Tech Support For Real

[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.

Categorized as Geek

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.

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