27.6.2007 | 15:24
Good product, ruined by shoddy and worthless customer service
The Tom Tom user interface is very good, and mostly intuitive. Display maps are clear, and map directions and ‘next manoeuvre’ instructions are easy to read at a glance, which is essential when on the road. The display is also highly configurable, and the touch-sensitive screen gives easy and rapid access to the most commonly needed features, such as setting the home destination or other freqently-visited locations. Route planning warns of toll charge roads, and give the opportunity to route around them.
The Tom Tom 700 loses signal disturbingly frequently. Cars fitted with heat reflective windscreens need an expensive optional external antenna, or the Tom Tom 700 will be unable to acquire a satellite signal. The mounting kit is clumsy and awkward to adjust once mounted, and the suction cup which holds it to the windscreen or other suitable surface is prone to snapping irreparably off.
The Points Of Interest feature is limited in value: for example it could not identify any ice rinks in Surrey, but offered Sweden as among the nearest.
The supplied maps, however, were significantly out of date with current road build, sometimes leading to navigation instructions that would be highly dangerous to follow. Stretches of motorway, roundabouts, and road layout changes, which in many cases I know have been in place for several years, were unknown to my Tom Tom as recently as a few months ago. Sometimes, when travelling at speed along a straight stretch of motorway with no junctions for miles, it would announce “after eighty yards, turn sharp left”.
Tom Tom Support told me that because my device’s maps were out of date at the time I bought it, I was entitled to a one-off free update, beyond which further updates are bought online from their web site. When I tried to get the update, however, Tom Tom Support reneged, and would not honour it, insisting that all updates should now be paid for regardless. Map updates are very expensive, and that supplied on my Tom Tom was not fit for purpose. There were so many navigation errors, with the Tom Tom often finding itself seemingly in the middle of a field frantically recalculating and changing direction through 360 degrees in two second intervals that it was rendered unreliable. Tom Tom customer service didn’t care. This left me with a product that was both unreliable and essentially unsupported.
There is a sound adage, well understood by more mature commercial organisations, that the point at which you are faced with a customer with a complaint is the best opportunity you will ever have to create a loyal customer. Tom Tom fought hard to ward off my repeat custom, and succeeded in losing a customer, and their good report, which would have cost them precisely nothing to keep. Dealing with Tom Tom Customer Service proved a deeply unpleasant experience. I have since registered a complaint with Trading Standards.
I swapped my Tom Tom for a Garmin Nuvi, and it has worked flawlessly. The Garmin maps are right up to date, and it never loses signal, even in a car with heat reflective windscreens. I should have listened earlier to the warnings I had from several colleagues, who reported similar experiences with Tom Tom.
Do be aware if you are considering this company’s products, that the widespread accounts of third-rate and shoddy Tom Tom customer service are not a myth. Tom Tom customer service is grossly sub-standard and unhelpful, to the point of being starkly customer-hostile: intransigent, unco-operative, with sometimes illiterate e-mail responses, refusing to help but with cheerfully fake little boilerplate mottos like “Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you” bolted on to the end.
Ignore any thoughts of customer service with this product – they will certainly ignore you.