A bit of a lighter blog than usual, though it doesn’t feel light when I am in the midst of picking through this frustrating experience.
I pick my two-year old daughter up from school a few days a week, and when we get home she has two things on her mind: first, getting a snack (a “nack” in her terminology), and then watching Curious George, her current favorite show.
Props to Netflix — they have seemingly endless episodes of Curious George available to stream. I have been a big fan of Netflix for a long time now, and wrote a long paper about them in business school (in which I totally missed what now looks like their biggest opportunity — original content like the amazing House of Cards).
However, this is where the problem starts, and you try explaining this to an impatient two-year old. These are the steps that I frequently endure, with no exaggeration:
- Switch on the 18-month old Samsung TV, and start the smart hub
- Wait for a couple of minutes while the smart hub loads (this reminds me of waiting for a TV to warm up in the 80s)
- Select Netflix
- Wait two minutes while the TV connects to Netflix
- Select Curious George
- Stare at a black screen that displays the title of the episode title and an ominous “Loading” bar…that shows no progress
- Error message pops up informing me that Netflix is having a problem playing this title
- Turn TV off
- Repeat first two steps
- Now unable to connect to Netflix
- Reconnect TV to the internet via the Comcast router
- Enter, for the 1,000th time, the network password. (Btw, why is this a hard-coded random 16-character string? Why can’t I set my own password as I could with my old Linksys router?)
- Explain to my daughter what’s going on. She continues to make monkey sounds
- Wait for the TV to reconnect to the network. Success!
- Go back to the smart hub, and connect to Netflix…again
- Select Curious frickin’ George and, finally, start the episode and restore peace to the Williams household
Clearly this is poor UX, and one that leads me, someone who is prone to complaining, to want to express my displeasure. But to whom do I complain?! Samsung seem to have some culpability, as their TVs have a pretty bad UX in general. How about Comcast? Their network obviously has problems, and I still reboot their router a couple of times a week when it crashes, much like a Windows NT server. Finally, shouldn’t Netflix be more reliable too?
And that’s the bottom line. As a consumer, it’s very hard for me to isolate the problem and then metaphorically choke the vendor in choice in an attempt to extract some form of retribution. That’s possibly the most frustrating part of all of this — imagining the finger-pointing that would go on if I could get a rep from each company in a room.
I can but hope that as and when I next move house (and probably buy a new TV, with new Comcast hardware, and with an evolved Netflix service) reliability will be back to the level that I could achieve with VHS.
And, yes, this is indeed a #firstworldproblem.