HomeTechnicalAnother visit to the vet


Another visit to the vet — 5 Comments

  1. I’ve been in the game a while,and it’s
    incidents like this that make you
    wonder if it’s still viable.

    As pc’s get cheaper,they get more
    complex and I have more than a few
    clients who just don’t seem to
    be learning or progressing.

    One called this week because
    his CD/RW was faulty.

    When I got there, he was
    using blank DVD discs!.

    I’ve lost count of the number
    of machines that need a complete
    OS overhaul before the original
    reason for calling can be addressed.

    Very few pc’s are spyware/trojan/virus
    free,most have P2P,or other free software/
    spyware installed and are as secure as seives,
    but the owner’s like freebies and are
    reluctant to remove/not download sussware
    even when told.

    Some are so riddled it’s format time (if the
    owner has discs for half the software).

    HD’s are getting bigger by the day and
    everything like backing up,imaging etc
    takes longer.

    Businesses are as bad.Porn,poorly
    maintained pc’s and appalling or
    no backup strategy.

    Vista promises another leap into

    Again,factor in the time it can
    take to fix a machine plus parts
    and the machine’s new cost and it’s
    not looking pretty for repair work.

    Setup a new outfit and you spend
    hours giving free telephone tech
    support while the owner learns
    about CD/DVD dialup/broadband
    trojan/virus differences and
    so on.

    Sorry about rhe rant but who’d
    be a mechanic if new cars cost
    $2000,half the owners couldn’t
    drive and they all played with
    the engine!

  2. Hi dlr,

    Thanks for the comment.

    You raise a few interesting issues that have been playing on my mind for a while now.

    I’m also concerned about the dropping PC prices… Particularly if it gets to the point where its easier/cheaper to get a new computer, rather than get the problems fixed.

    It will probably become like the TV & VCR repair industry… why bother repairing your VCR, if you can buy a new one for $50?

    I must disagree about the compexity… they *are* becoming more complex, but I like that, as more hobbyists are forced out, and I’m left to fix their stuff-ups (which is good for business… people learn not to trust their “computer wizz mates” and would rather pay for a professional… which is where we come in).

    People not learning (or as I often find, people just have other areas of expertise) is also good for business… If everyone became computer experts, I’d probably make a fortune by becoming the worlds last plumber 🙂

    I’ve noticed that most people (and this applies to many non-computer fields) just have no idea of true market value… eg I know I can get a network router for $50 – $80 at the local computer store, but many people are not interested in current prices. If they feel *comfortable* dealing with you, then they will happily hand over $200 for the router, knowing that you are not just selling them a router, but you will also do “what it takes” to make it work for them.

    At this point, I feel a strong urge to rant about the $20,000 that I spent on timeshare… which is now worth only $2000… But I’d better just drop it.

    Yep, I’m also seeing a lot of “infected” PCs. This is also good for business, and I usually combine an informal education session while removing the infections, so that people actually sit up and pay attention (nothing makes people pay attention better than the risk of losing all the money in their bank accounts!).

    What i’m finding, is that I cannot be just a repair dude. I must also be friendly, informative, patient, and be able to tailor the info and service I deliver based on the “socioeconomic” (I hate that word) background of the customer.

    A large number of my past customers, once they have dealt with me, just don’t bother shopping around for a computer tech, and instinctively call me when they have future problems. Its all about good service. Technical know-how is (surprisingly) of secondary importance.

    Some of my customers are genuinely suprised when I tell them that they can watch while I work (and I also try to explain what I’m doing as I go!). I think they are used to the stereotype technician, who walks it, talks technical mumbo-jumbo, then leaves after 10 minutes, and sometimes the problem hasn’t even been fixed!

    As for telephone tech advice, it is just so difficult, that I can only give a few minutes-worth of advice… after that, I usually tell the prospective customer “I cannot see what you are seeing, and I cannot afford to be on the phone for hours, so I really need to visit you to get a good look at your problem”. At that point, they either make an appointment, or they say they will try a few of my suggestions & call me back if they have more problems (and they rarely call back).

    Maybe I haven’t been in this part of the industry long enough, but I feel more positive, as I’m taking a more “service oriented” approach, rather than a “mechanic” approach.


  3. Good points.

    “I must disagree about the compexity… they *are* becoming more complex, but I like that, as more hobbyists are forced out, and I’m left to fix their stuff-ups”.

