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Editorial: "The Serviceman's Follies"
August 1940 Radio-Craft

August 1940 Radio-Craft

August 1940 Radio Craft Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio-Craft, published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.

"You get what you pay for," is an admonishment which has been around for a long time, and it applies generally to many situations. Radio-Craft magazine editor Hugh Gernsback took the occasion of a meeting with a successful radio repair technician to pen this piece illustrating how it is not only the consumer who gets hurt by low-cost hucksters. Gernsback's discussion with a for-real electronics technician from Ohio serves as a real-world example. A fictitious Serviceman, whom he assigns the moniker of Mr. G.O. Getter (a play on the vacuum tube term "getter"), suffers from the bad reputation brought to his electronics service business by price low-ballers that provide incompetent, low quality work. G.O. Getter contends that capable Servicemen like himself should not respond by lowering their own prices because there are enough smart customers who know better than to fall for the low price trap. To a large extent, the same is still true today.

Editorial: "The Serviceman's Follies"

Editorial: "The Serviceman's Follies", August 1940 Radio-Craft - RF Cafe... "dub" Servicemen can never understand why the successful ones succeed.

By the Editor - Hugo Gernsback

You are lying on your sick bed, racked with pain; your eyesight doesn't function; you cannot move your legs and your digestion is Just about completely gone. In short, as far as everyone is concerned, you have ceased to function normally.

In order to get back into circulation once more, you remember a certain doctor and you ask the wife to call him up. You are a cautious man, however, so you' instruct your wife to find out how much he will charge for the call. She informs you that the "Doc" will charge 50¢ for the call. This information surprises you and you immediately jump to the conclusion that he must be a cheap quack and you certainly will not put yourself into the hands of such a man. Your wife then suggests that you call up a specialist of whom she has heard. You agree with this quickly and the telephone call is made. This time the doctor, who is too busy to answer calls himself, does not come to the phone but the nurse answers instead. "Yes, the doctor can come over in the afternoon and his fee for such a call is $20." This strikes you as more in line, with your own importance and you ask the doctor to come as fast as he can.

Nothing unusual about all this and it happens hundreds of times all over the land every day, and whether the patient is a human being or a radio set makes little difference in the psychology of human beings. It is usually a matter of confidence. Believe it or not - the majority of the Servicemen will not get this simple fact into their heads; and that is the reason why we have 50¢-a-call Servicemen - the quacks in the radio service field.

I have made it a point to tell the above parable, simply because the truth of it is not always apparent, which is the reason that thousands of Servicemen bemoan their fate when they cannot make a living.

I know that this will bring an outburst from many Servicemen who will write me indignant letters that I know nothing about servicing and that I only generalize. What these Servicemen seem to forget, however, is that we are in constant contact with hundreds of Servicemen right along. We see and speak to them, not only locally, but in our wanderings around the country, and therefore know their problems. Then, quite frequently, we have visiting Servicemen from out of town and-believe it or not -many of them do come here. Particularly last year and this year, they came, and are coming, in droves to see the New York World's Fair. Yes, and - the doubting Thomases notwithstanding - they stay here for a week at a time and spend quite a bit of money, too. On the other hand, that type of Serviceman is the successful species - the type who actually makes money - real money.

All this brings me to the instance of a visiting Ohio radio Serviceman who called on us last month. Usually we cannot afford to spend too much time with them, but when - let us call him Mr. G.O. Getter - came in, we spent over one hour and a half with him and, as usual, when we talk to a first-class Serviceman of his type, we absorb much knowledge.

Mr. G.O. Getter appears to be a man of acumen and, to boot, a mighty successful radio Serviceman. He has been so successful in his community that he is now erecting a good-size brick and steel building, made from the profits of his business, which comprises public address systems, stage lighting and talking picture equipment. Mr. G.O. Getter feels sorry for and pities the "dub" type of Servicemen and has naught but contempt for them. He maintains that the greatest trouble with them is that - first, they are not salesmen; second, they invariably employ the wrong psychology when talking to their prospects; and third, they are extremely poor businessmen. Usually, as Mr. G.O. Getter puts it, "They don't know what it's all about. They are lucky if they make $20 to $30 a week and a large percentage of them do not even average this much."

My visitor then gave me an example which I really believe is a classic and one which every Serviceman should read carefully.

It appears that in the city in which G.O. Getter lives there is a large hall in which a public address system is installed. Not so long ago, the system became out of order and the proprietors of the hall asked for bids to put it into good repair. A number of bids were received. Mr. G.O. Getter, as usual, got, the order. A few days thereafter a local Serviceman - let us 'call him Mr. P.E. Ewee - called upon Mr. G.O. Getter complaining bitterly that G.O. Getter must have underbid him, otherwise how could he have gotten the order?

Mr. G.O. Getter drew a sort of pitying sigh, walked over to the filing case and took out a receipted bill. He then asked Mr. P.E. Ewee what his bid had been, "$5," was the answer. Without a word,·G.O. Getter handed him the receipted bill which was for exactly $100. At the sight of this, the little fellow almost passed out and for some time he was too stunned to speak.

By rights, this should be the end of the story but the best part, is yet to come. We will, however, let Mr. G.O. Getter tell it to you in his own language.

"The little 'dub' just sat there and looked at me dazed and uncomprehending. Finally, he reached for his hat and as he turned to go, he barked back at me, 'Well, it must be politics.' "

This demonstrates clearly what is wrong with "dub" Servicemen who do not know psychology and who can never understand why the successful man succeeds. Incidentally, Mr. G.O. Getter still hadn't finished the story, because he confided in me that when he got the check for $100, it was given to him most reluctantly because the person for whom the repairs were made has no use for the Union to which Mr. G.O. Getter belongs, so rather than having obtained the business through easy politics, he had to actually fight a hostile customer to get the business!

Incidentally, Mr. G.O. Getter did not always make money nor did he make it too easily. During the depression a few years ago, things became so bad in the servicing business that he even had to rig up electric bells to eke out a meager living. One day he had an inspiration. He printed up a few calling cards with the legend, "Expert X-Ray Servicing." Now, Mr. G.O. Getter did not have a great deal of experience with X-ray machines but, being a radio man, he knew that they probably would be simpler than complex radio sets or public address systems. He soon had a telephone call from one of the local hospitals. He found upon arriving that what was wrong was a defective cord. The "dub" Serviceman probably would have charged 50c for the job. Mr. G.O. Getter charged $3 and got it without a murmur of protest because he had looked into the X-ray servicing business and found that the big manufacturers of these machines charged exactly that price for cord replacements. He had read through all the literature of the manufacturers and knew what the price scale was. In no time he was doing the repair work for practically every hospital within the county. He still does it today - not personally, of course - but he has a man broken into the work who now does it for him.

Opportunities? Yes, there are plenty of them in this country and good money is to be made even today by Servicemen. If they don't, it usually is their own fault.



Posted June 7, 2019

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