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Old 8th Mar 2007, 9:06 pm   #1
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Default Humour in the TV trade.

Inspired by this thread

When I was a young TV engineer I worked for a trade service company called CCS Electronics based in Winchmore Hill London N14.

On the wall of the workshop we had a list of funny quotes from customers. I can only remember 2 (well it was 40 years ago).

1] An engineer had entered a house to repair a TV using a key left for the purpose. On the kitchen table was a note for him. "Please carry the dog out to the garden and bring him back after you have finished as he's not very well".

2] A symptom reported by a customer. "The sound's there, but it won't come out".

Later when I worked for the EHCS in Enfield Middlesex one of the older engineers used to tell me stories of the early days of servicing.

1] An engineer would slowly roll the frame of a set and invite the customer to select the best picture, even rolling it the other way to pick the "best" one.

2] He knew an engineer who had told a customer (when asked what had been wrong with her set) that he had had to change the roll of film. When the set had a further fault some years later the lady concerned asked "if that nice young man could come round and change the film again".
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Old 8th Mar 2007, 9:24 pm   #2
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

In the early 1960's telephones were quite rare in working class homes and often a letter would arrive requesting service. I still have one somewhere that was sent to me. One of the sentences stated. 'The picture needs focusing and I haven't had it since your man was here last'...
I had many a laugh with these letters.
A lady came into the shop one day and requested a service call for her dual standard Ferguson t.v. The house was a complete mess with rubbish and magazines piled everywhere. The call completely slipped my mind and three days later she again called into the shop. 'When are you going to fix my telly? We havn't been able to eat properly for three days...'
Upon enquiring why the lack of a service call had prevented her from eating she explained that she had removed piles of junk from the top and sides of the set, expected my visit and placed it on the dining room table and this had created a considerable difficulty at dinner time...
I have dozens of hillarious incidents during my many years in the trade. Happy memories! regards John.

Last edited by Heatercathodeshort; 8th Mar 2007 at 9:35 pm.
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Old 8th Mar 2007, 9:55 pm   #3
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

These stories are legion.

We once had a customer whose television always HAD to be repaired in her home: we could not take it to the workshop because "my budgie will pull all his feathers out". On one occasion a workshop repair was the only possibility: "But, ... what will I DO ?" (I, note, not the budgie). So we produced a newspaper cutting for her to read, and said "You don't want to get like that, do you, Madam ?"

The cutting reported how a man, deprived for two days of his television set, had ... committed suicide.

No trouble with her after that !
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Old 9th Mar 2007, 8:11 am   #4
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

This is one of many.
All persons are real, but their identities have been protected. I do not know of anyone called Mr A or Mrs B, although there is someone about called "U".

Phone rings - Mr A (shop manager) answers it and talks to Mrs B (rental customer).

B: "My telly has just packed up - can someone come out?"
A: "Certainly - where do you live?"
B: "nn xxxxxx Street, Swinton"
A: "OK, we'll come and sort it today, but as this is Moston, we will pass the call to our Swinton branch."
B: "OK, thanks. Didn't know there was a branch there as we have just moved"
A: "I'll give you the number for future reference"
B: "Have you got a pencil?"
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Old 9th Mar 2007, 9:03 am   #5
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

Picture this.........The Boss was sat on the workshop Storage heaters.. miles away, deep in concentration teasing out the braid of some Air spaced Coax whilst fitting a plug.
The other apprentice picked up the far end of the cable behind him, took a deep drag on his cigarette and blew it down the cable. 100mS later tools went one way and cable the other. Good job he didn't have a dicky ticker!!
I must admit it was a really funny incident at the time.... Not sure the Boss was too impressed....

On another occasion a customer rang up and was totally convinced her Morphy Richards Spin dryer was trying to get her having trapped her in a corner of the kitchen. Some of you probably remember that they used to walk over the floor if they weren't loaded properly....

Happy days..... As apprentices we had little money but overall I look back at those times with affection with all the funny incidents. I still have one of my weekly wage packets 2 12/4d. 3.00 before deductions and was the minimum 1st year Apprentice wage in the mid 60s....

