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It’s good to have friends in high places, and Garmin in the trunk


By Charlie Sacchetti

There is no doubt that I became a “believer” in 2006. Not in the religious sense, mind you; that happened many years earlier. No, I became a believer in a new and incredible technological advancement that would change our lives forever.

On “Black Friday” of that year, my future daughter-in-law, Gina, purchased a very unique Christmas gift for my son Michael, a Garmin GPS. This was a relatively new technology and she felt this would be an ideal gift since my son was embarking on a career in accounting which would certainly involve some travel. A month later, I was scheduled for a business meeting at the soon-to-be-opened home of the Jersey Devils hockey team, the Prudential Center Arena in Newark, N.J. Not knowing the area, I asked my son if I could borrow the GPS, just as a backup, in case my “MapQuest” directions proved to be inaccurate. So, I started my trip, GPS in the trunk of my car and relied upon the printed directions that told me to “take the N.J. Turnpike to Exit 13A and follow the sign to Newark.”

I had entered the turnpike near my home, at Exit 4. Naturally, with my luck, when I exited at 13A there were three lanes, going in three different directions, with each of them reading “to Newark.” I had no idea which lane was the correct one so I took the one to the right and pulled over onto the shoulder with cars zooming past me. It was time to use the “safety valve.” I took out the GPS and punched in the address of the Prudential Center Arena. Amazingly, it worked and 15 minutes later I was in the facility’s parking lot, safe and sound. I was now a believer, so much so, that two days later I ordered my own unit, a Magellan brand for about $275.

Two years later, my wife and I decided to take a trip to Niagara Falls. I was looking forward to the beautiful drive up through Route 87 and the scenery the early September trip would provide. I was happy that I had that GPS that would be an invaluable asset on the trip. However, I also know that my unit was not programmed for north of the border so I would have to call and find out how I could “upgrade” the service to include Canada. Since the trip was three weeks away, I felt I had plenty of time.

When I contacted Magellan, I was told that I could purchase a data card that could be inserted into my unit and would download the needed information for not only Canada, but Mexico too. So, I ordered the card, paid the $50 price and awaited the delivery. About a week before we were scheduled to leave, the data card arrived and sat on my desk for two days before I decided to download the information, on Saturday. As I inserted the card into the unit, I thought I had become an activated stand-in for Peter Graves in his role of Mr. Phelps in “Mission Impossible.” The unit started smoking and I wasn’t even warned that the unit would “self-destruct” in 5 seconds! My GPS was fried!

I called Magellan the following Monday and explained what happened. The customer service rep was very sympathetic and apologetic, showing sincere concern. I explained that we were leaving in only a few days and I was now in the unenviable position of having no workable unit for our eagerly awaited trip. She kindly said that because of our inconvenience, she would refund my $50, and send me a brand-new, top-of-the-line unit that retailed for $450. This unit would already be programmed for North America, so I could both find my way around Canada and have lunch at Jose’s Taco House in Mexico if I wanted. To boot, she would ship it overnight and I’d have it the next day.

The next day I received the new unit as promised. We were off to Niagara Falls two days later and the GPS performed flawlessly. I really appreciated the service provided to me, by Magellan. What also impressed me was that when I offered to send the old unit back to prove I was telling the truth, she said it wasn’t necessary and she believed me. How refreshing it was to do business in this world of con-men and skeptics. In Canada, as we drove past wine country on the way to “Niagara on the Lake” one day, I thought of Magellan and what a great company it was.

By the way, that GPS still works …15 years later!

Charlie Sacchetti is the author of two books,“It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change,” and “Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch.” Contact him at worthwhilewords21@gmail.com

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