Why I Hate My TomTom GPS

Category: Auto , Gadgets

I've had nothing but trouble with my TomTom GO 720 GPS. And the TomTom customer service rep basically told me to go buy a Garmin. Read on!

TomTom GO 720 GPS - STOP!

My TomTom GPS Doesn't Work...

I bought a TomTom GO 720 GPS almost a year ago. It wasn't my first GPS. But it will be my last TomTom. At the time, it cost about $400, and was supposed to be a top-of-the-line GPS, with a 4.3-inch screen, nice user interface, and text-to-speech pronunciation of street names. Yes, it has a nice touchscreen, many advanced features, and can connect to my cell phone via Bluetooth. Sexy but stupid.

I'm no stranger to electronic devices, and I've owned a few other GPS units. They all could tell me how to get to Philadelphia, or where the nearest coffee shop was located. But not this one. On a recent trip from NYC to Phildelphia, it unexpectedly directed me off the highway. A shortcut, I assumed. Wrong -- it took me through 30 miles of cow town back roads, and ultimately into the very WORST section of Camden, NJ. If you've never been to Camden, suffice it to say that it's ranked as one of the most dangerous US cities, based on crime statistics for murder, rape, robbery, assault, and auto theft. You don't want to go there, and you should be able to count on your GPS to keep you on major highways that run between two large cities.

If that was the only glitch in my travels with the TomTom GO 720, I might have chalked it up to a software error, or an outdated map. But on many occasions, it has picked bizarre detours when I can see on an old-fashioned paper map that better routes are available. I don't subscribe to the real-time traffic feature, so I know it wasn't trying to route me around a jam, and I always double checked the settings to make sure that it wasn't a problem of avoiding toll roads or highways, or a "shortest versus fastest" problem.

In addition to picking what often seem like the longest, most complicated routes, the thing can't get a signal on a cloudy day, and it just can't find the POIs (points of interest) my wife and I are looking for. I'm next to a Sunoco station that's been there for years, but the GO 720 knows nothing about it. Starbucks in my neighborhood? Nope, never heard of 'em. National parks in Maine... what are those? Sure, it has the Podunk Pizza joint in its database, but there's no excuse for not having a listing for every large established business in towns with population over 50,000.

I've updated the software. I've downloaded POI updates from the TomTom website. I even paid close to $100 for an "updated" North American map with 4 million POIs that the TomTom rep said would solve all our problems. A week later, we started getting "map out of date" errors on the GPS.

...and TomTom Doesn't Care

So today we finally decided we'd had enough, and called TomTom customer service again. Maybe there was something they could do to help us. We explained to KelliAnn (name changed to protect the guilty) that a couple years ago, we had a TomTom that we loved. It seemed to have every imaginable POI in its database, and it faithfully took us from Point A to Point B. Unfortunately, we gave that unit to a friend, and upgraded to the newer GO 720.

Remember that scene from the movie Airplane, where all the passengers on the plane are lining up to slap the hysterical woman? That came to mind during my conversation with KelliAnn, because she kept repeating a mantra until I wanted to reach out and touch someone. "Your unit does not have unlimited points of interest in the database." Okay, I figured that out -- it's LIMITED -- and that's the problem. So what can be done to fix the problem and make me a happy TomTom customer?

"Well," KelliAnne said, "You can go to Google Maps and download the address of any POI that's missing from your GPS." Epic Fail, I informed her. If I was stuck in Camden, I'm not very likely to ask some scary looking dude if I could pop into his condemned rowhouse and borrow his computer for a quick visit to Google.

KelliAnn then shared something surprising. "You know, I have problems with my TomTom also. There's a bank and a grocery store in my town that have been there since forever, but they don't show up in my GPS either." Encouraged by that admission, I asked if I could get a refund on that $100 map update that went out of date faster than heavy cream in Brooklyn. "Nope, no refunds on maps," she chirped. "So is there ANYTHING you can suggest to make this thing work better?," I asked. "I'm sorry, but your unit does not have unlimited points of interest in the database." Sigh.

I finally reached a point of frustration and said "It sounds like you're telling me I need to buy a Garmin or Magellan to solve my problem." KelliAnn's reply: "If that's what you think you need to do, then go ahead." I was rather surprised that the TomTom rep was unwilling to offer anything to keep me as a customer. Maybe a discount on a new TomTom? A partial refund on the worthless map? A set of free steak knives? Nope... Nothing... Bzzzzzzt.

Have you had similar problems with a TomTom GPS? Post your rant below...

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Most recent comments on "Why I Hate My TomTom GPS"

(See all 101 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

10 Jul 2011

Their devices haven't gotten any better.

I thought my Magellan GPS was bad so I bought a Tomtom XXL 550. It will not connect to the website necessary to download maps. The primary reason I purchased this unit is for lifetime maps. I have to use a borrowed computer in order to connect. I'm told by support that the unit doesn't work with 64 bit computers.

