Chennai: With the arrival of LED and LCD television sets, TV service engineers have begun to feel the heat.
'Most of the spare parts of the television set cost from Rs 300-500 and service charges are also very high. Authorised service centres charge Rs 750 to Rs 1,200. Moreover, only a few service engineers take to door-to-door service. All these have made many people go for a new TV set. TV service persons are also losing business,' says Marudhan, a resident of the city.
'Value of the service has gone down over the years. In the 1980s, television was a good source of entertainment,' says Kesavan, proprietor of Sai Electronics. 'So, owning a television set was a matter of pride for all kinds of people - from the lower class to the elite. People who could not own one, would buy and pay the amount in instalments. In case there was a fault in the television, the TV service engineer was one of the most sought after persons,' he says.
He recalls that 'In 1986, when I started the service centre, I would receive calls from areas like Tambaram and Chrompet to service their TV sets. People would even wait for a week for the service engineers. In those days, imported TV sets were the big thing for many families. Sony TV was a hot favourite. They would spent Rs 80,000 on the TV which money they could have easily used to buy a ground in the suburbs.'
But, over the years, things changed. Television service engineers are trying had to survive now, he says.
Explaining the causes that led to this problem, Kesavan said, 'First and foremost is the technological advancements and over-production. Television sales increased over the years and the price of a set went down to up to Rs 10,000-Rs 15,000 for even advanced models.'
He argues that due to huge production, in order to push sales, television manufacturers and other stakeholders started floating the idea of use and throw. This completely changed the perception among middle-class buyers. Apart from this, many amateurs jumped into the service industry, gradually denying the opportunity for genuine service engineers, which led to a gradual fall of TV mechanics.
Though there is visible evidence that TV service engineers are losing business. experts note that it is part of business and survival.
Speaking on the issue, Madan of Sha Electronics says, 'I believe TV service persons are in demand even now. But there was a period between 2005-2011 in which LED television sales peaked. There is also the use and throw culture. Because of these, service engineers got fewer and fewer calls.'
He adds, 'We must not forget that servicing is a kind of business. Many a time, in the career of service engineers, there may be dull moments. But we must note that not everybody throws out their TV to buy a new one. Upper class people only exchange the TV to buy a new set. Middle class people who buy a TV for Rs 25,000 will not throw it away to buy a new one. They will seek out a service engineer to repair it.'
Many service engineers complain that amateurs have encroached the TV service industry. But, 'We must note that television is a complete electronic piece and only persons with knowledge and training can repair it,' says Madan,
'Amateurs can only open the set and correct the wiring problem. They can't do chip-level servicing and carry out key functions. It is not mechanical work, which can be learnt through trial and error. It requires some educational background,' he argues.
'I have five persons working under me. Even though they have undergone service training in an institute, they are also learning here to gain experience. Moreover, as technology is changing a lot, the service engineer has to update himself if he wants to stay in the race,' he points out matter-of-factly.