Samsung GalaxyThere is more to a retailer than price.

A few weeks ago I switched from an iPod Touch and an old flip cellphone to a Samsung Galaxy. All-in-one! And believe it or not I’m actually paying less per month now than I was. Of course, switching my habits to encompass an android device instead of a Touch has made a bit of an impact. The functionality is all there, and more, but it’s different.

Among other things the little FM transmitter I could plug my iPod into and hear it over my car’s radio didn’t plug into the Galaxy. So, I did a little research and decided to go with Gomadic for both a mount and a power/transmitter device. They arrived. (I do so love getting packages with cool things in them!) and I installed them both.

The mount was OK, secure if a little wobbly. The transmitter was crap. They had assured me on their website that their transmitter was “2nd Generation, even more powerful!” and that I would listen to all my music with “crystal clarity”. I had faith because the one for the iPod had worked quite well.

Bull.

The Gomadic sound was full of static on every station I tried. I looked on their website hoping to find come kind of power setting I could fiddle with on their device to address the issue, overpower the static. Nope. The one help file I found suggested that I buy yet another, third party, widget that would, hopefully, take the noise their device was transmitting out of the loop.

Perhaps it would have, nevertheless, I was not happy. The help file was blaming the electronics in my car for the static problem when I knew very well that my car had not caused any such problems with the setup I’d had for my iPod and I hadn’t needed a third party widget either.

I wrote their help desk, asking for a solution. I tried to head off the tech’s immediate likely response of pointing me to the same help file on the website by pointing out that it was irrelevant in my case, since I’d been using an FM transmitter the day before with no problem.

The reply was infuriating. The tech referenced the help file and insisted that the problem was with my phone!

I replied with an explanation of my understanding of the problem, which negated his explanation, and asked him to tell me where I was wrong. No reply as of this writing. Thanks Gomadic, for selling me a little chunk of garbage and trying to lay the blame on me. Fortunately I can get some use out of the device as a simple charger.

To solve the sound quality problem (audiobooks were nigh unto incomprehensible through the Gomadic device, the horror!) I bought a cheap car stereo from Best Buy, one with an auxiliary input. The tech on the floor assured me that the plugs on the back of the stereo were universal and I’d have no problem installing the thing myself if I was brave enough take the dash apart.

Taking the dash apart was no biggie. I’d repaired some simple electronics in the center console before, and I’d installed the current stereo. The stereo, as the tech said, had been a simple matter of plugging things in and out. I was not afraid.

I went home, cracked the dash, and found that the plugs were completely different. Meh, I can splice a wire. But the wires were not all the same colors either. By this time I was home in Saratoga Springs instead of at work in Draper so I called the local Best Buy to see if they had an adapter for the plugs or, failing that, for a quote on having them install the darn thing.

I was connected with (We’ll call him Josh to protect the guilty). Josh listened patiently to me, informed me that there was no adapter for the plugs and that it would cost me $50 to get it installed. Again, I was annoyed. However, Josh said, I sounded like I had some idea what I was doing, why didn’t I bring it in and he’d take a look at it and tell me if it was really as hairy as all that.

I drove over and he came out to my car with me. He looked at the tangled mess and said, “You can do this, man.” He then pointed out several things I hadn’t noticed about the wiring, simplifying the problem for me a great deal. He even taught me a mnemonic for remembering which set of wires on the new plug went with which set of speakers in the car, which for the power, etc.

Then he sent me on my way with a “Good luck, dude.” and said I could call him if I got stuck.

I didn’t get stuck. The stereo is now installed and working perfectly. Thanks Josh!

And no, the electronics in my car are not putting noise into the system through the power path, nor is my phone producing static. It’s crystal clear.

The moral of the story is that if you help customers solve their problems they will buy from you again and again. If you don’t help, they won’t. See what I’m saying here Gomadic?

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