There’s plenty of static from own­ers over Blue­tooth

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - JOSHUA DOWLING joshua.dowling@cars­ This re­porter is on Twit­ter @JoshuaDowl­ing

It’s techno teething troubles: driv­ers of new Fords re­port their Blue­tooth phone con­nec­tions drop out con­stantly

FORD’S ‘‘ You’re the voice, try and un­der­stand it’’ TV ads may have a more lit­eral mean­ing than in­tended.

The John Farn­ham song is sup­posed to high­light Ford’s new voice con­trol tech­nol­ogy— which was largely re­spon­si­ble for a big drop in Ford’s qual­ity rank­ings in North Amer­ica be­cause of teething troubles.

In Aus­tralia, Ford has a com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lem of its own. Driv­ers of new Fords are re­port­ing their Blue­tooth phone con­nec­tions drop out con­stantly.

At least one owner claims to have been told by Ford cus­tomer ser­vice to buy a Blue­tooth ear­piece. An­other, to re­sort to us­ing head­phones.

Plumber Damian Wil­lis has owned noth­ing but Ford ve­hi­cles since he was 21.

The 57-year-old tradie has owned nine Fords and two months ago up­graded to his dream car: a Ford Per­for­mance Ve­hi­cles GS ute with the new su­per­charged V8 engine.

But Wil­lis’s love of Fords (he says he ‘‘ bleeds blue’’) is now be­ing sorely tested.

‘‘ I’ve lost all con­fi­dence in Ford’s built-in Blue­tooth kit,’’ he says. ‘‘ I have to pull over ev­ery time the phone rings, or call peo­ple back. It’s cost­ing me time and money.’’

Wil­lis uses an HTC De­sire phone, bought a year ago. His provider has told him his phone has Blue­tooth 3, while the Ford is up to Blue­tooth4.

‘‘ But the up­dates are sup­posed to be ret­ro­spec­tive, it should work,’’ Wil­lis says.

Sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kelly Du­c­los clocks up more than 100,000km a year and drives a new Ford Ter­ri­tory diesel (her sec­ond Ter­ri­tory in three years).

She is also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing phone trou­ble— but only af­ter she up­graded the soft­ware on her Ap­ple iPhone 4 to the lat­est oper­at­ing sys­tem, iOS 6.

‘‘ I’m fu­ri­ous. Ford just says there isn’t a fix. I can’t be­lieve they are al­lowed to say their car has Blue­tooth when it doesn’t work,’’ she says.

‘‘ It used to work fine in my old car. I can’t un­der­stand why the tech­nol­ogy would go back­wards. Other peo­ple at my work have the same prob­lem.’’

Wil­lis says his Blue­tooth con­nec­tion usu­ally drops out af­ter the first minute. Du­c­los gets up to three or four min­utes be­fore los­ing the sig­nal. A Ford dealer told Cars­guide: ‘‘ There’s no deny­ing there is an is­sue but Ford is slowly get­ting on top of it. They’re con­stantly up­grad­ing the soft­ware and the phone com­pat­i­bil­ity list. In some cases, turn­ing the Wi-Fi off can fix it be­cause it can in­ter­fere with the Blue­tooth con­nec­tion.’’

Ford Aus­tralia’s Sinead Phipps says: ‘‘ Blue­tooth per­for­mance can be af­fected by new phones com­ing to mar­ket and new firmware be­ing re­leased by de­vice man­u­fac­tur­ers.

‘‘ In the av­er­age five-year pe­riod a per­son will own a car, we es­ti­mate they’ll have three new phones— with nu­mer­ous soft­ware up­dates. We are mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to our Blue­tooth re­li­a­bil­ity with mid-year soft­ware up­dates al­ready this year and a (third quar­ter) up­date re­cently re­leased.

‘‘ We have a team ded­i­cated to Blue­tooth test­ing to fol­low de­vices and firmware as they come to mar­ket, which will flow through to pe­ri­odic up­dates to our soft­ware.

‘‘ We have found that Blue­tooth re­li­a­bil­ity is sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved by turn­ing off Wi-Fi on the phone and we are work­ing on soft­ware so­lu­tions to avoid the cus­tomer need­ing to do this.’’

Ter­ri­tory diesel: One owner says she loses the phone sig­nal

af­ter a few min­utes

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