If you take something apart often enough, eventually you'll have two of them....
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Old 9th Mar 2007, 7:55 pm   #6
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When I started my electrical apprenticeship in 1982, my wages were 52.11p/week before deductions(6.72!!)

Many apprentices were caught out being sent to stores for a "glass hammer" or "a long weight"............................!!!!!!!! ianj
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Old 9th Mar 2007, 8:52 pm   #7
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

Millions of 'em, but I liked the scribbled message from the receptionist 'Pic gone'.
It had gone all right. Along with the tube. An all-night party had ended up with the TV being knocked onto a tiled floor, face down. All that was left in the 1400 cabinet was a mass of fine glass powder and a shattered PCB.
Colour TV? Accused of having left the test card in the back. It's a regular, that one, but absolutely true in the days when test card transmissions ran during daytime hours.
Also colour: picture poor colour complaint usually fixed by turning one of the guns down asking for opinions as it was brought back up to exactly the same spot. It was always better, according to the customer (a migraine suffer, like me)
This isn't funny, but I went quite regularly to the home of a chap who was suffering from multiple sclerosis. The TV was usually OK and I think he liked the company. He was in a bed in the living room and each visit he'd worsened until eventually he could not lift his head, so he had a mirror to watch the TV through. He grumbled that captions were 'back to front' so I fixed it by crossing the horizontal scan coil connections. A few weeks later he passed away and the set was repo'ed and immediately sent out again. I didn't get the chance to put the coils back, so someone must have accepted the mirror-image pictures!
Somebody should make a film about life as a TV engineer in the sixties. I'd pay to see it...
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Old 9th Mar 2007, 10:11 pm   #8
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

The other apprentice picked up the far end of the cable behind him, took a deep drag on his cigarette and blew it down the cable. 100mS later tools went one way and cable the other. Good job he didn't have a dicky ticker!!
Slight variation on a theme - a guy blew a mouthful of smoke into the rear fan of a large, early 80s video digital effects machine - The front of the machine erupted with smoke, accompanied by a yelp from the engineer and a rapid "power down".

Another little "wheeze" was the fitment of a 555 timer inside the remote plug of a machine. This had the effect of periodically switching the equipment into standby. The entire workshop looked on as the machine repeatedly switched as the guy was looking in the other direction - Happened about 10 times before he noticed - Took him best part of the morning to work out what was going on. He couldn't work out why everyone kept grinning at him - Pretty cruel really I guess in hindsight pretty funny at the time though
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Old 10th Mar 2007, 11:21 am   #9
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

What about the engineer who took the back off a radio set to be confronted with a green, evil smelling,disgusting lump fixed to the aerial socket. It turned out to be a sausage taped there by the owner some 20 years earlier when he found that the set only worked if he put the end of his finger to the said socket. The sausage was the nearest equivalent to a finger he could think of!!!!!
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Old 10th Mar 2007, 6:36 pm   #10
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

Back in the seventies I heard a tale about an engineer who called on a subscriber who lived on a local naval estate. The story went that he knocked on the door and on receiving no reply, he decided to check if anyone was in the garden. In doing so he left his toolbox on the front doorstep. Finding no one in the garden he left forgeting his tools. Realising what he had done at his next call, he made his way back, arriving as the bomb disposal unit blew up his toolbox.
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Old 11th Mar 2007, 10:59 am   #11
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

A colleague who worked for ATV at the Elstree studios related the story of an engineer who religiously listened to 'The Archers' every lunchtime on an old valve radio. By means of some engineering involving a concealed tape recorder and presumably the gram input of the radio, they conspired to play him the same episode every day. He put up with this for several days before ringing the BBC to complain. The alleged reply was 'well, the episodes do sound quite similar Sir...'.
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Old 11th Mar 2007, 11:07 am   #12
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

