Tech Support For Real

Sometimes, toll-free tech support does exactly what it should: help the customer solve their problem.

[UPDATE 3/16/05: I finally sent my Garmin off and they returned it, repaired, within about 4 days. Not bad.]

Garmin Forerunner 201 - Courtesy of

Garmin Forerunner 201 – Image courtesy of

I mentioned on my running page that I have been having trouble getting my Garmin Forerunner 201 to talk to my PC via the supplied serial cable. (First of all, I’m not real crazy that Garmin is using that 1980’s-crap technology for their cool little device.) For some unexplainable reason, the Garmin just doesn’t get detected on the port. I’ve tried it on several PC’s and no luck. I even asked Philip Torrone, the gadget masta, if he knew of any problems. Other than his was sometimes finicky, he didn’t say that he’d ever had one that just refused to play at all.

I got around to calling Garmin’s toll-free tech support number today to see if I could get the device checked out. Well, just like you no doubt, anytime time I call a tech support number I dial with my teeth grinding. I am just waiting for them to tell me it’s a windows problem or PC hardware problem. Of course, that’ll be after I wait on hold for 20-30 minutes, occasionally being reminded of the importance of my call and how FIFO works.

Sometimes, toll-free tech support does exactly what it should: help the customer solve their problem. Linksys used to be great about getting you right to the people who could help you with your products. Their routers got pretty damn popular and then they got bought by Cisco. Now, you have to wait a while and they might tell you that it’s a Windows or ISP problem when you’re connection is bad. Plextor has absolutely incredible service. The last time I called about my new DVD burner, the guy I talked to explained the conflict with some pre-loaded software on my pc and walked me through the problems. He even game tips on making sure hyperthreading was turned on for my P4. I thought he was going to give me tax or child rearing advice next.

I’d have to put Garmin up there in the category of "tech support that actually helps." The first time I called, they sent out a brand new serial cable, AC adapter, & cable bracket. No run around about warranty or pawning me off to Microsoft (not everything is their fault). Unfortunately, the new cable didn’t work either. Today, they went back over the usual suspects, determined I’d done everything I could, and gave me an authorization number to send back the GPS unit. No trouble. Sure, I’ll pay some shipping costs, but that’s no real issue. (The thing weighs 4oz., with packaging.) With any luck, they’ll fix it and send it back to me (including all the data I’ve logged into it… the reason I need the serial connection to work). Worst case, they replace the unit altogether. Either way, Garmin is a good company to do business with.

I mentioned Philip Torrone above, and I wanted to include a link to a photo of his dog. Just click and you’ll see why.