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Blue over GM and Bluetooth

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By Milligram46
June 16, 2009

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I'm done. No this won't pass. I've bought my last General Motors product. I will never in my life buy another product that the General Motors Corporation is associated with.

Done.

I'm done because no good deed goes unpunished. Here is my story.

Over Memorial Day Weekend General Motors was running a, "hey we're going bankrupt anyway so might as well write as much paper as possible and crank out inventory sale," and I had been planning since 2008 to buy a Pontiac G8. The plan was to pay off the Grand Prix in 2010, keep it as my winter drive/yeoman duty car and drive the G8 in the summer and for fun. But there isn't going to be a 2010 G8 so I had to tip my hand sooner.

It turns out that USAA (love USAA) has a car buying service. Also turns out that I get an additional $750 rebate through USAA if I buy a GM product.

So the stars seem rather aligned, 0% financing, good deals, another $750 from USAA, gobs of equity in the Grand Prix, and a no haggle price on the G8. So I go onto the Pontiac site, find "the" G8 GT I'm interested and go to the dealer.

We run some numbers and get the trade evaluated and we're close. They low ball the trade, I ask for way more money (why do dealers have to play this freakin' game) and we come to terms rather quickly. Do my paperwork, car will be here tomorrow.

Get to dealer that Saturday at 12:30 PM and the car shows up from the dealer swap about a 1/2 hour later. Car was supposed to be ready for me at 1 PM at the latest, thanks for calling first. Anyway the car shows up and my daughter and I are very excited. It is a red, with black leather interior G8 GT with sunroof.

But there is a problem.

The paint is in a word, trashed. It looks like the previous dealer had cleaned the car with a Brillo pad while it sat on their lot. There were scratches in the hood down to the primer. I got the, "oh we can buff that out speech," of which I very nicely explained over my dead body. If anyone is going to put a scratch into a car, it is going to be me.

So now we need to find another car, and this actually turns into a minor blessing. You see on the showroom floor there is a white G8 GXP and I would have never in a million years considered a white car but the G8 in white is very classy looking, and this specific white is dazzling, more of a blue/white than a yellow/white. I also learned that all G8 GTs come with summer tires, regardless of whether you get the Sport Package or not, so my idea of going with the 18" rims to get all season performance tires turned out to be folly. So I had a chance to hit reset, and said I wanted a white one with all options (which would add a $600 sports package) - that wasn't hard to find.

So they do another dealer swap. That car shows up at 6 PM and it is darn close to perfect. It still has some of its shipping film on it and the interior seats are still in plastic along with all of the "remove me before driving tags." 147 miles on the odometer and 65 to 70 of those were in the transfer.

They do about an hour of dealer prep, although the dealer closed at 6 PM and I basically self-delivered by car at 7 PM.

BIG MISTAKE.

During the sales transaction I asked the dealer, "does the G8 have Bluetooth."

I think so said my salesperson. I think so in car means I don't have a clue, so I asked for confirmation/proof and the sales manager shows me documentation, the 2009 G8 comes with Bluetooth as part of the OnStar integration.

OK - now this may seem so minor - but this is a big deal for me. In Washington state it is illegal to drive and talk on a cell phone without a hands free device. I'm getting to be a tad hard of hearing so if I have the stereo on at all, I typically don't hear the phone ringing. Further the G8 has two buttons on the steering wheel for using Bluetooth.

So the dealer says I have it.

The Owner's Manual says I have it.

The Quick Start Guide says I have it.

If you do a search on the GM website it says it has it.

So you'd kind of think after all that - it would have it.

So there I am, self-delivering my G8. I push the steering wheel phone button and hold it, just like the Owner's Manual says.

"OnStar Ready."

Well, the Owner's Manual said it would say, "Ready," but OK.

"Bluetooth," I utter, just like in the manual.

"Goodbye," my new G8 tells me cheerfully.

What?

Let's try that again. Nope doesn't work. Suddenly I'm not feeling so happy. Next my daughter declares that the back seat doesn't have the cup holders like the other car. OK, rear seat cup holders, whatever. The car has six as it is, I don't need ten. But something is not right.

So I get home, and remember this is now a holiday weekend I can't get any answers.

And I finally find out on Thursday, 5/28 from OnStar that I don't have Bluetooth. Needless to say, I'm not happy.

I do more research. I learn I'm not the only one with this issue. There are dozens of complaints online. I also find out that my car is fully wired for Bluetooth right from the factory, they just didn't put in the module. Here is what is involved, are you ready?

1) Swap out existing OnStar module, located in trunk that takes all of five minutes to swap out with new OnStar module that has Bluetooth.

2) Install the Bluetooth antenna into the OnStar module, the part lists for $39.02.

3) Cut a single white wire on one of the harnesses and tape off on both ends.

4) Flash the system.

TADA! You have Bluetooth.

So I call Pontiac. And Customer Service tells me after a couple of days, nicely, too bad, go buy your own Bluetooth device. I tell them unacceptable. They tell me there are options to integrate into my car. I told them I know all about BlueStar, which requires me to rip out the OnStar module entirely and then I don't get any of the OnStar features, which I like and have used. Well now they don't know what to do.

So they call the dealer. They want to push the full cost onto the dealer. The manager tells GM corporate that if I wanted Bluetooth I should have never taken delivery of the car in the first place. I kid you not. Sorry I'm unhappy but it isn't their problem it is my fault for taking delivery of the car. They can install a secondary Bluetooth system in my car for, are you ready, $750!!! What a joke!

So I talk to GM again, I build a compelling argument, provide them with proof to back up my claim. They tell me they will escalate to management, it may take some time.

