“I got Bluetooth!” “Me too!”
“I got a rock…”
Yes, that famous Charlie Brown line is what many new Pontiac G8 owners are saying. See, the Pontiac web site clearly lists Bluetooth as an included feature for the 2009 model year. Yet, many who are snapping up these discontinued-despite-Vice-Chairman-Bob-Lutz-saying-it’s-better-than-sliced-bread-wanting-to-save-it cars (yes, the G8 saga is that long)… are finding Bluetooth is missing.
Here’s what happened, according to GM. The initial 2009 model marketing for the Pontiac G8 didn’t include Bluetooth. But, mid-year they added it as a last-ditch effort to surge faltering sales (this is a recession, and BMW 5-series best-ers still don’t sell at $24,000).
Unfortunately, GM didn’t note that this was a mid-year addition. And, with so many G8s sitting in inventory, many wound up test-driving a G8 with Bluetooth, and signing for a G8 without Bluetooth.
Some dealers have reportedly said “go **** yourself” literally to customers who are upset about the Bluetooth bait-and-switch. Worse, the Bluetooth system is configured via OnStar, purely from voice commands. If you don’t have a conversation with the car about its Bluetooth abilities (or lack thereof), you have no way of knowing from a visual inspection. Savvy G8 shoppers can check for a serial number beginning with L3, the third revision which added Bluetooth (L2 was to take care of initial recall issues).
GM says that there is no easy fix to the problem. The OnStar hardware is a mess to replace. Some customers that have complained for countless hours, up to the top tiers of GM have gotten some assistance. Pontiac appears to be handling the matter on a case-by-case basis, based on the rage-meter of how enraged a customer is. At least one customer has gotten GM to instruct a dealer to swap out the OnStar gear free of charge with “BlueStar” (Bluetooth-enabled OnStar) hardware.
But, buyer beware. Just because the 2009 Pontiac G8 web site says it has Bluetooth, doesn’t mean it really does. GM has said to some customers that they are working on a product-wide solution, but I wouldn’t hold my breath… even though GM may genuinely be working on a solution, the last thing I would want as a mobile enthusiast, is to have an uphill battle to get Bluetooth in my car. You really don’t want to hate something you’ll be paying on for awhile.
Personal note: I am still warming up to buying a G8 GT myself, but I typically buy CPOs. Yes, Pontiac is going away, and I’d love to buy one to “show the Auto Task Force” that forcing Pontiac’s closure was a mistake. But, it’s not the right time to be making $5,000 political statements. I’d rather someone else pay $1/mile to wear in the car.