What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
First and foremost, I operate no-fix no-pay services. There are no exceptions to this policy. I run a full diagnostic at no charge and provide full details and all costs prior to beginning any billed services. I do not offer the cheapest service available. I have far too much experience and provide far too great a service to do that. I charge a flat rate by the job and no matter how many jobs are being performed during a single visit, the sum total of all will never exceed $99 for labor. For example, if your diagnostic reveals the need for a $29 service and you agree, that's what you'll be billed. However, let's say you need multiple services that total $200. All fees over $99 are discounted to $0.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
Regardless of and suspicions or previous diagnostics I always run my own diagnostics free of charge to come to my own conclusions. Often times this results in a different resolution that can reduce the expected fee. Furthermore, the absolute maximum labor cost for any and all services during a single visit is $99. This means that even if we had to rebuild your entire computer you wouldn't pay more than $99.
What types of customers have you worked with?
About 60% of our business is virus, spyware, etc. removal and protection against this. The remainder is a fairly balanced range of repairs on computers, smartphones and tablets.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
Ask these questions:
- Do you do this professionally or as a hobby/extra cash?
Everybody has a neighbor or relative these days who fancies themselves a guru
- Do you have references that I can contact?
Get at least three and make sure they sound like an adult and not a "poser" that will tell you whatever their friend has asked them to.
- Do you leave any installed software on my computer? If so, what are they and are they paid, trial or free programs? If paid, will you verify its authenticity? If trial, what is the cost to continue its use?
This is very important because pirated software will land you in jail (ignorance is not a defense) and free software is worth exactly what you pay for it, nothing. A good "anti-x" program has hundreds of people working 24/7 to maintain the "definitions" and will push updates to their customers several times each day to keep their software up to date to defend your computer. That's very expensive and thus costs money.
- Do you plan to reinstall my operating system (ie. Windows)?
The easiest and fastest way to make a customer's computer run properly and rid of infestation is to put a new install of their operating system on it and hand it over. The problem with that is now you have to completely recreate your computer environment not to mention you would lose all your files. This should be done as a last resort only and to give you an idea of a last resort, I've done this about 5 times in the last 1,000 or so repairs.
- Warranty on your services? For reference, ours is 90 days on any service.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
That it is a profession and not a "gig". I liken the modern day computer tech to the old TV repairman. There's always someone around who knows a little more than the average person but they usually do more harm than good. Stick to a qualified tech and thank your friend, neighbor or family member for the offer but decline.