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  1. #1
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    Harmony 676 Universal Remote Rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Wow it's great to be a free man, LOL. To anybody in need of an incredible Universal Remote at a relatively reasonable price, I recommend the Harmony 676 Remote by Logitech. I discovered this remote by accident in Fry's Electronics in LA a huge discount place. What attracted to me was the fact that the whole thing is programmed incredibly easy by computer using a USB to their website as I am too brain dead to know how to manually program/teach these things. I'm not sure if that's the only remote that you can program by computer, but its a great idea. The price at Fry's was $250 but I discovered you can easily get this remote brand new online for between $120-$140 including shipping using Google search engine, Amazon.com & Ebay so I returned mine at Fry's and got one online for $116 that took 3 days to arrive. This remote is fantastic as I can get it to do anything I want & its set up is real easy to use. I've programmed it for 3 basic operations: TV/DVR, CD's & DVD & there is a seperation button for each. You click TV, your TV goes on, your receiver with the TV input goes on and your Cable Box DVR goes on. You click DVD, your DVD goes on, the receivers DVD input goes on & the TV goes on to the input the DVD is set on (Comp 1 for me). For CD the DVD player and receiver goes on. Customer support at Harmony/Logitech is great- they can make changes themselves on the phone there and all you have to do is click the update button on the web site when your remote is connected and it does that. You can also make changes on the website yourself to add/adjust your remote. It took me a few calls to fine tune everything, which they said is about average. Based on the results of this remote, I am going to get a second Harmony 676 for my bedroom. Harmony recommends that if you have a second TV/receiver/DVD player etc. that is a different brand than the first, you use a second remote to put that in.
    Harmony also is coming out this month with their 880 remote which cosmetically looks nicer but essentially does the same things and is listed for $249. I'm fine with the 676 at a much lower price. Someone said that Amazon.com (See the Remote thread below, post #21) has a bunch of cheaper models out- I don't know the features on them but you might want to check out that thread.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular jeskibuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Someone said that Amazon.com (See the Remote thread below, post #21) has a bunch of cheaper models out
    Uh....that would be me. They're formerly THE MOST EXPENSIVE of the Harmony remotes, but selling at a ridiculously cheap price. Snap one up while you have the chance, seeing's how you like that 676 so much! Link

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Based on the results of this remote, I am going to get a second Harmony 676 for my bedroom.
    I'd strongly recommend getting the SST-768 instead. You can get it for less than half of what you paid for the 676 and it is superior to the 676 within their Harmony line. I just checked Amazon and they're still available at that price. To top that off, one of my major complaints with the other Harmonys is the sheer number of buttons to choose from. This makes it near impossible to operate without looking at it. The 768 is a much simpler layout, letting the LCD and scroll wheel take the place of the many excess buttons. For the major transport, switching and volume controls, you can rely on the hard buttons.

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Harmony also is coming out this month with their 880 remote which cosmetically looks nicer but essentially does the same things and is listed for $249.
    I had my eye on that until I went a different route. Another big complaint with the other Harmonys is the short (3-month) battery life. The 880 solved this with a rechargable battery and recharging base unit. It is a much more attractive remote even without considering the color screen, but it still has too many buttons for my satisfaction.
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  3. #3
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    Welcome back. How was exile? That would seem pretty cool to be able to program your remote through the computer. I love my Yamaha learning/macro remote, but it did take a bit of tedious effort to program three components into it.

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    SST-768 Question

    What do you consider the quality's superior on the 768 to the 676 because if I concur I'll stick with that for my second remote and resell my second 676 & save some money thanks. For myself personally though, I'd have to see a heck of a difference & I presently can't see that but I'm open if it is. PS I just saw a review on CNET & didn't like what I read about the 768 so I'll stick to the 676 as I'm comfortable with it. Thanks


    Quote Originally Posted by jeskibuff
    Uh....that would be me. They're formerly THE MOST EXPENSIVE of the Harmony remotes, but selling at a ridiculously cheap price. Snap one up while you have the chance, seeing's how you like that 676 so much! Link

    I'd strongly recommend getting the SST-768 instead. You can get it for less than half of what you paid for the 676 and it is superior to the 676 within their Harmony line. I just checked Amazon and they're still available at that price. To top that off, one of my major complaints with the other Harmonys is the sheer number of buttons to choose from. This makes it near impossible to operate without looking at it. The 768 is a much simpler layout, letting the LCD and scroll wheel take the place of the many excess buttons. For the major transport, switching and volume controls, you can rely on the hard buttons.

