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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Blu-ray Blues -- it's broken, man! BROKEN!

Posted on January 8, 2011 at 1:57 PM

This one client has called like the store – specifically ME – about a half-dozen times recently sweating problems over his Blu-ray player.


“I can see it but not hear it.”


“Now I can hear it but I can’t see it.”


“It won’t play CDs.”


“Now it plays CDs but won’t play DVDs.”


“Now I can’t get it to eject my disc.”


Each time, my answer has been the same. “Look, sounds like your player might be broken. I really can’t tell without setting up a service call to come out and take a look. Something might be wired wrong or a setting might be off on your receiver or TV, but, from what you’re saying, I think I’m just going to send someone out there and charge you sixty bucks to tell you what I’m telling you right now: I think your player is broken.”


And each time he would say, “Ahhh, all right. Let me think about it. I’ll call you back.”


This guy was just doing every living thing in his power to avoid the service call. He even stopped into the store last week where I was -- blessedly -- literally heading out the door to go to a doctor's appointment. "Hey! Sorry, can't talk! Gotta go!" I'm not sure what he talked to Allen about, but I've now doubt that it was entirely "This is what is wrong with my Blu-ray player; what do you think it might be?" in nature. Yet, he continues calling with new and different problems. And each time I continue with my mantra, "She's broke, Jim." So tired of the 10 minute phone calls, I finally offer to let him bring the player in and tell him I’ll look at it at no charge in our store.


So this morning when I pull in at 10:01 there he is. Standing by the front door with his Blu-ray under his arm and a yellow memo pad filled with notes. I must say, I knew that he was coming, but when I pull into the lot and there is someone waiting on me, it just *really* kicks my day right in the ass. I have a routine for opening the store. I like to walk back to the office, turn on the computer, go through the store, check my e-mails, see the website’s analytics, you know ease into the day like slipping into a nice hot bath with a nice new book and a nice cold drink. And none of my day starting routine involves people waiting by the door when I pull up.


So he comes in and hands me his player and I take it over to one of our systems, set it down and say, “OK. Where’s the remote? I'm gonna need that to test it.” Of course he forgot to bring it and since I don’t have any of this brand player on the floor, I can’t help him. So, temporary reprieve while he goes back home to get the remote.


Jump-cut to about 30 minutes later and he’s back. So I hook the player up and the player brings up the Blu-ray disc menu, but it will not let me navigate the menu screen. I do the old fire-his-remote-into-my-cell-phone-camera-to-check-that-it-is-emitting-infrared trick, and sure enough, the remote is working. So I show him how the unit is not responding to any of the button presses from the remote. Or responding to the front panel play button. Or stop button. Or the eject button. Or the power off button.


“Yeah, just like I thought,” says John. “It’s broken.”


“Well, how do you know?” says unbelieving customer.


“You see how it won’t do anything when I press the remote?" Press. Press. Press-press-press-presspresspresspressssss! "It isn't responding to any commands. And see how it won't work even when I press a button on the unit itself?" Press. Press. Press-press-press... "That’s generally a sign of something that is locked-up and broken.”


“You know, people tell you so many different things, it’s hard to know who to believe.”


“What do you mean?” says John, his mind wandering to simpler times, like when he’ll be able to get back to his office chair.


“Well, HTC says it isn’t their cable box.” (I have to just interject here, what an amazing, complete rain de-railing non-sequitor that statement was. One minute – well, actually EVERY minute – we’re talking about his Blu-ray and then suddenly he’s talking about his cable box. But, there you have it. There were also some comments about car mechanics and dealerships and cars not working that I kind of mind wandered through.)  “Now you’re saying my Blu-ray is broken. How do I know it isn’t that smart remote you sold me that is causing the problem? Or my TV. Or the stereo you sold me.”


“OK, first off, your cable box has absolutely nothing to do with this. I know that because, well, as you can see, your cable box isn’t here right now. So that’s that. Plus there's just no way that a cable box could stop a Blu-ray player from working. They aren't even connected in any kind of way. Second, there is NO WAY that the remote control could do this. None. Not like I kinda-don’t-think, but that I positively know. Also, did you notice that I never even used your smart remote? I used the factory remote. And did you also notice that it didn’t work when I just pushed the buttons on the unit itself?”


“I’m just not sure...”


“Well, I’m sure. I know that MY system works. My TV here works. My receiver here works. All of my stuff is hooked up correctly and working. And when we add your Blu-ray player to it, it doesn’t work. And, did we even sell this Blu-ray player to you?”


“No. I bought it along with my TV from AVAC (another store). I like to spread my business around.”


“I see. But yet here you are. Expecting me to fix it. For free.” This is when I unplug the unit and hand him his remotes back. “It’s broken. I can either sell you a new one, or you can go to the other store and work with them if you don’t believe me that it’s actually broken. But there’s no more testing that I need to do on it.”


Here he starts flipping through his yellow pad of notes. I see things like “CD audio not working” and “No DVD picture” and other scribbles and hieroglyphics. I can see him weighing asking me about some of these problems, but by now his unit is disconnected and sitting back on a table.


“OK,” he says, with a voice full of heavy and dripping with forlorn and forced acceptance, like he has just been given grievous medical news and he is deciding how he is going to divvy up his organs, “I guess I’ll buy the new player and let you install it. If you’re really sure that this one is broken.”

Categories: January 2011, CTA

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Reply Gary Mardell
7:04 AM on January 9, 2011 
This Blu-ray is no more! He has ceased to be! He's expired and gone to meet his maker!
Reply Rob Medich
8:33 PM on January 9, 2011 
Hi John!
I think my mojo is broken. Can you fix?