Saturday, March 4, 2017

Why service technicians tend to be grumpy

I've seen that before and I may have written on that before.

There was a period in my life when I was going around doctors like crazy trying to find a solution to losing vision with one of my eyes. I didn't find a solution, but I found out that the higher in the hierarchy the doctor, the more grumpy he or she tended to be; you were supposed to get in, follow instructions and get out; only feed information when asked and exactly as asked; free input was not much appreciated.

I later noticed I tend to develop the exact same symptom in my repair service business.

It's mostly because people tend to love talking in hope that will help them, whereas most of the time - at least in my experience - what they talk about has little or absolutely nothing to do with the problem at hand.

In their laymen heads they see a connection even if there is none ("it worked 5 years and it stopped when we moved it in the kitchen, but there is surge protector there, but there's also a fridge and I was thinking....").

They shouldn't be blamed for that, but at the end of the day they come to us to have a particular problem solved at a fixed and fairly low price, which does NOT include listening to lots of guesses, let alone education on why those guesses are wrong.

And those are the mild cases.

This post , like the one before, is about one of the not so common, but more aggressive cases of human idiocy that we have to deal with and which make us grumpy.

See for yourself, directly from our email (only revision to the text is the link added to the listing on eBay that was paid for):

From: Isaiah Kanda []
Sent: Saturday, March 04, 2017 12:01 AM
To: Coppell TV Repair LLC
Subject: Coppell TV Repair. Contact us

From: Isaiah Kanda -

I purchased a Sharp LC-42SB48UT power supply 715G4009-P1A-H20-003U / ADTVA2415SA4 off ebay from your company and all you guys sent me was a package saying "thank you for your purchase" WITHOUT the $70 item I bought from you guys, on top of that the package already says "delivered" and if this is the case I want my money back, I didn't just spend $70 fucking dollars for a week of patients for a sheet of fucking paper. Your shipping instructions Btw is horseshit and I better get this shit or you're gonna have a lawsuit on your fucking hands this is bullshit.

My TV model is: Sharp

This customer:
1) Has not read the listing or does not have the mental capacity to process it (no offense meant)
2) Has not read the follow-up email clarifying what was purchased or does not have the mental capacity to process it
3) Has not read the follow-up snail mail notification or does not have the mental capacity to process it
4) Uses profane language
5) Makes threats that are virtually baseless and even more certainly impractical as any lawsuit is going to end up costing him way more than what they've already spent.

From here on I can only make an educated guess that he won't be willing to recognize his own failures as the biggest contributing factor to the problem he's facing and will continue making demands.

You see, we like working with customers, not for customers, from which immediately follows that we are not willing to go for every customer.

What we don't want to is to end up paying for their lack of qualities, including ability to read and process information and communicate in a respectful and civilized manner.

Is that too much to ask for?

It looks like it is.

Which is why we tend to get grumpy :-)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bill Hogan is another customer who is always right

This article is a response to a negative feedback left by our eBay customer Bill Hogan, in which he accuses us in deceiving business practices, lying about shipping boxes and being rude on the phone as shown here:

(click to enlarge)

We can't pull any proofs against his last claim, so it will be our word we were not versus his, but we luckily have some proofs on the former two we'd like to introduce to anyone who's interested.

As can be seen from the above screenshot Mr. Hogan ordered

REPAIR SERVICE FOR T400HW01 V3 / 40T02-C04 / 55.46T02.C02 AUO T-CON.

You can click on the above link to land at the eBay page for this listing or you can simply look at the below picture (red underlines are ours):

We will not explain here what this means; if we have to explain it after you read it then we've failed and you can consider we admitting to it.

Mr. Hogan apparently had not read it, though, and since he did not receive a board he opened a case in Paypal.

Here is what his case looked like (again underscoring is ours):

In his claim, Mr. Hogan said (as underlined) that he received the item , but it was not as described.

Later Mr. Hogan has closed this case and opened another one, this time with his credit card provider, now stating he did NOT receive an item:

On our end we'll say this:
1) Mr. Hogan ordered a repair service as outlined in multiple places in the original eBay listing; we are still able and willing to deliver on what was advertised provided he does what is required from him in order to do so.

2) Like all other customers who order repair services on eBay from us Mr. Hogan was sent a snail mail reminder (the USPS tracking number shown in the screenshot above) to send the board as per the listing's terms or to go and read the listing and contact us to straighten the issue if he is still not aware that he bought a service and not an item; it is after receiving this communication (preceded by the multiple listing entries and a follow-up email with shipping instructions automatically sent upon order placement) that he eventually learned about his mistake and phoned us.