    I had my eye on that until I went a different route. Another big complaint with the other Harmonys is the short (3-month) battery life. The 880 solved this with a rechargable battery and recharging base unit. It is a much more attractive remote even without considering the color screen, but it still has too many buttons for my satisfaction.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul_pci
    Welcome back. How was exile? That would seem pretty cool to be able to program your remote through the computer. I love my Yamaha learning/macro remote, but it did take a bit of tedious effort to program three components into it.
    The cool thing about this, maybe you programmed your remote the same is, that a one touch button for TV, DVD & Music will put all the components on at the same time (TV, receiver, DVD player as applicable in the correct inputs). For any help, all you have to do is call Harmony/Logitech support and they'll do everything for you and all you have to do is then press an update button on your remote & everything will be there. If someone invented a similar process for the computer, they'd be richer than Bill Gates!

  6. #6
    Forum Regular jeskibuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    What do you consider the quality's superior on the 768 to the 676 because if I concur I'll stick with that for my second remote and resell my second 676 & save some money thanks. For myself personally though, I'd have to see a heck of a difference & I presently can't see that but I'm open if it is. Thanks
    I would think the quality of manufacture would be similar, assuming they're built by the same company and not outsourced by Logitech. I would also assume that because the 768 retailed for more than the 676 that Logitech thought the 768 was more valuable a product. For me personally, it comes down to the button layout. I see the 768 as being much more user-friendly - far fewer buttons than the other Harmonys. I also own a 759 and I consider it a royal pain to use. I don't want to have to look at it when I want to select a function. I've been spoiled by my Mitsubishi TV's learning remote since 1989. It was a near perfect layout - simple transport and volume control buttons in the right places. When I needed more functionality, a panel would slide down and I could have access to all the other buttons. Most of the time the panel would stay in place, concealing them. But alas, that remote only could control 4 devices (or "activities") and I found myself needing to have the other remotes handy to control:
    1) Panasonic plasma display
    2) Lexicon preamp
    3) Sony preamp
    4) Denon DVD-A player
    5) Sony CD carousel
    6) Sony DVD/SACD carousel
    7) Pioneer CD recorder
    8) Sony HDTV receiver
    9) Sony DVD recorder

    The Mitsubishi just wasn't up to the task anymore.

    I bought the 759...wasn't satisfied, then got the HTM MX-850 which did the trick. I also ordered one of these 768s as I think it will serve as a nice supplement to the MX-850. Maybe I'll put the 759 to use in my bedroom, controlling a first-generation Sony DVD player, a Mitsubishi VCR and my Cambridge Soundworks clock radio. I've got too many remotes on my nightstand right now.
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    I Can't Handle Setting Up A Remote Manually!

    I have had so many remotes over the years including Mitsubishi and an HD DVR universal remote from Time Warner & I just didn't have the time or patience to try to program some codes and stuff like remote learning so for me, whatever brand you buy of the Harmony Logitech, was a giant breakthrough worth the money, as you can either: 1. Program it by computer online at the Harmony/Logitech Remote website using their "templates" or 2. just call their support up and have them do all the work for you, or 3. a combination of the 2 which is what I did. This sure beats having 4-5 remotes lying around my couch. For me personally, I'm happy with all the buttons on my 676. The only one I'd change and actually I can change this but if a guest is over they'll be confused: For some reason the volume controls are to the left of the TV channel controls which is awkward for a lefty like me. I can have Harmony/Logictech switch this with one phone call so the "volume" control is now channel control and vice versa, but that would confuse a guest so I'm leaving things alone at present.

