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.