Pardon the poor grammar and the Rolling Stones reference, but that thought could apply to many things in my life...yours too, I bet. But this time, let's focus on the support we (don't) get for our A/V hobby.

Today, there are many more "sophisticated digital accessories" available to us than there were even a couple years ago—networking stuff, voice activated stuff, and every app known to man on our smart-phones, not to mention the current features of A/V receivers, surround processors, and most other boxes in our theaters. Now, more than ever, we could use a little set-up assistance. Even for the techno-literate, there are new tricks to learn.

Photo credit: Kerkez

Now, let's make matters worse by not giving anybody a hard copy of the manual...instead we'll make them sacrifice a ream of paper and a toner cartridge to get enough printed instruction to make the new device work. You may be one of those who is satisfied to download the required data and then scroll until you find the answer you are looking for, but I'm the guy who wants a full, hard copy to place in the "Manual" file for current and future reference. But those days are gone. In the quest to reduce expenses, manufacturers have quietly shifted the burden of documentation to our side of the modem .

But, that's hardly the only place where I "get no satisfaction"—the rest are much worse!

When we buy a product, I think we have a reasonable right to expect support of that product from the guy (or company) who sold it to us. Once upon a time, we could almost count on it. Now...not so much. Try to find the button/function on a modern A/V receiver connected with all HDMI cabling that directs the audio to "analog audio out" for external feed to a distribution amplifier. Yeah, went through that last week. Of course, even if we had a downloaded manual, there is probably no mention of such a maneuver. So now comes the really hard part—finding a human being to talk to. Inevitably, we first have to wade through an arduous phone tree that requires you to surrender your mother's maiden name , your zodiac sign, and your dog's nickname.

How sick are you of hearing "Your call is very important to us"? Nonsense! If the call was important, they would staff up the phone bank to accommodate the call load. I know I have waited 30 minutes-plus simply because I had no other choice. I'll bet you have, too.

If we ever actually get to the first line of defense, the guy with the broken English, we soon learn that his/her troubleshooting prowess runs out at informing us how to re-boot or find the power button...they never got a copy of the manual either, so we are eventually directed to a senior service tech, the wait for whom is likely to get us disconnected.

So, how can we stop this dereliction of duty by those who were happy to take our money in the first place? I have more than once terminated the call with a variation of the following : "Please do record this and send it up the chain. Thank you for your help. Unfortunately,the process was far too difficult and unnecessarily complicated for a product of this nature. You should be happy to provide unencumbered assistance to anyone who has bought your products, no matter where, or when, or from whom they bought them for the sake of recognized support excellence. If I need to buy another product similar to yours, I will find a different vendor, one who actually answers the phone and believes the call is, indeed, important to them".

My response is unlikely to change their behavior, but it makes me feel a little better. If we all did something similar, it might even cause a process change. You never know. If even monsieur Jagger tried hard enough, he just might find, he gets what he needs.

Comments (5) Post a Comment
Tod T. Posted Aug 30, 2019 4:53 PM PST
Right on. Been there many times. The only way to get these companies attention is to name them and shame them on Facebook and Twitter. A less than $50 gadget is understandable, but a very expensive home theater device should come with a printed manual and a direct tech support phone number.
Hal Chamberlin Posted Aug 31, 2019 8:50 AM PST
Technical support is a killer app for artificial intelligence but nobody seems to be working on it. Maybe in 10 years after they're finished with self-driving cars.
Terry Paullin Posted Aug 31, 2019 9:58 AM PST
Right on Tod. Printed manuals made mandatory would sell a lot more gear to the techno scared and the guy who just wants to know everything about what he bought and paid for.

Manufacturers: ... A nickle saved, a dollar lost. Wake up Marketing !
Mike M Posted Sep 2, 2019 6:06 PM PST
Why would you want to pay extra for a useless paper manual you would use once then file away never to be seen again.(yes the cost will be passed onto the consumer).

Most technology is pretty intuitive. Some niggly feature might need a little bit of research but why would i want to thumb through a 100 page manual when i can just use the find function on my phone or laptop. Buy from a proper store not a massive retailer with 15 year olds working behind the counter and they can offer setup support.
Terry Paullin Posted Sep 14, 2019 8:37 AM PST
Well, one reason is that I rotate my equipment (and sometimes client's) and and often asked Q is "Does in come with a manual" - I'd like to say yes. Another is I'm often at a client install and I have a Q. Phone support is usually poor as detailed in my blog and/or laptop connections and either unreliable or non-existent.Finally,I just like the (maybe) the sense security. O.K., old school!

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