(I didn't make a hyperlink from this page's title to their website
because I don't want my cherished readers to click through and risk
having the misfortune of buying something from these people!)
Here's the way these guys operate.
Although it really makes me look like a grade-A moron, I guess I'll
have to 'fess up and outline the exact details of my 2004 October
transaction with these guys when I purchased a Garmin Quest GPS unit
from them. There's plenty more information online about
FotoConnection and their business practices-- see ResellerRatings.
Too bad I didn't check this out before I ordered from them!
- You want to buy some nice bit of consumer electronics (say, a
digital camera or a GPS unit). You go online and find out from a
websearch on Google or a product
search on Froogle that
has a great price on the gadget in question.
- You go to their website and place an order from them for exactly
the product you want.
- The next day, they call you back to "confirm" your order.
say that you want exactly what you ordered, and they work very hard to
to upgrade and buy various "extras", some of which might not even
exist. If you hold firm, apparently they will tell you a variety
of things, such as that what you ordered isn't in stock (even though
their website says it is) or that it's an "international version" that
doesn't come with a warranty.
- You decide to upgrade your order a bit.
- When the product arrives, you see that it's basically just what
you ordered originally-- but at a much higher price because of the
"extras", many of which are nonexistent.
Why I might only be a
Before I give the nasty details, I'm going to list two rather minor
in my defense. My hope is that when you take into account these
points, you'll decide that I'm only a grade-B moron, rather than a
- I'm very shortly going on a trip for which I really want to have
a GPS unit. I did enough research to ascertain that the Garmin
Quest was definitely the unit I wanted to buy.
- Before ordering from FotoConnection, I ordered from two other
suppliers (not at the same time!). It turned out that neither of
them had the unit in stock, unfortunately, although it took a day or
two each time for me to ascertain that. So it seemed pretty clear
that this unit was in fairly short supply.
My pathetic story (told in the present tense so you, dear reader,
can feel like you're there living it with me!).
I order just the basic Garmin Quest unit for $479 from the
FotoConnection website with "3 Day Select" shipping for $29.99.
The next day, I get a phone call from a sales representative (my
receipt says his name was "William"). He asks me what else I want
to order. I say "Nothing, thanks." He tells me that the
unit I ordered is pretty much unusable because you can hardly fit
anything into the 115Mbytes of memory that it comes with, and that I'll
want to upgrade to a "US" version with a full Gigabyte of memory that
also comes pre-loaded with full maps for the United States.
Furthermore, I'll want an extended warranty-- $249 for three
years. This warranty will provide me with service (of course) but
will also enable me to get upgrades-- if I don't buy the warranty, I'll
have to send the unit out and pay $100 each time I want it upgraded.
Because I really want to get the GPS unit in time for my trip and
because I'm clearly a moron of some grade, I let William talk me into
1Gbyte "US" version upgrade and a one-year
warranty (it's "only" $49 for one
He tells me he'll upgrade me from three-day shipping to two-day
shipping. I say OK, assuming that this upgrade won't cost me
anything. No shipping costs are mentioned, in fact; the only
dollar figure I hear from him towards the end of our interaction was
$599.99, which I assumed was the total amount I would be charged.
When the unit arrives, the receipt says I have the "Garmin Quest
In-dash Navigation System USA Model Kit" for $599.99 with $39.99 for
shipping. Total: $639.98.
My Quest is not a 1Gbyte unit. In fact, there's no such
thing! The manual-- and Garmin's website-- make it clear that in
the United States, Quest units have 115Mbytes. Furthermore, the
United States maps aren't pre-loaded-- only the usual very imprecise
base map for the planet is pre-loaded, as it always is. I even
called Garmin's technical support to confirm that that's what's out
there: 115Mbyte units with just the base map in memory.
In addition, the manual that comes with the Quest unit indicates that I
get software upgrades free from the Garmin website for the life of the
unit-- so I have to figure that the costly upgrades William was talking
about are wholly fictional.
And of course, I was charged an extra $10 for a shipping upgrade that
wasn't my idea at all.
I call FotoConnection to complain. I am given two options: keep
the unit, or return it, subject to a 15% (!) restocking fee.
Since I really want to have the unit in hand for my upcoming trip, I
don't want to return it. So I
decide to put up a web page describing my experience with
P.S. The Garmin Quest itself seems very cool! I haven't played
with it much yet, but my preliminary impressions are very positive!
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