  8. #8
    Forum Regular jeskibuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I just saw a review on CNET & didn't like what I read about the 768 so I'll stick to the 676 as I'm comfortable with it. Thanks
    Let's see here, there are currently 6 user reviews on CNET for the 768. One person rated it 10-out-of-10, one gave it a 9, two gave it an 8, one a 4 and one a 3. That averaged out to a 7.0 rating.

    The person who gave it a 3 complained because his/her gear was so old that he couldn't get it configured too easily. The sheer number of components ever built is staggering. To think that Logitech has their database loaded with every set of codes for every device on the planet is ridiculous. Besides, this complaint would apply to every Logitech/Harmony remote, not just the 768.

    The person who rated it a 4 complained about the construction quality, and that's a valid concern. Of course he paid close to $200 for it, so probably was hoping it was bulletproof. He also had problems with the backlight on 2 units, but I didn't see this complaint in any of the other reviews. One other reviewer talked about how the battery contacts came loose when it was dropped, but could be tightened back up. He too said he thought it could be built better, considering the high price paid. Two other reviewers claimed they had no problems after several months of "heavy use". With only 6 reviews, there's not a whole lot of reliable information. Amazon has ZERO reviews on the 768.

    The 676 has a 7.9 average rating from 18 users. There also were a couple low ratings (3 and 5), but nearly triple the number of reviews helped to pull the average up a bit. I didn't see any complaints about the construction quality, but I only read the lower-rated reviews which complained about the user-friendliness and "too many buttons". Here's the breakdown by rating:

    Rating(instances)
    3(1)
    5(1)
    6(1)
    7(3)
    8(5)
    9(3)
    10(4)

    Of the 768, the 659 and the 676, the 659 has the highest average rating on CNET, but realize that there are also 103 reviews on it. There's a smattering of 2's and 3's in the ratings, but overall, most people gave the units a good rating. Different strokes I guess. As said before, my major complaint with the 659 (I have the 659, NOT the "759" which I mistakenly posted earlier) is too many buttons for reliable no-look operation. CNET's reviewer complained that the 768 doesn't have enough hard buttons, but I see that as a benefit. I can see the potential for difficulty in trying to navigate to lesser-used functions. For $50, I think I can put up with those deficiencies for a remote that will play second-fiddle to my MX-850. If it can't cut the mustard, there's always eBay, where I'm sure I could get back my "investment" if not more! Incidentally, I did see one incidence of total failure of a 659 in one of the lower-rated reviews after just 3 months of use. Again I didn't read all the reviews, just the really negative ones.
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  9. #9
    AR Member JeffKnob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I have had so many remotes over the years including Mitsubishi and an HD DVR universal remote from Time Warner & I just didn't have the time or patience to try to program some codes and stuff like remote learning so for me, whatever brand you buy of the Harmony Logitech, was a giant breakthrough worth the money, as you can either: 1. Program it by computer online at the Harmony/Logitech Remote website using their "templates" or 2. just call their support up and have them do all the work for you, or 3. a combination of the 2 which is what I did. This sure beats having 4-5 remotes lying around my couch. For me personally, I'm happy with all the buttons on my 676. The only one I'd change and actually I can change this but if a guest is over they'll be confused: For some reason the volume controls are to the left of the TV channel controls which is awkward for a lefty like me. I can have Harmony/Logictech switch this with one phone call so the "volume" control is now channel control and vice versa, but that would confuse a guest so I'm leaving things alone at present.
    How does your harmony work with the DVR from Time Warner? Can you get through the menus alright? Do they all control DVR's?

    Thanks.

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    I wasn't trying to talk anybody out of buying what you recommend but for me personally as I'm comfortable with what I have with the 676 & have already paid for a second one, it wasn't worth going through additional hassles in trying to change over to the model you suggested.
    I did cursary online research on the model you suggested and the review I stumbled on (which I don't think was the review you quoted), wasn't that flattering & I just said to myself, as I totally lack patience, screw this be happy with what you have. If perhaps further research as you said would have drawn me to a different conclusion so be it. Again, whatever model is picked, at whatever price, I'd recommend that anyone get a Harmony Remote if they can't program a remote themselves and would rather have a computer do all the programming and adjustments for them. For me personally, I have the money to afford 2 Harmony 676 remotes at about $120 give or take each (way below the listed retail) which I now have on hand and therefore further shopping and/or research for myself isn't worth my time.

