The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Wednesday, 02 May 2007]

Car alarm yadda yadda

Nic gets stuck in customer service hell when he replaces the fob to his car alarm.

The key ring bits on both fobs for my car alarm broke a little while ago. After scientific investigation had proved that duct tape, surprisingly, is not a viable fix for broken fobs, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a new fob from Code-Alarm, the manufacturer of the particular alarm in the car.

$70 for a new fob. Okay. Sure. Just get me out of duct tape hell.

After a few days the new fob arrived, and that’s when the whole experience turned into a bad episode of Seinfeld.

The new fob—an Audiovox-branded unit, for some reason—came with four pages of instructions on how to reprogram the alarm system. Great. Found the valet switch and followed the instructions.

The instructions that did nothing.

Called Code-Alarm’s tech support and got a gruff New Yorker on the line. The instructions would in fact not work with a Code-Alarm system. Tech support guy gave me completely different instructions. Followed those instructions. No go.

It should be added here that the fear when you’re jimmying with your car alarm is that you may inadvertently lock yourself out of the old fob without having the new one working. Which would suck.

Called Code-Alarm back. Got a different gruff New Yorker. Couldn’t do anything for me without knowing the exact model of the alarm system. OK. How do I find that out? By taking the car in to a Code-Alarm reseller and having them visually inspect it.

OK. Googled for a Code-Alarm reseller in the area. Found page after page of spammy car alarm slash car stereo companies that were located god-knows-where.

Perhaps the Honda dealer who put the damn thing in the car in the first place would have a record? Called them up. The whole idea that they would actually keep records of such piddly details was apparently silly beyond contempt. OK. So how much to rip out the car alarm and put in a new one? Car alarms started at $499.



Called up the Ultimate Electronics store that put the iPod deck in the car. Got any cheap car alarms? Have one for $149 installed.


So the car has a new alarm system for $149 that came with two fobs. And I’m out an extra $70 for the useless fob.

Am trying to work up the energy to call Code-Alarm back and demand a refund.

The worst thing about the whole chain of events is that I should have just put in a new alarm system years ago.

See, the Code-Alarm unit had this “feature” where it armed itself after 90 seconds. Sounds good, right? If you’re a scatter brain and forget to arm your alarm, it does it for you. Sweet. Of course, it didn’t lock the doors, just armed itself. But we all know how people come running to find out what’s going on whenever a car alarm goes off, so that was no problem.

This “feature” means that when you fill the car with gas, the alarm has armed itself. And when you have a small child, you will never enter or exit your vehicle in under 90 seconds, so the arm/disarm happy dance is there for you to enjoy every single time you go anywhere.

Annoying? Meh. Perhaps.

As a matter of fact, I called the Honda dealer right after my daughter was born and asked them if this “feature” could perhaps be turned off? Noper. See, the dealership had started selling some other brand, and nobody working there at that point would have been able to tell a Code-Alarm system from a hole in the ground.

Sometimes you just have to listen to your inner voice.

Beep beep.

Soundtrack: Hear Music on XM Satellite

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