eTrex Summit less than the acme

Well, my brand-new eTrex Summit is having to be replaced - it has an unfortunate tendency to turn itself off for no apparent reason, even with a fresh set of batteries. There's no low battery warning, it just switches off. It did this at least ten times on Saturday when I was using it, and despite re-flashing the firmware and doing a factory reset, it still continues to do the same thing at unpredictable intervals. I suspect that it's something to do with the compass / GPS switchover - at a configurable speed it switches over to the inbuilt compass for heading information, and from what I can tell sometimes when it switches to compass it also switches off completely. I got in touch with GPS4Less who I bought it from, and they don't have any more left, and from what they are telling me neither do Garmin - seemingly Garmin have an abysmal inventory control system, and stuff can take 5-8 weeks to come into stock. I spoke to Garmin UK myself and they said it could take up to a couple of weeks to get a replacement to me, and they point blank refused to tell me if they had them in stock for 'security reasons'! The guy I spoke to at GPS4Less is going to see if he can locate me a replacement from somewhere, but I'm pretty annoyed at Garmin - firstly the unit is faulty, secondly they won't tell me if they actually have any of the damn things in the UK and thirdly it seems that even if they do have them it's going to take an unacceptable amount of time to get a replacement to me.

0 out of 10 for customer service, Garmin.


I posted the URL of this entry into Garmin's customer support webpage and also asked them how long it would take to get a replacement, and surprise, surprise, within 15 minutes I had a reply:

Dear Alan.

Thank you for contacting Garmin Europe Support.

Please return your unit to the address below, with an accompanying letter giving full details of the fault:

Garmin (Europe) Ltd
Unit 5
The Quadrangle
Abbey Park
SO51 9DL

If the unit is in warranty please enclose a copy of the receipt

If you have any further queries please don't hesitate to contact us again

This is pretty obviously a boilerplate reply, and it didn't actually tell me anything I couldn't get from their website. It also didn't answer my main question regarding how long it would take to get a replacement. I replied:

I contacted Garmin UK by phone today and was told it would take up to two weeks to get the unit back to me, is this correct? The unit is brand new - I only got it last Wednesday. It would be reasonable to have to wait two weeks if the unit was several months old and was being repaired under warranty, but it isn't - it was DOA. I don't want it repaired, I would like a new one. And being told rather brusquely on the phone that you couldn't even tell me if you had any in stock wasn't exactly helpful either.

And got the following brush-off:

Dear Alan.

Thank you for contacting Garmin Europe Support.

If the unit is new please return to the shop for replacement.

If you have any further queries please don't hesitate to contact us again

I didn't consider this to be an acceptable answer either - basically 'Go away we don't want to know' seemed to be the gist, so I asked again:

The shop in question doesn't have any more in stock, and have been unable to find out from you (Garmin) if/when you will be able to supply them with any more units. To repeat my original question, do or do you not have any available in the UK, and if so how long will it take to get one to me?

And by now I suspect you can probably guess what the reply looked like:

Dear Alan.

Thank you for contacting Garmin Europe Support.

Unfortunately this is proprietary information. Please see your dealer for availability of products.

The only options that you have is send it to the dealer or send it to us.

If you have any further queries please don't hesitate to contact us again

So it's apparent that Garmin think the answer to the simple question 'Have you a replacement eTrex Summit in the UK that you can ship to me?' is a trade secret that must be protected at all costs - the mind boggles. On that basis I can only assume that anyone who dares to ask for pricing information can expect the Black Helicopters to appear shortly thereafter.

As I've already said, GPS4Less (who have been very helpful) don't have any in stock, and don't know when Garmin will be able to supply them with a replacement, as Garmin are telling them that they themselves don't have any and don't know when they will be getting more - so I'm now back at square one. I've posted the failed unit back to GPS4Less as it's no use to me, so I'm now £149.95 out of pocket, I've had to pay £4.05 to send the unit back (and I bet I don't get that back), and I still don't have a resolution to my question to Garmin, let alone a working GPS. I'm trying to remember when I last received such poor customer service, and I'm struggling - all in all a pretty appalling experience, and it's badly dented my faith in a company that I previously held in high regard.

Garmin, your customer service sucks.

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Categories : Tech