So last Saturday I cracked open the OnStar manual that came with the car, I might as well setup the personal calling if I'm stuck in this undesirable configuration while this is sorting out. In the manual it explains that if your OnStar system is showing a "red" LED, then it has a failure in the system.

So I push the Blue OnStar button, it connects. I talk to an agent, tell them I have a red light (now a blinking red light) and ask them to run a diagnostic. Yup, it turns out the OnStar module is bad. It needs the backup battery replaced and they recommend I get it done ASAP. If I were in a major accident or someone stole the car and disconnected the battery, as two examples, the OnStar system would cease to operate if it lost connection to the car battery and had no internal power to continue to operate.

I was in jury duty all this week so no chance to follow up with dealer. So the dealer sent me an e-mail late last week, basically the customer service rep telling me there isn't anything they can do. This is what I wrote in reply.

Hey Rena. Thank you for writing, my frustration level is growing and I'm feeling a bit stuck - let me give you an update.

So I bowed my head and decided to setup my personal calling for OnStar and cracked open the OnStar manual. Learned from the manual that the "red light" that's been on since I've had the car (which sometimes turns green) is indicative of a problem with the OnStar module. Anyway I pushed the blue OnStar button, they ran a diagnostic and told me, "yup you have a problem," and advised I get it into service within the next seven days. This was last week. In part I've been on jury duty all last week so couldn't take action but now I'm left totally bamboozled - the module needs to come out for service anyway now, I know we're not to be replacement yet but from my stand point the argument from Pontiac just got a lot thinner, and your service department is going to have to take darn thing out (and put it back in) anyway to service it.

I just don't see now that I'm going to have to come in anyway, why we can't get this done (it still would take GM corporate to approve and tell OnStar to do it). I have not received my buyer's survey from GM at this time.

Here is the information I found online on how to do the conversion that another dealership did for a customer in the same position that I am in, I have deleted the photos to keep the e-mail small. I think if you read these directions, and considering my OnStar module will need service/replacement anyway - this isn't a big ask.

===============================================================

Here are the details and the writeup for what I did. The new module came in programmed and ready to go. The key to this was that I had a 2009 model w/ the steering wheel audio controls, this is key to have the correct wiring [PLEASE NOTE: my vehicle is a 2009 model with the Bluetooth steering wheel controls installed]. Without it you cannot install or use the Bluetooth, that means no 2008s period or 2009s without steering wheel audio controls from the factory.

**DISCLAIMER** The modules are phone in order ONLY and are on strict allocation. I hope you have a good relationship with your GM technician.

Step 1. Remove the old module, image 1 shows the location of the module and and image 2 shows the retention clips holding the attachment bracket in place.

Step 2. All of the wiring hooked up to the new module (GM PN: 29783877) [PLEASE NOTE: as this is a dealer phone in part only, I have no pricing information on this] as it is all plug and play. The Bluetooth antenna (GM PN: 15938939) [PLEASE NOTE: $39.02 list from GM, $23.13 cost plus 10%] can be seen in Image 4. The new module is shown in image 5

**WARNING** THE BLUETOOTH ANTENNA CAN ONLY BE INSTALLED 2-3 TIMES. THE SPRING WILL WEAR OUT AFTER THAT AND NEED TO BE REPLACED.

[PLEASE NOTE: This simply plugs in to the OnStar module]

Step 3. Is the location of the mute wire that needed to be removed in order for the module to actually work. It is the white wire on the smaller of the two block connectors. You may have to blow it up a little to see the red circle I drew around it. In image 7 are all of the connectors that I had on my vehicle, again circling the white wire that I clipped to make the module functional.

Finally image 8 shows Bluetooth working in the DIC upon connecting!
Sincerely,
Milligram46


This is the reply I got back from my salesperson and the customer service rep this afternoon:

Hello David,

Rena sent me a copy of your email. I am very sorry that you are having issues. This is something that is beyond our control. After you get service to repair it please let us know if you are happy with our service. We do hope all works out ok. I know you do love the car, and this will be history soon.

Thanks Again,

Cindy and Rena


So let me get this straight. Your sales manager LIED to my face, right in front of you, and now you have the temerity after I spent just shy of $30,000 before sales tax and fees to tell me I'll just forget about this. Ya, I'll just forget about how this feature was misrepresented, that having this feature was a major part of my buying decision, and now I don't have it, and no one cares.

Sorry Cindy. Sorry Rena. Sorry Pontiac. Sorry General Motors. I will NEVER forget this. This is EXACTLY the old school, forget the customer, churn them in and churn them out attitude that has crushed General Motors.

The worst part of all is, the G8 is a simply fabulous car. Everything the reviewers have said is true. It is an amazing vehicle, they got so much right. But this, this isn't forgivable. This isn't just some unfortunate slight or misunderstanding. I'm not asking for leather seats after I got cloth. I'm not going wait a minute, I want the up level stereo now. I want to swap out a module. A broken module, a module delivered to me broken. And there is still that, "well there is nothing we can do stance."

OK, that's fine. There is nothing you can do, but there is something I can certainly do. I will never, EVER, EVER buy a General Motors product again. It really is that simple.

My next car will either be from Ford, Nissan, Infiniti or Honda. I believe these companies build exciting quality products, like the G8, but are more inclined to take care of their customers, not lie to their face during a sale to get the sale, act like it never happened, and then believe it will simply just, "go away."

I have two buttons right on my steering wheel to remind me every day I don't have Bluetooth.

I'm so done.

No good deed goes unpunished.