Electronics World articles Popular Electronics articles QST articles Radio & TV News articles Radio-Craft articles Radio-Electronics articles Short Wave Craft articles Wireless World articles Google Search of RF Cafe website Sitemap Electronics Equations Mathematics Equations Equations physics Manufacturers & distributors LinkedIn Crosswords Engineering Humor Kirt's Cogitations RF Engineering Quizzes Notable Quotes Calculators Education Engineering Magazine Articles Engineering software RF Cafe Archives Magazine Sponsor RF Cafe Sponsor Links Saturday Evening Post NEETS EW Radar Handbook Microwave Museum About RF Cafe Aegis Power Systems Alliance Test Equipment Centric RF Empower RF ISOTEC Reactel RF Connector Technology San Francisco Circuits Anritsu Amplifier Solutions Anatech Electronics Axiom Test Equipment Conduct RF Copper Mountain Technologies Exodus Advanced Communications Innovative Power Products KR Filters LadyBug Technologies Rigol TotalTemp Technologies Werbel Microwave Windfreak Technologies Wireless Telecom Group Withwave RF Cafe Software Resources Vintage Magazines RF Cafe Software WhoIs entry for RF Cafe.com Thank you for visiting RF Cafe!
Rigol DHO1000 Oscilloscope - RF Cafe

Anatech Electronics RF Microwave Filters - RF Cafe

Amplifier Solutions Corporation (ASC) - RF Cafe

Please Support RF Cafe by purchasing my  ridiculously low−priced products, all of which I created.

RF Cascade Workbook for Excel

RF & Electronics Symbols for Visio

RF & Electronics Symbols for Office

RF & Electronics Stencils for Visio

RF Workbench

T-Shirts, Mugs, Cups, Ball Caps, Mouse Pads

These Are Available for Free

Espresso Engineering Workbook™

Smith Chart™ for Excel

Exodus Advanced Communications Best in Class RF Amplifier SSPAs - RF Cafe

Serviceman's Experiences
July 1938 Radio News

July 1938 Radio News
July 1938 Radio News Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Radio & Television News, published 1919-1959. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

As I have reminded you many times when posting these articles from vintage electronics magazine like the 1938 Radio News, in-home service calls were commonplace for just about everything serviceable in the house. That included humans - particularly children - who were tended to in domus by their family doctors. Successful servicemen learned the lesson related in this story: "I work on the set owner in the house, and save the set work for the shop." That of course holds true for situations where the radio, television, record player, etc., needed to go back to the shop for repair. When repairs could be effected in situ, a combination of customer relations and technical skills was required. In addition to the aforementioned, another skill that needed to be honed was getting the customer to pay his bill. There were no credit cards in the day, so cash or an in-store line of credit was required for payment. In most cases the customer did not already have that credit line. If a piece of equipment is in the shop, then it can at least be sold in lieu of payment, but walking out of someone's house with a radio for non-payment was a bold and risky proposition.

Serviceman's Experiences

Serviceman's Experiences, July 1938 Radio News - RF Cafe

"Hey, you guys! Cut it out. I can't hear the fight!"

By Lee Sheldon

"Customer analysis" is not restricted to the large stores and sales organizations alone, any serviceman can use it to his advantage.

The owner of the Colonial 32 looked at me steadily, and I felt the repair job slipping.

"I'll think it over," he finally said, "and call you later."

Very disappointedly, I picked up my three hundred dollars' worth of test equipment, and returned to the store. You know how it feels, losing work out of the bag.

To excuse myself, I muttered the customary comment for such cases, designating the customer for a descending journey; but I knew the fault was mine. Too many jobs had been fumbled; and although the reason was not obvious, it was evident I lacked something important.

There I was, carrying the latest equipment; brimming over with sixteen years' experience; entering a home where work and payment had been awaiting me; then, muffing the thing. I had turned the set on, listened to its choky quality, took one confirming socket reading, and quoted $7.50 for replacement of a bias resistor. The time, less than fifteen minutes, and I had promised delivery the following day. It was a perfect call, except for not getting the job. The operation was a success, but the patient died. Nothing so discouraging happened when I started in business.

In those days, the prime prerequisites to set servicing were a screwdriver, three technical phrases, and the ability to sprint on short notice. Thus qualified, I visited the home of a real estate operator on one of my first calls. He was encumbered with a pair of Murdock 'phones, six A, B, and C batteries, and a table set three feet long. The cabinet, laying on two tables, sported fifteen knobs and dials from one to four inches in diameter. Its heavy Florentine carving made excelsior as simple as a straight line drawing.

"Doesn't it play?" I asked.

"Too well," he said, handing the cans to me. "Listen."

Three locals came in, bringing with them: a time tick, a piano duo playing Kaloa, and a man named Jerry, singing "Double-you cue jay, Chicago, U. S. A."

I assumed my professional worried countenance and let fly with a technical phrase: "It sounds like radio frequency."