3) Mr. Hogan called us on the phone and was sarcastic and rude in the face of being told the above, i.e. what is it that he ordered. He did call us liars and thieves and hung up on us on the phone; he did not admit to having placed an order in error, he insisted he ordered a physical good and we've somehow tricked him.

4) As illustrated Mr. Hogan is contradicting his own claims - once that he received an item and once that he did not.

5) By placing an order on eBay Mr. Hogan entered a legal agreement with us, which agreement bears consequences and costs, such as USPS notification cost, eBay fees and now PayPal fees we'll have to pay because of the dispute brought.

The agreement did not have fine print and is not a bite and switch one; we are still willing and able to deliver everything as advertised and Mr. Hogan (or anyone else in his place for that matter) is just as responsible for his side of the agreement his willing entered into as we are for ours.

Naturally, we claim that Mr. Hogan should bear the consequences of not having read the terms and cover the costs for breaching out of his agreement.

5) As can be seen by looking at our eBay repair service listings and in our feedback from customers quite a few people use and praise our repair services and apparently have no problems with reading and utilizing them.

If you find an omission in any of them that is in customer's harm please do not hesitate to point it out so we can address it!

You be the judge.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why Amazon Inc. will ultimately fail

I've read somewhere (or just made up, I can't say for sure) that by the time an empire reaches its full glory it's decay has already begun.

If that is true then Amazon Inc will definitely fail and I am not here to whine about it, but to show you something I myself find amusing more than anything else.

Consider this page with listings Amazon:

The odd thing in this page, other than us having listed merely 5 items, is the shipping cost assigned by Amazon for one of the listed boards.

Unlike eBay Amazon does not ask us what shipping is, they calculate it based on the data they have which a reliable source has provided and their team of specialists has verified and approved.

So after about 6 exchanges with support, which alone are worth posting, but I'll skip them for sake of keeping this short, eventually they asked us for proof that the board is not 900 pounds as their database shows (they have the picture, of course).

So we sent them this video showing actual measuring of the board:

I'd lie if I say I didn't expect something along the lines that was received in response.

Here it is, with a screenshot so there are no modifications at all in the message (added the red underlining):

Were they just getting back at me?

Considering it took them 6 very normal exchanges to get to here, each from different person and at least 2 times not on the subject matter at all you'd also doubt.

And this is the amusing part - I don't know if they were just getting back because of the video or they are just THAT incompetent.

I think it doesn't matter.

Unbelievably successful as it is Amazon's decay has already started.

Friday, December 9, 2016

"Do you always replace capacitors with better ones" and other naive questions from the always right customers

Question: Hi I have a Samsung PN64E533d2F that needs a new power supply. It has been replaced once last year and has burned out again. I was reading that Samsung didn't put strong enough capacitors in these models. Do you repair them with better capacitors so this doesn't happen again?

This is hot from the support account and comes to illustrate a few points I've been pushing through here ever since I write:
  • Customer is not always right
  • Customer is often confused
  • Internet is dangerous learning source
    (my wife agrees with that, BTW, especially when it comes to adult websites; nothing about real love can be learned there, she says, and why half the world's population is periodically checking them is simply beyond her, just as it is beyond me why the other half is so damn occupied making selfies or dying to tweet their emotions in the open; but that's off topic!) 
  • You should not trust Internet experts more than you trust people on the street selling you expensive watches
    (for example authorities on the same above referenced websites where, I hear, they offer to enhance one's anatomy at will until one's wife stops questioning the benefits of vising said websites)
You see, while lots of power boards tend to develop problems with capacitors over time, that doesn't necessarily mean that all power supply boards will develop them, let alone that those will be the first / most common issues a certain model or family will have.

And the family BN44-00513A, BN44-00514A, BN44-00516A, BN44-00445B, among others, are a perfect example.

Those boards have a design and manufacturing problem, which develops way before any electrolytic capacitor issues, at least in all our experience so far.

Meaning we've fixed a few hundreds of this generation of power supplies from Samsung and we are yet to see a SINGLE bad capacitors on them.

Which doesn't prevent the customer from asking if we'll replace them with better ones...

Another common mistake customers do is trying to micro-manage us and ask questions like

"What capacity and voltage are your capacitors because I read they need to be higher [than the original] to live longer?"

