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Remote Possibilities, Part 1

Recently, I purchased a Logitech Harmony One remote control device — a jazzy little thing that oughta be able to control the four video devices in my office — the TV, the TiVo and two different DVD players. (Why do I have two different DVD players? One is a carousel with my 300 favorite DVDs in it. It doesn't play Blu-rays, isn't good for quickly inserting one disc and only plays Region 1 DVDs. The other plays Blu-rays, is good for quickly inserting one disc and play all-region DVDs.)

So I set up an "activity" called "Watch DVD 1." This is supposed to (1) turn on the TV, (2) turn on the first DVD player and (3) set the TV to HDMI1, which is the proper input select to watch the first DVD player. This does not work. It does (1) and (2) but will not do (3). None of the commands I program will get the input to the proper selection. I try many different configurations and finally give up and call Logitech Tech Support.

I spend time on the phone with someone there who I guess is not on the same continent on which I find myself. I do not mind that he is in some far away land. I do mind that he doesn't seem to have a clue as to how to fix the problem. I spend — this is not an exaggeration, I assure you — one hour and 46 minutes with the two of us fiddling with settings and the problem remains utterly unsolved throughout. The Logitech people advertise that their device will work with any video component that has its own remote but it doesn't seem to be able to control the input settings on a Philips TV.

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At the close of that hour and 46 minutes, the gent tells me I need to call the Philips TV people and ask them if this particular model has HDMI-CEC functionality. I ask him what difference that will make. He doesn't seem to know but he says I should find that out and call them back. I get the feeling that his mission in life at this moment is just to get rid of me and "HDMI-CEC" is just some phrase he saw on one of his screens.

He gives me my "incident number" and I hang up. Almost immediately, I receive an e-mail which reads in part…

We care about your experience with Logitech Customer Care. Our records show that your case has been resolved. If you're not satisfied with the result, have further questions, or never received an answer, please call us.

Apparently, "never received an answer" is a likely option after they believe my case has been resolved. I'm going to call them back but first, I call the Philips people. A very nice lady there informs me that no, my set does not have HDMI-CEC functionality…and like me, she has no idea what difference that could make. But I thank her and then call Logitech again.

I enter my "incident number" and a voice informs me that my remote is not eligible for service and it tells me basically that I should go online, browse through their support database and solve the damn problem myself. I have already determined their support database hasn't a scintilla of data about my problem so I call back without an incident number and get another person in the same foreign clime. I give him the incident number, he looks me up…and then seems determined to replicate the previous call. Like the fellow before him, he doesn't know anything about this device. He's just reading an onscreen troubleshooter on his computer, asking me the same questions it asks him, which are the same questions the other gent asked. He's even saying the exact same polite phrases like, "May I call you by your first name?" and "Thank you very much for that information."

After a half-hour of déjà vu — and I don't mean the strip club — I say to him, "Listen, sir, I'm sure you're very good at 99% of the calls you get but I think I need someone higher-up in the company. If you can't solve my problem, who do you send me to? If you go through all the same steps as the last guy, we're both going to be here for another 75 minutes and then you'll send me to this other person. How about if you just send me to him now?" He says he will put me on hold and find out about this.

When he returns, he tells me that there are technicians there who know more about this stuff than he does but they are all busy now and it's close to closing time. He will have one of them phone me. It might not be until tomorrow but one of them will phone me. I say "That'll be fine" and I ask him where he is located. He says, "I am in Manila, Philippines." Why does that not surprise me?

You know what will surprise me? If I get a call back from someone who can fix this. Stay tuned.