Sunday, March 18, 2012

SPOT 2 Satellite Messenger recall

SPOT-Satellite-2009 Ruh roh! SPOT LLC has announced a voluntary recall of some of its second generation SPOT Satellite Messenger (SPOT 2) units. According to the company:

Spot LLC is dedicated to providing the highest quality and best performance products to our customers, therefore, Spot LLC will be conducting a voluntary return on any new model SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger™ (SPOT 2) purchased since October 1, 2009. During recent testing, we discovered that some of the new SPOT 2 devices might not meet battery and messaging operating specifications.

This must effect nearly all units, since the SPOT 2 became available shortly before the October 1 date cited above. It also looks like the SPOT 2 is being pulled from retail distribution.

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. I just spoke with their customer service, and they provided me with the following details:
    They said that the problem is that the battery indicator comes on too soon – after an hour or so it says it needs new batteries when in actuality everything is fine (messaging works). Replacements *should* be available in January 2010 for existing customers. New units should start appearing in stores in late January 2010, hopefully, but they are committed to servicing existing customers first.
    Hope this helps!

  2. Eric Johnson says:

    Since there is only a 1yr warranty on these it would have been better if they’d offered to treat ‘day 1’ of the one year warranty as the date you receive the replacement. I’m not too happy with them, I think they could have done more to help customers like me that purchased their first run units.

    • Eric Johnson says:

      I just received a reply from them (On xmas day no less) saying “The SPOT 2 warranty period does not change. We will continue to provide a 1 year warranty for the device. The voluntary exchange program will not take away from the warranty. When you receive your new SPOT 2 replacement device in Jan. 2010, the warranty period will be reset based on the receive date.”

      That’s more like it!

  3. Don Monday says:

    I got my Spot 2 in early October, 09. It seemed to work great the first week or two-always sent a e-mail within 10 minutes of hitting the OK button, then sporadically afterwards. I even used it kayaking for about 3 hours-it only marked the start point when we put in. Hope the replacement corrects the problem. I used a battery tester on the AAA lithum batteries and they are still in the good range. The low battery light has not come on.

  4. Eric Johnson says:

    I just received an email update from SPOT, which for Canadian users raises more questions than it answers unfortunately. They really ought to be offering an option B to everybody which is ‘send to us for full refund’; I’m not sure whether I’d go that route or not but it isn’t right that they are not offering it.

    Dear Canadian SPOT 2 Subscriber

    Thank you very much for completing the Voluntary Product Return information. To help serve our Canadian customers better the process for Canadians will be slightly different that noted in the email you recently received after submitting your SPOT 2 information.

    In Canada, upon unit availability in early 2010, customers will be emailed instructions outlining how to exchange your existing SPOT 2 unit for a NEW SPOT 2 unit. Please keep your SPOT 2 unit until this time.

    You will not be receiving return shipping materials within 5-7 business days as noted in the previous email.

    We appreciate your patience in this matter and look forward to continuing to meet your satellite messaging needs.


    The SPOT Team

  5. This isn’t much of a “voluntary” recall… for those of us that bought these devices in December (as a gift), they can’t even be activated… they are forcing us to replace them!

  6. Agreed! There should be four options available.

    1. As is, mail in and wait.

    2. 100% money back.

    3. Exchange for Spot 1 instead of waiting for Spot 2 production.

    4. Activate and use Spot 2 for the time being; wait for new Spot 2 in the mail.

    I spoke with the SPOT rep for a good 30 minutes trying to argue my point. The only thing she could say was that I could attempt to return it to the original place of purchase.

    I am not a happy customer.

    (To add to the hysteria, customers that activated their units already get 3 months of extended service, where those of us that weren’t allowed to activate the service get 1.)

  7. Eric Johnson says:

    I got my return materials today. I’ve had many conflicting messages from the SPOT people on this whole exchange thing. Some saying that in Canada they’d send a replacement directly and that we’d then send in the original; then they said that the return mailing materials are on their way (now substantiated since I’ve received them), and now they say that they are going to repair, not replace the units. They could provide no estimate of how long we’d have to wait for the repairs to be made. What frustrates me most of all is that we were told NOT to return the units to the retailer when they initiated the ‘voluntary recall’ in December and now it appears that we would have been better off doing that. One month of credit doesn’t seem to be enough to compensate for this.

