If you ask me a simple question on the telephone then I’ll probably be able to answer it without arranging a visit, but for anything else I’ll usually come to see you in person. (Though obviously I can’t work inside customer premises during the coronavirus pandemic.) I don’t do ‘remote support’ over the Internet for several reasons, not the least of which is the potential security risk of running the necessary software. Plus it doesn’t make sense to try fixing a computer remotely using a ‘clever-clogs’ method when I only live up the road.
If I can’t reasonably fix a problem on-site, I’ll gladly take equipment away to be fixed, and bring it back again, without making a call-out charge for nearby customers. (This is the only sensible option during the coronavirus pandemic.) There aren’t many computer support businesses who’ll do that, so this is a good reason to get in touch with me for jobs such as computer repairs and laptop repairs.
Sometimes computer troubleshooting can be a slow process, and software that automates some of the procedures can take a long time to run. It’s not very interesting staring at a screen showing a slow-moving progress bar saying ‘5% complete’ and hoping that within a few minutes it will eventually move to ‘6% complete’. Doing this on-site can be tedious, so sometimes it’s a good idea for me to take away the computer so I can run these procedures back at base and do something useful while they’re running. This can work out cheaper for customers who would otherwise have to pay me to sit there and watch these procedures slowly complete. Having said that, I don’t usually count all the time spent watching progress bars as work, but I do have to charge something if it takes literally hours. As always, I like to be reasonable.
If I need to take away a computer or laptop for repair (which is the only service that I can offer during the coronavirus pandemic), I can always remove the hard disk drive / solid-state drive first and leave it with you, if it contains sensitive data that you don’t want taken off your premises and the storage device is not the cause of the problem. Having said that, I always treat all customer data in the strictest confidence anyway. However, I’m not prepared to consider signing non-disclosure agreements relating to confidential customer data as reviewing any such agreement would constitute an unacceptable overhead. I’m just a small business and cannot afford to spend time analysing the wording of detailed legal agreements.
In the past I’ve bought hardware on behalf of customers and then been stuck with it when they changed their minds about having work done. Therefore I no longer purchase items for customers, but instead just advise them what they need and let them obtain it.
This policy has several practical advantages for customers:
So don’t pay mark-up on parts, just buy what I recommend then only pay for fitting.