Saturday, August 11, 2007

Lessons from my garage door remote

It's possible to be too geeky.

When the remote for our 1996 Sears Craftsman garage door opener failed I naturally entered the remote part number into Google. This led me to a forest of aftermarket "universal" remotes; after a few hours of research and with some trepidation I placed my order. The remote I got was three times the size of the old one, but it works quite well.

Today I decided our keypad needed to be replaced. Once again I started digging through Google and Amazon, but this time I happened to notice a "call 800-... for parts" notice on the opener.

It seemed unlikely, but a search on Craftsman parts led to the Sears Parts Store. There a search on the opener part number led through two menu options to a list of compatible accessories. The sites not perfect, as the part numbers have only a vague one line description. I ended up going to, searching on the part numbers, and ordering two devices. Not cheap, but I'm reasonably sure they'll work.

As an experiment I tried constraining my search by "" and googling on the part number. This time the search worked.

There are two lessons I draw from this:
  1. There's still a "deep web" of database tables Google can't track -- that's why starting with the parts site worked.
  2. is ranked relatively poorly by Google, so it didn't show up in my searches. I have to remember to scope by site more frequently.
  3. I might have done best of all to phone the Craftsman parts number on the side of the opener, but, really, that's unthinkable.
Update 8/19/07: I have a few clues as to why Sears may rank pretty low in Google searches:
  1. Despite my usual practice of turning off all opt-in spam invitations, Sears still sent spam to my email address (of course I only gave them my spam account, but still!)
  2. Their stated returns policy requires a shipping statement as well as a receipt?

No comments: