Another rant - - -

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monophoto

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So we have four TVs in our house - one in the master bedroom, one in the kitchen, one in my office and one in our son's room. Several years ago, the local cable company switched from analog to digital service, so each TV has a cable box. They sent out cable boxes along with instructions for me to follow to install everything. That was a painful process because the stuff they sent wasn't suitable for the specific situation in our house, therefore requiring numerous calls to the cable company, two visits to their local retail office (where there were long lines because they were forcing all their customers to make the analog-digital change at the same time), and finally a visit from a service technician, and led me to conclude that the only people at the cable company who know what they are talking about are the guys who actually work on the equipment - the telephone 'customer service' people and retail store people are totally clueless.

Last week, I noticed that the TV in the office wasn't working properly - the cable box was responding to the clicker in a strange way. I could still use it, but it was a nuisance. So I called the cable company, and after taking the usual five minutes to get through the harassing automation, I was finally able to speak with a real person. She went through a series of diagnostics, had me reboot the cable box (which takes about 15 minutes), and then concluded that she didn't have a clue what was wrong. So she put me on hold while she reached out to someone with more expertise - but then the call was terminated.

So I called back, went through the usual harassment (why are you calling on your cell phone rather than the phone number listed on the account?), and eventually spoke to another person who also was clueless and concluded that they needed to replace both the cable box and the clicker. She gave me three choices - she could have the replacements sent to me for me to install, or I could drive into town to get replacements at their retail store. And if neither of those worked, they would send out a technician. I opted for the technician - if they didn't really know what the problem was, there was no assurance that simply replacing boxes would solve it, whereas have a technician right there means that someone from the cable company would be available to actually do something.

I had to wait a couple of days for an opening to schedule the technician, and when he arrived, the first thing he did was to test that an adequate cable signal was being received. That led him to replace the coax coming into the house - this is the second time they have replaced the cable since we have lived here. But since the new cable is probably good for another 8-10 years, that alone made this exercise worthwhile.

Then he came inside to address the problem that I had complained about - and within 30 seconds of hearing my description of the problem, he had it solved! It was simply a matter of correcting some deeply-buried settings on the cable box. I have no idea how the settings were changed to cause the problem to appear - I am very reluctant to even look at the settings because they are far from intuitive and there are no instructions that describe what they do (and that's the subject of another rant). But once again, it proved the point that the customer service people on the telephone rarely know what they are talking about. Instead, they have been given a script to follow - if the customer reports X, do Y, and if that doesn't work, try Z, etc, and if eventhing fails, start replacing stuff. On the other hand, the technicians who have actually done installations generally are very good and can actually solve problems..

It's not just the cable company - the trend across many industries is to try to force the customer to do the troubleshooting and repair, and resort to knowledgeable service people only if that approach fails. I can fix a lot of things myself, but if the problem is something I can't solve, I really resent these automated voice response systems that seem to be designed to prevent you from talking to someone with a pulse, only to eventually conclude that the 'customer service' person is incompetent.
 
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Dehn0045

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Mar 19, 2017
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Cosmic rays. No, seriously. As electronics become smaller and smaller they are more vulnerable to so-called 'bit flips'. My basic understanding is that the cosmic rays are tiny particles with enough energy to change a ONE to a ZERO (or vice versa) in a computer. If they hit the computer in just the right way the bit can flip. This can cause some screwy things to happen. Its possible to build systems that are more robust against this type of thing, but redundancy is expensive so a lot of times we just live with the fallout. There are a bunch of case studies out there on the topic - interesting, but mostly over my head.
 

monophoto

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Cosmic rays. No, seriously. As electronics become smaller and smaller they are more vulnerable to so-called 'bit flips'. My basic understanding is that the cosmic rays are tiny particles with enough energy to change a ONE to a ZERO (or vice versa) in a computer. If they hit the computer in just the right way the bit can flip. This can cause some screwy things to happen. Its possible to build systems that are more robust against this type of thing, but redundancy is expensive so a lot of times we just live with the fallout. There are a bunch of case studies out there on the topic - interesting, but mostly over my head.
Yup - it's either that or 'geomagnetically induced currents', aka, sun spots.

