All I wanted was to watch reruns while cooking

I like having a TV in the kitchen.  I easily spend 2 to 4 hours a day in the kitchen.  At night, Ben and I watch TV together, and Nerone too in the winter.  (He doesn’t join us as much now that he is working outside 8 to 10 hours a day.  Guarding this place is a full time job you know.)  Just as Ben watches programs on his computer that I would never watch, I watch programs that he doesn’t enjoy as much on mine.  So when we moved downstairs I figured  instead of having to drag my computer in the kitchen each night I would buy a TV for my birthday, for the kitchen.  After the move, when the TV guy came I was able to get him to string a wire for the antenna but not the dish.  Connecting to the dish would have cost another 100 Euros or so.  Since I didn’t have a TV yet, he suggested that I wait until he came back when someone moved upstairs to fix things up for them and see if I wanted to go to the trouble of connecting to the dish then.  Sounded reasonable.


April comes and Esselunga has a sale on TVs and all.  A really good sale.  Even though  my birthday is not until May, Ben and I decide to look  at the ad.  I have measured the space and have picked out a nice basic TV that is only 100 Euros.  But, I am whining because it has a black frame.  For some reason I want it to have a white frame.  My mind is really set on this.  It has to be white.  Normally I could care less about that sort of thing.  Right now we are looking at fridges and I don’t care if it is stainless steel, or white or scratched as long as it has the configuration and the energy efficiency rating that I want.  So I was puzzled about why white was so important and why I was whining.  Ben pointed out a Smart TV that was white.  Also more expensive.   We looked at them online.  This would be our first Smart TV.  Would it do what I wanted… which is to watch reruns on Netflix and other things from the internet like ACC basketball.  It seemed that way so I bought it.


Get it home.  The first problem is navigating the internet with a TV remote.  You can do it but it can be frustrating.  Just finding the on screen keyboard can take a long time.  I think the manufacture has a separate keyboard that for another 50 or 100 Euros they will sell you.  Finally, I figure out that I can download an app to my tablet so that my tablet can act as a keyboard.  Then I try to connect to Netflix.  Seems not to happen.  So I email the manufacturer help site in Great Britain.  (Sometimes it’s just easier to do things in English)  They refuse to help me because the model might be different.  Oh, gee thanks.  So customer service oriented….  Using google translate I contact the Italian help center asking about streaming from the internet or from my computer and how to find the onscreen keyboard.  FOUR DAYS later they get back to me (in their defense, there were some national holidays involved). 


This is the response:  (I have removed the name of the manufacturer and replaced it with – and used google to translate it.) 



Dear Ms. Taccarino ,

thank you for contacting — Customer Service Italy .

With respect to signaling , the specific browser on your TV is not certified for watching streaming movies .

— certifies the vision of such content through the appropriate application in the area of premium TV 29LN460R such as, for example , Youtube and Chili .

These applications improve the user experience of Smart TV , adapting the vision of the content to the device on which it takes place , allowing the correct view movies.

In reference to the appearance of the keyboard , positioning the web address bar and selecting a number on the remote will bring up the keyboard on which to type the letters .

In case of need of further information or clarification , I invite you to fill out a new application at — attaching the message to its previous communications .

Thanking you for your confidence in our brand to take this opportunity to extend

Sincerely .

199 600 099
www.–.com / en

General Note : Do not reply to this email .
For more information, repeat the request via the web, attaching any previous communications .





No, no, no, Aint’t gonna happen is  what this says.  The manufacturer has decided that even though there is a computer built into the TV, that computer can only access on the internet what the manufacturer has selected for you to access.  Which in Italy does not include Netflix or Hulu.  And don’t miss “General Note”   I can’t just hit reply.  Noooo, I have to copy this email and start all over with a new request if I want any more help.  Ohhhhh, very helpful customer service. 


When Ben and I looked at these TVs online, no where or way did either of us understand that what or how we wanted to use the internet feature of the TV would be so controlled.  I am so disappointed.  But now I have had the TV for a week.  And it works.  So I really don’t feel that I can take it back.


So back to the internet to see if there is a way around their control.  Somehow I ended up  on the Unblock-US site.  Oh my goodness Unblock-US  renewed my faith in customer service centers and the folks who work in them.  It took a string of 26 email exchanges and when I received one (usually within an hour or so) I could just hit reply and tell the rep what happened when I tried the latest suggestion.  I am especially fond of this one. 


APR 23, 2014  |  10:55AM EDT
Stuart Cook replied:

Hi Martha
You can sign out of Netflix on your –TV, by pressing the following button combination on your remote
Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up
You may have to try this a few times as the speed required is quite precise, if done correctly, you should see a screen with a deactivate button or logout button.
Select this to log out and then you will be able to login with your US account.



Hasn’t technology come far?



Netflix uses a bit of deceptive advertising, the ‘Anytime, Anywhere’ banner that appears really means as long as you are in a country that they service. From Wikipedi:

Netflix, Inc. is an American provider of on-demand Internet streaming media available to viewers in

North and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom),



But do you see that info on the Netflix site? Maybe but you have to look for it probably in some small fine print.   So tough luck if you are somewhere else. But the ads really don’t say that do they….



Well it took about 10 days and all these emails but now, using Netflix I can watch Andy Griffith reruns, Everybody Loves Raymond, Frazier, oh just all sorts of things while cooking, washing dishes or just sitting down.   To achieve this I had to program the TV into thinking that it is in Great Britain (because Netflix is available in Great Britain but not Italy) and by using Unblock-US Netflix thinks I am in the US so I am able to watch all these shows.   I am also able to watch PBS online and looking forward to seeing the next season of ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ when it starts again at the end of June.  And I am really proud and pleased that I persevered to get this to work.  I do watch TV in Italian too but that requires ‘work’ to get it to make sense.  And isn’t part of watching TV to relax and have fun?  So I don’t feel bad about going to such lengths to ‘cocoon’ myself in American experiences. 


So this is a cautionary tale to anyone moving or visiting here.  If you think you are going to be able to continue to watch some series while you are vacationing, start planning and getting all the software, subscriptions and apps before you leave the US.   And I certainly recommend Unblock-US.  VERY HELPFUL FOLKS!  Easy to understand directions.  A great service that I am more than happy to pay for each month.


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