I put a lot of effort into saving favorite destinations into the device. It turns out I was actually saving random locations because when you save a point on a map - it is not your current location but rather some random point where youve never been.

The bracket is the worst part. I can't get the suction cup to hold for more than 5 minutes.

There should be a law against selling such a poor product.

Posted by:

Mr Mike
15 Jul 2011

Let me start with....I F***ing H8 Tomtom. Okay, so im a courier, i go to relatively simple addresses around towns cities villages and what not. So i type in the postcode, it then comes up with the corresponding street, (to that postcode) but, but, heres the catch, it will actually take you to that street name in a different town alltogether!! that has a different postcode!!! i mean, c'mon WTF? If it cant find where i want to go, it could atleast tell me instead of taking me 10miles through busy traffic. Lowsy piece of sh*t, my nephew could write better software. Oh and the battery life is sh*t, not to mention the touch screen that often clicks a random spot on the screen. Never again, my garmin was way better

Posted by:

26 Aug 2011

I am a paratransit bus driver. I have a TomTom XXL. This device has been one of the best advances for taxi types of folks, ever. Tomtom gives you a female computer voice that puts you on the right tract. You ahve to listen and trust her. She speaks american (Note lower case a) You can get what ever accent. There is a learning curve in that you must make your tomtom up to date daily. My experience is in a large metro area. It could change on an over the road exparience. For now, paratransit drivers ar 60 for TomTom and 20 for Garmin. The Garmin people are like Apple uses vocal, devoted and uninformed.

Posted by:

18 Oct 2011

My TomTom XL wants to take me strictly on backroads and avoid highways at all costs. It took me down a backroad which ended at a T intersection yet kept insisting I go straight. If I had gone straight I'd have ended up in the bush! At one point if wanted me to turn South onto a one way street that went North. I went to the city next to mine, which is easily accessible via a major highway, yet the GPS wanted me to take the backroads. I need to know how to change it so it will take me down major roads. I've updated the maps but that hasn't seemed to help at all. I'm frustrated and hardly use the GPS due to it's lack of knowledge. I use google maps or mapquest a lot more than my GPS.

Posted by:

01 Nov 2011

I have a TOMTOM 350 with unlimited maps. I have not been able to get any maps for free. Also same problem as everyone else my GPS wants to take me to the country, one lane, most backwards areas in any city. Which is really scary as I travel alone in areas I don't know & this is not a safe feeling for a lady. Plus I have a problem with my battery not staying charged!
I really need a good reliable GPS (hard to read a paper map when alone & driving) can you suggest a good one?
Right now I use my phone & it much more reliable that this TOMTOM.

EDITOR'S NOTE: My preferred GPS is now my Android phone with free Google Maps.

Posted by:

Godfrey Williams
02 Jan 2012

My Tom-Tom always chooses the longest routes just because it wants you to be "in-front" (not across the street) of the address that you are going to. This is,, very time wasting,,especially if you are visiting multiple addresses in a day.!!!! You end up losing hours of time that is spent in those longest routes. Very irritating and very silly. This device was a rip off when I bought it...I regret it.

Posted by:

17 Jan 2012

Garbage,garbage,garbage...... that's all it is.Too many steets missing that have been there for years although the 1 free update done.
Good only for telling me the time of day and so can my parrot!

Posted by:

25 Apr 2012

Oh my god i just was in philly and my tom tom did the same thing. ended up in camden, first ten minuets there wallet stolen almost got raped they overcharged my credit card. no gas, couldnt get back over the bridge. i was most mortified. after i got things situated i rushed back to rhode island and still am in shock after two days. sleeping with a knife and my heart wont stop, hardly can talk

Posted by:

Jerry Stark
27 Apr 2012

I think Joe American works for Tom Tom.
I have 2 and in combination, they aren't worth the packing that came in the box.
One of them shows the map in tiny fashion and uoside down.
The other just mostly gets everything wrong. On both, the screen is filled with service station logos and I have trouble understanding the voice.
Both came in really nice boxes though.
I won't have a third, and to be honest I haven't had much luck with Magellan either.
I just bought a paper Atlas from Wal Mart for $10.00. So foar, it's working fine.

Posted by:

Bill Rogers
30 Apr 2012

I just bought my first Tom Tom. I bought the Start model just to find out if i really do want a sat nav system. I'm sure not all sat nav systems are as useless as the Tom Tom I have bought. It only works when the sky is clear - do not go out on cloudy days, or if you do only go to places you know., When it does work it is programmed to display some ludicrous routes. It's going back to the shop tomorrow - if my Tom Tom can find the way!!!

