12 May No Services. Time for Self Service?
Now I’m not sure about you, but whenever a piece of technology I own stops working, I get a really deep sinking feeling. I am a Computer Scientist by training, which means I have some background and ability to locate and fix the problem, however, this is not a blessing, it is in fact a curse, because I know from long and bitter experience that if the On/Off switch is not the solution then it is unlikely to be an easy or a quick fix. Recently my kids came to me early one morning to point out that the TV was not working… No prizes for guessing that the On/Off approach to this problem did not work.
I immediately tried the On/Off switch again… I know that this is a form of denial, but I was hoping on the off chance that it might just work. Unfortunately, it did not and it was now time to man up and do some troubleshooting, so I fiddled with cables, satellite cards, diagnostics modes, various setting etc. It finally dawned on me that the problem wasn’t with the TV or the receiver but with the satellite dish itself. Back to that sinking feeling I mentioned earlier, instead of acceptance I once more decided to go with denial and opted (yet again) for the old fashion On/Off approach.
Hence, you know that your weekend is not going to plan when you are standing @ 7:00 am in your back garden in the bitter January cold staring at satellite dish that is effectively hanging upside down, the inevitable outcome of the previous night’s storm. Well, at least I now knew what the problem was.
My DIY skills are not the best, the various holes in my walls, collapsed shelves and cracked picture frames are a testament to that. So, at this point I decide that it was time to call the satellite company to come out and repair the dish. I pay my bills, I’m sure this is something that they can do. In fact, it turns out that they can’t… having waited the mandatory 20 minutes whilst listening to the standard “your call is important to us… an operator will be with you shortly… etc..” the agent finally answered the call. I may be a bit paranoid here, but I felt that the agent was not exactly unhappy to tell me that it would be at least 5 to 10 working days before a repair man could call out (“all those winter storms have played havoc with the dishes across the country”) and that the call out charge would be anywhere from €110 + vat upwards.
There is one thing that overrides my aversion to DIY and that is grumpy kids and having to pay any utility company additional money. Getting over my natural fear of fixing things and heights, I managed to repair the dish myself, by looking up YouTube videos, going online to buy a Satellite tuner for €10, climbing a ladder with extreme caution and manually retuning the dish.
I was inordinately proud of myself, but what is the moral of the story? The Customer doesn’t want to ring call centres, they don’t want to pay call out charges, so make it really easy for people to find the information that they need and they will happily sort out their own problems. The good news is that the technologies and methods are readily available to make these “self-services” available to customers and it is not as onerous or as difficult as you might think.
However, I was right about one thing… by the time I had sorted out my own dish it had not been exactly an easy or a quick fix.