A large number of customers of Garmin’s smartwatches report the watches recording drastically different elevation data when users traverse the same route multiple times, calling into question the accuracy of any location data provided by the watches. The issue appears to be related to the watches’ barometric sensor and affects the VivoActive 3, the VivoActive 4, the Instinct 1, the Forerunner models, and likely other models as well. Some users have reported being able to rectify the problem by cleaning the altimeter of the watches, but it appears that this must be done regularly, and is not described as a maintenance step by Garmin.
Given that Garmin watches are marketed for their GPS and fitness capabilities (see the model names), this is a substantial deficiency in the functionality of the watches. Customers may have claims for false advertising or defective design.
Garmin’s consumer warranty does not include any mandatory arbitration provision or class action waivers. When customers replace the watch under warranty, the replacement watches suffer from the same defect.
Rand McNally faced a similar class action lawsuit in May 2021 over allegations that they sold navigation devices that display “wildly inaccurate” GPS information. Fitbit also faced a similar class action over the inaccurate “sleep tracking” function in its smart watches. The case resulted in over $20M in damages and $7M in attorneys’ fees.