Nike GPS Watch Breaks, Locks Up Your Running Data Forever

Jose doesn’t want a free replacement for his out-of-warranty Nike GPS watch. He doesn’t even want a free repair. He just wishes that the company would offer in-house repair options for the device, which he paid $160 for. His watch has what looks like a hardware issue, but he can’t be sure. His run data is locked up on the watch, and he can’t get it out. The only option is a third-party service that charges $12 just to look at the watch.

He blogged about the situation:

How I fell in love with my watch
I ran my first race with the Nike GPS watch on Aug 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm; It was a 3.1 mile run, at a pace of 8’43 / mile. It was nothing stellar yet I was excited because I was kicking the tires of my new watch with GPS and I had no need to use an IPhone or an Android to see how much farther away I ran (before that I was using my Nike+ Ipod nano).

Yes, I was so excited about the new watch, so simple to use, that I even played hacking my data from the NikeRunning website.

But today, almost one year later, my watch stopped talking with my computer. The software doesn’t recognize the watch anymore so I decided to contact Nike on tweeter first to figure out if the latest software upgrade on their Nike+ Connect software had a bug.

So I wrote and after waiting 3 hours with no further reply from their support I decided to give them a phone call (I actually used the callback service).

The called within a minute and asked me to try several options (restart your watch, re-install the software, reboot the machine, install on a different machine) and nothing worked. So looks like is a hardware problem and if I have the purchase receipt AND if the warranty is still under one year I can get a replacement, no questions asked.

So my watch is barely a year old and no receipt. Here are the bad news: Nike doesn’t re-furbish their watches, they don’t offer to repair it and there is no option to buy a new watch at discount. You have to buy a brand new watch, with a warranty of only one year.

While $160 won’t exactly break your bank account it also true that you expect a Nike watch to last more than a year; Now my data is trapped inside the watch with no way to recover it. To make things worst I also purchased the Polar Band to capture my heart beat while running, so that is another device that I cannot use now.

The aftermath
So the watch is busted. Looking through Google I found http://nikewatchrepair.com/. They charge you $12 just to receive your watch and later they tell you how much the full repair will cost, but before I asked them if they support my model and they never got back to me.

Repair is also not possible. Now I have a powerful watch that can capture heartbeats and distance using the GPS and yet cannot export the data.

So what went wrong here?
There is nothing wrong on Nike offering only one year of warranty for the watch, that seems to be the standard; Also it is my fault that I did not keep the receipt after the purchase which limits greatly my options.

But Nike dropped the ball here on the following:

No way to repair the watch, even if is out of warranty? Seriously Nike? Look how Garmin does it and learn!

Nike doesn’t care much about their users. I spoke with 2 different support people over the phone and also had a long (and fruitless) session over Twitter. I wasn’t expecting a free new watch but a discount while purchasing a new one or a way to repair it. Looks like Garmin love their users more

So what it is in the future for Nike+
I plan to buy a new watch to replace the damaged one … but it won’t be Nike. My experience with the quality of the watch and their support is negative. On top of that the fact than I cannot export the data from the NikeRunning website (effectively locking my data with the vendor) droves me even further away from purchasing any other Nike products in the future.

I know than Nike won’t notice this (I’m not expecting it either) and they won’t change their ways either. But if you are reading this and thinking about buying a GPS watch for your runs you may learn one or two things from this post. Specially about keeping the receipts or asking for the extended warranty if any.

Well, there is a way to repair it: companies often charge for shipping and diagnostics on in-house warranty repairs as well, so what the third-party service is doing isn’t all that weird. If Nike wants to compete with Garmin, though, the gold standard in wristwatch GPS running trackers, they should offer equivalent warranty and repair support.