Last year I treated myself to a Garmin GPS. Being someone who is often trying to find a city-centre hotel in the dark, in the rain, during rush-hour, this device quickly proved to be heaven sent. Being a bit of a geek for gadgets, I installed all the associated Garmin software on my PC and frequently checked for available updates to my Nuvi250W. To date the only updates I’ve found have been to textual English language files.
At the beginning of 2009, I switched on the GPS and it warned me that my maps were now over a year old and that I should update them. Obviously something wasn’t working to plan as I’d frequently been told by Garmin’s software that there were no updates for my unit. As I live in Cornwall it was obvious that updates were required as the A30 bypass of Indian Queens near Newquay had caused me considerable grief. My GPS thought I was driving cross-country and subsequently lost the plot, (quite literally) and subsequently deposited me in a maze of twisty little roads, all alike.
Finally today I found the cause of the problem; I needed to subscribe to map updates before the Garmin software would even advise me that they were available. In other words, there were no updates available for my Nuvi250W GPS as I hadn’t paid for them. Further clicking around Garmin’s website led me to the required item, Lifetime Europe Map Updates priced at £99.99. Wow, that’s a lot of money for updates to a device that only cost £150 in the first place! The other point to note is that “Lifetime updates” doesn’t mean my lifetime, it means the product lifetime. The updates are tied to the serial number of the device so in a few years time, should I want a newer GPS, I would need to buy another Lifetime Europe Map update.
This all strikes me a dreadful profiteering on the part of Garmin. A quick visit to Google Shopping reveals that I can buy a brand new Nuvi250W from Tesco for less than the map update. In this day and age when we’re all supposed to do our bit for the environment, having a high-quality product like this turned into a annually disposable item by the price of software updates is ridiculous.