Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dealing With DishNet

It began last Friday night when I was playing back some alien/horror/space/gory death movie that I’d recorded off one of the 75 or 80 movie channels we get.  Toni had gone off to Gotham to spend the weekend visiting our daughter and enhancing the Manhattan economy, and the dogs and I had the house to ourselves, free to watch crappy movies and lounge around the media room all day and night.  About a half-hour into the movie, the picture froze, then the screen went black, and the DishNet receiver crashed. 

It recycled itself and came back up on a TV station.  I selected the DVR, and told it to resume the movie.  Crash.  Instantly.  Cycled again.  Waited.  Pulled up a different horrible space aliens/face-eating movie I’d recorded.  Got a half-hour in: crash.  My keen powers of deduction suggested there was something wrong with the DVR.  Annoying, but not the end of the world.  I have scores of DVD movies, so I spent the weekend watching some of my favorite DVD movies.

Knowing (or, at least assuming) that a weekend call to the DishNet tech folks would be routed to Bangladesh or Mogadishu, on Monday, I fired up a chat with the DishNet tech folks.  For those who have not had the pleasure, for the first 15 minutes they ask you such inane things as “has a tree recently been uprooted by a storm and fallen on the satellite receiver on your roof?” and “has it snowed within a thousand miles of your current location within the last four months”; then they proceed to the “please unplug your receiver for one minute and then plug it in again and see if that fixes it” stage.

I chatted through all of this until the poor soul on the other end of the chat had exhausted his or her checklist, and I was “handed off” to a tech specialist, who, to his or her credit, believed me when I told him or her that I believed the hard drive had been corrupted, so I was told that a new receiver, same model, would be shipped to me FedEx, and I would have to install it.  Would they send a tech over to my house to do it?  No.  It’s “simple”.

Wednesday afternoon the new receiver arrived; I swapped it for the corrupted one, hooked up the five necessary wires (three from the satellite dish on my roof, the HDMI cord that hooks the receiver to the TV, and the a/c power cord) and proceeded to the next step, which was to power up the unit.

Suffice it to say what happened next was NOT what the DishNet folks had painstakingly laid out in the instruction sheet that accompanied the new receiver.  (What a surprise!)  I called the number listed on the sheet for tech help, got connected immediately, and the young man (who told me he was in Colorado) tried his best to walk me through the “check switch/satellite alignment” screen, but he just couldn’t do it.  After about 10 minutes, he transferred me to the “advanced technical unit” and a very pleasant young lady (who told me she was in Virginia) diagnosed the problem in about one minute.  The guy I’d been talking to before must have been operating with an outdated manual…he kept trying to get the system to look at four satellites, when I only need to look at three.  “It happens”, she said, philosophically.

After the young woman in Virginia got me to where I needed to be in the set-up process, she told me there’d be about a half-hour of downloads, so my new receiver could suck in all the data it needed, and she said “if you’d like, I can stay with you on the phone and we can chat while this is going on, or, if it’s OK with you, I’d like to take a few more calls and help some other folks while your data is downloading, and I promise I’ll call you back in half an hour and we’ll see if you’re good to go”.

This young woman is not only very smart, but very well-trained and very customer-friendly.  I hope they’re paying her about 50 bucks an hour.

As promised, she called me back 30 minutes later, made me check to see that all my favorite channels were actually coming in, and then – talk about a person who does her homework – she said “I see you have another DishNet system and receiver in another part of your house (we do, in the master bedroom suite) – 999 times out of a thousand there’s no problem, but would you mind going to check and see if that system is still working the way you want – I’ll stay with you while you check.”  Everything was fine, so I thanked her and ended the conversation.

If anyone from the DishNet Board of Directors ever reads this, I think you should seriously consider making this young woman in Virginia – she told me her name was Wendy – the new CEO of DishNet.


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