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    Time Warner DVR & Remote

    [QUOTE=JeffKnob]How does your harmony work with the DVR from Time Warner? Can you get through the menus alright? Do they all control DVR's?

    Speaking for my Harmony 676 it works great. What Harmony does is that it has every legitimate brand and model number electronic apperatus that uses a remote such as Scientific Atlantas HD 8000 DVR in their system, Denon, Yamaha, etc., the list is endless and all you do is check that on their website when you've connected their supplied USB cord from your remote to your computer on their website. It took me several calls to their customer service just to have everything fine tuned to be exactly just what I want, which they said is about average. IE, I did not have "eject" originally on my CD/DVD controls & one quick phone call to them put this in on the button I wanted to use for eject. The main thing is, they can make all the changes from their end- you don't have to do anything, and all you have to do is click on your computer when you've attached your remote to it by USB. In the case of Time Warner DVR, I have my remote programmed so I just push the TV button which instantly turns on my DVR, TV & receiver and on my TV LCD without having to scroll I can click list or push a button called guide that's on the remote. The List button on the LCD shows all my recorded DVR shows. I had them make the "A" and "B" buttons on the remote "hot" meaning that when the DVR says press A or B if I want to keep or delete I can just press those instead of scrolling. For "C" I do have to scroll but at most its one scroll. If I want to record a show, I just press the guide button and then put in the channel & record things like I would using the Time Warner Remote. The main thing is, it will take you a couple of days to have it set up just the way you like and rather than do this yourself, you can have them do it at their end. The bottom line is, they essentially can program/set your remote up, into any ideal way you wish & you can essentually make any additional adjustments at any time. IE, I prefer the volume control to be where the channel controls are and vice versa. They can change this if you request this. All it takes is a very fast phone call and all you need to do in your end is connect to their log site (everyone has a log in name & password) with your USB cord attached to your computer and press the update button on the screen and it takes about 2 minutes till this information is then programmed on your remote. For me, I now do not have to clutter my sofa with a DVR remote, a TV remote, a receiver remote and a DVD remote as the Harmony remote does all their work easily.
    Last edited by hershon; 04-18-2005 at 07:06 AM.

  12. #12
    BooBs are elitist jerks shokhead's Avatar
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    Is your denon remote learning or programable?
    Look & Listen

  13. #13
    Forum Regular jeskibuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I wasn't trying to talk anybody out of buying what you recommend but for me personally as I'm comfortable with what I have with the 676 & have already paid for a second one, it wasn't worth going through additional hassles in trying to change over to the model you suggested.
    Well, that's good enough reason to stick with the 676 - momentum! On the plus side, you'll have 2 remotes with identical keyboard layouts!

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I did cursary online research on the model you suggested and the review I stumbled on (which I don't think was the review you quoted), wasn't that flattering
    And all I was saying is that a sampling of just 6 reviews (all over the map) wasn't enough information by my standards.

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I just said to myself, as I totally lack patience, screw this be happy with what you have.
    Now, now....patience is a virtue!

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    If perhaps further research as you said would have drawn me to a different conclusion so be it.
    I think the different priorities that people have for remotes is what needs to be discerned. As I said before, I hate a remote that requires me to hunt for the buttons I want to press. Others may not care about my priorities. The $50 price for the 768 is worth taking a chance in my opinion. You don't mind playing it safe and paying over double that, which is altogether fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Again, whatever model is picked, at whatever price, I'd recommend that anyone get a Harmony Remote if they can't program a remote themselves and would rather have a computer do all the programming and adjustments for them.
    Sounds like you're more enamored with the fact that the Logitech people will program it for you! And that's fine, too, but some of the user comments suggested that their customer service wasn't all that great, especially if the unit wasn't purchased new. I couldn't see them going one-on-one with more than a few of their customers without losing money.

