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How far is too far?


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#16
cbarnard

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I ran into an older lady the other day in the computer section of a big store.

She needed help finding a mouse to "fix her computer" after talking to her she realized I knew a whole lot more about computers than she did... To make a long story short she asked me to give her lessons to teach her how to use the computer.

But also through talking to her I realized her computer was broke... House call here I come!!!

She asked me to come over "I did" I booted up windows to find out it was stuck in a boot\reboot cycle.

Anyways she paid me by the hour to fix it... It took a lot to get everything working properly to just get it through the bios properly...

I figured since this thread was essentially about getting paid for our work "at home" it would fit here.

My thoughts about house calls (Since I seem to have so many)

Some problems can be fixed in the first hour. So in the first hour one needs to recover "drive fees" and "labor fees"

So my thought is say for the 1st hour you charge say 40-50 bucks... Then after that drop to say 20 dollars per hour. What ever the problem is you fix it.

I believe that a house call should cost more because of 1 on 1 treatment. If I was at the shop I could work on more computers at the same time for example "chkdsk /r." It can take forever to complete If I'm at the customers house I'm at the mercy of the computer, and can't get any other work done...

I always dig dig and dig more to figure out a problem so I can fix it... Something that "our customers" haven't always figured out so I think just as Troy pointed out that we should get paid for our assistance. Even if we Google the fix :)

What do you guys think... How do you deal with house calls. Am I off track?

I just would love to have some input on this.

Have a good day guys.
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#17
Ferrari

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there are a lot of problem ridden machines coming my way expecting a miracle each time.....

This is my exact point when it comes to the family problem, ugh... I know quite a lot, but by no means would I consider my self a complete and total professional, but if you ask them... I am. :) Maybe I'm just modest, I don't know. Similar to what Troy has said, there are soooo many random problems, even someone with extensive knowledge has to google and research problems.

What do you guys think... How do you deal with house calls. Am I off track?

I charge $10 more an hour to come to someones house. 1. This persuades them to bring the system to me, so I can be more thorough and run the chkdsk /r virus scans, memtest, etc if needed. 2. If they DO want me to come to their house, then I'm paid very well for it. But, charging more for the first initial trip and first hour is pretty much doing the same thing as what I just mentioned. It's really up to you I guess.

I've only had one house call since I started doing this for money, which was about 3-4 months ago. I'd rather work at home anyway.

I find it quite amusing we are having this conversation on a "volunteer" site, but what others reading this may not understand, when I log on to Geekstogo to volunteer my time, It is my choice and I decide how far the help goes and how many problems I help with. When customers call me, sometimes I'm eating dinner, or out with my girlfriend, (and it doesn't take you long to realize, every missed call is money lost) and once I commit to a repair... I'm stuck with that repair until I solve the problem. There is a big difference there, so I expect to be paid well for it. Ya know?

Edited by Ferrari, 01 February 2010 - 12:23 AM.

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#18
xblindx

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Hi, I realize I am quite late on this topic, but I have recently been thinking of sending out fliers around my neighborhood advertising PC troubleshooting/repairs. I am pretty knowledgeable about software issues, not so much hardware problems; but I was mostly wondering what a modest price to charge would be (per hour). I am only 15, but I highly believe I am more computer literate than many, many older people who are probably the ones with the problems that would be willing to pay to fix them.
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#19
123Runner

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This is an interesting topic.
Working on a computer in the home/shop is definitely easier because you can work on multiple at the same time. Also keep in mind that at a customer home you will usually have them "hanging" over you which makes for a interesting environment. Plus when you are at their home and you get "stuck" it makes it more difficult to take a breather to "collect" your thoughts.

Repairing it in their home also has advantages in that you can see how they "treat" their equipment. You also can get a better idea of how they operate it and you are fixing it in their environment which might pick up odd issues that you may not see in the shop.

123runner
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#20
Ferrari

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but I was mostly wondering what a modest price to charge would be (per hour)

Cost of living in your area of the country comes into play here, so without going into all of that I would recommend that you contact a few computer stores and ask what their general rates are for trouble shooting and what not. I would also recommend that you check the closest city to you in the computer section on Craigslist and see what techs prices are for their services. This should give you a general knowledge of what to charge.

