Monday, March 7, 2011

New Garmin HR Monitor

Update 19-MAR: After posting the below, Garmin contacted me, apologized, and did send me a replacement  HR strap.

Last Tuesday my brand new Garmin heart rate monitor premium soft strap arrived. I got it for $50 + $7 tax + $10 shipping from in Calgary. They consistently have the best price and shipping options for Garmin products in Canada. So much so that Garmin recommends them when their customer service fails yet again and they have no qualms about suggesting to buy a new, replacement product after the original failed only 9 month after purchase.

Perhaps I need to explain...

In June 2010 I bought a brand new HR strap at the Oliver Half Iron race expo as my old one was super unreliable. In all honesty I probably wrecked it as I didn't treat it with a lot of love... showered with it, chucked it in the laudry machine, etc. OK so for the race I wanted a reliable strap and so I shelled out the some-70-odd bucks at the Fresh Air Experience booth.

Then, a few weeks ago on a Sunday long run with The Right Shoe it just stopped working. At first I thought it was the battery and I soon replaced it. Nope... that wasn't it. Also, the performance didn't degrade: on Saturday it worked and on Sunday it didn't.

I decided to call Garmin customer support and prepared myself for a long wait. Instead I was positively surprised by what must have been less than a minute on hold!

After the usual explaining of the issue and going through the requisite process of elemination of what it does not appear to be, the CSR (Customer Service Rep) agreed that it must be a faulty unit and they would ship me a new one. All I have to do is email a copy of the receipt to him as proof of purchase. Err, I bought it at a race expo and don't think I kept the receipt - if I ever got one to begin with. Again, no problem... just send a scan of the credit card statement with the other charges blacked out.

Great! Oh, by the way, I live in Canada. "Oh, wait a moment. That might be a problem. Do you know someone in the US this can be send to?" Was the confused sounding response from the CSR. I told him that I don't really and ideally have it shipped to the country where I live and Garmin sells thousands and thousands of products in every year. Well, I didn't say the thing about the products but that's kind of obvious. He said that I'd have to pay import duties and I told him that if it ships with regular postal service I may or may not have to pay those and that I'm happy to take the chance. Then he asked if he could put me on hold. Of course...

When he came back things took a turn for the utterly bizarre! He basically told me that they could not do that because shipping costs would exceed one hundred dollars. WHAT? How the heck are you shipping? I really don't need the president of your company hand-deliver the replacement with a hand-witten letter of apology, you know?!

OK, so how about I do give you a US shipping address? As I remembered The Letter Carrier service out in Point Roberts.  No, sorry, that can now not be done anymore! Why not? Well, you see, now that we know that you live in Canada, we would be committing fraud and be liable for '000s of dollars of funes if caught?

WTF? For What?? Well, clearly we would be trying to evade import duty regulations.

Now I am sitting there on the phone and all I could think was that I must get my hands on whatever it is they are smoking at Garmin.

The remainder of the conversation continued to be utterly odd and seemingly pointless:
  • you agree the unit is broken and needs replacement? Yes.
  • if I lived in the US I would receive a free replacement? Yes.
  • you sell your products legally in Canada? Err, yes.
  • for accessories you do not have a Canadian service provider as you do for main units? No, but we recognize we should and are working on it. 
  • so my only option is to go out and (quite legally) buy a new heart rate strap in Canada less than a year after the last one? Yes, but I can give you the web address of a retailer in Canada that sells them really cheaply. 
  • and you are sure that this does not violate any import laws making you liable for '000s of dollars in fines? Err, yes, quite sure.

OK, thanks.

-- rant --
See, Garmin does make the best (accuracy, usability, features) GPS enabled fitness watches and accessories. And when they work all is super-well. Unfortunaty they tend to not work for some reason or another. Maybe that is because they (Garmin) push the boundaries of technology? I don't know. And maybe living in the US this is not a problem. But I spend my money (and lots of it - ask my wife!) on Garmin products in Canada. And here their customer support falls short. Way short. Is abysmal. Sucks really!
-- end rant --

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