Friday, November 19, 2010

upgrade the software or die

About 10 months ago, our television died. We have 3, but this was the main one. It was the one in the family room that we sit down and watch together, when we do such things. If we rent movies or watch something as a family, this is where it happens. So losing that TV was a big deal. It had lived a long and happy life. We had it for about 10 years, and it was to the point where it would cost as much (or more) to repair than to buy a replacement.

It was not a huge screen or flat screen TV. It was supposedly HD compatible, but we never figured out how to get that to work. It just wasn't a priority. The picture was just fine as it was. When it died though, the wife decided it was time to take the leap into the present. We, like most of our friends, should have the big flat high definition screen...and we made it so.

We went to a store and bought a 52 inch Sony high definition TV. All was right with the world.

Until last night. I came home from work to find the wife staring at a blank screen, listening to the news. You could hear it just fine, but there was no picture.. We ate dinner, and I went to work on the TV. I turned it off and unplugged all the cables attached to it and plugged them all back in, making sure they were all secure, and turned it back on. Still, sound and no picture. I tried the DVD player. Same thing. I tried the TV's menu system. Success there. I could see and navigate that, but still no broadcast picture.

I played with the menus until I got to a product support section. I had an 800 number and a website. The wife dialed. I went to the computer. I figured one of us would come up with something. Through both of those venues, we came up with the same answer. The television's software needed an upgrade.

I got on the phone with the woman the wife was talking to. Through a thick asian accent, I got that I needed to get the software upgrade through the internet. I tried to ask how that was supposed to happen. The TV isn't connected to the internet. There's no place to insert any kind of disk. How does one upgrade the software? All I got from the woman (over and over again) was I needed to get it from the internet. She was incapable of giving me specifics about how I go about doing this. I guess this is how Sony and other companies deal with customer support now. If the answer isn't something you want to hear, they have someone from another country tell you, so they don't understand when you ask for specifics of how to do something, and they just re-read the script they've been given. Your frustration really doesn't matter.

I tried to get the TV to connect to our wireless router. It wasn't happening. I called Best Buy and they asked me what Sony recommended. Once we got past that joke, it was determined that I needed some hardware to get the TV to communicate with our router and upload the software upgrade. $200 and a few hours later, we had television again.

Aside from Sony's inadequate customer support, my real frustration is the initial problem. So, television works fine on Wednesday. Television is broke Thursday. The solution upgrade?? Doesn't software upgrade imply some improvement or new feature not available before? Usually if you don't upgrade, doesn't that mean you just miss out on something that wasn't available, but now is? Should you not be able to continue in blissful ignorance, without whatever great new thing that's been added to enhance your viewing experience? I didn't realize "upgrade" meant continue to function as a television.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

attitude is everything

The new TSA security procedures are just a matter of attitude. Your "invasive" could be my "cheap thrill."