Neverlost, but seldom right

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Another post from The Man…

On our recent trip to San Antonio for our anniversary last month, we rented a car to get a Grand Slam hit and to keep the miles down on our personal vehicles.  Although Houston to San Antonio is manageable by car, the duration would have been difficult for Little C, so this trip was perfect for road traveling, since it was just Mommy Points and myself.  We rented from Hertz, which, in my opinion, still remains the superior choice in its industry.  My father chose Hertz, and was adamant about ingraining a true sense of brand loyalty on his sons (the adverse is also true; if you meet him someday, ask him what he thinks of Coors beer…)

Although I am entrenched in technology as the foundation of my career, and more so through various hobbies, to some extent, I am a Luddite.  Not to get too tangential, but technology is grafting itself into the human psyche faster than we recognize.  Too many of us are beholden to our gadgets, the most codependent of which is the ubiquitous little GPS.  There are countless valid studies indicating that a dependence on technology reduces both short-term and long-term recall (I can still tell you my friend’s phone numbers from childhood, but have to look up 90% of the numbers that I frequently use today), and those of us who use GPS are quickly losing the ability to read a map, or find their way out of a bathroom without digital assistance.  I pick my battles, however.  Although I am addicted to the features of my smartphone, I have avoided using GPS unless boating, where there are no road signs, and fog or darkness can make landmark recognition challenging.

When we picked up our car from Hertz, our friendly neighborhood manager, Megan, gleefully exclaimed, “Oooh, and this one has Neverlost!”  I was happy that she was happy, but was rather nonplussed by the added feature.  It was complimentary, so I didn’t mind.  It was mounted in the passenger legroom area, below the radio and climate controls, to the right of the gearshift.  If I were in a challenging area with complex directions and needed to glance at the displayed map to succeed at finding my route, it would be far from the view of the road.  Not the best mounting position, I’d have to say, but it worked.

I doubt that I would have turned the unit on the entire trip, but for the fact that it comes on automatically when you start the car.  One of the features from the menu is “My Trips”, so out of a passing curiosity, I navigated to that option.  I was informed that I could load a trip from a USB stick, rather than having to manually enter the address of each location into the unit itself.  I had a few minutes to spare as I waited for MP to get her last-minute things for the trip, so I dashed inside and browsed to the Neverlost site.  The site is well designed, and with one click, I began constructing my trip.

Although Houston to San Antonio is a straight shot on I-10 West, the actual locations of the Hyatt Regency and the Westin La Cantera were not ones that I had memorized.  So I plugged both of those destinations into the trip creator, as well as our home address to see if it could navigate back for the return without fail.  The final saved file was small, and transferred to a usb stick without incident.  Once I plugged it in to the Neverlost device, it was a matter of restarting the unit to get it to recognize the stick, and then my named trip was available for use.

To its credit, Neverlost is very fast and accurate when displaying maps and routes at highway speeds.  It did not inform me that the suggested route was a toll route when that part of the trip came up, so if I hadn’t known of an alternate, I would have been required to do a cash lane toll, as the car did not have speedpass or something similar as an offering.  One can always play “rental roulette” to see if a bill comes later for toll fees on the speedpass lanes, but this behavior also can get a peace officer conversation pretty quickly, if one is nearby when your car doesn’t register at the tollbooth.

Once we passed the tollroad, the unit quickly calculated an alternate route, and told me such: “Calculating alternate route.”  I swear they hired a hypnotist for the voice recordings, because the female voice that helpfully suggests approaching exits, turns, or destinations is the audible equivalent of equal parts Zanax, Benadryl, and Valium.

