Thursday, April 23, 2009

Garmin GPS updates

...or how I crashed my honey's Garmin in one painful download.

We wanted to take advantage of Garmin's promise of one free map upgrade with the purchase of a Garmin nuvi. So I created an account on their website and elected to download the update from there. Thus began the 2GB download from hell. It's such an awful download that they install a download manager to restart the download each and every time it quits working in the middle of the download. Even with my DSL connection the download had to be restarted 3 times over the course of 4 days.

Once the file was finally downloaded, the .exe to install the map updates ran for just under two hours. There was a pull down list during the installation that asked what region I wanted to install maps for, none of which completely covered the good ol' US of A. Huh? I picked the one that offered the most coverage and finally it was done. Now comes the magical re-boot the nuvi maneuver. When it comes back up the message on the screen says "No detailed maps found that support routing. The nuvi cannot be used without them." WTF?

I navigate back to their website and search for the above and find that you need to hold your finger on the screen until that message clears. Got it. Did it. New message: "Can't Unlock Maps" Double WTF??? So now I search their website for that phrase and find you need to create a new unlock file for the map you just installed. They have detailed instructions, which I follow to the letter. No dice, same two messages keep appearing every time you power cycle the unit. Ditto after pressing the reset button. Ditto for removing and replacing the battery.

So I submit a support ticket to which I receive this response:

Dear ~insert name here~,
Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I can do my best to help you with this, it seems that the newest update does not ask you to choose the correct region when it should have. We can have the issue resolved by having you contact our software team and walk you through manually installing the correct regions. Unfortunately, due to the issue our software team is experiencing a heavy hold time which is upwards of 60 minutes right now. Usually, you would have to call and talk to the Automotive team before you would be transferred to the Software team for escalation and we are experiencing a 50 minute hold time but if you give me your number and a good time to call you back then I can call you and transfer you to our Software team so you can avoid the initial wait time or you may call us later in the week when the hold time is less. We are open M-F 8am to 7pm central time. I apologize for any frustration this may cause you. Please reply back or call us at 1-800-800-1020 for further assistance.

Aha! So I'm not stupid and I'm not the only one this is happening to. I reply telling them that I've made arrangements to be home after 2:00 pm on Thursday and can they please call me then?

By 3:00 pm they still haven't called so I pick up the phone and dial the toll free number from the email. After one and a half minutes of listening to menu options and pressing buttons I am in the Automotive call queue. Today Automotive is only experiencing a 15 - 20 minute wait. After 22 minutes I am connected with Kent, explain the above and he checks the queue for Software. It's got 20 calls ahead of me and the wait time, according to Kent is approx. 30 minutes. I am transferred to Software's queue where the automated system advises a 30 -35 minute wait. I go to have a smoke.

On the way back from my smoke I grab a Yoplait. We're at 34 minutes into this call and I still have some wait time. Their automated phone system is very professional. There's Muzak on hold. No vocals, just instrumentals of current popular music. Unfortunately it's interrupted every minute or so by a recorded voice thanking me for calling and "...if you have access to the Internet and have questions regarding our product line, dealer or distributor locations, please visit our website at dubya dubya dubya dot garmin dot com. The next available product support specialist will be with you as soon as possible." Can you tell I heard it a few times? Granted, automated phone systems are my specialty so I'm probably paying more attention to it than most callers do.

I'm at 50 minutes of call time when Mike answers the Software queue. Mike speaks English. Kansas English. Why? Because Mike is in Olathe, Kansas in a call center that employs (by his count) 400. Wow. Way bigger than my call center. I can't imagine managing a phone system that large. I don't want to imagine managing a phone system that large. Mike has me run the map .exe because it has to extract prior to run and we both know that's a timely process. While that's running I try to shut down any unneeded programs to free up memory and initiate a remote access session so he can drive. Cool. It's nice being on the end user side of a tech support call. I could get used to this.

The extract is using up all my system resources so getting remote access operational is slow going, especially when my firewall keeps squawking about outbound and inbound attempts on my network's virginity. Finally we have a session going and he begins to click madly away. Copy this, paste that. Delete this, move that. At about 68% extracted the remote assistance session times out and we lose our connection. Mike assures me this is OK and he can talk me through the few steps that remain in the process. But those few steps that remain don't produce the desired result so we open a new remote assistance session.

Check this, double check that. Move this, move that, edit a couple more files and now the install begins as he was expecting it to. Apparently this was caused because I chose the wrong option from the menu of "which map do you want to install?" I unknowingly chose a map that exceeded the storage capacity of the nuvi. With all the new data available, if you don't have enough drive space on the device, it may hold all the map data you install, but there isn't enough processing room left for the device to actually operate. This is a known issue for this particular model. You would think they might tell you that at some point during the install. But then again, they have to keep a call center of 400 busy...

We can avoid this in the future by adding a 2GB SD drive to hold map data. That is until the map data once again exceeds the storage plus extra storage of this device. Total time spent on the phone from dial up to hang up: 108 minutes and 32 seconds. It was good for me; was it good for you Mike?

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pictsweet cares about customers!!!!

Pictsweet has redeemed themselves. I got a very nice letter of apology from Pictsweet regarding my negative experience and a coupon to cover the purchase price of the product. Now the question is, if I go purchase the same product, will I have the same experience? I will write down the codes from the previous purchase to make sure I get a different lot. I will then post the results here. For now, thank you Pictsweet!

P.S. I have heard from the dog food folks, but they requested I call a toll free number with a case number and I've not had the time to do that yet so any delay in resolution is my fault, not theirs.