The Grumpy Old Man

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....The Joys of Satellite Television.....

....Satellite Television Woes....

When we see two elderly spacecraft still working, namely Voyager (launched in nineteen seventy-seven and now some 20,000 million Km from earth) and a much younger sprite called Rosetta (launched in two thousand and four) is it not surprising that I get very annoyed when the satellite television system purchased two years ago has been nothing but a pain in the butt ever since it was installed.

I had to arrange at least four callouts in the first year. Fortunately these were covered financially by warranty but in some cases it was over two weeks before the fitter was able to call. During that time we had no television facilities whatsoever. The only saving grace was that we have an extensive DVD library. Very useful for the dark nights!

Problems seemed to occur every time we had a storm or high winds. And those, on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, can be both frequent and ferocious. These problems continued into the following year and we were expected to endure the same waiting time in addition to a callout charge which seemed to start at one hundred Euros a pop. No doubt we would also have had to pay for any materials on top of that.

In view of the obvious correlation between the wind and loss of signal I eventually got the ladder out and tweaked the dish round myself. I found the signal strength meters that I could call up on the TV via the control box quite adequate for this purpose. This self adjustment happened at least six or seven more times.

On one of my visits to the aerial (after the whole dish assembly had fallen apart) I noticed there were only three rather than four bolts securing the aerial to the chimney. Clearly this allowed it to vibrate in high winds and it was obviously shaking itself to pieces. On this occasion I was lucky to have adequate screws to put the dish back together again.

To summarise, in two years we have had three new dish receiver units, the cable from the dish to the television has been replaced twice, I have been on the roof six or seven times to adjust the "aim" of the dish. On the final visit to do this, the whole thing came apart in my hands again, this time the dish assembly required total replacement. While this was being replaced, together with the feed cable it was found that moisture had leaked down the cable and corroded the contacts in the receiver box. Fortunately these could be cleaned as I shudder to think what this would cost to replace.

It is particularly galling to compare the success of the space probes with a commercial operation which fails so abysmally in the execution of a similar technology. Since my background is closely related to this technology, I can say that the technology itself is fantastic but the engineering of the commercial version foist on the general public is unnecessarily cheap, not very cheerful, and most definitely 'not fit for purpose'. In short, crap. The satellite TV company must make a fortune after the guarantee period expires, as they send out fitters (now at customer expense) to put something right that wasn't done properly in the first place!

I do accept that some of these problems may have been exacerbated by Grumpy living so close to the sea. Anyone who has lived near the sea knows that it may be delightful to swim in during the summer, but it is highly corrosive to any metallic objects. This corrosion can be prevented by using special (but expensive) materials. It is clear that the satellite TV company is not interested in this (because of the cost) and just erects an inferior system more suited to sheltered, inland locations.

The satellite TV company then have the gall to send out a questionnaire asking 'how well are we doing?'. When I responded by saying "rubbish", I got a telephone call from someone in a call centre who was clearly totally non-technical and couldn't understand a word of what I was talking about.

It is most amusing that the satellite TV company advertise themselves (on their own channel, for heaven's sake) with the motto 'XXX, believe in better', I agree, I do believe in better, clearly, they don't!

One is very tempted to observe that we never had this sort of carry on with the old TV system, so again, if it ain't broke, why fix it?