"Fix It Yourself"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, January 21, 2017

Can you remember when you had a problem with your TV or Internet and you could call your provider? They would send a serviceman out with a truck full of equipment to check everything out and make the necessary repairs. It was usually a very prompt encounter and soon you were viewing your favorite TV shows and surfing the net.

Actually – those encounters were not that long ago. As I see it, things are different now. When you call, a robot answers and makes you answer a number of questions to make sure it is really you calling. When your identity has been determined beyond any doubt, you are asked a different set of questions to determine a problem exists. After you answer all of them, you are told there is a problem. If you resist the long delay in getting to your reason for calling, the robot simply hangs up and you start all over.

Having prior experience with calling, I dropped into my provider's office and told the friendly person at the counter about a problem I was having with my TV — some of the channels were not available. The person handed me a package of parts to enable me to make the repairs required. When I explained I was not a service tech, I was cheerfully told, no problem you will be able to do it.

When I got home, I read all the directions and made the parts changes as noted. Guess what — I was able to prove I am not a service tech. I went from having problems with a few channels to having no reception at all. I went back to the directions, took everything apart I had already done, and re-installed all the replacement parts. Still no reception.

My only choice at this point was to make the call and talk to the robot. When I finally got to the problem, the robot knew less than I did, but had the option of hanging up — which it did. I am not making this up. My incentive in making all the attempts was a show I wanted to watch which would be on in a few hours. With no other viable choice, I called the number back and somehow was blessed with reaching someone who actually talked to me.

After I explained my dilemma, I was directed to provide the number off the part I was working with. There was a short pause and I was told to hit the on button. Sure enough, I had perfect reception on all channels. The person said I actually was a pretty good tech because I had connected the hook-up just fine. The problem was no one had provided the direct number to call to activate the part. Pretty amazing to think something that important would be left out, like letting someone work blindfolded.

Maybe I'll apply for a job as a tech — I really think I've got the knack for it.

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