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Old 20-04-2016, 17:44   #1
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Location: Hong Kong
Boat: Angleman A40 Ketch 50' LOA
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Garmin Customer Service

I live in Hong Kong. I bought the Garmin App Blue Garmin for my iPhone and iPad and a Garmin 527xs for my boat in 2014. About two months ago I received an in-app notice from Garmin that an update was available for for the chart set in Blue Garmin for my area. I promptly bought and downloaded it and, to my surprise, found that all data within Hong Kong waters was gone. I thought I must have done something wrong so I fussed with the app on both my iPhone and iPad eventually deciding it must have been a faulty download so I deleted the chart set and downloaded it again, paying for it again I might add. Still no data for Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the Garmin 527xs coincidentally died. It was about 4-5 months beyond warrant coverage so I bought a new one from a local chandlery and installed it on the boat. After turning it on, I found the same problem - no data for Hong Kong waters. All of my electronic navigation tools were essentially inoperative. I called Garmin customer service for help. The person with whom I spoke professed ignorance of the problem and said that he would, "push this up to the technical team."

Only then did I turn to Mr. Google and find out that this has been a well known problem for at least a year. Garmin, and an unwitting Apple, had been selling vaporware to their customers for at least a year online and in shops in Hong Kong.

Once again I contacted Garmin support, this time by email in which I explained as best I could that the problem wasn't technical, and got this reply:

Thank you for contacting Garmin International. The Software engineering team actually responded back and was wondering if they could get screen shots of the issue; however, if you are experiencing the issue on a 527xs, I can get the screen shots by downloading the same mapping. Which map do you have for the device?

Again I wrote to tell him that he was barking up the wrong tree. It is not a problem with my software or hardware, but with Garmin not reaching an agreement with the Hong Kong Government to load the data they provided in the past. I stressed to him that the is NO data around Hong Kong and I sent him a screen shot demonstrating this. I requested a refund on the Garmin products I had purchased for my iPhone and iPad.

Now here is the great part. The moment when I realized that the person or persons on the other end of the line is either seriously impaired or that Garmin takes no responsibility for its products. After sending them the screen shot showing a void in all data within Hong Kong waters, and a rather lengthy explanation of the problem as explained to me by a knowledgeable chandlery owner who has been on various HK Marine Department committees and task forces, I received this response:

"Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I am sorry that the charts do not meet your expectations for the waters around Hong Kong."

Did not meet my expectations? Hey, pay attention! There are no charts.

He went on to explain that any refunds for the Blue Garmin products, even the in-app chart purchases, would need to come from Apple. He didn't mention the problem with the GPS unit at all. Fortunately, for the 527xs I have swapped the chip from the old unit into the new unit so I still can use it with caution.

Bottom line - Garmin's business practices in this regard appear to me to be deceptive and their customer service representatives either are ignorant or feign ignorance of a well-known problem with one of their products.

I won't be purchasing anything from Garmin again.

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Old 22-04-2016, 20:04   #2
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Re: Garmin Customer Service

I quit Garmin 6 years ago and went to Standard Horizon, I wouldn't have a Garmin if they were free.

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Old 22-04-2016, 20:08   #3
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Re: Garmin Customer Service

Two follow-up bits of information:

* I contacted Apple Support and was immediately given a refund on the Garmin Blue Chart app and last version of the upgrade I bought.
* Hong Kong sells their data on CD Rom in S-61 format which will run on my iPad and iPhone using Seaiq Open (
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Old 23-04-2016, 16:32   #4
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Re: Garmin Customer Service

for what its worth, I had all Garmin equipment on my last boat and it was really good. My new boat has all raymarine and I wish I still had the garmin stuff. Customer service was very good the few times I had to call them
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Old 23-04-2016, 16:46   #5
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Re: Garmin Customer Service

Its pretty well known that Hong Kong isn't sharing the toys in the sandbox.

I've found Garmin's service quality to be very high quality. I distinctly remember Garmin announcing they would not be able to provide Hong Kong charts.
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Old 23-04-2016, 17:01   #6
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Re: Garmin Customer Service

I have worked with Garmin for over 20 years and always in the past found their customer service outstanding. I had a GPS 152 go black after 7 years and they just replaced the unit last year with a rebuilt at a very resonable cost. The issue with Hong Kong is known , my Navionics charting removed hong kong on an update. Bloody Chinese

Joe Bayne
Langkawi Malaysia
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