Thursday, July 26, 2007

Along an Arkansas Highway

So…what do OnStar, Verizon, and something called “Gemini” have in common?

Although one may be tempted to reply that these are essential must-haves for the safety-conscious highway traveler, please heed the following and resist the urge to fall into this popular line of thought.

The collective power of these pricy, peace-of-mind style “”guarantees” could offer none of either when put to the test this evening on a busy Arkansas highway.

The van took another step toward the possibility of filling in as a stunt-double for the SUV Ice-T or Cube drove in Are We There Yet when one of the beefy, high-end tires we splurged on for their peace of mind and warrantee properties imploded into smithereens just after the close of normal business hours.
At first, this seemed to represent little more than a minor setback. Brad got to work on the spare while I pulled out information from Gemini, the organization backing our guaranteed tires.

Gemini entertained me with a little game—a sort of scavenger hunt—that followed a little trail of interconnected phone numbers that ran in a little loop.

In desperation, we called the outfit that sold us the Gemini deal, and reached a live person who actually suggested that I turn to the internet for help. I’m in a smoking van on the side of a busy highway and the best he can offer is the internet?

I finally reached a live Gemini worker and explained our plight, to which she replied, “I’m not OnStar, you know,” and repeatedly stressed the untimelyness of a 5;30 PM blowout, as opposed to say, a four o'clock. She then proceeded to explain to me that if we didn’t have a type of special stickers, we really didn’t have a warranty with them, after all.

Do I actually need to waste the keystrokes to explain that I didn’t have the stickers?

So, I figure it’s time to get OnStar involved. Would you believe that OnStar was down? All they could manage was a little recording pleading technical difficulties, unless I was near death. Then I could use the red button. They seemed sure that was operational.

My husband suggested that I use my phone to call OnStar. For clarity, I’ll reiterate that the phone in question was the one that had just sustained connection throughout the entire sticker argument with the Gemini rep. Although mere moments had passed, the call to OnStar couldn’t be placed due to a sudden influx of heavy circuit activity.

So we drove on. Without the aid of Gemini, OnStar, or Verizon, just as any family would have twenty, thirty, or even fifty years ago. We’ll drive on with our spare until we find a Goodyear dealer where we’ll purchase a new tire out of pocket.

I’ve determined that the only value in these we’ve-got-you-covered programs is the feeling of confidence during times of smooth sailing. It’s a little illusion you get to carry around to help you feel secure and on top of things.

I’m sure friends will jump in to remind me of times OnStar has bailed me out in the past, but really, it’s all been pretty namby-pamby stuff. It’s nice that they’re able to unlock a car that’s sitting in front of my house, but they’d really dazzle me if they could save their best stuff for when I’m in a thick haze of smoldering rubber astride a foreign highway.

At several of the more remote points on the trip, I was tempted to press the OnStar button just to, you know, see if they were there. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t want to shatter my image of the army of information at assistance at my fingertip. After all, that’s what I’m paying for.

After all this, will I continue paying for these services? You betcha’. I love that feeling of carefree confidence I get to walk around with, on average, 360-plus days a year. Once you understand what you’re really buying, you’re better able to appreciate the value of your purchase.


Steve said...

I guess the only people who receive the full services that OnStar reports to offer are the celebrities like Tiger Woods and others on those television ads they put on. Cindy, wow, so sorry to hear about your difficulties with the tire, hope everything is good to go now.

Jen said...

Well, at least its not to many more days till you get home. And you managed to make a rather unfortunate incident very funny. I could definitely see this one making it into a book.

And a side note, it makes me very sad that you are going home and yet I will not be seeing you. Because we do not live "at home" anymore... very sad.

Catherine Wannabe said...

Sister! I am glad you are safe! Was the blow out scary? Did Brad loose control? I can't believe OnStar let you down. "Slower, please..."


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