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July 2009

What happened to tech support?

For the sake of keeping my job i will leave out manufacturer & product names.

I am out at a project where 2 products (that we are dealers for) are installed. One of the products was installed by someone else, i found a problem that wasn’t my responsibility but since our systems are integrated i decided to resolve it while on site. I call up tech support and explain my situation very clearly, i get transferred to someone who can help. As my boss begins to explain the situation to the tech he is cut off mid sentence with “thats a physical issue i cant help you with that”. Then my boss says “let me finish my sentence and you will see that it is not a physical issue”.

After the tech shuts up and listens his first troubleshooting tip is to climb into the attic with a multimeter to check for power, even after we explain that the product is functioning normally. (I would love to get a hold of the guy who decided to mount the interface product in the attic.. but that’s another story :). Anyhow.. at this point my boss hangs up on the guy because he realizes we have ourselves another card reading moron. The problem was that the product could not be controlled via the keypad but it functioned manually so we knew that the hardware was OK. It was obviously a setting or communications issue. As i said before we are dealers for the product but i don’t have much experience dealing with the specific product. There was a flashing red light. I assumed we could tell the tech about the flashing red light and get a simple answer but no.. he first wanted me to crawl into the attic with a multimeter.My boss calls up the company that installed the product. 2 minutes later the problem is resolved. No insulation, no drywall dust, no spiders or their webs. I was able to resolve the issue with a paper clip and a step ladder.

While at the same job i had a user interface lock up during a firmware upgrade attempt. Tech growls at me for trying to update firmware wirelessly. Tells me how i should “NEVER EVER DO THAT”. Ok.. so if i should never ever do it.. why is it possible to do it that way? How come i was able to load the other 3 that way? Oh and the other 3 or 4 hundred i have installed over the last 2 years? I sure wish they would include a cheat sheet of REAL instructions with each product so i know what i should NEVER EVER do. After tech growls at me he asks me how i want the item shipped back and stars giving me an RMA number.

I had stopped trying to force the firmware for fear of screwing up the interface but now that it has to go in for service anyway i figured more trying couldn’t hurt. About 10 minutes later i have the panel working again. I still wasn’t able to get the firmware to load but at least its working and i have time to get a loaner for the client. So now the conversation is “it needs to go in for service but its working for now” instead of “remember the upgrade i told you about? the one that would solve the minor issues you are having? looks like it made things worse and now you have to spend a week without it”.

So.. what the hell has happened to tech support? It’s hit or miss with them these days. You either get a guy who knows what hes doing or a complete total moron. I understand that idiots can sometimes slip thru the cracks and end up in jobs that cant do but i would say i get an idiot on the phone 50% of the time now. There new troubleshooting tool is called “RMA number”. I guess its perfectly reasonable for my client to not be able to use the system in his master bedroom for a week or more… or maybe its perfectly reasonable that we eat the cost of loaner hardware for everyone. At some point people are going to start including company names and specific details in their blog rants.

DirecTV Shenanigans UPDATE!

DirecTV finally made it out to the clients home. This time i put a sign on the door that said “DIRECTV.. COME ON IN DOOR IS UNLOCKED” so they would not be able to pretend they knocked. I got some payback by manipulating the DirecTV tech into mounting my FM antenna and saving me a trip on the roof. I told him “this is the antenna your supposed to install”. Tech says “what do you mean”. I say “DirecTV told the homeowner to provide the antenna and you would install it”. Tech said “OK”.

I took a snapshot of his work ticket. This is what it says: “Cust was there. saw driver as driver pulled away from house. CELL # 312-513-****. PLEASE CALL WHEN HEADED OUT TO INSTALL OR CUST WILL CANCEL.”. I thought it was pretty funny that they would put that on the ticket.

DirecTV Work Order
DirecTV Work Order

Husky 22 in Cantilever Parts Organizer

I ran in to this industrial looking parts organizer today at homdepot. The body is hard plastic and the handle  looks  aluminum. Feels super durable. At first i saw the small trays inside and figured i wouldnt be able to use it but then i opened it up to find larger ones on the bottom. The top is very clear so you can see exactly whats inside. The trays are removable. The top looks solid and the clasps are metal eliminating the possibility of the thing flying open while your carrying it. See the lame blurry iphone pics below :).

Click Pic To See More
Click Pic To See More

DirecTV Shenanigans

I am working at a clients home and waiting for DirecTV to show up between 8 & 12. A carpenter is working outside between 8 & 10 and i was outside between 11 & 12. Another CI and I were inside between 10 & 11. No one else in the house so its quiet. The door bell is not installed.

DirecTV calls the client and leaves a message saying they couldnt get in, they knocked but no one answered. They claim they are coming back in the afternoon. I put a sign up that says DIRECTV WE ARE INSIDE KNOCK HARD. DirecTV calls client and says they knocked for 10 minutes and no one let them in. Client reschedules them for the next day.

The next day i drop off FlyingMachine @ the airport and head back to the clients home. I am working on the front porch when i see a white minivan with a magnet DirecTV sign on the door drive by @ about 1 mph. The guy driving is scoping the house out and stops at the end of the drive way and puts his van in reverse as if hes going to park. I start waving to him to get his attention and as soon as he sees me he puts the van in drive and peels out. He basically confirmed what we told the client. They didnt want to do the job that day so they pretend to stop by and claim they cant get it.

I have dealt with DirecTV for a decade or more so i know all the BS they try to pull but this is the first time i actually caught one of their installers speed away for fear he may have to do an install. I assume the installer is being paid by the hour and works for a DirecTV sub contractor that gets paid by DirecTV based on installation. In my area the DirecTV installers are all 1 man shows and they are like vulchers fighting over every installation. Theres no way they would pass up an easy install 2 days in a row. The dish location can be reached with a 6 foot ladder and the cables are already pulled. All the guy has to do is mount the dish and activate the receivers that are going in the rack.

Now they wont be back out until monday.. when the programmer shows up.. this time i will be ready. I am going to block off the intersection and get the cage ready..