While there certainly are situations where the question is valid (where a design or manufacturing mistake have indeed placed improperly rated capacitor on board and it needs to be upgraded), the vast majority of time the question is asked in context of 5-6 year old TV where OEM capacitors were more or less just fine and replacing them even with lower quality ones, let alone same or better, would give them more life than the rest of the TV is practically guaranteed to not match, i.e. it is practically certain that something else will fail in that
TV before the new replacements.

In other words, the question is not of any importance.

And that's leaving aside that like with every other product it's not just the ratings that matter: there are higher and lower quality brands, there are series optimized for durability or size or tougher conditions and finally there are simply manufacturing issues which may have caused one batch of otherwise excellent brand and series to have been released with lower quality...all those are real life factors not to be ignored.

What I am getting at is that customers will often do MUCH better by focusing their attention to choosing a reliable vendor and then going with their offer without questioning it.

Please understand, you can't receive the answers you want (or education you need!) on a $10 repair kit is just not possible, especially when you want simple and reaffirming answers and not education!

And you know what's ironic?

There are lots of vendors out there who will not just answer, but tout the features of their kit's qualities: brand, breakout voltage, shelf life and what not...all the info from the manufacturer's product catalog...
and only one problem: those parts may not even ever go bad on the actual board.

But it's a free market and if people want repair kit with capacitors they get it!

ShopJimmy sells kits containing parts that I have never seen fail in all the boards we've serviced, along with the parts that do tend to fail, in about 1:5 ratio. In other words you pay $20 for a component that costs about $2, but get lots of extras too.

eBay seller zemtronix[-com] takes that further and sells repair kits with components all of which I have never seen fail on the Sanyo main boards they sell them for - three voltage regulators 1117A and two capacitors; the same voltage regulators are known to fail on a certain Vizio family of main boards, but I repeat NEVER on the Sanyo main boards they are being sold for and I say that with the claim that we have likely fixed more such Sanyo main boards since 2010 than all eBay vendors combined.

I am not to pick a war with anyone here, too small for that, I am to illustrate how customers are wrong and being taken advantage of.

Hell we ourselves sell Vizio EEPROMs on NAND Flash memories, OK? They fail a whole lot less often than people seem to think and - you can check that - we have incorporated a language in the listings that explains that and warns against experimenting - and yet people still keep on buying them!
Sure some report success and sure enough sometimes they fail...but we do A LOT of board repairs and I can freely report here for everyone who has made it this far that people buy disproportionately more EEPROMs than we see failing on those boards.

I'll leave you with the conclusion that it's more important to know how to handle information than to have information.

And if average layman knows how to handle information I'd recommend focusing their attention to evaluating the source of information prior to processing the information itself.

Find a reliable source, verify it once or twice and hold on to them, still periodically evaluating them.

I wonder if I am not coming condescending here. (recently learned the word from a customer and practicing now, sorry!)

Maybe people already know all that.

If so then maybe that is why the stronger half of the world keeps revisiting certain websites.

Control is the key :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

US 2016 presidential election prediction - Trump, Clinton and TV repair

Tonight I can't seem to go anywhere without hearing a prediction for the outcome of the presidential election here in US.

So in the spirit of the day I want to make my own prediction.

If Clinton wins your new LED TV will fail within 2, at most 3 years of being purchased.

If Trump wins your new LED TV will fail within 2, at most 3 years of being purchased.

TV prices will continue slumping, offset mostly by size and partially by resolution increase of the display.

One of our frequent local customers - a small TV Repair business servicing north DFW  told me yesterday he is dropping  TV repair for some time as he signed up doing service calls for Samsung replacing a recalled control board in washing machines that Samsung had recalled 3M or so of.

That may be the future of TV repair business.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Is it worth to purchase / provide troubleshooting services online

I guess everyone who does repairs gets those calls sometimes from companies soliciting new accounts they can send customers to.

Or received the emails from and other such sites now offering up to $30 for phone consultation. via their new service

Or stumbled upon a JustAnswer support ticket while researching particular issue like I did today.

So we have in the shop this Panasonic TC-P65ST30 dead as a cucumber and jumping in the deep I went to see what does the cumulative brainpower of the human nation have to say about a dead TC-P65ST30 on Internet.

So I came across this article on

Do not read it, it is absolutely useless unless you want to learn out why you should never go to a generic problem solver if you can help it.

Nothing personal against or the "experts" that work there.

