Saturday, March 30, 2013

The problem is in your equipment

How many times have we heard that or something similar?  The service providers never ever have a problem with their equipment.

This is mainly about cable TV, satellie TV, and mobile phone providers.

My mum had a problem with Comcast, so she called their number and was told that there wasn't a problem.  Right before see cancelled service with them, she was having a problem where the box would not change the channel for several minutes.  Eventually, she got a Comcast technician (twice) to the house and they replaced all of the equipment and it still happened.  The company still acted like jerks when she went to return their equipment.

I had been trying to get her to sign up for DirecTV and she came close but she learned that she had to have an e-mail address for one of the $5.00 discounts and refused since she didn't have a computer.  Suddenly, she decided to go with Dish Network, for whatever reason.  Someone arrived on the coldest day in that January to install the equipment.

Similarly, there were problems out the wazoo.  (Yes, wazoo is a technical term.)  She lost signal for quite a while.  A couple of months before her death, they were interested in helping her.  It seemed as though they were losing customers and started to care.  For two years when she called, they would give her the run-around and often, they would hang up on her.  The first actual Dish Network employee inspected everything and said that it wasn't a good location for an installation because of the trees.  The dish's position on the back of the house probably didn't help.  The supervisor who was going to double-check the inspection never arrived.  However, it was the first time anyone had ever admitted the problem was somewhere but the television.

I've had minimal problems with DirecTV during downpours and sleet but it's been fairly reliable.  I need to pay the extra for the HD receiver/recorder so I can take advantage of the HD television I have.  Even if certain channels aren't broadcast in HD, it would be good to see the whole display, rather than having some of it off the sides.

My issue is with mobile phone/mobile hotspot providers.

I've been with Sprint since September 2000, and I had a year with Aerial (-->Voicestream->T-Mobile) before that.  Almost 13 years is quite a long time.  Since I've been in a small town, the customer service people have told me that the problem is in my phone, even after I tell them that the problem has existed over 4 phones.  I moved here with the LG Musiq active.  I bought the LG Lotus later, and then, the LG Optimus S, an Android-based phone.  In late 2011, I bought an iPhone 4S, which is still my phone.

In all that time I've had the timeouts and otherwise poor 3G service.  If the problem is in my phone, why do they sell bad phones?  I don't have access to change the phone enough to do anything useful.  It's all their show.  I get that it's a small town, but don't you do your best everywhere?

When I was in Christiana, Delaware last July, I couldn't make a decent phone call--everything was extremely distorted, but the 4G/WiMAX worked beautifully on my mobile hotspot.  When I was in the Orlando, Florida area around Thanksgiving, my mobile hotspot worked brilliantly at the motel, and nothing worked well at my friends' house.  So much for being too successful!

I grew up with "the customer is always right", so what happened with service providers of all kinds?  If cable TV or satellite TV wants my money, shouldn't they provide the best experience?  Equally, if Sprint wants me to remain a customer, shouldn't they improve things where my phone is.  They collect the information so they can see the problems, although I suspect they delete some (or limit collection) of the problem information so that they don't have to deny it legally.

My problem here is that, given the small town, there is no good alternative, other than moving.  I'm also not seeing great changes in other larger cities 50-75 miles away, even with the expansion of LTE placements.

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