Friday, April 06, 2007

Sirius Customer Service

Less than a year ago, I received my Sirius radio as a surprise. The surprise was more that I received it early in the year, as I was expecting it for a Christmas gift. You see, I knew my darling hubby would feed my NASCAR habit and get the radio in time for the NASCAR programming to start on Sirius in January of 2007. I just did not expect it in the spring!

By midsummer, I was addicted to Sirius Speedway. Even though Sirius has now expanded their programming, Speedway is still my favorite show. I had a radio, a car set-up, a boombox, and even had it transmitting to my clock radio so that I could wake up listening to NASCAR coverage. Hi! My name is SNAFAM, I am a SIRIUS addict. Step 1 of the 12 Step Program? Never be more than 12 Steps from my Sirius radio!

And THEN...the radio started showing symptoms of not wanting to be there for me. It started turning itself off and then on. I noticed it first in the car, as it would cycle off/on over each bump. As my route to work is under major construction, I was having difficulty following any conversations. I was pretty sure that it was the cigarette lighter plug. After testing with a replacement plug at my local Radio Shack, we discovered there was a problem with the radio itself. The radio became worse over the next few weeks, even having problems when in the boombox! It was dying!

My heart was racing from the impending panic attack. I HAVE to have my Sirius! I NEED my Sirius. I DEPEND on my pals Moody, Suzie, Crackerhead, Poole, Snider, Kernan, Craven, Baker and all of the rest. They are my friends and my support group! I WOULD MISS MY TUESDAYS WITH TONY STEWART!

I began a search on the internet, and read countless horror stories of Sirius customer service. I mentally prepared myself for a battle, much like the previous legendary jousting session with Sprint. (I won that one!)

I dialed the 800 number, taking deep breaths to prepare for the yelling! The Customer Service rep took down what little information I had and then referred me to the warranty department. The Warranty rep dutifully typed in the information about my radio, it's symptoms, and I started flexing my fingers for them to say anything I did not want to hear. What I did I hear? Your radio is still under warranty. We will replace your radio for you. You should receive it in 5-7 days! WOW!

I did not receive my radio in 5-7 days. I received it in THREE days! However, there was a problem. They sent me a newer, better radio! Why is this a bad thing? Because the boombox I owned would not match with the new radio! ARGGG!

Back to Customer Service to whine about how it was a better radio but now I had a worthless boombox. Before I could build up to a full-fledged rant, the CSR calmly said I would receive an upgraded Box at no extra cost, and I would receive it in 5-7 days. Once again, it arrived early!

I now have my radio. I can once again listen to my supportive pals on the radio. I can again hear voices in my head (phone), my car, my home, and my alarm clock. Life in normal again. Life is good. Life is wonderful. I am in my HAPPY Place!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Forums, Readers, and Amusement

Message boards are very interesting entities. I almost believe they take on a life of their own. As folks gather to discuss their common interest, sometimes they become either Happy Happy Kumbaya societies, or living, Fire-breathing Monsters. Many are somewhere in between, yet each displays their own unique personality. Many readers of this blog belong to message boards (aka Forums) of different drivers. Some participate in “Official” or not so official boards, and some participate in multiple boards. Some members have a ‘one size fits all’ personality that is the same for all forums, and others choose different personas based on the nature of the board. A great example of this variety lies in the beginning of the NASCAR season.

The first six weeks of the NASCAR season are on the books. So far, we have had restrictor-plate racing, 3 intermediate tracks (all as different as night and day) and two short tracks. The Car of Yesterday and the Car of Today have both been on the track. There is a new manufacturer, and several repeat manufactures. And the NASCAR fans participating in various message boards all have opinions on what is going right and what is not! You can generally judge how the driver is doing by the dialogue. Some boards are giddy with excitement, as their chosen heroes are high on the point scale. Others are filled with fans that seem morose, angry, and negative. And yes, there are some between those two extremes.

The boards of the struggling drivers are the ones with the most to discuss. I have been amazed at the number of fans that feel the need to throw SOME ONE under the bus when bad things happen! (Disclaimer: I have discovered this on more than one forum, so any resemblance to your own forum may, or may not, be a coincidence!) Some target the driver, some target the crew chief, some target the owner, and some target the manufacturer. Some folks call for wholesale firing. Invariably, it turns into a fight between the Realists, and the Kool-aid Drinkers! Each claims to “know” the driver’s, owner’s, crew chief’s or the sponsor’s thoughts. Some even go so far as to need medication to get through the next impending disaster, whether legal or not!

Part of this is enhanced by the technology available. It is no longer a case of enjoying the race from the grandstand or just watching the TV broadcast from the comfort of the couch. At the event, we have access to the entirety of the broadcast on both radio and TV, and the conversations of the drivers and crew members, and access to any communications with NASCAR to the teams. From home, we can see live timing and scoring, and can hear the exact same communications of the driver from our computers or satellite radio. Some drivers also are part of special television packages where the driver’s in-car cameras are available during the entirety of the race. The technology allows the most intense scrutiny of the drivers and the teams.

The slightest inflection from the voices on the scanner gives opportunity for great speculation from the fans. When that speculation hits the message boards, it can cause endless debate on what did the driver really mean….did the Crew Chief really say THAT? Or WTF is THAT supposed to mean! Why does the Crew Chief just say 10-4 when his driver is begging for changes?

Discussion continues, lines are drawn in the sand, and board members form factions. The factions are based on the two or three most prevalent views on the board. However, the factions are fluid, and can shift and reform based on actions of individuals. Don’t forget, it is allowable for the board members to bash away, but don’t let an outsider take part in the same name-calling and bashing, or the outsider will see the board form a united front against the outsider.

Forums will continue to be a source of information for many readers. They will also continue to be a source of amusement for many of the same readers.


On another note, there were three people with a common link to one particular driver’s message board. At various times, each of these three was opposed to the other two. We are not quite sure how it happened, but we three now all find we have many common views mixed in with the divergence of opinion. We will be attempting a joint blog. A work in progress, we hope to provide discussion, controversy and amusement for the readers! Wish us luck, pray for our safety and check us out at Three Wide.