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Disclaimer: I work for GM, but do not know much about OnStar, especially internals. My reply is purely speculative.

I can't speak as to what OnStar actually does with this data, but I CAN tell you that GM wants to use it as a platform for the best customer service platform in the business.

Imagine that the "marketing" they do with this data is something like selling it to dealerships ("affiliates"); the marketing call being something like "Hi Mr. Smith, we noticed your fuel pump is going bad. You pass by our Main St. service center daily; would you like to schedule an appointment?"

They could also "sell" that data to GM engineering, to make future (or current, through controls software updates) products better.

You pass by our Main St. service center daily; would you like to schedule an appointment?

you don't think that would freak most people out?

The possibility of extrapolating your future behavior is even creepier: With a probability of 92% you will pass our Main St. service center between 05:23 to 05:28. We will be waiting for you...

Fair enough; how about "your closest certified service center is on Main Street"?

How about just crippling the car in front of the dealership and guaranteeing the sale?

On the one hand, this comment gave me an epiphany (about how some people think) so thanks for putting this here. One the other hand, I can't wait to have downvotes for comments like yours.

The epiphany is as follows:

1. There are a lot of people with very negative views of corporations roaming around the internet

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias will cause them to view goodhearted actions in a negative light, and genuinely think they're right

3. Therefore an important goal of PR is to include falsification ammunition alongside announcements that are likely to be misunderstood

Less abstract breakdown:

It's pretty clear that most people would prefer a car that instead of just saying "please find someone to fix my xyz" says "please find someone to fix my xyz, and fyi Foo Dealership will likely be the most convenient" -- maybe my friends and I are just lazier than average, but that actually sounds great for me, and I could see several friends really appreciate not having to spend the time picking out a repair shop. This is especially true if they handle figuring out who is certified to do warranty covered repair work.

So GM likely thinks of this sort of application as a small to medium win: GM cars are somewhat less hassle to own, and maybe last a bit longer on average / get a higher average resell value because people are getting things repaired sooner rather than later.

However, because people will think "oh, they're just doing it for the sale" (which they are in this case, just not the one-shot-sale but instead the generations long brand building approach), GM should announce both at the same time, and include a few points that obviously invalidate the fly-by-night opinion -- Do they recommend places based on Yelp reviews + distance? Do they even take money from repair shops when recommending? Do they use wait times and the urgency of the repair as the primary criteria?

Basically if GM included some answers to questions like the above as ammunition, then when journalists / analysts / online message board readers get in to arguments about this question, GM is significantly less likely to come out looking evil.

Actually, it was just a joke. But glad to see you found some enlightenment in the idea.


I understood that your comment was a joke - I was commenting on why you made that joke / in what contexts jokes like yours occur to people... and reasoning about steps that companies could take to make such jokes sound flat.

Well you would rephrase it. You could say, "We conveniently have a service center on Main St." (it knows you leave work at 5) "For your convenience, We're open until 8!"

You can let the customer put 2 and 2 together.

If they want to provide better customer service, stop bugging me. In the past month I have received several emails, at least three letters begging me to subscribe to OnStar and one phone call to my vehicle for the same. If decide I want to subscribe, I will contact them.

I have been pretty happy with my vehicle, but it is stuff like this that makes me wish I was dealing with another company.

That's why you don't give out your e-mail address.

If that was the only rationale than the T&C could call it out specifically, rather than allowing for sale to any third party.

I believe dealerships (or the dealership network) are an entirely different corporate entity.

But still, if you were carving out an exception for this type of thing in the Terms and Conditions, wouldn't you be explicit as possible?

Contracts tend to be as vague as possible when it's in the author's favor, no?

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