About 1971 I was doing huge numbers of house calls and worked until late most days of the year.
Its odd how certain incidents remain in your brain all your life and the following is one of them. I was redelivering a Sobell 1018 style dual standard black and white set to a rather fussy couple who lived on a typical 1930's surburban estate. It had grass verges around 6ft wide between the curb and pavement.
It was a very misty winter evening and the street lighting was very poor as it often was in those days. I pulled up in my Austin 1100 with the set and its push on metal legs in the back. I lifted the set out and placed it on its end on the grass verge and putting the legs under my arm, picked the set up and make my way along the path, knocked on the door.
I was met by the delighted customer [that did not last long...] and wiping my feet, made my way along the hallway and into the back sitting room. I placed the set on its end, on the carpet as I had done outside and it was at this point to my total horror I realized that I had managed to walk in 'something' from outside.........
If only! When getting the set out of the car I had managed to place the set directly into what doggies do on roadside verges..Not only that I had managed to walk in it and get it all over my jacket and the metal legs....
The aroma can only be described as horrific! It was all over the hall and living room carpet, the television, the legs and me. The lady of the house was mortified and bowls of hot water, Dettol and cloths were produced in an attempt to scrub, wipe and clean the muck away.
It was an accident of course but it was terrible at the time but seems quite humerous now all these years on. I can even remember the actual address and pass it now and again on my travels. Regards John. P.S. I did get paid!
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Old 7th Jul 2007, 4:17 pm   #13
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

When I was in the trade in Cirencester, back in the late 1970s, we had a rental customer called Mr, Dyer. He was a bit of a local yokel with a broad west country accent

When he telephoned us, we had a job keeping a straight face as he would announce "Hello - it's Mr. Dyer 'ere"!

The irony of it was that his house was a right tip and smelt like ***t!

Incidentally, if I had a pound for every time a customer told me that "the picture valve's gone", I'd have a sackful by now!
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Old 7th Jul 2007, 6:07 pm   #14
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Way back in 1973, I worked for a firm in Cirencester called Ettles & Bumford Ltd. One of their customers owned a very large Decca 25" CTV in a cabinet that was absolutely huge and it took 4 men to manhandle the set. One day, not long before I joined the firm, the set had to be brought into the workshop for repair. Given the size and weight of the set in question, this was quite an event in itself because the workshop was located two floors up and accessed via a rather narrow staircase.

Anyway, whilst the set was awaiting a spare part from the manufacturers, it was left on the floor of the workshop without its back on. One day, John S, who was the firm's office manager, was holding the fort single handedly and had to go up to the workshop to fetch something for a customer in the shop. He bent over to reach whatever he came up for and as he did so, he caught his rear end on the tube neck of the aforementioned Decca CTV.

When Ken, the service manager arrived back, a very embarrassed John S explained to Ken that he had accidentally caught his rear on the inside of the Decca and it made a strange sound like a pshhhhh! He said, "I hope it didn't do any damage, Ken!"

Well, needless to say, a new tube had to be ordered and fitted at the firm's expense which did not please Mr. Ettles at all!

The whole incident though was made worse by the fact that the set's owner was a perfectionist to such a degree that he had obtained a transparency of Test Card 'F' from the BBC, scaled to exactly fit the screen of a 25" CTV and he had always check the set of the test card on a daily basis. Whenever he perceived that the picture geometry was even slightly out, he would demand a service call.

The new tube eventually arrived and was fitted and the set soak-tested for several days and two Bedford Viva HA vans, each carrying two men, were despatched to deliver the Decca back to its owner. We all prayed that none of the picture settings would get disturbed on the journey!
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Old 7th Jul 2007, 6:26 pm   #15
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

I wonder how many of you guys have had the "Oh, the telly just stopped working" and then on investigation found some of the valves in the wrong positions?

"It's the volts that jolts, but the mill's that kills!"
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Old 7th Jul 2007, 6:44 pm   #16
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

When I had my shop in Lowestoft (Which is now a nail bar)
a customer called and asked me to have a look at his Hitachi Instavision.
''Every time I watch it, the picture.. well it sort of... bounces ?''
I had it in the workshop for a day, and nothing. My wife was heavily pregnant with out 1st daughter at the time so I decided to take it home and let her watch it, there she sat for a few days and the Instavision was perfect !
I took it back...
I got a call to say that the fault was still there
(even though I didn't charge him) so I left right away, it was the end of the day and he was on the way home.
He put the kettle on and we sat there staring at this thing for a bit, all of a sudden '' There, did you see that''... er no.
I noticed a large bag of boilled sweets next to him on the sofa, I then watched him... every time he cracked a sweet in his mouth it gave the illusion of frame bounce ! That was a goodun.

