OnStar investigating after service couldn't help baby locked in car

The GM service tried to explain what happened in a series of tweets, but social media is livid.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
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Right now, OnStar says the blue button is the only way to restore service after a subscription ends.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Social media channels lit up on Wednesday after a report surfaced about a baby locked in a GM vehicle that OnStar, GM's in-car security service, was unable to unlock for the driver. The mother, Christina Tuffords, sat her 10-month-old daughter Maddie in her car seat in her and remote started the vehicle to keep the car cool. But Tuffords didn't realize she'd left the keys inside the car with the windows up and the doors locked.

Local CBS news affiliate CBS4 Miami reports that Tuffords panicked and called OnStar for assistance, but the service was not able to unlock the Tahoe because her account had expired. Although she made it clear she'd pay to reactivate the service, OnStar explained the only way to restart service was via the blue OnStar button inside the vehicle. According to the report, representatives had no way to begin service remotely because Tuffords' account had expired.

Police arrived at the scene and failed to break into the Tahoe, but thankfully, a bystander offered to use his window-punch tool to break the window open. Maddie was fine.

Nevertheless, Twitter was ablaze with subscribers claiming they now planned to cancel their accounts upon hearing the news. Many of them cited the fact OnStar would not remotely unlock the car because of the expired subscription, but OnStar penned a series of tweets to help better explain what happened.

OnStar said it was unable to perform any remote services for Tuffords because after the service period expires, OnStar loses its remote connection to the vehicle.  

"Currently, the only way to activate the system and restore that connection is by pushing the blue OnStar button inside the vehicle," one of the OnStar tweets read. "Our advisors cannot restore that connection solely from their end, and without that connection, our systems are unable to deliver OnStar services to the vehicle." The service also said it's investigating the details of the incident.

Roadshow reached out to OnStar for more information and a representative provided an official statement that mirrors its comments on Twitter.

"Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our customers and we take these situations very seriously," the statement read. "We are in the process of investigating the details of this incident. We understand the importance of someone needing emergency help while on the road, and that's why we encourage everyone to keep OnStar services activated in their vehicle."

While the explanation helps, it perhaps exposed a glaring issue the service may now look to remedy. The ability to restore service outside of the vehicle could surely help avoid more situations like Tuffords' in the future.

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