The Dish on Dish, Part III

1:55 PM -- Why not have more truck rolls?

So far, in my DISH adventure, I've waited for an HDTV upgrade and I was pleasantly surprised by the HD receiver, but only after I struggled with some customer service issues.

Now, a brief detour to talk truck rolls…

One of the big weaknesses that a lot of cable companies and satellite TV providers have is that they rely on independent contractors to do their customer service (installations, problem fixes, etc.) at the customer's home.

My DISH installer was a nice guy and he did an okay job. But he spent nearly his entire time selling me on using him directly and not going through DISH. "Don't use those guys. They suck. If you need anything, call me," he said.

What DISH and the cable guys need to know is that these independent installers are actually your competition. They don't like you. Their mission is to reinstall as much new coaxial cable and do as much redundant work as they can get away with so they can stick you with a ridiculous bill.

The RBOCs might have a huge advantage in the TV service game if they are indeed committed to using their own people to handle installations and onsite customer service. Every phone technician I've ever had at my house has been reliable, courteous, etc. and they all talk up their own company. Sure, they charge me, but I don't mind -- they stand behind their work and they're accountable. DISH Network uses mercenaries, and these guys are only as committed to DISH as long as something better doesn't come along on the reseller market. They may as well show up wearing an eye patch with a parrot on one shoulder. Long term, companies who sell premium services like HDTV should hire, train, and more tightly control who they're sending to their customers' homes. It does make a difference.

I think people would pay more for products if they were guaranteed that they could talk to live representatives on the phone with short hold times. And I think people will gladly pay for service calls if they can be assured that the service personnel has some stake in the company and its products.

To call for more truck rolls in the telecom and TV space may seem like sacrilege, but I think it's the only way these industries can stop sucking long enough to save its reputation. Everyone's doing the DIY customer service thing. Want to differentiate? Try providing some real customer service.

In my next post, I'll delve into my continuing tech problems with DISH. And I'll cover how I found out that a diplexer isn't a piece of exercise equipment.

— Phil Harvey, News Editor, Light Reading

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