My other fave story was an old couple who's KT3 had passed away.
After fitting a new tripler the picture was awefull, all green and soft.
I gave the tube a boost and tweeked up the thing to give a very presentable picture.
When I reinstalled it they were horrified at how ** BAD ** the picture was !
I had to turn the red, blue and contrast right down there and then because they really were furious

One more...

My friend's Decca (Tatung) had lost it's voice.
I replaced the amp chip and a couple of caps and all was well again.
I suddenly came over all mischeivous, wired the scan coil up back to front and delivered it on the way home, he was delighted.

It took him 3 weeks of wondering ''What's different about this set?'' before he hit the text button and called me up in histerics
I've never been called so many unsavoury things since !

Greats story's guys...

Dave W
Do you have the scope to be a TV repair man
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Old 7th Jul 2007, 7:57 pm   #17
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

When i was working for Mascare, I went to a customer who said her said her set wouldn't come on.

"What do you mean" I asked, she picked up the remote control, pointed it the set and pressed the buttons. Nothing happenned.

I went to the set, pressed the on/off switch when the set came on.

"That'll be 20" I said

"What for?"

"The customer education fee madam, I've educated you in the use of the TV, I've shown you how to use the on/off switch."

She paid up.
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Old 7th Jul 2007, 10:03 pm   #18
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

What I would like to know is why the owners of the ornate cabineted Philips G6, always lived on the top floor of a block of flats with no lift. Will never forget a rather stuck up woman, in posh strawberry hill, moaning about finger marks on the glass as we delivered her set.Only to find the corner of the living room that the set belonged in has for some considerable time been used by her cat as a toilet.

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Old 8th Jul 2007, 7:35 am   #19
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

Michael Maurice's post reminded me of an scenario that I experienced a few times. Those of you who are experienced with the Philips/Pye CTX and KT4 ranges of sets will remember that they had a tendency to develop dry joints on the LOPT.

The typical situation was the customer would call you out with the complaint that the set "keeps cutting out".

Of course, the back would come off, the offending joints would be re-soldered and the back replaced - all done and dusted in less than 5 minutes.

Typically the customer would say, " Oh, that didn't take long. Do I owe you anything for that?"

Of course, the bill would probably in those days be about 15 and when presented with this, they would bleat, "but you haven't been in the house 5 minutes. how can you justify such a charge?"

I would reply, "Here's the breakdown of the bill, madam. Resoldering the dry joints us 5p. Knowing which ones to solder is 14.95!

We used to carry out a lot of repairs on a cash and carry basis. This was far easier all round because obviously you had the use of full workshop facilities and if the customer brought in a CTX with the inevitable dry joints on the LOPT, we would say to them "Ah yes madam - we can see what the problem is but it won'y be ready for about an hour or so."

Of course, not knowing that the job only took 5 minutes, they paid up quite willingly without quibling. Ignorance is bliss!
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Old 8th Jul 2007, 7:48 am   #20
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Default Re: Humour in the TV trade.

Getting back to Michael Maurice's story (educating the customer), on a more serious note, it was always very frustrating when rental customers would call you out for non existent faults - i.e symptomd caused by user error. Furthermore, whenever it happened, it was usually some old dear living miles away out in the sticks.

We regularly used to go to a Mr. King near Cirencester who rented a Philips 210 series monochrome set from us.

Every time he called us out, it was because the set was off tune. He insisted "I NEVER fiddle, Mr. Cook" Yet, somehow, about once every 3 months, all the tuning buttons would be screwed right up against the stop.

Another one was old Mrs. Cox who rented a Marconiphone 4808 (24" BRC 1500) who regularly complained of no picture - always because she had turned the brightness right down.
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