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Is TV repair a dead trade?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by ThermalRunaway, Apr 15, 2005.

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Is TV Repair a dead Trade?

  1. Yes, deader than dead

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  2. Almost, but some day it'll rise from the ashes

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  3. No, it's more alive than ever

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  1. ThermalRunaway

    ThermalRunaway New Member

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    Hi everyone. I wanted to share some thoughts on the state of the home entertainment repair trade (I call it that because it's not just TVs anymore). Feel free to share yours with me!

    I'm quite a young person to be working in the "TV Repair" trade as far as it goes at the moment. I left school in the Summer of 1997 and stepped straight into a job as an apprentice field tech, which I really enjoyed because I've always had a massive interest for Electronics and really I had my sights set on this type of job since quite a young age.

    I was the last apprentice to be taken on by the company I now work for, so there's been nobody else coming through behind me. Since then I've progressed from a field tech and earned myself a position on the bench repairing the stuff that the field guys bring in. Even though my job is reffered to as "TV Repair" it's by no means limited to TV - I work on everything from TVs to VCRs, DVD, Camcorders, Home Theatre - you name it really. I even do the odd cleaner every now and then!

    I completely missed the hay days of TV repair and have found myself working in what my colleagues refer to as a "dying trade". I don't know whether any of you agree with this opinion, but it's certainly what everyone else in the trade is telling me. I'm actually in two minds about whether the TV Repair trade is dead or not, but I'm certainly not blind and during the time I've been in the trade (7 years) I've seen quite massive changes taking place. Products have become extremely cheap to buy, and as a side effect the quality of products has slipped lower and lower such that these days it doesn't really matter whether you buy a cheap-brand product like Goodmans or a mainstream brand like Philips - they're all made to a price. This of course would seem to be bad news for us techs because nobody is going to pay a reasonable service labour charge for a product that they can buy brand new for under £100 in their local Tesco store. Despite the technology behind the products we use today, hardly any of them are able to command a fair price on the market for very long.
    As an added side effect to these cheap products, manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to make a profit. By the time they've paid for R&D, marketing, production, staffing costs and distribution there's very little cash left to be throwing at us lot, so service manuals have slipped in quality, and good technical support is hard to find. Most of the TLOs (Technical Liason Officers) who used to visit us from the various manufacturers on a regular basis have dissapeared, presumably made redundant and moved on to other things. A lot of replacement parts have been made unavailable, or priced such that it's not economical to complete a repair if parts are required.

    Our workshop currently employs 7 technicians, of which I am the youngest. I don't plan on leaving the trade as I enjoy my work, but I am making some plans for it incase I'm made redundant from my current position at some time in the future. I know that one of our guys is due to retire next year (perhaps he's planned it JUST right) and when he does the company aren't going to replace him. What are everyone else's thoughts on the state of the "home entertainment repair trade", and will it ever recover?

    Brian
     
  2. bonxer

    bonxer New Member

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    I've known two people who used to own/work at TV repair shops. They stopped and got into doing telecom wiring and the university electrical shop doing all kinds of stuff from large scale equipment to desktop PC support. When monitors go bad, it's cheaper to just buy a new one and send the old one to the excess storage building, or pay a small fee to have it disposed of properly.

    Also, consumers have changed from what they were so many years ago, at least here in the states. Keeping something old just isn't the American dream. We may keep things around just because they work and it would seem ashame to replace a fully functional item, but once it has a problem, "Hey, finally an escuse to buy this new model I've had my eye on!" TVs, DVD players, cars (oh noes! 100,000 miles!!!11), old and busted is out as soon as there's a reason, any reason, to move on to the new hotness.

    If I can pay you $100 to repair a $2000 oscilloscope, that's a good deal. If I have to pay you $100 for labor and parts to fix my $125 TV, I'm just going to suck up the $25 and get a brand new one.

    You pretty much answered your own question with your observations. And until it stops becoming more attractive to replace than repair, it's not going to get any better.
     
  3. ThermalRunaway

    ThermalRunaway New Member

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    I wasn't so much asking a question as stating an opinion - and it looks like ours agree with each other. Anyone else got an opinion on this?
     
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. zevon8

    zevon8 New Member

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    You have done a good job of summing up why ( and many others ) have left the field.

    One thing you may want to consider is industrial electronics. It is not always the cleanest work environment, but can pay very well and offers many challenges. Having run my own repair business, then moved on to industrial electronics, and moved into a specialized field of traffic control/safety electronics, I understand how you feel.

    One thing you have going for you is a good problem solving and troubleshooting ability. This is a valuable skill that can be applied to many different electronic fields, and is becoming hard to find in todays "pull and replace" industries. I have a hard time finding staff that can troubleshoot a piece of gear and logically work out what is going wrong with something they have never seen before, and have no documetation on. Don't underestimate the abilities you have learned.

    If you get into industrial electronics, you will often find that things are troubleshooted and repaired, since much of it is not cheap to replace.

    I often marvel at how years ago ( tube era ) many people got into TV repair since you could just " pull and replace " tubes until a set worked. then the electronics became more complicated and you had to do some work with test equipment to sort things out. Now it seems to have come full-circle, but you are " pulling and replacing" pieces of equipment.
     
  6. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    I've been a TV service engineer since 1971, and it's certainly a dying trade - simply because the televisions are too cheap!. People aren't prepared to pay a reasonable amount to have a TV repaired, aerial riggers make far more money than TV engineers!. Customers who quibble about paying £30 to have their TV repaired quite happily pay an aerial man £200-300 to put them an aerial up!.