  8. Rich Owings says:

    Yeah, many manufacturers now have a tag inside the box saying don’t return to store. They just don’t want to lose the sale and I’m sure that’s what was going on here too.

  9. Steve young says:

    Returned two weeks ago….no new unit yet….SPOT is not doing well with this one!

    • Just a few words in regard to the Spot 2 recall! I generally tend to look at the positive side of matters at my age and must commend Globalstar in dealing with this situation as best they are able to under the production circumstances.Look at Toyota right now!I purchased and activated my unit in November and it was tested twice inside actually in a blizzard condition and the unit worked pefectly. The unit has never been used otherwise due to the recall and is in new condition. My hope is that in their wisdom a new unit will be sent as a replacement. Not a like-new or repaired as is suggested. The unit was sent back to Spot Canada in the delivered, insured packaging. I still must comment that under the circumstances Spot has been great in regard to advising of the situation and keeping me up to date! I suppose we only see one side and have no idea of what is involved in the correction of the defect and the numbers involved. My motto has always been ” The main thing is not to panic”

  10. Steve young says:

    Update on returned unit sent In Jan. 5th. SPOT cust. Service phone conversation on 1/1/10 now claiming “possible shipping date of fixed unit late Feb. or mid March”. So we are looking at two months now! Should have just kept so called faulty unit until they had some ready to send fixed ones.

  11. Steve young says:

    Correction: call date 2/1/2010 for prev. Post.

  12. Rich Owings says:

    Sounds like they’ve really blown this one.

  13. I received the spot for Christmas and could not even activate it. Try to find the recall on the website, it must be hidden. VERY poor customer service, poor communication and bad business. I should at least know when I am getting my replacement unit back. It took them two weeks to get me a mailer to mail the thing back to them. From reading the last post it looks like I may have it by next Christmas 🙂

  14. Steve young says:

    UPDATE: 2/4/10- just spoke to cust. service. Confirmed that they Did get my so-called faulty SPOT 2 unit (mailed 1/3/10). Confirmed that those who DID Activate thier unit will get up to 3 months credit, and those who did Not activate their unit will get 1 month credit. Now the 64 dollar question- WHEN will my replacement unit be sent? Answer- they are still testing the replacement units and There is NO DATE…. Indeff. DELAY. No planned ship date yet.
    This just may bankrupt them and we will be left holding the bag…?

  15. BanjoGeek says:

    Same as many of you…..purchased a SPOT-2 new and when trying to activate and register received the recall notice and would not let me proceed any further other than to notify them that my unit would need to be replaced. Received my return mailer pack in approx 10 business days (outside their 5-7 business days as stated) and immediately packed and mailed same day. It has now been three weeks since my return and nothing. I will call Customer Service next week but after 3 emails I’ve come to expect the standard response about not being able to provide a specific date that I’ll have my new unit.

    It’s just so frustrating to purchase something brand new and then not even be able to use it. And then have to wait 6 weeks and counting on having a replacement?


  16. peakhugger says:

    Hey all,

    This is just insane. Customer service anyone?
    Consider the following:

  17. Steven young says:

    Update 2/5/10: latest SPOT E-Mail states- STILL NO date for fixed new SPOT units. Testing of New Units Almost done. Claims they will update us every week. Any way they say it- they still have No Idea of WHEN!

  18. 2/11/10 As per AMAZON,

    “Currently unavailable.
    We don’t know when or if this item will be back in stock.”

    Looks like not much hope for ever getting our units back working or our money back…. )-;

    Sign this:

  19. Eric Johnson says:

    I’ve signed the petition – thankfully it was not polluted with stuff I couldn’t agree with. Hopefully more people will get the word out about it.
    Anyone tried posting a link on spot’s facebook page?

  20. Yesterday, this was posted to SPOT’s Twitter account…

    Hi we should have an update as early as tom. morning on the status of SPOT 2 units. Please stay tuned and thanks for your continued support.

  21. Eric Johnson says:

    Spot just posted an update saying that Spot 2 units are now shipping starting tomorrow and the customer returned units should be done by 1st week of March. (Wonder what happened to their commitment to take care of existing customers first — guess they forgot.)

