Tuesday, 23 September 2008

TomTom - Pain pain and more pain

I am on my second TomTom now - the first was a 700, which was stolen from the glovebox by some lowlife who managed to smash the window, glovebox, and rip the wires out of the aerial.

The second is a 910 and I got it with big hopes that it would have a decent set of maps.

That was in Nov 2006, over a year after the A1 M62 major junction changes, but sure enough I still end travelling through fields on the outskirts of Leeds because the maps were so rubbish.

After trying in vain to get a free map update to 2005 level, I ended up buying another map (I know, I should have sent it back but...). How TomTOm can claim to have good maps when they ship maps that are more than a year out of date for a MAJOR motorway junction that was planned many years earlier is beyond me.

With my 700 I had tried the TomTom Traffic service, and in spite of their repeated info that it would not work with my phone, combined with repeated claims by my phone supplier (Nokia 6280 and three) I DID manage to get traffic going, though at the cost of a lot of trial and error and searching forums.

When I bought my 910 I didn't initially get traffic, but when I changed my phone I decided to give it another go, thinking it would be better. I checked my phone would work with it (Nokia 6288) and was told by Three that it would work fine.

Sure enough, it did work, but not until you do a manual setup - why on earth TomTom cannot get the settings right is beyond me. In case you hit the problem, you need to:

  • Set up your bluetooth connection as normal to the TomTom
  • Set up the wireless (go into preferences to the Weather) and it takes you through various steps - DO NOT FOLLOW THEM ALL
  • When you get to the bit about choosing a phone service, do NOT choose Three (as it will get stuck forever at 65%)
  • Instead, choose Vodaphone, and after a few seconds it will fail and offer you the Manual option, which you should choose.
  • Username - this will be your email most likely - it is whatever you use to log on to your on-line TomTom account
  • Password - ditto
  • Access point name - three.co.uk
  • Number to dial - *99#
  • Auto IP and Auto DNS - select them
  • Login script - this should already look like at+cgdcont=1,"ip","three.co.uk","",0,0
  • It should now complete the setup successfully
Anyway, after all this, I had a working traffic subscription - started in April 2008 and due to expire in April 2009.

However, this weekend, it just stopped. I got the following helpful message:"You need a subscription for this TomTom PLUS service (Your current subscription may have expired)."
The only problem is that of course it has NOT expired.

I went to the TomTom site and checked, and it happily tells me it expires in April 2009.

In TomTom home however, it helpfully offers me a deal on a Traffic subscription and recommends I purchase it.

So I contact TomTom support, through their rather painful on-line Questions system.
2 days later a reply arrives. Basically its the TomTom equivalent of re-install Windows. The procedure is to basically factory reset the TomTom, losing all Favourites and anything else I have set up. The first part of the reply says:

"Due to a technical issue with your order, the traffic subscription had expired before the expiry date. We have now resolved this issue by resetting your account. You will now need to re-register your device details to your account and set up your traffic connection again."

So I think that maybe they really have fixed it, so I try the steps. Step 1 is supposed to Register my device, but it doesn't go well, as it simply doesn't do what they said it would.

So I call up support, and ask someone (Tel: 0845 161 0009).

First they let slip that they are having server problems. However, they still want me to perform all the steps they sent, including the factory reset. So I ask about my Favourites, and they are
surprised that I am bothered (FFS - even the phone people know you don't want to lose your contacts when your phone is broken, but that sort of customer awareness is far beyond TomToms ken).

So I get instructions on how to save my favourites (and recent destinations) - basically you copy mapsettings.cfg somewhere safe (it is in the map folders in the TomTom if you connect it to a PC).

Then, in spite of having a veyr strong feeling that they are talking BS and it is their servers that are up s**t creek, I proceed to do the full reset.

So I spend ages setting it up again (I wrote it down after the first painful experience) and at the end of it all, you've guessed it


Basically TomTom Traffic servers are screwed up for a whole bunch of users.

Time to call them and see if they have any clue what to do next. I have a bad feeling though - because my phone is not on their supported list (after all, a 6288 is really a rare phone... NOT), they will say that it is my problem. Even though I have been using the damned service for 6 months - somehow I will be deemed to have hallucinated that.

TomTom - a most unimpressive organisation - they are going to fall - it is just a matter of when - they may be dominant at the moment, but some smart company is going to come along and blow them out of the water - well I can hope so anyway - for the sake of my blood pressure, and all the other poor sods who have suffered at the hands of their rubbish software.

--- Update ---
Hah - I pre-empted them when I called and said I had already heard about the server problem. Their support guy confirmed it was a general problem affecting lots of customers. Basically said that the steps I had been sent before were generic instructions and wouldn't help until the server was fixed.

Sounds to me like they have a corrupt database somewhere - so don't go resetting your own TomTom until they confirm that it is all fixed.

FYI - their support phone number is 0845 161 0009

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