    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Is your denon remote learning or programable?
    You talking to ME? I assume so, as I listed a Denon DVD-1600 as one of the devices I control with my remote. The answer to your question?: no...my Denon RC-551 remote is pretty much tailored to control only the DVD-1600.
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  14. #14
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    Shokhead

    Quote Originally Posted by shokhead
    Is your denon remote learning or programable?
    I have no idea. I imagine its the same as yours. The bottom line is I'm too damn lazy to want to program or teach a remote to do anything but I'm willing to have my computer do all the work for me by putting the information into the Harmony remote. I do find the Denon remote pretty large and cumbersome and the Harmony remote fairly light and normal sized.

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    [QUOTE=jeskibuff]Well, that's good enough reason to stick with the 676 - momentum! On the plus side, you'll have 2 remotes with identical keyboard layouts!

    The only reason I've got 2 identical remotes is convenience. One for the bedroom and one for the living room which I can leave for each location. I do the same with my glasses (which are for distance only). Also in the case of the Harmony, customer service said, if you have 2 different brands of the same profuct- i.e. My living room TV is Mitsubishi, My bedroom TV is Samsung, you should not have both models programmed on one remote.

    "Sounds like you're more enamored with the fact that the Logitech people will program it for you! And that's fine, too, but some of the user comments suggested that their customer service wasn't all that great, especially if the unit wasn't purchased new. I couldn't see them going one-on-one with more than a few of their customers without losing money" QUOTE=jeskibuff]

    I'm usually the first person to complain about Customer Service (IE Denon is the Worst ever) but in this case, every time I called Harmony/Logitech, it took less than a minute to get through and all the people there were helpful, cordial, useful and weren't from India! I honestly think if someone gets a Harmony Remote, within a week they should have been able to put it together just the way they like and really won't need to make any adjustments in the future unless they get a new model or brand of TV/Receiver/DVD/DVR/VCR etc. In regards to their expense on Customer service, for myself in particular, I was probably on the phone each time for all of 5 minutes as all you have to do is tell them what you want & they will do it for you rather than you have to do what they tell you to do. I imagine, that they've factored the cost of customer service into their prices. For me personally, excellent customer service/technical support is a major selling point for me on this product. I think, and maybe I'm wrong, that Harmony is the only company with computer programmable remotes & for people like myself, when coupled with excellent customer service/technical support, that's exactly what I'm looking for & I'm surprised more companies haven't followed forth. As I said, if someone could design a computer where all problems could be solved by the actual company with a phone call and all you had to do was click a button, they'd be richer than Bill Gates.
    Last edited by hershon; 04-18-2005 at 09:00 AM.

  16. #16
    Forum Regular jeskibuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I imagine, that they've factored the cost of customer service into their prices.
    I don't think so. One-on-one customer service is very expensive and would price your remote probably somewhere into the $500 category. That's why so many companies are either outsourcing their customer service to India or offloading as much as they can onto the internet or voice-response systems.

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I think, and maybe I'm wrong, that Harmony is the only company with computer programmable remotes
    Yes, you are wrong. My MX-850 (and most of the Home Theater Master products) is programmed by a downloadable program. I actually like that better than the Harmony setup. In the slim chance that Logitech/Intrigue go bankrupt (maybe because they spent too much time giving away free support on the phone? ) there no longer would be an internet site to maintain your 676. But whether or not I have internet access, I have all the tools necessary to update my MX-850!
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    This is the first time I ever heard somone criticising a company for having too good customer service- to each their own! As far as Harmony/Logitech's financial position., etc, to be honest I don't give a damn one way or the other, ust as long as I get the best deal possible. If this compnay ever went bankrupt., etc, I'm pretty sure that there still would be a computer system in place for their product. I really wouldn't worry about that.

    In regards to MX-850/Home Theater Master products, being computer downloadable, thanks for mentioning that. This company though needs to do a better job marketing their product though as I never heard of it & if a person doesn't know of a product, which could be the best in the world, they won't buy it.

  18. #18
    Forum Regular jeskibuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    This is the first time I ever heard somone criticising a company for having too good customer service
    Oh, don't misinterpret what I'm saying. It'd be wonderful if we all got wonderful one-on-one customer service - someone to wait on us hand and foot. It's just not feasible to do so and remain competitive in today's marketplace. I just think that your experience is on the rare side. According to some of the other comments I read, there are some other customer service problems that Logitech may have. Don't mistake skepticism for criticism.

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    In regards to MX-850/Home Theater Master products, being computer downloadable, thanks for mentioning that. This company though needs to do a better job marketing their product though as I never heard of it & if a person doesn't know of a product, which could be the best in the world, they won't buy it.
    Their MX- product line seems to be targeted to professional installers. They have the URC- product line which is more consumer oriented. I doubt that you'd find the MX- series in places like BestBuy and CircuitCity. Even the manual that comes with the MX- series contains only a few pages that are absolutely no help in setting up the unit. It is assumed that a professional installer will do the dirty work of customization. Thus, it is harder to get an MX- unit up and running than it is a Harmony, but there seems to be much more flexibility and control in setting it up the way you want it. If you leave it up to the pros, you're going to spend more every time you want it tweaked, too. By the way, I've seen very little in Harmony remotes being advertised, either. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places?

    I'm a power user. I like things certain ways and I will go the extra mile to make something work the way I want it to. Other people aren't as patient or determined or exact, so I think the Harmony series are better choices for them.
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    I agree with giving my business to a company with superior customer service. However, I also see the point of companies having difficulty to keep the strong customer service because someone else can go it better, faster, and cheaper- like offshoring to India and other Asian countries. The surprising part is the people in India who work for these major corporations have tons of higher education- probably more than half of the people in this forum. They also get paid a lot of money (not comparable to the US, but definitely high for India) The difficulty is that they do not have the personal experiences as a lot of us do in the American workplace- as you know, experience works wonders in customer service.

    I train Indian associates in my business in customer service- I think it will just take a couple more years and they will be pretty darn good delivering high service to their customers- at least I hope so.

    I guess it can get like American Express- I heard all customer service calls are connected to India.

    Just thought I'd throw in my $.02.

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    I never had anything against people from India before but I know that HP apparently has them on technical support on weekends and I think evenings too & quite frankly if I had known this I wouldn't have bought my computer from HP. Besides giving lousy technical advice- which might have been a one off screw up I admit on the Indian technician's part, dealing with them is slow, awkward and redundant and makes for a totally awful experience. America for Americans!

  21. #21
    Forum Regular paul_pci's Avatar
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    the world is flat

    Those interested in the outsourcing of customer service, et al. of American companies, as well as multinational companies, should take a look at Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular jeskibuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    I never had anything against people from India before but I know that HP apparently has them on technical support on weekends and I think evenings too & quite frankly if I had known this I wouldn't have bought my computer from HP. Besides giving lousy technical advice- which might have been a one off screw up I admit on the Indian technician's part, dealing with them is slow, awkward and redundant and makes for a totally awful experience. America for Americans!
    One of my worst customer service experiences involved placing an order online with CircuitCity then trying to pick it up at a local store. It seems there was a disconnect between the old and new computer systems at the time, so they couldn't find my order by looking it up on their "old" and familiar system. I got on the phone with their customer service, talking with a person obviously from India. I practically had to scream in the phone for him to understand my phone number. I had to repeat the number several times until he got it right, and I don't have a speech problem! This was basic stuff...nothing complicated. The language barrier made CircuitCity's customer service "customer disservice". If they're going to use cheaper labor from overseas, they ought to at least make sure the reps are capable of performing the necessary tasks and ensure that they can communicate with some degree of competency.

    I should receive my 768 tomorrow via UPS. I'll be sure to give a review of it as soon as I can and try to put this thread back on track instead of the current trend of running with the customer service tangent!
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