I would also weigh in your experience level compared to veterans that charge $40+ an hour and your age. It would probably be a good idea to start out competitive (cheaper) and try to build a client base. Once business improves, more customers start to call, and your years of experience rise... increase your pay. Give yourself a raise, see?

Anyone starting out at your age and not many years of experience expecting what other professionals that have been doing this for 30+ years charge is just insane. I always try to have the mindset that existing/future customers are smarter than you may think and that they shop around and do some research of their own.

@123Runner...

Plus when you are at their home and you get "stuck" it makes it more difficult to take a breather to "collect" your thoughts.

It's amazing what walking away for a few minutes to even a few hours does isn't it? It's like the answers just start popping in your head, weird how that happens. It's always my biggest fear that I'll be at someones house and get stuck and not know what to do. :) Or that their computer bursts into flames... :) jk

Edited by Ferrari, 09 April 2010 - 09:33 PM.

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#21
gunn1

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Hey Ferrari,

I am not very Geekified, but I do know a few things about doing business. Although businesses can vary greatly, they do have some main tennants in common.

*Be direct and honest; with your fees and warranties.

*Charge family and freinds the same as Joe off the street, they will respect you for it, and you will not feel taken advantage of.

*Always leave them wanting more. By that I mean go a little further than normal, not just enough to pass. That will leave them wanting more, they will recommend you to others, and you will feel even more justified in the fee you charge.

*Never think you are Superman, taking on everyones problems and trying to "fix" them will just burn you out, you will also suffer from productivity fade and your zest for doing the activty will diminish.

And finally;

*Always set time aside for family and freinds, set up dates or days out of every week that are untouchable were you are unreachable, and there isn't a computer in sight. This will help you stay focused while at work, and your family and freinds sure will appreciate it!!

Just a few ideas,

gunn1
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#22
MrDarn

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the issue i have is i'm too soft, and i'm frightened of failure.

I've designed the websites for 3 family members now, and i fix their PC's on a regular basis.

The problem i have with charging is this: If i'm paid for it, i'm responsible for it.

If its free help i'm giving, and it all goes south, i can say "well, i tried" and walk away.

Once, i did a "favour" for an ex's dad. Fixed the problem in minutes and he explained:"I did not know what to do, but you did, therefore, you deserve to be paid"
"had you needed a room painted, and i did it, i would expect to be paid too, so you WILL take this" and promptly handed over a note. 4 times my hourly rate at the time, but a note all the same.

I went back to that house every week for 6 months. He would not accept that my fixing his internet made no difference to him downloading copyrighted material, and getting closed down by his ISP.
Each week, i'd go in and change the port his torrent application was using, and each week his ISP closed that port. Each week, i never saw a dime.

That note ended up paying for LOTS of personal hours of my own, and eventually led to the end of my relationship with his daughter.

Now, all my help is free, and i only help if i have time. Period!

I could have made alot of money with my skills by now, but that one experience put me off charging for LIFE!
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#23
Cold Titanium

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and promptly handed over a note


What did the note say?

Typically, I just make it clear to the person I'm doing the work for, that there are no guarantees.

Edited by Cold Titanium, 02 July 2010 - 06:22 PM.

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#24
Ibrad2010

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Very interesting discussion, this reminded me of a time when I was helping fix a machine of someone I know. The users machine was running slow I did the normal steps of disk cleanup, windows up, ccleaner (no registry cleaning) antivirus/antispyware scanning from the users product, plus I switched them to Firefox. When I left they felt I did not do a good enough job and called "tech support" it just so happened they undid everything I fixed :) Firefox and ccleaner was uninstalled and tech support told them that was the problem with the machine. That was really the last time I worked on a machine.

What deeply worries me when I work on someone's machine is if I do something wrong. I always worry the PC will bsod or something I can not fix will come up so I try to stay away when possible when someone is asking me for help with something I do not understand.

Edited by Ibrad2010, 08 July 2010 - 04:24 PM.

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