But I've read other such articles - and on other such sites - and it's been my firm determination to resist the appeal of becoming such a provider for the simple fear of getting to sound like them one day.

For example:

1) Given the news that the TV is dead (like ours here) the "expert" says:

"There is a failure on the power supply board inside the TV."

That's dead wrong on two counts, right there: first, this TV does not have ONE, but THREE power supply modules (that gets cleared up later in the conversation); second, a totally dead TV does not automatically mean dead power supply; a dead main board could have just the same effect on most models I've seen.

2) Given the news that customer "got the part" (which part is not clear) and installed it to no effect, "expert" #1 disappears from conversation and is replaced by "expert" #2.

Expert #2 asks customer to ask for presence of power between the power sub-modules and customer delivers a picture with notes on what's available and where (see original article, we're not copying that image which carries important justanswer copyrights and can't be redistributed for free).

After observing the picture "expert" #2 presents the following important question:

Expert #2: "So based on this, it would seem there's no power coming from the sub power supply to the main power supply is that correct?"

To which they receive the following surprisingly accurate answer:

Customer: "I suppose. I don't know what each of those boards are called."

At this point Expert #2 finally realizes the TV has 3 power modules and also leaves the conversation after some generic remark that it is the first time he is seeing that.

My take on the whole thing?

1) When you want to find someone to help you try to find someone who has seen the same problem that you have - same computer model, same TV model, same field of work (if it's a business problem) , same health failure symptoms (that's harder than it sounds).

If you have Panasonic plasma then anyone specializing in repairing Panasonic will be better than a generic TV repairman and anyone specializing in plasma repairs will be better than anyone with lots of LCD or tube experience.

Further on the point, anyone with experience with your exact model TV (or whatever it is) will be better than a generic workshop.

Google is amazing, search for the problem you have!

2) Do not pay for online troubleshooting on sites like justanswer or fixya unless you need help with something extremely simple and clearly defined like how to unscrew something or how to replace something.

As the above article illustrates (and I swear it's typical for what I've seen) experience with the particular model is hard enough challenge for those "experts", but if it comes down to analytical work and actual troubleshooting they just flee.

Do not waste your money!

On the vendor side, I definitely do not want to try to guide people who may or may not be able to operate a voltmeter and may or may not get electrocuted while trying to take a reading. The worse, actually, is that I'll just never know if what they tell me back is result of properly on improperly done procedure.

I know there will be people who think otherwise. I am OK with that and wish them best of luck.

I believe they need it.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A common problem when replacing Vizio and other EEPROMs (why charge more)

This issue has come up before, but I today I was reminded of it and would like to remind others too.

When removing the heat sinks on main boards people, including service technicians, tend to use sharp tools they twist sideways or press against in order to raise up and detach the heat sink from the board.

The result is often direct damage to the extremely tiny tracks around the main processor as shown here:
(click to enlarge, you will need it full size!)

The damage is a little to the right of the middle of the picture, just on the left side of R253.

Two tracks have been cut and will need to be repaired, which, while not a rocket science, is reasonably difficult.

There is an even bigger problem elsewhere though.

It is that people, including service techs, do not usually account for or even consider the odds of THEM damaging a board.

Similar to the situation in the previous article (where a customer, on the way to sue us in court, ended up publicly accusing us for selling them an empty EEPROM despite their own claim of having issues with the TV that would highly unlikely be caused by an EEPROM) this board was sent to us by a customer who ordered and installed an EEPROM from us.

The problem was not in the EEPROM, of course, but on top of the problem we had to deal with this issue and it took us much longer than the usual problem for the simple reason it is unique.

The profit in the TV repair business is in efficiency resolving a problem; every problem can be resolved given enough time or money, the trick is to do it for little time and little money.

This has proven possible only if you know upfront what to look for, not necessarily in terms of specific components, but also in terms of actually knowing the board and its functionality so you can exclude certain portions fast enough and focus on others.

Main boards are proprietary computers, though. We reverse engineer them to figure out how they work.

If and when it comes to isolating portions of the board you KNOW you are going to lose money on it; your only chance to make them up is if the same problem happens again in the future and THEN you can actually solve it quickly, charge reasonably (yet more than the time it has taken you to resolve it this particular time) and thus, over time, pay over your initial investment.

Problems like

Problems like this are unique - just as , for example, damages from stacking boards on top of each other or physical damages in transportation.

They are a sure money losers.

Which should explain why we ask for more money (if we at all agree) to service a board that was tampered with or broken in transportation.