Not happy with Garmin

Posted by SuperClydesdale on September 11, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

I wrote a while back about how my Garmin unit flew off my bike and skidded into traffic.   The Garmin mounting bracket snapped off the handlebars.  The nylon/plastic on the original bracket was too rigid, and seemed prone to cracking.

I replaced all of the mounting brackets on my various bikes with new ones that appeared to be made of more durable, more flexible nylon.  I lasted for a while, but a few weeks back it happened again, within about a ¼ mile of where the original incident happened.  This time was a much closer call – I watched several vehicles pass over it, coming within what seemed like a hair’s width of smashing it to bits.  It was pretty exciting really, although I would have preferred to have watched it happen to someone else.

This time, the blow of the fall was apparently too much, and my Garmin stopped working.  I guess even a solid state device like that can only take so much. I was going pretty fast.

Garmin’s reaction is leaving me wanting.

When first Garmin tech support asked if these were Garmin brackets, I felt that perhaps they would take some responsibility for the situation.  Why would they want to know if the mount was theirs unless they were assessing their culpability? “Of course, we’re responsible for making crap mounting brackets, so we’ll make you whole,” I was thinking.  Unfortunately, Garmin sees this more as what we in sales call an “upsell opportunity.”   I have a situation, a compelling event:  they know I need a new GPS.   So, they are generously offering me $110 toward a new unit, or they will exchange it for a refurbished unit of the same model for $110.

I’m feeling pretty wounded.   The unit is a few years old, but I baby the damn thing.  Never take it in the rain.  The only scratches and nicks are from when it launches from the GPS Ejector Seat that Garmin calls a handlebar mount.  I think that they should send me a re-furbished unit for shipping & handling charges.  It’s their damn fault!  I feel like the guy who’s car with the 60,000 warranty breaks down on the side of the road at 60,001 miles.  It seems like it was designed to have a short life span.  Riders are often flush with disposable income — who else would spend $5,000 on a bike, when you can get a $150 one at WalMart?  Certainly, I’m in that camp.  I blow a lot of cash on all things cycling, but at my core I’m pretty damn cheap – I used to boast that I’m the cheapest man alive.    I don’t want to fork over another $400 on something that shouldn’t be broken.   I certainly have no plans of spending another $380 (which is what I’d have to pay after my generous $110 credit for the broken 705 I have) for a new Garmin unit.   Perhaps with another manufacturer, but not Garmin.

I do feel that Garmin should rename the damn thing — It’s hardly a mounting bracket at all.  A “temporary GPS restraining device” perhaps?  I’m partial to “GPS ejector seat”, but “GPS replacement indicator” or “GPS refurbishment facilitator” might work.  Perhaps they were already trademarked, and Garmin had to settle for the boring on utilitarian name.

Since going without the Garmin, I’ve started using the Strava app quite a bit – now there’s an app for you.  It’s really well done – even the free version.  All they need to do is add a speedometer and altimeter function, and I may not even need to get a new single-purpose GPS device.  I can already buy a handlebar mount for my iPhone.

Note:  make sure that the handlebar mount for the iPhone is not made by Garmin.  If the handlebar mount for the iPhone were to break and send my iPhone tumbling into traffic, I’d probably dive in to save it, and worry about the cars later.  Its one thing to lose a GPS – quite another to lose a smart phone so wired into your being.  I think a little part of me has died every time I’ve dropped my iPhone into a urinal.   Yes, it’s happened more than once.

You can compete against others on-line, as Strava will find others that do the same parts of your route, and then show where your times rank.   You just hammered it on your normal loop – crushed it up the big climb!  Yeah, right – you are 257th on the list.  You suck.  Worse, is if you choose to make your results public, everyone on the planet can know just how fat and slow you are.  You suck.

One feature that I really enjoy and miss on the Garmin is its ability to display the current percentage of gradient on a climb.  I have really come to use that – for what I don’t know.  It’s really just a sufferometer – I want to know just how badly I’m being tortured.    When I’m on a 16% climb, I want to know it dammit!   While I don’t know if there’s much use for a sufferometer, it’s a good distraction at a time when you generally want something to keep your mind off the fact that your heart is starting to break through your sternum.

I’m going to Interbike next week – assuming my life doesn’t get in the way (damn life!), and will look at Garmin alternatives, as well as talk to Garmin and give them a chance to redeem themselves.   A company that makes outdoor equipment that is supposed to be with you in your adventures – then won’t stand behind the product that breaks is not a following good long-term business strategy.

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.