Monday, January 26, 2009

Garmin Technical Support

I spent 3 hours on the phone to Garmin today.  I have a GPSmap 276c which I use as a backup GPS and for the dingy.  I also have a set of charts "BlueChart Americas v7.5" I purchased a couple of years ago to load into the unit.

Garmin BlueChart is a CD with a whole bunch of different charts covering the US, Canada, Caribbean and South America.  You don't get them all when you buy the CD.  You get one region, which you unlock using a code contained in the box and an somewhat convoluted process.  No problem. I've done this before and the unlock process went smoothly.  If you want to unlock other regions, you need to purchase additional unlock codes from Garmin.  I have no problem with this - other than the usurious cost, that is.  Why ship additional CDs when all the data for multiple products can fit on one.  So I attempt to purchase additional unlock codes.  No luck.  I fairly computer literate and can usually resolve issues with trying different things and researching the various forums and tech support boards out there.  Not this time, so I resorted to that last resort, phone support.  

My first attempt failed.  I reached first line customer support after a wait of five minutes.  They passed me onto Marine Support Services.  After a wait of 30 minutes, Bill told me he couldn't help and passed me onto Software Support.  After a wait of another 30 minutes my call was dropped.  In all fairness to Garmin Support, this may have been AT&T as my phone said "Call could not be completed" rather than "Call ended".  Let's try again.  This time I went from customer Service Straight (5 mins on hold) to Software Support (45 mins on hold).  Mike answered the phone.  After 30 minutes, during which time Mike took over my PC for a little while to attempt an unlock himself, things were beginning to be resolved.  Mike would put me on hold for a few minutes and then come back.  This happened a few times.  Unlike Steph, I knew this was a good thing.  If there's nothing to be done, you'll be told and, guess what, there's nothing to be done.  If the support analyst puts you on hold it means he (or her) is out of his depth and has to consult with someone.  This is a good thing as it means you've broken out of majority of issues and help is usually forthcoming from a "higher" authority.

In my case, I had an old (but not too old) version of BlueChart that had become depreciated (i.e. unsupported).  So unsupported that not only did their web site not recognize it as a product (which was why I couldn't purchase additional unlock codes) but Mike couldn't sell me any, either.  Beyond that, I couldn't even buy an update to the chart first as Garmin have gone to "BlueChart G2" (for Generation 2) and there wasn't an upgrade path.  Once Mike realized all this, he had chatted to his manager and they decided to step around the whole issue by sending me the Bluechart G2 Americas CD for free.  Once I explained I was "on the road", he agreed to overnight the CD to me here in Naples.  It should arrive tomorrow or maybe Wednesday.  Mike assures me I shouldn't have any problem buying additional unlock codes with the new charts.

We'll see.  If I do, I'll be back on the phone when we arrive in Key West.

1 comment:

Charles said...

utter bastards. they make the best product, but all the updates...

I also have a 276c. (no marine charts)

the LCD is breaking up. It looks like it is perpetually 'dusty' as bits of the screen are falling apart.

Maybe when they say "motorcycle" capable, they MEAN, it will fit on a motorcycle, not that you can actually ride and expect it to hold together for more than a year.

anyhow, best of luck. and if all else fails, buy the Zumo 550 I hear its pretty nice. Then huck the 276c through the winder next time you are in Olathe, KS?