    As for the changing state of repairs, I disagree with the previous comments about 'changing valves until it worked', that would only cure a small number of sets - many sets needed other components replacing, which required proper skills to locate. Once colour TV started, the early sets used modular panels - but the panels still needed repairing, we used to stock sets of panels for the most popular sets we sold. We would replace the panel with a spare one, bring it back to the workshop, repair it, and return it to the customer - this was common practice throughout the trade. Later sets reverted to a single panel chassis, which requires the set bring in to the workshop.

    What has changed is the role of the outside engineer, there are very few repairs you can do in the house these days, most sets require workshop attention.
     
  7. monkeytree

    monkeytree New Member

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    anything repaired is now viewed as substanderd,rubish or faulty i personaly dont think so but there you go.
     
  8. Exo

    Exo Active Member

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    Then all my appliances are rubbish :lol:
     
  9. mechie

    mechie New Member

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    The future of electronics as a career ?

    Just my tuppence worth,
    My uncle was a self-employed TV repair guy and did a lot of sets that the town's big-name retailer took to him after their own workshop had spent their 20mins time allowance on them with no result !

    He told me stories about TV repair being a bad trade to get into back in the 70's

    I later worked with a guy whos previous job was a "bottle jockey" for a TV repair outfit - he said he went into homes, swapped a few valves (stock fault stuff) and if that failed to fix a set he would then announce that this was a "big fault" and cart the set off for the "bench guys" to look at.

    On a more general note - I have seen the same mentality in industrial control gear - we repair next to nothing at component level now, swapping a pcb is as far as we go most of the time.
     
  10. ThermalRunaway

    ThermalRunaway New Member

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    I think it's a real shame that we've come to live in such a "throw away" society. Electronics is the only thing that hasn't increased in price along with inflation, and it's certainly the only thing that can claim to have REDUCED in price over the years.

    When TVs first came out a set would cost you the same as a brand new Mini. With that in mind, if Home Entertainment goods had carried on with inflation, a new TV would now be costing you in the region of 9 grand!

    Maybe that's going a little too far, but I definately feel that home entertainment stuff is way too cheap now. It's good news in some ways for consumers, but it's bad news for pretty much everyone else. If you're a manufacturer it's bad news, if you supply parts or supply materials to make parts it's bad news, if you're in sales it's bad news (less markup on such cheap equipment) and if you're in our trade it's DEFINATELY bad news.

    The electronics industry has a chance now with flat screen LCD and Plasma TVs to keep the price of home entertainment stuff floating a little higher, but with the rate at which prices are dropping on these televisions I suspect they're going to miss that chance.

    Shame.

    Brian
     
  11. zachtheterrible

    zachtheterrible Active Member

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    My grandpa used to own his own TV shop. Maybe thats where i got my interest in electronics, i was always in there.

    Anyway, he was saying that if a small TV goes kerplunk, throw it out and replace it. Now the only TVs that get sent in to work on are the large screen TVs because they cost a lot more than $125.
     
  12. ThermalRunaway

    ThermalRunaway New Member

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    Most items under £100 are deemed "throw away" items by manufacturers now anyway so they wont even supply parts for them. Under guarantee the items are simply exhanged, outside of that they're binned and the customer simply buys a new one.

    Unfortunately, that £100 boundary is covering more and more items every day! You can even get a 32" Widescreen TV for around the £200 mark now so it's extremely difficult to make money on repair for those.

    I wonder how it'll all turn out. Something's got to give somewhere, eventually. And how is the country disposing of all these throw away items? I bet that's becoming a major issue.

    Brian
     
  13. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    It's about to become a VERY BIG issue, CRT's are in the process of being listed as 'hazardous waste' - if it happens they will have to be disposed of in some as yet unspecified manner - which will no doubt be expensive!.
     
  14. ThermalRunaway

    ThermalRunaway New Member

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    CRTs are hazardous whichever way you look at them. The phosphor coating is extremely bad news, especially if you cut yourself with it! Phosphor poisoning is not very nice at all.

    And what about all the PCBs they're going to be disposing of?

    Brian
     
  15. ThermalRunaway

    ThermalRunaway New Member

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    Do you get trouble with those Philips 28" CRTs down with you? The type with the 1X14 gun in them?

    We've disposed of HUNDREDS of those.

    Brian
     
  16. zevon8

    zevon8 New Member

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    I believe that the hazardous waste issue will be what starts to bring prices back up again. At the least we may start seeing a " disposal fee" tacked on similar to what we in Canada now have for old car tires and batteries.

    Most manufactureres of components are shipping strictly controlled lead levels in their parts, some labeled as "lead friendly" or reduced.

    The people we use at work for disposal have special containers now for flourescent tubes, they are collecting them as hazardous waste, soon to become mandatory.
     
  17. Exo

    Exo Active Member

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    We already have that here, a tax that has to be payed on all new products to pay for the disposal of old ones.

    But it really doesn't push the price enough to suddenly make repair cheaper then throwing something away.
     
  18. Nigel Goodwin

    Nigel Goodwin Super Moderator Most Helpful Member

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    We are mostly a Sony dealer, we've had a few duff Philips tubes, but nothing like you have - but we haven't sold many sets using them (luckily!).
     

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