"It sounds like hell," he corrected. "Fix it!"

No dial adjustment affected the three programs. I reached for my screwdriver, intending to remove the back cover. When I saw the screws were covered with a manufacturer's wax stamp, I turned to him.

"Mister, you had better send it back to the factory. If these seals are broken, the guarantee is no good."

"The guarantee is no good, anyway." He was smiling. "Open it."

The inside was astonishing. There was one tube, and each dial shaft was connected only to a spring, washer, and cotter pin. The dials were useless except for roulette.

"How interesting!" he remarked. "Are all sets hollow, like this one?" I could not understand why he chuckled.

"No. The better models have rheostats, potentiometers, tuning condensers, and variocouplers. These parts put station selection into the hands of the purchaser, instead of to chance. Your particular set gets three simultaneous programs because there's nothing in it to stop two of them. How much was it?"

"Four hundred dollars." He laughed loudly.

"This," I reminded him, "is no laughing matter. You have been well taken. Some dealer has come west from Gyp Row."

"Cortlandt Street must be Melody Lane if this beautiful set came from there. How much will you charge to build a radio into the box?" He was still laughing, and had me giggling by induction.

"Build you a three-tuber for one hundred dollars. What's so funny?"

"Man I bought it from took $500 in Florida real estate from me. Gave me this set and $100 in cash." He held his appendix, and brushed the tears from his eyes. "How soon can you make delivery?"

"Four days. Isn't the real estate worth anything ?"

"It is to the alligators," he answered.

"Here, grab the other end of this casket - I'll help you carry it out."

Since then, after years of study and experience, I couldn't handle a resistor replacement! What good were training and equipment if they didn't help in getting work? I locked up early that night.

Russ stopped in the next morning. Although he serviced my neighborhood from his car; he wasn't exactly a competitor because he turned all his work over to me. I looked down on him, professionally, as being inexperienced. He managed nicely, though; his only expenses were those for his auto and for a frequent meter replacement in his home-made tester. (He had wired the instrument himself, but did not understand it. The border of binding posts was too complicated for him, and the single meter was always getting in series with something which burned more current than the meter coil was wont to handle.) In spite of his incompetence, he picked up as many chassis as I, but I didn't care - he brought them to me.

"Hold the door open," he said. "I got a big set coming in."

I recognized the tube stickers.

The set was the 32 I lost the day before. He laid it on the bench, and said:

"Give it the works. I'll pick it up for delivery in about a week."

"Wait a minute," I called. "Do you know what's wrong with it?"

"No. What difference does it make? You find it."

"I already have found it," I told him, as acidly as possible, "and it will cost you exactly $7.50, plus tubes, of which there are eight, in case you haven't seen the 24A's under the shields."

"So what? Make it perk!"

"So you had better get more than that from your customer," I answered angrily. "How much are you getting?"

"Twenty-two fifty. Very busy. See you later."

I wondered what formalities were required for going on relief. Then, with rising spirit bred in me by a conviction I was better than average, but misunderstood, I went through my files, picking out each record of call failure during the previous year. The pile was annoyingly high.

There was a factor common to them all : like the Colonial 32, they were simple jobs on familiar models; those requiring the least time in the customers' homes. Then the light appeared. I was neglecting the customer.

That explained why Russ, poking meaningless test prods into sets he did not understand, was more successful than I. He impressed the customer with his display of effort, reconciling him to shop work on a major repair. He analyzed the customer, not the set! If I answered the same call, the customer mistook my quicker, more efficient socket tests for gyppery.

I was reminded of Fredericks, who had the fault of efficiency in a greater degree. He was trained in theory to the point of being a technical, knockout, and was equally adept with slide rule and soldering iron. His customers paid resentfully, admitting his proficiency, but he left a trail of ill-will among set owners which poisoned them against repeat calls.

One day he telephoned to the store a day after he left on a fifteen dollar Bosch filter block replacement.

"Don't tell me you need more than a day on that job," I said. "Did you have lunch from a bottle? Is the Bosch okay?"

"The set is working," he answered, "but I'm not. I'm speaking from a hospital."

I'm no fool. From now on, I might appear slow, but not presumptuous, to my customers. I work on the set owner in the house, and save the set work for the shop. I find he is usually interested; if not in his set, in my efforts to recondition his most important, except one, household fixture.



Posted January 18, 2022

About RF Cafe

Kirt Blattenberger - RF Cafe Webmaster

Copyright: 1996 - 2024


    Kirt Blattenberger,


RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

Copyright  1996 - 2026

All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images and text used on the RF Cafe website are hereby acknowledged.

All trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other rights of ownership to images and text used on the RF Cafe website are hereby acknowledged.

My Hobby Website: AirplanesAndRockets.com

My Daughter's Website: EquineKingdom

Axiom Test Equipment - RF Cafe

KR Electronics (RF Filters) - RF Cafe

everythingRF RF & Microwave Parts Database (h1)