Davis Vantage Pro = Poor Support - Beware!

Davis Vantage Pro = Poor Support - Beware

Be careful dealing with Davis. They have yet to learn how to foster good customer relations. Could be due to their California roots. Not that I'm knocking all Californians, but how Davis conducts their business leaves a lot to be desired. They border on pulling one over on the customer, then when confronted look the other way and laugh.

I've found LaCrosse Technology to be more of the kind of company I like to deal with. LaCrosse touts itself as a "company with a small-town philosophy of servicing our customers to the highest level", and being a midwestern'er myself, I find that fits with my personal philosophy, which is quite the opposite of Davis's philosophy.

I bought my first Weather Station from Davis after doing a few months of research to be sure I purchased a unit that did everything I wanted. In doing that research I was in contact with Davis asking questions for a period of about 3 weeks. They were fairly helpful pre-sales, a fact I would later learn did not continue post-sale.

That was Fall of 2004. Well, in December 2005, my brother-in-law and one of my nephews both had Weather Stations on their Christmas lists. Maybe it had something to do with being exposed to mine, I publish all the weather data I gather here, and they do access it. So I decided to get them Weather Stations for Christmas. But I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice, i.e. purchase Davis units based on my experience with Davis, so I purchased each of them LaCrosse Weather Stations.

I urge all of you looking to purchase Weather Stations, check out LaCrosse, Oregon Scientific, or Rainwise to name a few. You won't be sorry. You may be sorry if you purchase Davis, like I am.

You're wondering about my beef with Davis. Well, it involves three factors.

As part of my research I was in contact with Davis. One of my goals was to be able to have a server access the weather station, download its data, archive it, and display it, like my web site is doing. So I was particularly interested in what data was accessible via a link to a computer, and I read their technical documentation cover to cover. But once I got the unit and installed it and started downloading the data on a minute by minute basis, data did not appear to be updating according to what Davis's own specification said.

So I contacted Davis regarding these issues, at first I was summarily blown off, I don't know if they were trying to cover up the fact, or if they didn't understand the issues. Either case, that's no excuse. It took about three weeks to finally get past all this and actually get someone to look at the data discrepancies I was seeing. Well that analysis took another couple of weeks, then I was finally told that yes the specification detailing downloading the data from the unit spells out that you can do that, but, you can't do that.

Now geeze, I bought the unit to do that, but now I can't do that, and Davis's attitude was, "Oh well, too bad". Nice eh?

Then another issue arose which you'll see will tie in to the third issue. After using the unit a few weeks I noticed that the graph display on the Console was not functioning as outlined in the manual. I again contacted Davis and provided a very detailed description of the problem. They were able to reproduce it and acknowledge the problem. (It's not fixed yet after close to a year of waiting.)

Now comes the third factor, which in and of itself could be not so bad, if Davis was true to their word, but they don't seem to be. As I mentioned I did a lot of research before I purchased a Weather Station and as such was in contact with Davis for about 3 weeks, asking questions as they came to mind. Well, I finally ordered my Vantage Pro. Before I ever received it, they announced the Vantage Pro 2. I don't even have it yet and it's obsolete? I was not a happy camper. And ya think Davis could have mentioned that to me during the course of our 3 week correspondence? No. They would rather clear out their old inventory and stick it to their customers.

So, I contacted Davis to see if they would be willing to do something about this. The fact of the matter was, if I would have known the new model was coming out in a matter of days, I would have waited. But then that would mean they would have one additional old unit in inventory, and from a business stand point they didn't want that, they'd rather alienate customers. At the time I was willing to trade in my new unused in the box Vantage Pro for a Vantage Pro 2 and pay an additional amount of money to do so. But Davis wouldn't consider it.

What's the worst case for Davis? They have to sell the old unit let's say at cost to liquidate old inventory, so they don't make money on it, but they don't lose money either, and they don't alienate customers, and they DO create good customer relations. But that was not the route Davis chose to take.

Then on top of all this I was assured by Davis that I had a good unit and they would continue to support it for years to come. Lip service. You know the old saying, "How do you know a salesman is lying?". Well, its been a year, there has been no support what so ever. No new firmware. Ergo no correction of that graph problem I reported.

So, just what "Support for years to come" were they referring to I have to wonder??

Oh and there's one other point I should mention. As I mentioned I have a server downloading the weather data from the Vantage Pro Console on a minute by minute basis. Well if you want to do that there's a slight catch in being able to do that. The out of the box Vantage Pro is not capable of being accessed by a computer, at least not the one I purchased. If you want to do that you need this little interface device that plugs into the Vantage Pro Console and then allows you to connect it to a computer, I'll call this device a dongle.

Well, the only way you can purchase that dongle, at least at the time of this writing is to purchase Davis's WeatherLink Software which includes it, to the tune of $150 or so. In my case, I have no need for that software because the software that I use to download and display the weather information I wrote and runs on a Linux server, their software was only Windows based.

So I was forced by Davis to purchase their $150 software package to get a ~$30 dongle. They do not sell, or did not sell the dongle separately at the time of my purchase. Probably purposely, once again just to increase their profit and thereby sticking it to the customer.

As another note, LaCrosse's model WS-3601U comes with a COM port capable of being connected to a computer AND the software that installs on the computer, i.e. nothing extra to purchase.

Had I known then what I know now, I would not have considered purchasing a Davis Vantage Pro even if it was by far the best unit on the market. So, if you do decide to purchase a Davis Weather Station a word of warning, once they come out with the next model of the unit you purchased, even though they may tell you they will support yours for years to come, don't expect to see any bug fixes if you discover one in your unit, they won't fix it, that's what their track record shows and has been my experience with them.