My dad worked for a power utility - in his day, the go-to answer for explaining mysteries was the 'throw rat' - a dead rodent that was carried in the back of every trouble-shooter's truck and that could be planted as evidence to explain problems.
 

egnald

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Columbus, Nebraska, USA
I had a similar experience. Forced into cable boxes, poor signal strength on high frequency channels. The old wiring in the house was blamed. I spent 2 months pulling new cable runs point-to-point in the house - it didn't fix anything. Second technician came in and with good old troubleshooting by measuring signal strength from the pedestal into the house found the problem - it was their crappy cable from the pedestal to the house that was causing the problem. That was 4 months ago - still have a "temporary" run of coax laying on my yard between the pedestal and the house waiting for the cable company to come back to trench it in. Kudos to one young tech that knows how to troubleshoot instead of guessing and speculating. - Dave
 

magpens

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Coquitlam, BC, Canada
"It's not just the cable company - the trend across many industries is to try to force the customer to do the troubleshooting and repair, and resort to knowledgeable service people only if that approach fails. I can fix a lot of things myself, but if the problem is something I can't solve, I really resent these automated voice response systems that seem to be designed to prevent you from talking to someone with a pulse, only to eventually conclude that the 'customer service' person is incompetent."

In my opinion, as you say, "try to force the customer to do the troubleshooting and repair" is the trend in many industries and services.

Anyone notice that this is happening in our "medical services" also ? . I had one MD tell me ... "I don't have a clue " !!
 

KenB259

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Reminds me of years ago. I had a water softener, still under warranty, needed repairs. I had to show the technician how to unhook it from the water lines, that didn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling at all. He did fix it though 😬
 

sbwertz

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I cut the tv cable about four years ago. I get about 30 channels on the antenna, and have cable only for internet. We are not tv watchers, so the antenna serves us well. We have the local tv channels for news when we want it. I have HULU and Prime so I can watch my few favorite shows on the laptop. Saves me about a hundred bucks a month, and don't miss it at all. I already had Prime for the free shipping. Upgraded my Hulu to no ads for twelve bucks a month. We were just not using our cable tv service near enough to make it worth the cost.
 

jttheclockman

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NJ, USA.
"It's not just the cable company - the trend across many industries is to try to force the customer to do the troubleshooting and repair, and resort to knowledgeable service people only if that approach fails. I can fix a lot of things myself, but if the problem is something I can't solve, I really resent these automated voice response systems that seem to be designed to prevent you from talking to someone with a pulse, only to eventually conclude that the 'customer service' person is incompetent."

In my opinion, as you say, "try to force the customer to do the troubleshooting and repair" is the trend in many industries and services.

Anyone notice that this is happening in our "medical services" also ? . I had one MD tell me ... "I don't have a clue " !!
I kind of like being able to troubleshoot myself and if given the proper things to look for it is pretty basic. I also like when I need computer work done and the person takes over my computer to fix it. Then I do not have to follow each step because I am not computer literate at all. Privacy issues maybe but so is the same if you have to bring into a shop. I am a hands on guy. Always have been so if I can fix it I will try. Sometimes that can get costly:)
 

Kenny Durrant

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I get each point brought up by all that replied. I feel that if I’m paying someone for a service and there’s a problem it’s theirs to fix. If I fix it there’s no price break for doing their service work. I’m stuck with cable tv for various reasons so I’m paying $200 a month for their service. I’m hearing that the younger generation doesn’t watch tv they use other means of getting entertainment. If that’s the case I think the cable people will get what they have coming when there’s no one to pay their price for what they offer. Don’t get me wrong if I can fix it without the wait or frustration of putting up with a problem will. If you have a problem with something under warranty you take it back. A service is the same as a warranty IMO.
 
