TomTom Follies

What happened when I needed support for my TomTom GPS unit

On 13 March 2012, I updated my TomTom XXL 540 as usual. Unfortunately, all did not go as usual. The device refused to start.

The following day, after some hours searching for answers on the TomTom support site and forums, I sent a message via their web form:
Since a recent update, my XXL refuses to start. The TomTom screen comes up, followed by the loading screen, then back to the TomTom screen. I tried deleting mapsettings.cfg, to no avail. The device will connect to TomTom HOME and is accessible through Windows Explorer. Trying to operate the device from TomTom HOME crashes the software.

TomTom support's generic auto-response was no help.

Their second effort was no better. This response didn't seem to address the issues. I replied, asking whether they really wanted me to do what they said.

TomTom support's third response was little better than those that went before. They seemed determined to concentrate on the PC software when, to my mind, the problem probably lay in the GPS unit. Despite my misgivings, I followed their instructions.

The outcome was predictable. As it turned out, following those instructions probably made things worse. A wrong solution tends to do that. My next message may have been a little testy.

TomTom support's fourth response at last addressed problems on the GPS unit, though their suggestions took little account of previous communications. Following these instructions did improve the situation, though I couldn't follow them to the end.

My next message informed TomTom that my maps were missing. It seems following the instructions in their third response may have led to erasure of the map files.

They then asked for proof of purchase, which I provided by attaching a pdf to the record on TomTom's support web site. After a brief delay, TomTom allowed me access to the necessary maps. It took a while, but I eventually managed to complete and install the hefty download, confirm that everything seems to be working and inform TomTom.


So what, if anything, does it all mean?

If my experience is any guide, TomTom support is probably provided by the contractor who quoted the lowest price for the service. Their responses showed poor comprehension. That may be attributable to a lack of training or workload pressures. It's also possible that they take every support job through identical steps, hoping to cheaply solve the problem without having to think about it.

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