I purchased a Tom Tom Go 720 for my wife as a gift last year (2008). I was afraid this would be the typical “insensitive” husband gift, but she said she loved it.
Tom Tom has gone with her everywhere from that day forward. One thing she’s always complained about is how out-of-date the maps are. We have several roads and entire subdivisions that have been around for a few years that are not on her Tom Tom. I tried to explain about how it takes a while to get streets and POI’s into the system, and then onto her device, and that we hadn’t updated the maps since I bought it.
I promised to budget some funds and get her the latest maps. Last night I started that epic journey.
I began looking for how to install the latest Tom Tom maps last night around 9pm. She had a fieldtrip for her pre-school this morning, so I thought it would be nice for her to have the latest and greatest running on her Tom Tom for the trip.
I used the Tom Tom desktop software to look for and apply updates, realizing this wasn’t showing me maps to purchase (or upgrades to existing maps) I went to the website, TomTom.com. I browsed through until I was able to select my wife’s device (the TomTom Go 720) and then select the map that I wanted (North America 2GB). The price was just shy of $100, which included a discounted “upgrade” to the latest map, plus a 1-year subscription to quarterly updates, each at $48+. Yikes! I knew I’d seen a better price than that in an email, so off I went to find the message. Right there, $39.80/year. Maybe it was an email promotion, so I clicked the email link. Same thing.
Ah ha! Fine-print!
So I dug into the fine-print. Turns out that depending on your map, the cost may be more, which applied to the the “North America 2GB” map that we had installed; rather than $39.80, it was $10 more. Misleading, but understandable. So I decided to purchase the upgrade anyway, all I had to do was remove the “current map upgrade” and just buy the subscription (there were two items in my cart, each for $48+). But when I removed the map upgrade, it removed the subscription, too!
Ah ha! MORE Fine-print!
I did more reading: to qualify for the update subscription you have to have the latest version of the map, but because they’re “such nice people” they’ll give it to you for +/- 50% off, but only when you’re ALSO buying the subscription at the same time. So my upgrade just jumped from $39.80 (which they said in their email) to a couple bucks short of $100.
I cave to the extortion
Fine, I love my wife, I’ve got $100 that I can spare, why not. That way she’ll be up-to-date and have quarterly updates for a year.
The purchase failed due to a “500 error”, which means something broke on their server. So I tried again, 3 times. Each time “500 error”. Fine, I’ll just buy the one-time map upgrade for $89.95. That transaction completes successfully (through their website, NOT their desktop software). They tell me they’ll send an email with an invoice and instructions on how to apply the update. So I waited – for an hour I waited until I finally got the email: go to the desktop software, click the update button, see the new map, apply the update. Fine.
I started the update, but at 2GB it was going to take a while, so I went to bed.
This morning I woke up, it still hadn’t completed, it had let the laptop fall asleep. Stupid software. Luckily it picked back up where it left off, and in another 30 minutes the download had completed and installed to the device.
As I always do, I checked to see if there were more updates, there were, so I downloaded and applied those.
Whew! Just in time!
Just in time to leave on the fieldtrip, the update completed successfully! With new maps, I’d be a hero! My wife would be so impressed with the new details, the updated streets, and the additional POI’s! W00T!
“Uh, Joe? Where did all of my favorites go? And all my custom POI’s are gone, too! What did you do?!”
Yup, apparently TomTom didn’t warn me (or if they did, I didn’t see it anywhere) that the upgrade would erase all favorites and custom POIs. I didn’t check to see if it erased their pairing with her cell-phone that took 30 minutes to set up (that’s another story).
The Moral of the Story
TomTom makes a great product but their marketing of map upgrades is deceptive, misleading, and jacked up. I would gladly pay $40/year to have updated maps all the time, but paying $100 to “get started” is ridiculous.
And erasing someone’s data (the only way to put it back in is to drive to the location and set the GPS point – or research and find out the latitude/longitude of the location and program that in) is totally unacceptable!
The result is, this is the absolute last TomTom product that I’ll be buying. It’s the last map I’ll be buying. It’s the last money that I’ll be spending with TomTom.
ALK Technologies (the makers of CoPilot), here’s your chance!