Sigh. When money is tight, then things always tend to go wrong. That’s just the way the world works it would seem.

Anyway, towards the end of last week, our DSTV decoder (a classic DSD1110 model) started playing up in that it wasn’t changing channels very smoothly and seemed to be struggling to keep up with the buttons pressed on the remote. Nothing particularly sinister and certainly something both Chantelle and I thought would be fixed easily enough with a battery switch in the remote – after all, we haven’t changed the batteries in the remote since we first bought the thing back in January 2009!

However, the batteries swap didn’t sort things out and so on Sunday during our spring-cleaning operation, I took the decision to power off the decoder and then bring it back up in the hopes that this would sort out its nonsense.

Which of course as Murphy would have it, broke everything.

With the power restored, the decoder indicator panel kept basically rebooting itself as it attempted a scan, powered down, and then restarted, and with no output from the AV cables, I had absolutely no idea what was happening on the inside! After confirming the decoder’s failure on the secondary television set, I bit my lip, broke down in despair and phoned up Multichoice to try and figure out a resolution.

Multichoice’s maze of an automated answering system eventually yielded a live operator on the other side, and after confirming that we didn’t have insurance on the decoder, we were given the option of having the unit repaired at the nearest accredited dealer, that being Satellite Doctor out in Somerset West. This would set us back at least R350. Alternatively, we could replace our standard decoder with a newer model, which currently sells for R500.

Based on past interactions with electronics, I decided to rather replace the unit with a new one (which comes with a warranty) than risk a repaired unit which may give out again in the future and which would thus result in more money forked out to get it working again.

(And no, because we still make use of the standard decoder whose monetary value isn’t that high as compared to its HD and PVR brothers, we still won’t be going for Multichoice’s insurance package just in case you’re wondering.)

Right. After a few phone calls I managed to find someone selling the DSTV DSD1131 decoder without the installation package and who happened to be open on a Sunday afternoon – which turned out to be DionWired in Somerset Mall, meaning a breakaway afternoon trip for Jessie and me to go and pick up the new unit, thus leaving Chantelle to continue with her cleaning operation.

One successful pick up and go operation later, I was back in the car, decoder box in hand. A seriously tiny box at that.

Anyway, I got back home, unboxed the thing, marvelled at how tiny the decoder is (even the remote is halved in size!), as well as how they managed to remove every single piece of metal (apart from the connectors) out of the device, resulting in what is a rather light-weight plastic toy – which I’m rather scared of touching lest it falls apart!

Armed with the knowledge that the Multichoice DSTV smart card, from the decoder model DSD1110 upwards, is paired with the device, I phoned up Multichoice, eventually got through to a live operator, and started the process of disabling the old DSD1110 Smart Card and enabling the new DSD1131 Smart Card.

It was at this point that the lady on the line caught me out, asking me to change to channel 108 during the enabling process. Standing there in the office with the decoder in hand, I had to ask her to quickly hold on as I dashed around the house like a mad thing to get the decoder plugged in, switched on and find a remote that worked (the new one was still sealed, batteries and all!) – all accomplished with a distracting, niggly Jessica and a giggly Chantelle in the background!

With the decoder now switched on and throwing up some images on the screen, the operator quickly got everything up and running from her side, and we were left in the possession of a brand spanking new DSTV decoder, in working order, but with a whole R500 less in this month’s budget.


But at least Chantelle could enjoy Idols that night, so all was good with the world.