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.