06-04-2013 10:47 PM
FamilyMap GPS Accuracy is Limited or Outdated Technology
I have teens that use cell phones and after reading the AT&T FamilyMap advertisement it sounded like a pretty good and safe way to keep track of their locations.
At first we did not have data service on all 4 family phones so no GPS & the accuracy was within 1-1.5 miles. This is because it using the old method of tower triangulation to approximate the phone location. That is fairly acceptable for that technology. Speaking with tech support I was told that if I enabled data/GPS services it would greatly increase the accuracy.
For family safety reasons and pressure from teens, over a month ago we finally broke down and paid $120 more for data services on all our smart phones. ***** To our surprise the FamilyMap accuracy did not improved with the Data & GPS services. Sometimes I think it is worse.
I called tech support about the accuracy issue with FamilyMap. I also stated that the phones other GPS apps & services were working fine with accuracy being within feet while FamilyMap still showing as if it was still using the tower triangular information for an accuracy of 1-1.5 miles and not utilizing the GPS data.
Rarely and only at a few locations it would show as close as 300 to 600 feet accuracy but only if the phone stayed at the same location for more than 5 hours. Once moved, even if for a short period and a short distance from that site, it would revert back to a 1.0-1.5 miles accuracy.
06-04-2013 10:51 PM
Back again with addtional information:
SUPPORT's FAMILYMAP ACCURACY SCRIPTED RESPONSE: *****
The standard and scripted response from support about accuracy is: “FamilyMAP GPS accuracy of 1.0 - 1.5 miles is within the acceptable GPS technology ranges. It could improve only if you have a good line of site with GPS satellites and thus you must not have a good signal.”
Come on guys, “GPS accuracy of 1.0 - 1.5 miles is within the acceptable GPS technology ranges”, yeah maybe 5 years or more ago for mobile phones!
While speaking to support to disprove the line of site theory was my issue, I used my phones GPS mapping tools and went online to the FamilyMap site at the same time to verify the differences in real-time, which by the way had not changed. Explaining this to support did not mean a thing and they just repeated the previous scripted response. Obviously, this is good as it gets for FamilyMap without saying so.
Feeling misled and unsatisfied by now, I did my own research.
06-04-2013 10:59 PM
1. Calling into AT&T support about accuracy will only result in them recommending you to downloading an additional app for iPhones and then sending your information by email to a 3rd party support for a call back... usually after a few days.
2. IT’s not really an AT&T PRODUCT/SERVICE!! except the name with a few changes. The product is actually from a subcontractor by the name of "XXXXX XXXX" who also provides similar product/services to Sp**nt and T-M**ile under different names and for as low as $5.
3. Searching for online reviews on FamilyMap and the other two vendor's products resulted in almost identical findings with issues, problems and customer dissatisfaction. Accuracy being the number one complaint listed in the reviews. The next about equally being that updates were causing phone problems to the service was just not working at all.
4. Just about all the ratings I found online from users for all the three products were about the same. User ratings are mostly 1 to 2 stars out of 5 with 1 being the lowest.
06-04-2013 11:23 PM
1. Post the accuracy limitations out front and online and stop wasting your customer's time. It will decrease your technical support call volume about accuracy when its already a known limitation without a solution.
2. With the above said along with the product reviews I found, stop charging for it and provide it as a free feature until you have something better to replace it with. Some may find it worth a $1 or $2 even with its limitations but not at its current rate with its limitations.
3. I think I’m more upset about wasting my time with this whole thing by being misled about its lame accuracy than the cost. I think most of the customers in the reviews think about the same way. We all hate being misled, but wasting our time too is just pours salt into the wound. Just be upfront with it.
4. And just because it still steams me a bit. Come on guys, “GPS accuracy of 1.0 - 1.5 miles is within the acceptable GPS technology ranges”, yeah maybe 5-10 years ago for mobile phones! That is a fairly lame response with so many users knowing better. It may have worked years ago but heck, I know of 70 year old grandparents who use Google/Bing or even Wiki to search a topic before calling into tech support nowadays. If not they get me or a great grandkids to look it up and read it to them. They also use GPS in their cars now and see GPS tracks their car movements.
06-05-2013 4:57 AM
Since a phone does not have the ability to query the required 7 GPS geosynchronous satellites it uses the towers to triagulate location, no where near the accuracy. Know of only a single line of devices that actually had this ability and it is no longer made or sold - Garmin made cell phones a couple of years back.
Since it has no way of querying the satellite I am surprised they will even post 1 to 1.5 miles, that was the automatic deviation that was built into the satellite capable systems a number of years back by the military to prevent them being used as targeting devices.
06-07-2013 5:13 PM
I decided to try this because my daughter is going on a road-trip (she's 21). It is incredibly unreliable. Most of the time, it just says unable to locate even though I know she has service (she is texting me). Added the Check-in app to make it more reliable. Makes no difference. On another occasion, it shows her 50 miles from where she is (accurate to 150 yards)!
I will keep it for 2 weeks and then dump before getting charged.
06-12-2013 11:49 AM
Thanks for your input.
It's strange that when you call AT&T & their 3rd party FamilyMap support lines that they keep pushing that the technology being used for FamilyMap is GPS when in fact it isn't.
It's also strange that I can use a free downloaded app on my smart phone for driving directions that tracks my movement and provides location but FamilyMap does not have this capability and you pay for it.