanistan fighting a war at the height of when US soldiers were being slaughtered daily by IED’s. She is one of the strongest moms/ women I know and I am damn proud of her. This post was to share her feelings of helplessness with her friends and other mommies but you jerks have turned it into some sort of her whining against corporate America. That is sad. This was her thought process during and after what had happened. Thank you for hi jacking it and turning a bad situation into something even worse—-men picking on a good—no GREAT mother.

      • Jackie

        She also called OnStar ‘bastards’. This was uncalled for.

      • Tom

        “Utter terror”? To me “utter terror” would be to be tied up in a forrest, gun to my head, about to get raped. It would not be sitting a foot from my kid, blocked only by an environment that could be accessed easily (breaking the window). Please spare the drama. OP overreacted and now she wants sympathy for it. It’s just ridiculous.

        • trinityheartswvu

          Utter terror is a helpless newborn and a mother who is rendered unable to assist it. Whether inches apart or not it is the worst feeling in the world. It is terror. Not being dramatic. Ask any mother who has done this and they will tell you the same. It is your instinct to protect your child and in that one second when you do the unthinkable are helpless to help them, and they are looking at you crying wondering why you are NOT helping them then YES BY GOD it is terror.

          • Tom

            But the thing is she was able to help, she just chose not to. Seems she valued her window a tad more in that instance. It it was terror, the window would have been broken immediately.

            I’m sure she feels like a dumb-ass. I would have too. But seriously. Spare the drama.

            By the way, OP, disable auto lock. My pos car has that function, I’m sure yours does too.

            • trinityheartswvu

              No, breaking a window sending glass flying all over the place would not have been the smartest thing to do since help was on the way—although when its your baby stuck it seems like forever. And maybe that’s something you as a man can not understand and I get that. But to belittle her and make her feel worse about a situation she blogged about NOT to bash onstar (sole purpose) but mainly to express her emotions is just very shallow of you. She didn’t know this would be shared with a group of fine consumers as yourself but was mainly blogging to convey the emotions of how bad she felt for what had happened. Mistakes happen. Point here is she is a wonderful mom who lives for her children and there are more important things for you to be worried about. Onstar should have an emergency situation policy where you pay for one time usages in these situations. She wasn’t asking for a free Hookup and angry they didnt comply, Just assistance in getting the door unlocked as quickly as possible. And she would have gladly paid whatever if that had even been offered. It wasn’t .

            • Tom

              Oh yea, Cars have shatterproof glass – that way they don’t spray all over the place in a crash. It wouldn’t have been a problem. Most people know this, ncluding emergency personnel.

  • B.

    For the love of God…research OnStar! They CAN access your vehicle if you have had a subscription at one time: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/09/onstar-tracks-you/
    And for the life of me…I can’t figure out what makes the OP selfish…she was thinking about her child for Christ’s sake. You are unbelievable.

  • Yolanda

    Although that was a scary situation to be locked out with your baby in the car, I don’t think it was onstar’s responsibility to help you in anyway. You chose not to subscribe & they do not have any permission to unlock your doors. Yes, I am sure they are able to do so, but without payment (anybody could lie & say baby is in car to get free service) and without any identification/security of knowing if it is truly your car, they were not able to open it. Like somebody said, do you think AAA would have changed your tire just because you had a baby in there? I think not.

    Another scenario would be if you store valuables inside your vehicle, or even let children (not babies of course) wait outside while you shop I could just stand outside your car & call onstar to beg them to unlock doors for me. Potentially could get the VIN or some other confirming info by looking at the registration or in the windows of the car. No bueno

  • B.

    Yo…you may have had the most pleasant argument yet…but do you think the fire department should wait to see if there is an actually fire before responding to a call? Sometimes you have to give people the benefit of the doubt…fires, robbery…babies locked in a car.

  • D.

    With all their posts, it sounds as if B. has a vested interest in this story.

    • B.

      My only interest is the fact that people are defending OnStar to the death (even though that is not what the article is about) when the life of a child is involved. I bet most of these people consider themselves “Christians” too.

      • Mark

        People’s choice of religion has nothing to do with this.

        It’s already been determined that the minutes leading up to half an hour were not life threatening for her child. Otherwise she would have broken the window, or forked over the money for an OnStar subscription.

      • a

        The author said the child was not in danger. It was not hot out which is the case for a lot of infant problems in locked cars. Also she did not mention if it was cold though it might have been on the cool side 30 minutes in a closed card does not constitute an a problem unless climate dictates. The author did not say.

        The issue here is asking for something for free and being made and calling onstar names because they did not want to take the liability. Yes onstar radios are on all the time the technology is low data use so vzw doesn’t even really care they probably get a lump some based on active subscriptions. If it was an older model car then it would have used an analog cell radios which were discontinued many many years ago before this car was in the design stages.

      • not in the tower

        Calling onstar and not 911 wasted precious minutes. If the child’s life was at risk then wasting time with onstar is horrific.

        If the child’s life wasn’t at risk then your drama is over the top and uncalled for.

  • Mike

    On OnStar’s side 100%

    This woman is an idiot and doesn’t know how the a business works. Why not purchase insurance after an accident?

    Move on from this non-story.

  • trinityheartswvu

    My comment came up as anonymous, I want it known it was me who wrote it in support of my life life long friend B and his wife V!

  • melissaink

    I don’t understand why they couldn’t have an “emergency subscription fee.” Stuff like this happens, they could still make money, and they wouldn’t look like jerks. $100 to a locksmith or $100 fee to OnStar. What’s the difference? Glad your baby is OK.

    • Madderakka

      Because OnStar can’t verify you are who you say you are over the phone. An emergency unlock in a case like this would open them up to lawsuits. How angry would you be if a thief was given access to your car?

  • Wayne

    The Consumerist trolls have landed. Don t worry Venessa, they won’t stay long.

  • charmander

    They have those small metal box keyholders that you can put an extra key in and stick it under your car (it’s magnetic) so you always have an extra key in an emergency. I’m always misplacing my keys, and this has helped me! Sorry you had to go through all this.

  • Madderakka

    What if you were a random thief who walked by and saw a set of keys in a car with OnStar installed in it? You could have called and claimed it was your car and had an emergency. Then OnStar would be responsible for your car being stolen. There are laws and culpability here. Just because someone calls claiming something is happening doesn’t make it so. It would have been that representative’s job if they had done what you asked. Your anger is misplaced.

  • Jenni Eller

    First and foremost, I once drove my Brother in laws Vette powered with OnStar and yes, I laid my belonging in the front seat with the keys in my jacket, and sure enough the doors locked behind me. OnStar most certainly was able to unlock that vehicle without me being in the car. So NO you don’t need to be INSIDE the car for them to assist you. What on Gods green earth would you need a service to unlock a car I you were already in it.
    Secondly, coming from not only a nursing student but also a licensed cosmetologist, the fumes in the nail salon was not going to harm her child. In addition, she did say, newborn, as if that didn’t explain to you morons already this mothers vulnerable emotional state. How many of you that are so easily criticizing her for her use of language and behavior or your opinion of lack of behavior have had to listen to your own child scream in agony? Did I mention newborn. We think 20-30 minutes no big deal, how many of you have had to listen to a baby scream for 20-30 minutes, it seems like forever, not to mention what that Miss Londynn was going through. Call her out on her language, attack her girly girl ways for being “prissy” and wanting a moment of adult pleasure that didn’t cost any of you a damn dime. Attack her for not continuing her service with OnStar if you may but being a mother I am sure she felt that money could be used more wisely elsewhere. Who wouldn’t have attempted to make that call? Honestly, if it was your kid….you wouldn’t have at least asked??? And if you think I believe that your thinking, no, well you’re wrong. She reacted as ANY normal mother would have, especially one with a newborn. Call me a spoiled brat because I agree with her actions, it’s whatever, we’re all entitled to opinions. However attacking her integrity as a mother, well that’s wrong. Attacking her choice of names, completely juvenile. So who’s the ass now????

    • Madderakka

      No one said OnStar couldn’t UNLOCK the car with her not inside it. They said you couldn’t start a SUBSCRIPTION without access to a button located in the car.

      • Jenni Eller

        So, you make it a habit of sitting in your car with your credit card out doing business with OnStar. Bullshit, you need the VIN number and your registration, which also does not require one to be in the vehicle. I not only just drove someone else’s car with OnStar but I’ve also owned one. Next argument!!!

        • Madderakka

          My original argument is above as well as several replies, all without cuss words or rudeness. You accuse everyone else of being an ass, but you’re pretty rude and accusatory yourself.

          You’ve just made my argument for me: you can get the information you need to make OnStar believe you may be the owner of the car all without actually having access to the car. So how is OnStar to verify that you are indeed the owner of the car without making themselves liable?

          • Jenni Eller

            Ok dear, as if you’re going to be the politically correct one. So sorry that The words “Bullshit” and “ass” are so offensive to you that they offend you so personally. I must offer my deepest condolences on your behalf. There is no need to be in the car to register with OnStar, within reasonable distance, sure. You need YOUR information as well as the VIN #. I do believe she called OnStar bastards out of frustration and not directly, as well as simply calling to be so inqisative that they might be willing to unlock the car. I dont believe that they demanded such. So with that being said, it sounds like you’re the spoilt little bratty one that has to always be right. So be it as it may, I’ll politely bow out and you can swoon at the thought that your point was proven. Good job, with admirable effort I might add.
            Sweet Dreams Miss Londynn, I’m glad you’re mommy and daddy care so much to take a public brazen because your mommy innocently locked her keys in the car :) one of these days I’m sure she’ll have to tell you how you made her famous by simply locking her keys in her car….and by venting on her blog!

            • Bobby

              I would like to be “inqisative”.

              Your only empirical arguement states that you do not have to be in the vechicle to activate service, what is your source, can you link to anything that states this, or describes the activation process?

              “As far as swoon at the thought that your point was proven” = cute and self descriptive, no?

  • Venessa Lewis

    Since I gave up on trying to reply to each commenter, I hope this blog addresses most of the themes discussed. http://venessalewis.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/response-to-the-consumerist-story-and-commentary/

  • Not a customer of Onstar

    It is a service that is not an at will service when needed. She should have it for all her cars if she is so forgetful; a full line subscription to it and on her house too.

  • Anonymous

    Archiving all this for fun.

  • Venessa Lewis

    Thank you for your contributions. I believe all points have been made exhaustively, so comments are now turned off as I do not have another day to devote to hate mail. Trolls may now kindly return to your bridge.

  • No Problem is Big Problem; OnStar doesn’t help a non-subscriber who locked baby in car | John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

    [...] OnStar doesn’t help a non-subscriber who locked baby in car – A Customer had a vehicle with General Motors’ OnStar system that provides emergency and roadside assistance; however, this Customer decided not to continue to subscribe to the service. Then she accidentally locked her purse, car keys, and her infant daughter, in the car. When she contacted OnStar and asked them to help, just this once, because there was a baby in the car, She blogged about the incident: [...]

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53 other followers

%d bloggers like this: