Monday, July 20, 2009

Garmin is a real disappointment

Last week my Garmin 765T GPS went dead because of a firmware update that I installed from Garmin. Their instructions were to send it in, at their expense, and the unit would (presumably) be repaired.

So don't you think if the reason an expensive piece of electronics turned into a doorstop was because the software you issued was faulty that you'd bend over backwards to get the unit replaced? Don't you think this would be true, especially if you represented yourself as the premier maker of GPS units for automotive, aviation and marine use?

You'd be disappointed. In my opinion, these units that became dysfunctional should have been hot-swapped. Garmin should have sent out a new unit and I would have returned the old one. This is what Apple did when they found out the 3G power adapter was faulty. This is what HP did when my Photosmart went bad. In fact, this is what any manufacturer would do who had half a concern for their customers.

What's happened is that they issued free ground shipping to, first, return the unit to Garmin, then wait to find out when they intend to ship the replacement. (For the record, I'm still waiting. No communication yet although UPS confirmed the delivery of the returned unit last week.)

I use my GPS in business as I travel the country. It's not a convenience to me, it's a necessity. That's why I bought a high-end device like the 765T. You'd think that a customer like that would receive at least a modicum of communication from Garmin, but apparently this would cost too much or is simply too much trouble.

It is Garmin's failure of their Q&A process that caused the problem in the first place. Unfortunately, it's now become my headache because of their decision not to hot swap these units.

So now I wait. And wait. Clearly they are swamped with the return of hundreds, maybe thousands, of units and have decided not to hire any additional help on to handle the load. I suspect that's because they simply don't want to spend the money on something that was percipitated by their carelessness in not having the appropriate Q&A for checking software. Then again, I'm just a customer, who spent hundreds of dollars on this unit. Who the heck am I to complain!!

My advice? Think twice before buying a Garmin GPS. One month ago I would have recommended them on the basis of having owned three of Garmin's GPS'. Today I'd tell you that I never had to use their tech support before, and I realize now that profit at Garmin far outweighs the customer, even in a situation where Garmin is the perpetrator of the problem.

Caveat emptor.

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