    The text of their email read as follows:

    Dear valued SPOT customer,

    Great News! SPOT Satellite GPS Messengers are starting to ship. Shipments to customers will begin on Thursday, February 18th, 2010. We expect to have all customer returned product out our doors by the first week of March.

    As you know, in December we discovered that the SPOT 2 unit failed to meet battery and messaging operating specifications. At that time we issued a “voluntary” product recall. Okay, in this instance “voluntary” meant that SPOT was choosing to recall the product because we weren’t happy with it. We understand that this may have caused some confusion. Let’s be clear now – we continue to urge you to return your SPOT 2 unit with an ESN number equal to or less than 0-8053925 to be returned for replacement. Please visit for more info.

    As we mentioned in our last e-mail communication to you, we put
    SPOT 2 under rigorous product testing. We know you have been waiting, and are impatient to use your SPOT. We hear you! We want to assure you though that SPOT LLC has taken the necessary extra steps to ensure this product meets all our rigorous tests. We pulled the product and retested. This meant environmental and user tests. We were thorough – we need to be.

    The SPOT product has initiated over 550 rescues worldwide and has sent millions of “peace of mind” messages. There is no way we are going to let you hike into the woods, drive into the mountains, sail off into the ocean, or just enjoy your weekend getaways with a product we are not satisfied with. SPOT is an emergency messaging device. We take that seriously. We take our commitment to our customers seriously. Therefore, we apologize for the wait, but we can now tell you the product is ready for your hands.

    • Hello Eric:
      As a fellow Canadian I am also patiently waiting for my new/like new unit! Notice I said new or like new! As I mailed in a new unit I do not intend on accepting anything less. I am reading some disturbing results of the first arrivals. Further to this I am wondering what the new units will look like when shipped to retailers. See where I’m going? I would strongly pursue action should I receive otherwise.

  22. Spot update:
    Received e-mail this morning that units will be shipping as of today! As I suggested earlier the main thing is not to panic!

  23. None of use are in a panic. We just do not like the poor customer service. As we continue to wait for any corrected units to show …

  24. Oh just Great….Another 7-10 days ….That puts it at the end of Feb. Snail mail too.. )-;

    Dear STEVEN

    Thank you for returning your SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger (SPOT 2) as instructed under the SPOT Product Return Program. Your replacement SPOT 2 has shipped and you should receive it within 7 to 10 business days.

    Spot LLC has performed an ESN swap migrating your complete profile and message contact information to your replacement SPOT unit. Your new ESN number [0-8054435] has been updated in your account. Simply access your existing account using the same username and password you have assigned during login at

    Your SPOT 2 is all set to go! Please make sure to install new AAA Energizer® Lithium Ultimate 8X batteries. We recommend that you test your SPOT 2 unit by sending a Check-in/OK message. A message should appear in the My GPS Locations section of your account.

    Again, thank you for your patience. For your inconvenience, we are extending your existing service contract by 3 months, an additional 2 months more than originally promised at no cost to you. Your account will update automatically within 30 days reflecting your new renewal date.

    SPOT is dedicated to providing you with only the highest quality satellite communications products. We appreciate your business.

    Enjoy your adventures!


    The SPOT Team

    • Hello Steve:
      Would appreciate knowing the condition of your replacement unit when you receive it! As in a reply to Eric we are promised new or like new which is not appearing to be the case.

      • Just got mine.

        1) Wrong color- got grey should be orange.

        2) I have same problem with unit case : “there are problems with the battery cover molding not matching the replacement gasket, and excess glue in the case halves”. As per Eric below.

        • Hello Steve:
          Thanks for the updated information. Have not received mine in Canada as of yet but I am remaining patient through the turmoil of this situation. My concern as expressed earlier is with the returned quality of said unit. I have contacted GPScity where my unit was purchased in November of 2009. I can not speak highly enough of their immediate return call at 7:00PM from Alberta to deal with my concern.Great public relations as well as an assurance that if the return was not satisfactory that they would honor an extended replacement when they receive their inventory. Therein lies the conundrum! What will the retail units look like? I will not be a happy camper if the retail units ara a properly manufactured unit in comparison to the new/like new repaired units. Further to this as a retired technician it boggles the mind that in this day an engineer can not design a better product! Sort of makes you wonder!

