How much experience do you have repairing problems like mine?
You want to hear a confident answer. The more experience your technician has with problems like yours, the quicker it will be fixed (which means a smaller bill if they charge by the hour). Some problems are rare and may not come across your technician’s bench every day, so don’t be skeptical if he/she doesn’t know right off the top of mind how to remove “Super Duper Windows 2011 Virus”. As long as he/she seems to speak intelligently on the subject, you’re probably in good hands. Don’t pay the technician to learn how to fix computers. Be sure to speak with the tech who will be assigned to work on your computer; just request when you call up the computer repair business.
What is the expected turnaround time?
Here you’re looking for sometime within a couple days, unless the job is an on-site one (in that case, 2-3 hours is typical). Exceptions may come up if a special part has to be ordered and you don’t want to pay double shipping to get overnight delivery. If you’re looking for something a little quicker, it’s not out of the question to pay some sort of “rush charge” to get ahead of the other systems in line that were dropped off before yours. Any shop who plans on hanging onto your system for 3 days or more as routine may be giving you a reason to be concerned, unless it is genuinely busy due to their reputation for getting the job done right. A web search on the technology company’s name can often help you pull up reputation details like reviews.
Do you charge by the hour or do you have flat rates?
Some shops charge hourly, some have flat rates for specific jobs and most probably have some combination of the two: BienTek typically quotes flat rates for common jobs and hourly rates for miscellaneous or obscure types of requests (retrieving data from a defective hard drive, converting data, etc.). It’s important to know what you’re in for before getting the bill. Ensure the shop you’re using is willing to provide a quote before completing the repair. It’s common to have a diagnostic fee or some sort of “cap” decided upon up front, but the full price should have to be approved by you before the work is complete.
Do I have to pay if I don’t want it fixed?
It’s not out of the question to pay at least something for time spent on a system whether it can be fixed or whether you decide not to fix it, but you do need to find out how much that something is up front. Some shops may not charge you anything if you don’t want your system repaired; for example, BienTek will sometimes offer a free diagnostic for local computer jobs or drop-offs, but sometimes you actually have to ask for this. If your shop offers free diagnostics, you’ve likely found a good one. Some computer businesses may charge a reasonable amount for time spent with your system. The bottom line is to be aware of the terms before dropping off your system; a verbal commitment to terms helps, and a written one is even better, especially when you’re not sure of the business’s reputation.
Do you guarantee your work?
The right answer to this should always be yes. Well – most of the time. Any time a piece of hardware is replaced in your system, it is covered by manufacturer’s warranty (usually a minimum of 1 year); and the parts and labor should be additionally guaranteed by your computer shop for at least 30 days. The only exception may be when it comes to software. It is not uncommon or unfair if a technician doesn’t guarantee software work. Be aware of the policy and be comfortable with it.
Do you have any referrals who you’ve done work for?
Referrals can help you choose the right computer technician. This may not be a question you’d ask if you’re just looking to get a simple memory upgrade for your personal laptop. But, if you’re a business in a situation where you anticipate having to spend a good chunk of change over a long term, it’s certainly appropriate. Keep in mind that the technician may need time to gather a couple names and confirm those customers are comfortable talking with you. If your technician is good, it shouldn’t take more than a day though. If it takes longer, maybe that’s because he/she doesn’t have very many satisfied clients.
Is my data safe with you?
You may be surprised at how many stories that we have heard about computer shop employees blowing away a customer’s data without even running it by them. Too often, this data isn’t backed up anywhere. We’re talking about pictures that can’t be replaced, documents that took hours to type, format, proofread, spell-check and perfect, not to mention music collections that cost a small fortune. If your important data (business data, memories like photos and videos, and music) is not backed up on something, you need to consider a backup solution, and you also need to confirm your technician isn’t going to delete it without your consent. Make sure you ask about this before your technician takes your system. Most shops will offer to perform a data backup for a reasonable amount before doing any other work to your system. And, if you ask about combining a data recovery solution with your work order, you might be able to negotiate a discount.
Will you check my system to make sure everything is working properly?
Too many technicians fix the problem you brought your system in for and nothing more. They’re not doing anyone any favors. You don’t want to pay for a malware removal, a tune-up and a memory upgrade just to find out 2 months later that your hard drive has been going bad on you. Make sure your technician plans on doing a thorough analysis on your system. It will save you both grief in the long-run. It would be reasonable for your computer tech to hold onto your laptop for a bit longer if you are getting a thorough inspection done, but it’s usually worth it