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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For years now there has been a trend away from repair of consumer electronics. The reduction in profit and pricing in the products themselves, along with moves toward lower skilled workers attempting to perform board level repair has forced many independent and highly skilled servicers out of business. Those that remain struggle to survive, and struggle to maintain relationships with vendors. Those relationships are becoming more strained every day. Many manufacturers are cutting tech support and outsourcing service administration to third parties. The latest is Mitsubishi. They are partnering with a company called NSA to manage their service in the USA. The proposed system that will relace the relationships with individual servicers leverages their technical skill where it can while removing much of their control and ability to manage customer relations and their own staffing and routing. All this is being done at what most servicers find to be rates that are below their CODB (cost of doing business).

The trend is clear. Manufacturers have largely failed at managing service and want to farm it out to third parties. Dealing with hundreds or thousands of independent servicers, and providing actual repair at anything but board swapping levels is hard, and expensive. The assumption is that board level repair and product replacement are cheaper and more effective. The fact is that there are severe problems with this method, and the costs are actually quite high. They can be shifted in the corporate shell game, however, while manufacturers essentially get out of the business of service altogether. Expect it to get worse.

If anyone is interested in the point of view of the crotchety old TV tech who stubbornly struggles to survive and actually fix things these days, a good rant can be regularly found at the following web site:
http://www.nisc-t.com/public/

I welcome any discussion of the industry and its trends. While I am no longer in the business, it is still of great interest and I still have many friends and maintain contacts with many of the best techs in the world. It is a shame to see them struggle and abused by the industry, but the strongest and smartest will survive and adapt. Or they will move on to other industries like I have.

One can make the case that it just does not make sense to repair anything these days. I find that hard to accept, both because of my background as a tech, manager, and trainer who likes to solve problems, and as a conservationist that sees the impact of disposal on our environment.
 

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It trends up and down every 5 to 10 years.

The thinking of the Manufacturers is they can leverage their business against ASC's to force them into lower rates. Then when one service center agrees, it forces the others to follow or leave the business. Then what manufacturers are left with are the bottom of the barrel in Technician quality, and when that happens costs to manufacturers actually goes up. A lower quality tech doesn't care about customer service, he doesn't care about manufacturer service. This type of tech is just going to throw parts at a TV until it starts to work,,,it may be the first or the 3rd part. Then he bills the manufacturer for all 3 parts and his $145 labor charge. Total cost becomes 5 times the cost of a qualified tech that will isolate the problem to a $2.00 regulator but expects a $200 labor price.

Most manufacturers don't track this information, the ONE that does right now is struggling to stay in business because they took the blame for the worst manufacturer's quality issues. This low quality (service wise) manufacturer is eventually pushing for end user repair. They are driving their design to "troubleshoot by menus", then sending parts to TV owners and expecting them to switch the parts.

The ultimate responsibility for this is actually the consumer, we all like to blame the makers of TV's for quality and service. Stand in a store one day that sells consumer electronics and watch what people do when they purchase. (This doesn't apply to the people that frequent home theater forums, they are a completely different market.) A person will look at the picture on one TV, then look at another, then buy based solely on price. And many cases I have walked up to people told them what I do for a living, gave them my card and walk away. I will then watch what they ultimately pick, and 8 out of 10 times, they go back to the low priced set that I recommended against. This type of buying behavior forces manufacturers to make everything cheaper, not better, and this cost cutting forces the entire system to re-align.

I will soon also be leaving this for the last time. I left TV repair in the early 90's because of a similar situation, and I waited the whole time I was working in IT and Telecomm for the TV / electronics market to come back. I am too old this time around to wait it out.

One other note to remember for those seeking electronics service. Us professional service technicians have worked for years to learn the skill and proficiency with our business. When you see one of us come to your house and fix a TV for $300 in 30 minutes, you don't see the hours of preparation. You don't see the years of education and the years of experience. And learning that 30 minute fix took spending sometimes 10 hours of late night troubleshooting to find. And you don't see the cost of support personnel we have to pay, the cost of shop space, the cost of insurance, and the cost of actually salaries (in many cases that $20 an hour we have to pay techs, costs an additional $10 in SSDI and unemployment insurance). I am moving on for this reason alone, when after all my years of work I am expected to work for McDonald's wages, I'm going to the arches. LOL (well not really)

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
All so true, but rather than cycles I would describe as a spiral down.
 

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Yes,,,,, but around 2005 there were no Tech's in the industry.......And a good tech could make a LOT of money. Our average call then was about $225 profit per call. Now we are running may be $75, with about 10 % volume. Then there were only 3 shops in the area,,, now there must be 10 different "companies",,, and there is a reason I quoted companies.

It is now like it was in the late 60's/ early 70's when anyone could by a tube tester and call themselves a tech. Except now, you get on an internet forum, and say you have no power on your Plasma TV and hope someone tells you it has to be the power supply. LOL,,,,,, just joking guys, I don't mind helping, but you do have to TROUBLESHOOT.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
We are in one of the cycles where the assumption is that symptom/repair info is all it takes. One of the things that I have tried to do is to tell the rest of the story here at Home Theater Shack. You hear about the successes on the internet, but rarely about the complications and the failures. Real techs know that symptom-repair can only get you so far, and a large percentage of repairs are not trivial.

What has caused the spiral downward is the erosion of price and profit. You are absolutely correct that it is largely due to the consumer. It is also due to the retail industry that has made everything into a commodity, where price is the only consideration. The manufacturers have accomodated with products that have little difference and little to distinguish themselves from others. The rush to mediocrity as technology has advanced is unfortunate.
 
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