    What I meant was not so much complex from a repair
    point of view,but users who simply run into
    one problem after another, spyware this week,learning to burn cds next week,then they
    buy a DVD burner,then they find there’s a bit
    more than hiring videos and copying them.Then
    it’s digital cameras and Windows movie maker.
    “What’s a MSWMM file? It won’t play in Media Player and I’ve sent copies to my friends”.

    A week later they buy a laptop and a wireless
    router and on and on.

    I find I spent half my time dropping back to
    completed jobs because something else is now
    puzzling them and usually it’s a wasted few
    minutes on the phone at least.

    PC’s have become an amusement arcade with
    more toys coming out all the time.Mostly
    to keep customers buying after their
    pc power needs are met.

    I hate constantly going back to the
    same customers.Not because I don’t like
    them,but you feel guilty for charging them
    again and again!

    I never have any complaints but I really
    feel sorry for some people struggling with
    todays PC’s. They have so much to learn
    and it’s getting more to learn all the time.

    Consider how far the CD drive for example
    has come.

    1xcd reader to 16x dual layer DVD burner with cdr, cdrw ,dvd-,dvd+ on the way through and now blueray coming.

    consider that 1xcd probably cost a few hundred
    and a 16x dvd is round about $70.

    Great for us and other people who can fix
    our own.Not great when you are charging
    other people for repairs.

    Your other points regarding customer service
    are very valid and I try a similar technique.

    I am probably too soft,because I often end
    up giving quick lessons after a repair on
    something that has the owner puzzled.

    Great for the customer diary and PR,not so
    good for the hourly rate.

    Beats talking on the phone are driving 20k’s
    for a small job.

    Hopefully,there is a way to still make it work.I feel with all the years of aqquired knowledge and
    the study required to get it,we deserve more than
    minimum rates.

    It’s interesting too your comparison to TV’s.
    More and more,I just arrange a new PC and data
    transfer,because it’s more sensible than repairs.

    I do know a lot of shop owners get by without
    going onsite,however they usually have
    a bench full of infected machines and just
    do scumware cleams day after day while making
    pennies on hardware sales.

    Ah well,another rant.

  4. Hmmm, interesting point about “feeling guilty for charging them again and again”.

    I get some costomers calling me back regularly, but I feel no guilt.

    Not because I’m a heartless bastard (just the opposite actually), but because I believe I treat the relashionship differently: They are paying me for a service. No matter how trivial the problem might seem to me, if someone wants me to show them how to, say, insert a CD ROM into the drive, I’ll show them & charge accordingly (I’ll usually perform other services to try to occupy an hour, so that I can charge for an hour).

    I feel that if they learnt something from me (and/or if I fix at least 1 problem), then they have gotten some value from me, & so I am entitled to payment for my services.

    Another good example: I recently called Mr Antenna to fix our TV reception. I could have fumbled around for a few hours (and risked my life walking around on the roof of my high-set house), but I paid $95 for someone to change a badly installed transformer on the antenna (probably a $5 part). If I was in his shoes, I wouldn’t feel guilty, although he probaly sees the exact same problem ten times a week. I’m just not interested in learning how to do his job, even though I’m easily capable of doing so.

    Anyway, as you mention, running a shop just doesn’t appeal, due to the low hardware margins & the need to “pay the rent”.

    But I do find that the “ComputerMobile” business is still worthwhile, as I usually buy hardware at retail prices and add a good markup. It works, since people are instinctivley prepared to pay more for a “to your door” service (eg: you pay more to have pizzas delivered). Occasionally, someone is savvy enough to say “I can get it cheaper”, and I say “sure, its your choice, and if you need a hand installing it, just give me a call”

    When you add the malware removal & other pure software repairs, which are almost pure profit, then, my picture looks far from gloomy (to me).

    You also need to do your research & make sure you charge appropriately. Its funny, but charging too little is just as bad for business as charging too much.

    I’ve recently upped my prices, & will do it again in 6 or 12 months. I actually got more people complain about the high prices at $55 per hour, than at $65 per hour… how weird is that?

    Anyway, don’t worry about the typos, I reckon understanding is far more important than spelling. Why doesn’t world adopt Italian as the official language? there is no such thing as ‘spelling’ in italian. Once you hear a new word, you automatically know how to write it!

    Ah, well, thats my little rant for now.