Posted by:

16 May 2012

I f***ing HATE these people and their products. Every time I have tried to upgrade or add a map it has been a disaster. Now I'm told my 720 is a "legacy device" and basically not supported. Thanks guys! Can you see which finger I'm holding up? Even my newer model (I do like the interface) doesn't have enough room for more European maps I want to load. I think TomTom is quickly fading as cell phones take over. For my money, it can't be soon enough. Beat that drum all you want kids, you suck.

Posted by:

03 Jun 2012

I have a Tom Tom One and I love it. It has never failed to get me where I need to go and I drive for a living. If I don't like the route it wants me to go, I just ask it to calculate an alternate route. Works every time.

Posted by:

27 Jul 2012

I had to drive to Whitby in north yorkshire last night from east anglia, I'd done the trip once before and just went straight up the A1 and onto theA64 without, I hasten to add, the aid of GPS. but last night we were in my mates car and his retarded tomtom took us all along the east coast, Grimsby, beverly, filey etc and it kept takin us through little villages and housing estates, a 200 mile journey totaled nearl 300 and took over 6 hours, i worked it out, we averaged 29 mph, I was furious as I then had to drive back on my own, i uplugged his poxy tomtom and just using common sense i went A64, A1, A17. home inless than 4 hours and over 90 miles shorter, so, I will NEVER buy one of these useless peices of crap and anyone who says they are good, I will use my head, you use your tw*ttw*t and we will see who gets there first, sorry but becuase of this heap of sh*t i've only had 2 hours sleep.

Posted by:

23 Mar 2013

I bought a tom tom, and i wanted to go to the holiday inn express in chattanooga, and it didn't have the poi. Said the nearest thing was a number close to it, so when I typed it in . it was about 10 miles away from where I wanted to go. I like to have never found it.

Posted by:

04 Jan 2014

I found this site by typing in "Dislike my Tomtom GPS"-- was wondering if by chance my problems were an anomaly. Apparently not. I replaced my outdated Garmine with a Tomtom over a year ago. It more difficult to program than the Garmin. It also takes us off the road at random, shoots out commands for u-turns, is basically the Evil Twin of the GPS we wanted. It is too late to get a refund, I think. But we are going to have to ditch this thing.

Posted by:

Cliff Myrfield
21 Feb 2014

I made a couple of mistakes. I had a good Tomtom, but without updates. So bought a new one with free updates. The new one worked great until after a few nag messages that I needed to update my maps. The update gave me what must be 50 year old maps. Streets disappeared hotels disappeared, Roads I was directed to take led into irrigation canals, and I was routed sometime over a 100 miles out of my destination. Being a coup[e of thousand miles away from home and scared to use my tomtom I got lucky and found my old tomtom in the trunk of my car. What a relief to have current roads and poi that exist and now able to count on the Tomtom that has 12 year old maps.

Posted by:

Lois K
29 Jan 2015

I bought a TomTom to replace a small screened Garmin that would not update without payment. After the troubles with TomTom and hours spent on the phone with their reps, I decided to try my old Garmin. I now travel with both - one to see the screen, and the Garmin to check the route. TomTom does not have points of interest so I use the old Garmin for that, also.
TomTom changed my route mid trip and would not let me switch back using the change route option - I was lost in a strange but not dangerous place! It has sent me in the most indirect route choices in the town that I now live in. It will send me to a place one route and then back home by another route. It sent me to a theater one way the first time and another way through construction and dead ends the next time!!!
And those daily updates are a joke. It will tell me one update available if I update daily or wait 2 weeks to update!I tell every person that I talk to about car travel - stay away from TomTom!!!

Posted by:

11 May 2015

I H8 my Tom Tom because the company has such poor service support. Their web site doesn't even recognise the serial number of the device which claims to be a Tom Tom. Hence it is impossible to even contact them to get updates for drivers , maps etc.

My maps are clearly out of date but there is no way to upgrade them.

In short be advised don't buy a Tom Tom there has to be a better GPS system.

Posted by:

30 Oct 2016

I have a TomTom. I get aggravated. tells me I have
reached my destination when I still have a quarter of a mile to go.

Posted by:

Noel Pulleine
02 May 2017

I all of you, have been a loyal TomTom user for many years. I live in Australia where TomTom produce a 6" screen GPS for the Australian region only. Initially, it was a dream to use, then one day the screen would change to another screen, my wife would change it back to the driving screen mode promptly. A few minutes later, we would be having a fight GPS trying to work out how to stop it from changing to a useless selection and screen where one would make an adjustment or otehr choice.. but the driving mode. We contacted TomTom in Australia about this and discovered that this was common with their latest modern screen technology. They suggested I format all data and reset the device to factory default. We did as they suggested three times.. and after a while we just gave up.. Now I use a Garman. I love it and will never go back to TomTom. Apparently, I read that the screen problem was not limited to Australia.

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