  25. Eric Johnson says:

    One user posted photos of the ‘new/like new’ repaired unit – it’s not looking good, it looks like there are problems with the battery cover molding not matching the replacement gasket, and excess glue in the case halves:

    • You are correct and as a patient person I have no intention of accepting anything less than the new unit I returned. I have also filed complaint with gpscity where I purchased the unit. I received an immediate response from the owner assuring me of a new replacement if I am not happy with my return!

  26. Eric Johnson says:

    Here’s additional evidence that they have changed the waterproof rating on the unit to a small fraction of the rating they give it in their marketing materials:

    I just emailed globalstar Canada today formally asking for either a repaired unit that meets specs or refund my money; I also cc’d the vendor (though this is no fault of theirs) so that at least they are aware. Heaven forbid they should be reticent and force me to recoup losses in small claims court, I’d need to name the poor vendor as well. In Canada, the competition act prohibits the practice of Performance Representations not Based on Adequate and Proper Tests, pubishable by up to a $10,000,000 fine for first incident and up to $15,000,000 per subsequent. I bet there are similar laws in the USA. I have absolutely no use for a leaky device that can’t be used in damp conditions, most of my backcountry use is by water (canoe). I hope they just refund my money and send me on my way, because I have grave concerns about trusting this company with my life in an emergency situation, if they can’t even be honest and upfront about the recall and offer people a refund if they can’t provide a product that meets specifications.

  27. Just spoke with SPOT cust service. They state, ” The Membrain in the unit was changed to allow air to pass through the unit up to altittudes of 20,000 feet and yes the water specs From 5 meters for 1 hour to 1 meter for 30 minutes are the current specs because of the membrain change”. They state the large gap in the battery back case fit with the too large rubber gasket is normal”.

    They would NOT work with me on the sloppy battery cover molding issue.

    It’s clear we have been HAD! AGAIN!

  28. Eric Johnson says:

    I don’t know what to say at this point. I’m hoping to return the device to them and get my money back. On the positive side, I can see that they have updated the specifications that they publish on their website so for new customers they will have a fresh start with no misleading information about the device’s capabilities. I’m curious whether the new stock will have the ill-fitting battery door but with any luck I will have put this behind me and not looked back by the time I would find out. I’m just waiting now for the ACR 2885 to be approved in Canada as right now that looks like a good alternative for what I mainly am looking for ( It’s too bad the Spot didn’t work out, its user-replaceable batteries (so you can essentially send unlimited OK messages for low cost in batteries) and small size are terrific but for me unfortunately that doesn’t outweigh what has changed in the product specs. Maybe I’ll be interested again if they make a Spot 3 that really is waterproof.

  29. WOW ! I stand corrected! Debbie from SPOT just called and is hot on the trail of fixing the oversized battery seal and the ill fitted battery door on the SPOT2 recalled units. They promised a replacement that fits together the way it should would be sent to me within 4 weeks. (I keep my current unit working till then). As for the water, I will have to hope that the new lower value will stand up to splashes on the sailboat. It is clear that SPOT cust. service has just done a turn around and as they state, ” we just are here to make you happy and fix the problem”. Well done SPOT! I look forward to the second fix on the SPOT2 to arrive!

    • Update to replacement of the wrong color / poor fit SPOT-2 as Promised by Debbie at cust. service 30 days ago….. NO corrected unit has arrived…
      As per the promise of getting a fixed SPOT2 unit WITHIN 4 weeks……
      Guess I shouldn’t hold my breath….. 🙁

      • Update: 04/05/10: Just got an e-mail from Debbie at SPOT. The replacement for the faulty SPOT2 is delayed yet another two weeks.
        I had hoped that customer service had seen the light. They have not.
        The second fix for my faulty SPOT2 is in SPOT Limbo Land.

  30. Eric Johnson says:

    I’ve just had a similar experience, someone at Spot seems to have seen the light. In my case, the product doesn’t suit my needs any more because of the changed specs but they’ve now agreed quite amiably to take it back, which is all I had ever hoped or asked for.

