Kristan, like many sensible and awesome people, was excited when GPS maker TomTom produced a limited edition unit for fans of the BBC program “Top Gear.” The biggest draw: the recorded voice of Jeremy Clarkson, the show’s lead presenter and an internationally beloved contrarian jerk. Clarkson’s voice isn’t available for separate purchase from TomTom, at least for American consumers. Oh, no. We have to shell out $269 for this spiffy satnav, and that’s what Kristan did. It turned out that the unit….wasn’t all that great. But the final insult came when it failed, and TomTom sent a warranty replacement of an inferior unit that contained no Top Gear content and required an additional $60 fee to reactivate the GO LIVE that Kristan had already paid for.
In September 2011 I first heard of an upcoming product from your
company- the TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition limited-release satellite
navigation unit. This would be a TomTom GO LIVE 1535 unit with content
inspired by the British television show, of which I am a fan-
including voice recordings by Jeremy Clarkson, the show’s lead
I had been considering the purchase of a GPS unit for my trips for
some time prior, and the fact that this was a tie-in to one of my
favorite sources of entertainment pushed me over the brink into
buying. I almost choked at the $269 price tag, but decided that the
combination of map guidance, live traffic warnings, and the massively
arrogant voice of Clarkson would justify the price tag. I anxiously
waited for the unit to be available, and around October 11 or so, when
the “Order Now” link went live on the TomTom website, I not only
ordered but plumped for express delivery, expecting that the unit
would be delivered in time for a particular trip a little more than a
week thence. The whole cost was about $315 after taxes.
And I waited. And I waited. And I waited.
My money was taken post-haste, of course, but when it came to getting
some sort of response as to when I could expect shipment, nothing
happened. Emails, phone calls, and posts on the TomTom message boards
produced no response whatever- not even “we’re working on it” or
“they’re not actually available in the US until X date.” Finally, long
after the trip I’d hoped to show off the device on had come and gone-
and long, LONG after “express shipment” had become a sad, pathetic
joke- the device shipped- a MONTH after I’d clicked the button to
place my order.
I soon found that my expensive TomTom device was not all it could be.
So far as my rural area was concerned, TomTom had no clue what any of
the street numbers were. On the road, points of interest were often
placed on the wrong side of the road, in locations where I couldn’t
access them from the street, or (in one noteworthy case) over a mile
away from where they actually were. A multitude of roads and streets
that haven’t existed for fifty years are retained on the maps. The gas
prices listed in the services were never good for anything more than a
rough estimate of averages in an area, since the services retained
price data months out of date- including data for gas stations that
closed YEARS before. All of this, of course, came on top of the two
most common sins of GPS systems- incredibly optimistic ETA
calculations and the occasional inclusion of absurd detours down tiny
side streets in the name of (supposedly) faster routes.
Despite these flaws, the device was useful enough, and Jeremy
Clarkson’s voice amusing enough, that I used and enjoyed the system
for six months… until, on the way home from a trip on Memorial Day
2012, the system began to seriously malfunction.
I should point out that I had, on at least a monthly basis, plugged
the device into my computer to download map and system updates. For
three months- March, April and May- the device had consistently
reported itself up-to-date. I have since learned that TomTom
encountered a widespread glitch which caused its devices to lose GPS
satellite signal. However, I had not received this news, and thus
found out about it only after my device “bricked”- that is, became
completely unusable. When I attempted to turn it on after the Memorial
Day trip, it would cycle on and off the start-up screen; nothing I did
could restore it to function.
After spending over an hour on the phone with a technical support
person (mostly re-doing things I’d already looked up on the website
and attempted to no effect), I was instructed to send my device to a
warehouse in Fort Worth for warranty service. Since the post office
did not deliver to this warehouse, I was forced to use UPS- another
$25 spent. Within a handful of days the device was turned around- or,
rather, my old device was junked and a replacement sent.
The replacement was NOT a TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear edition, but a
regular GO LIVE 1535. The Top Gear content had not been added.
Clarkson’s voice, which I had enjoyed, was not only not loaded, but
not available by any means fair or foul. In short, I had NOT been
given equivalent value for the device under warranty.
Things got worse. When I tried to get updated maps and programming, it
took another hour on the phone with technical support to get the
website to accept that the new device belonged with my current
MyTomTom account. Having done this, on my next road trip I discovered
that TomTom Services had not been activated on the device… and
despite having five months to go on the original device’s services,
the new device’s services would require a new $60 fee to activate.
So- having spent not less than $340 thus far on this device, I now
have a device which functions on a par only with TomTom’s $100
entry-level device- which, in turn, could be supplanted by a
non-upgradable, $50 no-name-brand GPS unit.
From beginning to end, I feel taken to the cleaners. I feel like
TomTom has abused me as a customer and soaked me for every penny they
could grab, providing me substandard or nonexistent customer service
in return. I am not a dissatisfied customer: I am an angry, vengeful,
disgusted, outraged, infuriated and exasperated customer.
TomTom, you had your chance and you blew it. I don’t want another
device from you; I don’t want promises or excuses or any words from
you; the only thing I will accept from you, if you send it, is a
check. Otherwise you are dead to me- and good riddance.