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HAHA! This is a GREAT thread. HAHA! I was going to share some stories about pre-retirement when I was an engineer at a gas/elec utility.

But I won't

Suffice it to say that "some things don't change".
 

monophoto

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Saratoga Springs, NY
Second technician came in and with good old troubleshooting by measuring signal strength from the pedestal into the house found the problem - it was their crappy cable from the pedestal to the house that was causing the problem. That was 4 months ago - still have a "temporary" run of coax laying on my yard between the pedestal and the house waiting for the cable company to come back to trench it in.
Similar story here - the first time our coax had to be replaced, I had to wrestle with the coax every time I mowed the lawn until the 'trenching specialists' came back several months later. There were two guys on the trenching crew - one had a shovel, while the other apparently was only qualified to watch. Sadly, they only buried it a couple of inches under the grass and since then it worked its way back to the surface in a few spots. I recall asking the installer why they didn't put it in conduit. It seems to me that if the initial installation had been in 1" conduit, it would have been a very simple matter to use the old coax to pull in a replacement coax. But I suspect that the issue is the first cost of the conduit.

When the technician told me yesterday that he was going to replace the coax, I asked him about trenching. He initially said that a second crew would come out to bury it, but after he installed and knew how long it was, he said that company policy allowed him to go ahead with the trenching - apparently, they require a second crew if its more than 100'. But he cautioned that it still wouldn't be all that deep. All he used was a flat-blade shovel that cut a slot about 5-6" deep.
 
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I've noted that companies are shifting more and more to the customer... Walmart and most local grocers have more self check out registers than they do company manned registers... even Dollar General locally has gone to self-check out.... until I'm forced to use them, I will wait in line for a company person to check out my purchases.... 1. they are taking jobs, and 2. if I have to do company work, I want an employee discount. :mad:
 
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When the technician told me yesterday that he was going to replace the coax, I asked him about trenching. He initially said that a second crew would come out to bury it, but after he installed and knew how long it was, he said that company policy allowed him to go ahead with the trenching - apparently, they require a second crew if its more than 100'. But he cautioned that it still wouldn't be all that deep. All he used was a flat-blade shovel that cut a slot about 5-6" deep.
Fortunately my satellite dish is only about 4 feet from the corner of the house where the cable enters.... when we upgraded the technician buried the cable at the same time...
We had a little problem yesterday with a power surge or something that clicked off our Hopper box and unlinked all the Joey's around the house... a call to the Satellite company got it fixed pretty quick, but evidently I'm getting old and can't hear or understand foreign accents as well as i once did or something... I had to ask the phone tech to repeat her instructions half a dozen times to understand what she was saying.
 

Alchemist

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We got rid of cable boxes, bought Roku adapter for the front and back TVs and one smart TV for the kids room. Hulu, Prime, and Netflix with Disney (for for free because of our cellphone carrier) and a good internet connection- watch whatever we want, when we want. It’s the easiest way with the most convenience for the money. It relies on a wireless router, but tech stuff comes easy to me.

I don’t like people coming into my house. The bug guy knows this, the pool guy knows this, my wife and kid know this. We had satellite tv for ages. Customer service is swapping to to the actual customer because everything it outsourced.

If companies took a little extra time to get it right the first time, I would think stuff would be less troublesome in the future.

And let’s not get started on waiting for the technician coming out between the hours of 8 to 5pm wasting a whole day.


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sbwertz

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Phoenix, AZ
I kind of like being able to troubleshoot myself and if given the proper things to look for it is pretty basic. I also like when I need computer work done and the person takes over my computer to fix it. Then I do not have to follow each step because I am not computer literate at all. Privacy issues maybe but so is the same if you have to bring into a shop. I am a hands on guy. Always have been so if I can fix it I will try. Sometimes that can get costly:)
Remote control software is a real boon to computer consultants.
 
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