According to Detroit Free Press, all new Buick and GMC vehicles in the U.S. were shipped with three years of OnStar and Connected Services Premium Plan since June 2. The window sticker lists them under “options & pricing” for $1,500. They are not optional, as the customers will have to pay the $1,500 fee whether they activate the services or not, as confirmed by GM OnStar spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato.
The Cadillac Escalade joined the fray starting July 18, forcing its customers to pay upfront for the “optional” connected services. These include using your phone as a key fob, data-enabled navigation, audio streaming, and Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. GM is reportedly finalizing the plans for its connected services packages and is expected to make an announcement soon.
As you’d imagine, customers are not happy, and even dealers consider the idea preposterous. On the other hand, GM thinks the optional services being standard enhances the ownership experience. And they insisted this is still optional, despite it being mandatory.
“It is an option, but it is not removable as it is delivered from the factory with it included just like an upgraded powertrain, or upgraded interior materials, or upgraded infotainment system,” Cusinato said in an email to Detroit Free Press.
Of course, the customers are free to decline to activate the services, but they are charged $1,500 nevertheless. So much for the optionality. Of course, carmakers can offer whatever standard equipment they want and charge whatever they want for the car. But then they should not label an option as an option when it is not an option but standard equipment.
GM has vowed to make billions by leveraging its software platform to sell subscription services. But just like BMW screwed things up with heated seats or Apple CarPlay support, GM does it by jerking customers around. But they sure notice and will remember, just like they did in BMW’s case. Instead of doing what they did, GM could’ve simply raised the MSRP, blaming it on inflation or whatever, and offered customers the free subscription as an olive branch.