Garmin MotionBased – terrible customer experience

I received this today from Garmin.

Your MotionBased account status has been updated to MotionBased Lite. You may still login to MotionBased using your current username and password to access the features MotionBased Lite provides. Even though you're limited to your 10 most recent activities with MotionBased Lite, your data will still be stored at MotionBased to produce Reports.

If you choose to upgrade back to MotionBased Standard, all of your activities will be made available for analysis and mapping. If you wish to reinstate your status to MotionBased Standard, please login to your MotionBased account and upgrade via the Account->Subscription section.

If you feel you have received this email in error, please reply to

You're damn right I received this in error

Frankly I don't know where to begin to communicate just how frustrating you've made the experience with MB. At this point you're five or six months late from the originally scheduled transition from MB to Connect for owners of the Edge 305 (now scheduled for September 08). Last Fall you gave every indication that MB's days were numbered, soon to be replaced with an improved service called Garmin Connect in January or February 08.

That service would be free, and the 10 activity limit of MB would be gone. Something called Connect Plus would be available via subscription offering enhanced features. Almost a year later I've seen no detailed description of what Garmin Connect Plus will offer. The Connect forums have lots of comments from former users of MB that complain Connect does not have feature parity (or indeed is any better) than MB. I wouldn't know... my device is still not supported even though new Edge 305s are still being sold in stores.

And this doesn't surprise me since none of the repetitive usability issues of MB have been addressed because the dev team is not actively working on this "transitional" product any more.

So here I am spinning in product release limbo just shy of the re-promised September cutover of all devices to Connect, wondering if the date will slip again and you add insult to injury by downgrading me to MB Lite. As far as I'm concerned I've been on a "LITE" product for the past year because all the development effort has gone into Connect.

I'll happily upgrade back to MB standard if you:

  • Fix the Inbox so I don't have to do a silly refresh once my activities have been uploaded.
  • Fix the inbox so I don't have to then click a link (every time) to see more than two activities. Who works like that?
  • Fix it so that when I've tediously categorized all my new inbox activities, I don't have to hit refresh AGAIN to see them. A confirming message that activities have been added successfully should accompany the list, not be a step on its own.

In previous communications I've asked to speak to a PM about these problems, and I've told you that I design usable software for a living, and I know unless MB has the most awkward architecture in the world these issues could be easily fixed. Nothing substantive happens. You've taken a motivated, engaged user and through poor communication, slipping schedules and repetitive usability problems created a very dissatisfied customer.

Money has nothing to do with this. This is just a terrible customer experience. All current subscribers to MotionBased should maintain full functionality until you make the cutover to Connect.

5 Responses to Garmin MotionBased – terrible customer experience

  1. Dougie says:

    A great rant and I can well understand how you feel. You told me about this product way back in February and seems you are no further forward, give them Hell. No service and then adding insult to injury, they really do need to get their act together.


  2. I wouldn’t get your hopes up about Garmin Connect either. Which looks as if it’s stalled. It “looks” ok, but is very basic and slow. At the current rate of progress, it’s about 20 years away from some of the functionality of a dedicated desktop app like Ascent –

    As a Garmin user of only a few months I’ve been giving them the benefit of the doubt but it does seem that they need an all round kick up the backside.

    Apart from the marketing team who seem to be doing all the right things.

  3. Thanks Simon, it’s been a while since I looked at alternatives but I’ll definitely revisit Ascent. Perhaps the high visibility of the Garmin Chipotle team will put more emphasis on software and ease-of-use, but I doubt it.

    I’m just baffled by how inept they’ve been this past year. Having looked at your site (very nice by the way) and appreciating our shared sensitivity for usability and standards, it’s hard to imagine how a company like Garmin can get it so wrong.

    Drop em a line, you could definitely overhaul MB/Connect and help them right the sinking ship. Clearly they don’t have anyone good on the payroll thinking along those lines, or they’re locked in a closet bound with duck tape.


  4. Dan says:

    I love the new Garmin 405 over the 305–automatic webbased downloads when I walk into my house and the much improved virtual partner (with real time ability to change the pace during a run) are most excellent improvements. Not to mention the smaller size.

    Now about Motion Based and Garmin Connect: the “regular” (paid) MB had great features. I happily paid my $94/yr for these features; the map player was cool, altitude adjustment key, and it was fun viewing all of my runs for the past two years in one nice list. Garmin Connect is a real step backwards. It doesn’t allow analysis of the runs (map player). It doesn’t allow adjustment for altitude (I’m at sea level, yet somehow I traverse 4000 feet of vertical every time I run down the block…into the sea (no, I don’t live on a cliff). Unfortunately, I can’t use MB with my new 405 and am forced to use Garmin Connect. What’s the deal? I guess I’ll be looking at third party software and like the first guy in this blog, when a new product hits the market, I’ll be set to check it out and abandon Garmin ASAP.

  5. Stephen says:

    @Dan – I wsa able to upload a track to MB from my 405 … but I’m new to this so not sure how – I can only assume that it imported it from Training Center? Or maybe it imported it automagically from Connect? Not sure – but my ANT stick wasn’t plugged in at the time so it definitely didn’t come from the watch.

    I’m underwhelmed by the features on Garmin Connect. Even things that it says you can do in *the manual*, such as creating courses, appear to be impossible and require Training Center. Very disappointing.