Sunday, June 10, 2018

Goodbye Spot, (Hello InReach Explorer+) Part 1

Part 1 of 2: Goodbye Spot

Spot 1.0
I do a fair amount of solo backpacking and, for years, I have been traveling with Spot which is a GPS tracker/locator that allows friends and loved ones to track me on a password-protected map and can call for help if needed. 

In addition, because of my experience with law enforcement and search and rescue, I realize that  pinpointing my location means that I don't endanger the lives and well-being of others if something does go wrong.

I've written about that last issue several times.

I've used version 1.0 and  2.0 with satisfactory results.
Spot 2.0

Goodbye Spot

As I prepared to get back to the Sierras after a lengthy recovery from a disastrous mountain biking injury that virtually destroyed everything in my right shoulder, I naturally made Spot a priority.

During my lengthy recovery, Spot released a third version. I was prepared to buy this until I realized that Spot's product had grown more expensive while falling behind competitive products in functionality.

The final straw that sent me in search of a replacement came from Version 3's mediocre customer reviews from Amazon purchasers.

Yearly subscription.

While Spot's functionality has remained the same across the three versions, the price has increased from $49.95 per year to 149.95 with automatic renewals.

In addition that, the subscription automatically renews, but the company does not notify subscribers before their credit cards are charged. In addition, canceling a subscription involves a time-consuming search because the Spot site does not include a link anywhere to accomplish that.

It takes a user significant time to learn that the cancellation policy is hidden in the small print of the Terms of Service (ToS).

Further, while a user can subscribe online, the ToS states that cancellations must be done by a phone call to customer service, and further must be done at least 30 days before the renewal date.

But wait! There's MORE!

I tried calling customer service four times beginning about six weeks before my Spot subscription was due to expire.

The phone connection quality was akin to two tin cans and a bit of rotten string. I was cut off three times. When I finally got full conversation, it seemed as if I was talking to someone from Mars. As it turns out, the Martian can't do anything, and so had to transfer me.

Cut off another three times.

When I finally got to the cancellation Martian, all I got was an up-sell and run-around. That was when I announced that I was recording the call and unless he canceled the subscription immediately, I would call American Express and initiate a chargeback.

Finally a cancellation.

And, for what is it worth, my personal experience has taught me that Visa and Mastercard will jerk you around forever on a disputed charge such as this, and frequently fail you.

I've not needed this sort of help very often, American Express has stood by me.

Next: Hello InReach Explorer+ (And why I picked it.)

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