Thursday, October 01, 2009

Death of an American Brand

No, not Saturn and not GM.

I have been trying for a few days to get my father's cable TV account upgraded to digital cable. The flashy brochures that said it would be simple/easy/no cost turned out to be missing a few key bits of info.

Since there is more than one television in the home - who doesn't have more than one these days? - there is a splitter. No where in the information provided did it mention that the old splitters won't work with digital. After an hour on the phone with 2nd level technical support, someone finally realized that I needed to replace the splitter. (They know they account has more than one TV connected based on the equipment I ordered) But they gave me slightly wrong information about what splitter I needed.

So, I did what any child of the 1970s would do... I went to Radio Shack. What a complete waste of time.

Not only could the sales person not talk to my questions, she tried to sell me exactly the same splitter I was trying to replace. The one I finally decided I needed was priced at more than 20 dollars. I left.

So I stopped at Wal-Mart on my way back to my Dad's on another errand, and took a look in the electronics section. The splitter I needed was less than 10 bucks. It was clearly marked.

Once upon a time, Radio Shack was the place to go when you had questions. Today, it is just another cell phone store. And while they can probably answer all your questions about the Blackberry versus the iPhone they don't know squat about the bandwidth requirements of digital cable systems. And it would be one thing if they were priced competitively, but their price on what I needed was more than double the cost at the discounter. But I won't pay more for service, if I can't get any better service.

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