At CES, Garmin introduced the Smartphone Link app to the Android Market. As I've blogged before, this app introduced integration between a conventional PND and the smartphone is some potentially powerful and profound ways.
Consumers beware: you better hope you don't experience any customer service issues with this app, because Garmin has been completely unresponsive to contact through the Google Play Market in over 2.5 months.
In previous blog posts, I've outlined problems with the traffic and weather features of the Smartphone Link app. In the course of troubleshooting these problems with me, Garmin telephone support had me remove the Smartphone Link app and re-install it. As part of that process you have to re-establish that you purchased the premium services in order to get them back. To do that, I "re-purchased" the Premium Weather feature. Once I re-purchased the Premium Weather feature, the system recognized that I also owned the other 3 services as well and re-enabled them automatically. I fully expected that since I purchased Premium Weather the day before, Garmin's system would recognize me as a customer of that feature and re-enable it. Imagine my surprise when I was billed AGAIN by Garmin for $4.99. Here is my purchase history from Google Wallet:
As you can see, I was billed on both January 9th and January 10th for Advanced Weather for $4.99 despite this being used on the same phone, in the same app.
No problem I thought. I'll just contact Garmin and get this resolved. As every software developer does, Garmin provides contact information in the Google Play Market for customer contact. With a huge company like Garmin, I would assume that this contact would be a contact best suited to deal with a particular issue like a billing issue in the Google Play Market. That is a pretty niche and obscure issue. Here is a screenshot of where Garmin provides this customer contact method inside of Google Play Market:
See the "Contact Garmin International, Inc." link above? Yes, so did I. I've used it twice. Take a look at my contact history above, thoughtfully summarized by Google in the Google Play Market order history. You can see that I first contacted Garmin on January 10th, the day that I was billed twice for the same feature. I received no response after a month. I sent a second request on February 17. Here we are, almost 6 weeks later and I've gotten no response whatsoever from Garmin.
In normal circumstances, I'd simply dispute this on my credit card. Clearly, I'd succeed. However, in this case, I am afraid that given Garmin's apparent incompetence at dealing with basic customer service issues, they'd fail to understand that this is a duplicate billing issue and rather assume that I was simply disputing the charge for Advanced Weather. The repercussions of this would be that they could simply shut off the app on the service side. Despite Advanced Weather not working like it should right now, I don't want to loose access to it.
This is very disappointing Garmin. Garmin badly flubbed their initial response to me when I reported problems with Smartphone Link. They've been in possession of detailed data about the problems, including screen shots, for over 11 weeks now with no fix being issued. And now as you can see, they've completely ignored a basic customer service contact for over 12 weeks. I'd call them about this but quite frankly I've got better things to do with my time than wait on hold for 30 minutes. I've used the customer contact method closest to the source of my problem, as provided by Garmin, and Garmin has completely ignored it.
In Garmin's investor relations information they proclaim in their Code of Conduct that Garmin's values "shine through in our interactions with customers." It is difficult to take that seriously given the experiences that I've outlined in this blog.