Thursday, October 11, 2007

MapQuest Does it Again

Yesterday, I ran a MapQuest to get directions to a part of the city I hadn't been before. I wrote them down. I followed them.

After several miles, I found myself at the ocean, which is always nice, although not where I intended to be. If you are going to take a wrong turn, there is no better place to end up.

I was nearly out of gas, so I went to the nearest gas station, where the nozzle leaked on my hands. Luckily, I don't smoke.

I have known for a long time that MapQuest operates on the diagonal, or sometimes as the crow flies. It often has no relationship to actual street names and locations, but it also has no accountability. I mean, who are you going to complain to?

There have been periods when I boycotted MapQuest, sulking, after particularly unreliable intelligence, but inevitably, I forget my grievances and give them another chance. I can almost hear them laughing their heads off as they rip me off yet again.

"Fool me once, shame on you.
Fool me twice, shame on me."

This morning, I looked at a map, which I should have done in the first place. All the street names were accurate, but every turn was reversed. Every one of them. Where it said to go right, I should have gone left. And vice versa.

I'm pretty sure that with MapQuest, there is no right and left. There is only right and wrong. And they manage to be wrong at least half the time.


la cubana gringa said...

I gave up on mapquest long ago. Google maps is where it's at, yo.

Anonymous said...

Can you believe I have never had bad directions from them? Not even once.

NoRegrets said...

But like you said, at least you end up at the ocean! Nice.
Most of the time I can trust mapquest. But not in terms of the time things will take - I cut that in half - they estimate it for little old ladies. Not quite there yet.

Angela said...

MapQuest had me headed east when I needed to go west. This is the second time it's screwed me this year. (And I've only used it twice.) No more MapQuest for me. Yahoo maps all the way.

thailandchani said...

Mapquest is so unreliable that I now use Yahoo Maps. At least they are somewhat okay.. and there's nothing blatantly wrong.



Melanie said...

i do google... and thats all i have to say about that.

*~*Cece*~* said...

I HATE Mapquest with a passion! HATE IT! The same thing has happened to me several times! Once I was instructed, in San Diego where I'm not familiar w/at all, to exit the freeway and make an immediate right turn at the light. my right, at the light, was a fricken BRICK WALL!

Like you, I've boycotted them so many times! Like you, I keep using them. lol

heartinsanfrancisco said...

La Cubana,

I hear ya.



Can I believe this?



Yes, but they don't allow for the traffic jams the little old ladies will get into, so it probably evens out.


East, west, whatever, it's one of those directions so what's yer problem?


"Blatantly" is the operative word here then?

It seems like so little to have to settle for, doesn't it?

Melanie Gump, I presume?


Well, of course. You were supposed to go THROUGH the brick wall, silly. Didn't you understand that?

Sven said...

Although I have galloped headstrong into the technological age maps are one thing I do not trust internets to provide. At least not directions anyway. For the very reason you describe.

seventh sister said...

Yep, google maps or even yahoo will usually get you where you are intendng to go. Hope you had fun at the ocean.

The CEO said...

I used Yahoo Maps until I downloaded Google Earth, and then I became a Total Google Earth (Map) Believer. You can even ask to see the driving directions and see a driving view of your trip. Why would I bother with that other software that doesn't work? Nostalgia?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You're a very wise man.


I love the ocean. But that was not exactly the point.


I will convert instantly. Do they have t-shirts?

Irrelephant said...

The ocean. Gods I envy you that, with or without Mapquest holding your hand. *s*

meno said...

One more borg for google maps.

You will be assimilated, resistance is futile.

Sienna said...

I'm not exactly sure what mapquest is...but I have spent my life getting myself lost, maps or no maps...

I get lost in airports, countries, houses, cities, paddocks, hospitals, racetracks...I get lost in my own bed.

There is something in the hard wiring of some women's brains that can aggravate navigation and map reading skills-don't be too hard on yourself...and mapquest maybe a girl? :)

Pam...which is Map backwards, that doesn't even help.

Having said that, yes I love the little adventures and places and people I meet! Lotta fun.

WNG said...

I usually do Google maps or AAA. I'm a big dork though, and I bought a map book of the area when I moved here, so I can look up pretty much anything.

Bob said...

I compare maps from different services - usually mapquest, yahoo, and google - then pick the one I like most.

furiousBall said...

I always thought it was

Fool Me Once Shame on You
Fool me...the fooled won't get fooled again

At least that's W's version

Ian Lidster said...

So, dear Susan, end the suspense: did you ever actually reach your destination? I still rely on old fashioned street maps. Mind you, they can be badly done, too. The street map of Victoria I was using recently showed a lake that is actually about 40 miles north of Victoria.

Franki said...

I wish I always ended up at the ocean! I always end up in the worst neighborhood in DC.

Open Grove Claudia said...

To me? This is the ultimate San Francisco story. some sf hacker probably made all those changes so the tourists would stay lost. When I lived there, people would take the street signs down so if you didn't know the street, you were screwed.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


If MapQuest holds my hand, it's to lead me astray.


So much is futile, if only we realized it.

MAP, er Pam,

Your name is great for dyslexics who are directionally impaired.

MapQuest gives you verbal directions as well as maps. I prefer this because I am far-sighted and use glasses only to read, not to drive.

Maps have tiny writing, impossible to read while driving, and as for doing it at home first, it's just easier to have something that says "turn right at such-and-such, go 2.5 miles, turn left on blank."

You must have a very big bed to get lost in it, but I'm glad you meet such delightful people there.


Move over, there's a new dork in town. We own a huge Thomas guide to the entire Bay Area with street maps. Flip swears by it, but it's easier for me to have written directions. (Until they betray me.)


Ah, a comparison shopper. Does Consumer's Guide weigh in, too?


That works, too. In any event, I've been screwed over by MapQuest so many times that I am definitely a fool.


Oh, lovely. Travel west until your hat floats.

And no. I didn't get there. I went to an Asian grocery I like on the way home so it wouldn't be a total loss. I decided that my ambivalence probably manifested the mix-up somehow, and to give it further thought.


Well, if you would head west instead of east, you could end up there. Oh, wait. There's an ocean on your coast, too. Ok, head EAST. Keep going. You'll know you're there when your feet get wet.


Yeah, it was probably an inside job. We make our tourists work for it.

What part of the city did you live in, and when was it?

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

It makes me sad to think I'd REALLY have to take some wrong turns and a lot of driving to wind up at any ocean.

I think I'll hop on a plane or a train and head out to... sea the waves the easy way.

Scarlett & V.

PS- but I love to see them when I visit your page.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You would have to take a lot of incredibly wrong turns, many of them uphill, to end up here.

I think we may have a good trade agreement going as I love the Rockies and always enjoy your photos so much.

CS said...

Mpaquest is the bane of my travelling existance, and yet I keep using them. Sad, really. But how nice ot end up at the ocean.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


There are always compensations.

the walking man said...

I never get lost, because if you just aimlessly drive you will eventually get where you think you want to be.



heartinsanfrancisco said...


True, but sometimes, I would really like to get there BEFORE I see every other place in the world.

Why is it that the thing you're looking for is always the last one you find?

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