While paying for some shopping, the lady behind the counter asked for my business card.
About 12 months later (!) she calls, saying that she has a problem, and would like to know how much I charge, if I have a callout fee, how long I think it will take, and how much it will cost. I think: she seems very concerned about the costs…
When I got there, I started looking at the computer. After 1 minute, she says something like: “oh, I forgot to check when you arrived, as I can’t afford to pay if you go over an hour”.
I just say “don’t worry about it. I’m not strict with my times”. if I go over by 10 minutes, I won’t charge any extra.
During my time there, she admits to why she was edgy about the time and costs:
Apparently, the last time she had a computer problem a very large technician had a look, decided that she needed a new motherboard, installed a “top quality” motherboard, and then charged her $450.00 (I believe he charged $40 per hour plus a callout fee, where I charge a flat $65 per hour)
She didn’t have that amount of money at the time, so he became threatening, and demanded payment. So she gave him all she had, and he returned a few days later to collect the balance.
She also said the PC made a rattling noise after he worked on it, but she wasn’t going to ask him to fix it (she didn’t know how he would react, and didn’t know how much he would charge!).
Since I had reason to take a look inside the case, I could see that the motherboard was only attached via 2 screws (hence the rattling noise), and there was no backing plate for the various plugs at the back of the computer. Given the shoddy installation, I also wonder if there was anything wrong with the original motherboard in the first place.
I inserted 2 new screws, but couldn’t do much about the backing plate (I can’t carry every backing plate ever made), but I told her what I found and what I had done.
She was very happy with what I had done. It took me slightly more than 1 hour, but only charged her for 1 hour.
Although my “competitor” made a lot more money than I did (in the short term), I now have a loyal customer who is very likely to call me again for any of her future computer requirements.
I find that my good customer service often leads to repeat business. In fact, I’m guessing that repeat business now represents at least 20% of my sales.
So be careful out there, there are some unscrupulous people, who will seem inexpensive, but who will charge (and can look like) like a herd of elephants!