Response to “The Consumerist” story and commentary

Link to the Consumerist article

Link to the Consumerist article

So I wrote a blog…
Yesterday I had a bad experience which basically involved accidentally locking my infant daughter in my car. Thanks to the local police, she was rescued within the hour. While both of us were upset, we were very fortunate in the outcome. Later that evening I began to write a facebook status about it to share my experience. But since I’ve never been one for brevity, the status began to grow to a considerable length. So, I decided to migrate it over to my blog, that way, people could choose to click the link in their newsfeed if they wanted to read the whole story.

My blog began to see the usual traffic of my family and friends, an average group of 40-60 people that usually read my ramblings and sometimes offer comments and critique. Blogging isn’t my profession, it is a hobby I began several years ago and one I’ve enjoyed immensely as an outlet to expand on issues that are important or interesting to me. That said, with the recent birth of my daughter I haven’t been able to do so nearly as much as I’d like or I have in the past. And when I do, my subjects lately have often been about my children. I was called a “mommy blogger” today in a derogatory manner….but I chose to embrace that. I found it funny considering that a cursory glance at my keyword cloud would indicate I blog about a wide range of subjects. But, this is what my life is about at the moment, and I won’t apologize for it. When my kids are grown I will no doubt have more time to read, travel and do all of the other things that I am sure make for much more interesting blogging material. My main purposes are to connect with people who are traveling the same path with me at the moment and to maintain a creative outlet to express my opinions.

And my intent was….
I want to address this up front….the intent of the blog was never to “frame” OnStar as some evil company, although I did feel their response to the situation was worth mentioning. No, my only intentions were to share an experience that many parents have had and the emotional terror associated with it, and to thank to the people who assisted me. After reading my blog a good friend asked my permission to submit it to “The Consumerist” website. Frankly, I’ve never even heard of the site until today. While I peruse about 20 news sites daily, this just wasn’t on my radar. He also submitted it to reddit.com.  It was then picked up by several other forums and/or blogs. I agreed to allow him to post it, and with the naiveté of an amateur blogger, I never fathomed the ensuing shitstorm. Not that I regret it….I’ve learned plenty about myself and the world of internet commenters…the second of two important lessons this week. My blog which usually gets between 10 and 100 hits a day managed to hit almost 2,000 views today alone. At the time of this writing, the blog has 165 comments. I’ve rarely gotten more than 2 or 3 comments on any one blog.

Having a consumer site pick up your blog can quickly cause it to reach critical mass.

Having a consumer site pick up your blog can quickly cause it to reach critical mass.

And then it became about OnStar…
As the comments began to pour in, I attempted to address them, but soon became overwhelmed and weary. What’s interesting is that on the Consumerist.com article there is a poll asking readers if OnStar should have helped me in the situation even though I was a subscriber. At the time of this writing, more respondents believe they should have than not. However, the overwhelming majority of commenters on the blog seem to have sided with OnStar in a way that makes me question the almost sentimental affinity for a company and profit over basic human decency. But again, I want to clarify that while the Consumerist “framed” my article as a Lacky Consumer vs. OnStar scenario (they could have just as easily made it about the tricky lock system in Cadillacs.) I really am not that surprised at OnStar’s response and the response of their loyal base of customers. Because we DO live in a capitalistic society and I understand a company can’t profit by offering its services for free. I also don’t feel entitled to such a luxury.

poll

Going back to intent, venting about OnStar takes up two total sentences of the entire blog. While I could have phrased my anger a bit more eloquently and the name calling was probably uncalled for, the point stands. I have no vendetta against OnStar, because of course they are under no obligation to help a non-paying subscriber. If we look at it from a purely capitalistic point however, I see an opportunity missed for the company. First, they could have picked up a customer on the spot by securing my credit card number and then opening the door. This was not offered. Second, good PR pays back in spades…and this COULD have been a story about how the company helped a mother in need, even when the mother didn’t have a contract. On another note, many people say they could not have accessed the vehicle even if they wanted to. I will call absolute bull on that because there is a multitude of articles to the contrary. The company has the discretion to perform this service…the question was, did they have the decency? In my case, no.

Live and Learn
I think today’s discussion was valid, although I am still reeling from some of the completely out-of-line, judgmental and downright mean commentary. While I know it is a risk you take when you put your work out there, I am amazed by the amount of people who have never made such a mistake and who can criticize so aptly a person they have never met (and on things completely unrelated to the article). Please know that I accept the lion’s share of accountability for this unfortunate incident. I could have done things differently, like keeping another key at home and not setting my purse down until I was in the car. (The purse holds the key fob which is required for the push button start…it isn’t a traditional type of key).

And lastly, I have been called many things at some time or another in my life. I know that at times I have been a shitty daughter, wife, sister and friend. But I’ll be damned if I will stand for someone calling me a crappy mother because of how I responded or what their notion of me is. My kids are my world and I do everything in my power to keep them safe, healthy and happy. Human error combined with quirky technology can land anyone in such a situation. I just hope that when it does, the people involved will show more compassion and less judgment than has been shown to me. I refuse to allow a group of anonymous commenters make me feel as though they would have reacted any different under similar circumstances. I did what thought was the best, and I still believe it to be the correct course of action.

Thanks to everyone who has read and contributed, and special thanks to my friends and family for always having my back.

 

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

8 responses to “Response to “The Consumerist” story and commentary

  • JoeTheG

    Take another look at the Consumerist poll. When it comes to OnStar letting you in, it isn’t the case that, “more respondents believe they should have than not.”

    From your own screen capture, 42.7% said that OnStar should have let you in, but 57.3 said “No”. They were just split up into two reasons why they shouldn’t have helped you.

    I want you to consider that your desire for increased compassion from OnStar because there is a child involved is negated by your increased duty to subscribe to the emergency service because there is a child involved.

    Instead of bringing the integrity and “decency” of the company into question (again) for not helping a child, the company can easily call your “decency” into question for not wanting to sacrifice 60 cents a day to protect your child with an OnStar subscription.

  • Bobby

    Since when does one article = a multitude?
    Also I beleive it was brought up in the comments that this tracking announcement was reversed less than a week later:
    ‘please get your facts straight: OnStar cancelled plans to keep that connection open less than a week after announcing them: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/OnStar-General-motors-Linda-Marshall-GPS-Terms-and-conditions,news-12677.html.
    ‘ (from the comments).

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

    [...] Update: Venessa has posted an update addressing the concerns of Consumerist readers who have stopped by her … [...]

  • Darlene D'Amico

    Girl, I know you did your best, I would of reacted the same way. I’m behind you 100%, and you are a good mom!

  • Charles Kalamto

    You screwed up by not paying attention to what you were doing and you want to blame somebody else for your carelessness. Nope. OnStar did the right thing and you are whiny…hope somebody else is around to teach your children how to own up to their actions, becasue you are going to suck at it.

  • Fren

    Wow, even the comments on this post are mean spirited. You made an innocent mistake that a lot of people have made (even if they won’t admit to it on the internet) and turned to your blog to vent frustration at the whole situation. Both are totally normal and acceptable human behavior. I’m sorry that so many mean people have turned this into much more than it was ever meant to be.

  • Anonymous

    Glad your daughter is safe, but sorry, absolutely no sympathy. OnStar is set up to be an emergency service. OnStar doesn’t work if you don’t pay for their emergency service. You didn’t pay for the service. OnStar owes you no favors. In fact, it sounds like you should reconsider subscribing in case you lock your daughter in the car again.

  • 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.

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