  31. Aussie Steve says:

    A Spot user in Australia. It appears that we are being forgotten. Below is a copy of an email I received in February.

    Good Day Stephen,

    “Unfortunately, we do not have a specific date as to when the SPOT 2 will be available to our customer’s in Australia. We are trying our best to get the devices returned as soon as possible. Our ‘Early 2010’ expected date is still the same but we do not want to provide false expectations to our customers. We apologize for the inconvenience and we thank you for your patience.

    Please visit for details.

    Best Regards,
    Spot Customer Service”

    I purchased my device in December 2009. It is still in the box unused! There has been a distinct lack of communication from Spot to their Australian Customers. I suspect that this is a company in crisis and I would not like to be a share holder!

    Think I will return my device and seek a refund….far too “dodgy” for me.

  32. I sent in both my spot 2s that were working fine and got both back today. The battery cover on both do not mate well. I pulled the rubber gasket out and see they’ve used standard silicone sealant to build the gasket groove up in height to allow for a tighter compression seal when you crank the cover down. I think the gasket is fine without the need for extra silicone sealant so I carefully scraped it all out of the gasket groove with a wood toothpick (took awhile) and now both covers seal like they used to. I can kind of see why they did it as the cover can bottom out before a tight seal is achieved on some units. I also used clear silicone grease that you can get in the plumbing isle at any hardware store to lube the gasket, it work very well. Be sure to use only wood to scrape out the gasket groove as this will not scratch the plastic. I tried a piece of plastic at first and was marring the surface.

  33. Have not received my repaired unit in Canada yet. Anxious to see if the second replacement being promised to many unsatisfied with the repairs will be a factory new unit!

  34. Aussie Glen says:

    Well I’m another unhappy Aussie customer here. I bought my unit back in mid December and like Aussie Steve I still have mine in the box unable to be used and waiting for further instructions.

    The latest response I got from Spot was:

    Dear Mr. Aussie Glen,
    Thank you for your inquiry and we sincerely apologize for the delay you have experienced with the return process.

    To better serve our Australian customers, we are arranging a direct replacement through our channel locally – Pivotel. Although there have been a few delays initially we feel it will ultimately provide the fastest turnaround for you.

    In terms of your question regarding returning your new old unit to purchase a new unit, I would recommend simply waiting for the exchange process as existing customers are being given priority in the exchange and new units will not be available until the existing customer’s units have been exchanged.

    We appreciate your patience as we arrange the final steps in this return process and can assure you we are making every effort in completing this return as soon as possible.

    Please wait for further instruction in the next few days as to what is to occur.

    Thank you and best regards,
    The SPOT team

    • Hello down under!
      These words may not be a consulation but may give you some insight from Canada. I just received my previously activated unit and am aware of another unit received which was not activated so the process is moving. I suppose this was a major effort to redesign, test and ship in short order with who knows how many units. Spot has been upfront and maintained contact with me and supplied a unit as new as the one I returned with the modifications. Many were unhappy with the returned units yet Spot is going to replace all units to their satisfaction. As a business operator myself it is often not easy to appease everyone!

      • Aussie Glen says:

        Thanks Dennis. This morning I just received a reply from Spot that some of the Aussie & New Zealand customers might be interested in.

        Dear Mr. Aussie Glen,
        I apologize for not responding previously, I was waiting for a concrete answer from our International reps to be able to provide you with an accurate answer.

        As of now, there are 200 units being shipped to Pivotel in Australia, who will be facilitating the exchange locally.

        I can confirm that they are in the process of arranging the communication and shipment instructions for all of the customers in Australia and New Zealand who submitted exchange claims.

        I am truly sorry for the delay in this process but the primary setback was that we had to wait for the units to be available from the manufacturer to then be shipped to Australia.

        I apologize that I cannot provide a more concrete date for return but I assure you we want the new units in our customers hands as much as you do!

        We thank you again for your patience and hope to have this resolved as soon as possible.

        The SPOT team.
        So hopefully it won’t be too much longer and I’ll be able to exchange my spot. I did notice in the email that they said “new units” so I guess that means they are not refurbished. I’ll have to wait and see I suppose.

  35. Welcome to REI Live Help, an agent will be with you in a moment.
    You have been connected to Tiffany C.
    Tiffany C: Hello! What can I assist you with?
    Customer: What date will SPOT 2 Satellite GPS be available ?
    Tiffany C: We are estimated to receive our next shipment on March 31, 2010.
    Customer: Ok Thank You Tiffany-Good Day.
    Tiffany C: You’re very welcome. Have a great day!
    Your session has ended. You may now close this window.
    Tiffany C: Thank you for using REI Live Help! If you would like a transcript of this Live Help session for later reference, click on the printer icon in the bottom right-hand corner of this window.

  36. Aussie Steve says:

    Still nothing for Australian customers! This is unreasonable and unfair. I paid for my device 4 months ago now and still cannot use it. Spot are full of empty promises! I’m returning mine for a refund – never again and I will let all and sundry know about my opinion of the company and their device.

    • Aussie Glen says:

      You’re dead right Steve. My spot was bought on 8th December 2009 as a Christmas present and it’s still sitting here on my computer desk in the box. I understand that problems happen but it’s absolutely ridiculous to have paid for a device and 4 months later still have that device unable to be used.

      Supposedly, new devices have been shipped to Pivotel here in Aus and they were apparently going to contact us a week and a half ago, according to spot.

      Surely something must happen soon!?

      • Aussie Steve says:

        Hi Glen, I am not putting up with this any more. I have sincere doubts about this company’s viability and comitment to customers. Refund for me and I will walk away.

        • Aussie Glen says:

          Well I just had a call from Pivotel here in Aus and apparently I’ll receive some return shipping material in the next couple of days and my device will then be sent back to the US. The turn around time will be approximately 2 to 3 weeks!

          I really don’t get this. Why have we been waiting for 4 months only to be told that we now need to have our unit sent to the US for exchange? Other than sending out return packaging I’m not really sure what value adding Pivotel are contributing to the process.

          It’s gone on that long that another 3 weeks isn’t going to matter, but wow…by the time I get my new unit it will almost be 5 months!

          Spot are very lucky that they have such a unique product that I actually really do want, otherwise I would have pulled out a long time ago.

          • Aussie Glen says:

            Well it’s hard to believe that it’s happened but I now have my brand new Spot 2. If it is a refurbished unit then I can’t pick it. Credit where it’s due…Pivotel were pretty quick in getting my new device back to me only 4 days after I originally sent my replacement unit in.

  37. rdd98103 says:

    It appears the recall did not solve the manufacturing problems. I have a unit with an ESN higher than the range covered by the recall. Unit was purchased late May 2010. My unit’s symptoms are generally different than what Spot has described for the recalled units: Unit worked fine for two weeks, spotty about a week ago, then non-functioning when most needed this weekend climbing above 8,000 feet. On/Off light blinks green but GPS light does not blink at all. If you select track, OK, or custom message, then the GPS light blinks red but only then. Replaced batteries with new….no change. No messages or tracks received by recipients entire time gone, on a day when there was an avalanche further up the mountain. Some background that I’ve learned: SPOT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar, the low-earth-orbit satellite company. SPOT contracts through Axonn, a GPS device manufacturer that primarily specializes in tracking freight, who with respect to the SPOT works with a contract manufactuer in China. If you’ve held the unit, it feels well built and well designed, but apparently that is just window dressing on some shoddy manufacturing on a device that lives may depend on. Not a good manufacturing choice, in my opinion. Question: how much more would you pay to have this device manufactured in the USA?

  38. Thanks for sharing. This has been an active thread with lots of subscribers. I’m hoping some will chime in so we can see if others are seeing similar issues.

    • Plymouth Mark says:

      I have the post- recall unit and I ‘m letting my sister use it for a back country trip in western U.S. SPOT had failed to transmit the o.k. check 99% of the time. Sent an e-mail two days ago to SPOT customer service. No response yet. First generation SPOT worked awesome. So far this one sucks! Not happy.

  39. Thanks for posting the problems that you have had with the Spot. You have saved me from the heartache of dealing with their lame customer service. Mistakes happen, it’s how they fix’em that counts. Thanks again!

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