When it came time to pull over for a bio-break (MP hates this term, so I’m required to include it for any bipartisan readership) and some beef jerky (it’s a state law in Texas that if roadtripping for greater than 100 miles one-way, all motorists must buy and consume copious quantities of quality dried meat.  I strongly suggest Oma’s Choice, and if not Oma’s, then a close second is Roberson’s) we found a convenience store outside of Seguin (pronounced suh-GEEN).  Here’s where Neverlost got buggy.  The on-ramp to return to I-10 was clearly a left-hand entrance from the feeder.  Neverlost, or at least, the brazen charlatan barking commands, demanded I go right.  Now, despite the fact that I knew full well which was the correct path, I instantly, and obediently, veered right.  Perhaps there is something to this hypnosis theory after all…

It became immediately obvious that we were now traveling in the wrong direction.  A good rule of thumb in the South is that, if the people staring at you from their front porch have more rocking chairs than teeth, you may be lost.  We made our hasty u-turn, ignoring Neverlost’s vehement protestations, and managed to get back on I-10 unscathed.

The rest of the trip was fairly accurate, guiding us down appropriate one-way streets in downtown San Antonio, and routing us to west of San Antonio correctly, albeit somewhat circuitously.  On the return, however, Neverlost tried to get us to go back through Austin, rather than Houston.  We live north of Houston, but this route seemed arbitrarily assigned, and not the direct shot.  Moreover, I-10 is a four-lane divided highway, as opposed to the Austin route, which would have required two-lane blacktop for much of the journey.

All in all, I’d give Neverlost high marks.  If I were in a strange area, and didn’t have time to research a map or ask for directions, I would be very happy that this was an available option.  Yet now that many phones are GPS-enabled, I’m interested to see if on-board GPS services like this will continue to be profitable for the car rental industry.

Are you a fan of GPS?  If it weren’t available and you were significantly lost, do you think you possess the necessary skills to become un-lost?  In a labyrinth, what is the only guaranteed way to find the exit?

Disclaimer: MommyPoints.com received no compensation for this review, and has no direct affiliation with Hertz or it’s Neverlost product.  Additionally, volume of teeth and chairs embellished for creative purposes, with the utmost respect for whomever lives at the red x.

 

Comments

  1. I’m a huge fan of GPS when it’s well designed. I generally have a great sense of direction (you should have seen my confidence when roaming around Venice during my first day there), so I don’t always need it. My current Civic had it pre-installed and I was similarly ambivalent. But it comes in useful in Seattle.

    On the other hand, Hertz’s Neverlost is not only useless but also annoying. It’s difficult to input addresses, the directions and verbal alerts are inconsistent, as you noted, and the thing sticks out like a giant stick from the dash. The first time I saw one, my dad was driving, and he was about ready to throw it out the window when it kept telling him to turn around. I would almost pay Hertz to give me a car WITHOUT Neverlost.

  2. My in vehicle GPS gets used only when using a car abroad. And on the rare occasion I rent a car domestically but in a city far from home.

    Even Garmin has steered me wrong in Tasmania and around New Zealand. But 95% of the time it works beautifully in such situations. We’ll see how it fares in rural Germany this winter.

  3. >Are you a fan of GPS?

    I am an American living in Tokyo. I have come to rely on GPS in my android phone here because streets end where least expected. Addresses have no logical order and seem to created by some particularly mean spirited Shinto god.

    Without GPS (called Navi here) I would almost never find anything.

  4. We appreciate your story about your recent trip in Texas. We know that people have quite a few alternatives to choose from, including personal GPS systems, smartphones, or even printed out maps. We try out best to have a reliable system that is easy to use when on a trip. This is why it is already installed in vehicles. We also know that users run into surprises while on the road. We offer a real-time support team at 800-823-2547 to provide immediate assistance when customer’s have questions or issues on the road.

    We were glad that you used Online Trip Planning. For users that are not as comfortable with computers, we will also build trips for you and send them to you on a free USB thumb drive.

    Your review was very honest and humorous. We appreciate your comments. We will also look into the map issues that you ran into. Take care and drive safe!

  5. Thank you all for your comments.

    Oscar, it’s great to know that there’s an 800 number for people to call if questions or issues arise.

    -The Man

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