How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By Computer Repair Shops

You’ve seen my post about Geek Squad, as well as the Market Place Investigation. So you’re likely asking yourself “How do I avoid getting ripped off by one of these guys?”

  1. Know as much about your computer as possible: Many people will spend as much as $2000 or $3000 on a computer, but know nothing about it. Chances are they know more about the basics about keeping their car healthy than they do about their computer. By doing that you leave yourself wide open to these guys. I’m not saying that you need a computer science degree or anything like that, but read a few books or maybe take a course at a local college. It’s only going to help you.
  2. Look online for help: Most hardware and software companies have online knowledge bases that have information on how to fix the most common problems with their software. That should be your first stop to fixing whatever ails your computer. Take it from someone who does tech support for a living. About 85% of the issues that my customers encounter and call the tech support line about could have been solved if they had visited our knowledge base first. That would have saved them a phone call and a 10 minute wait in a queue to speak to me or another tech support rep. As for the other 15%? I solve 10% of that 15% using Google. I simply type in the error message and within seconds I get search results that usually points me to the solution. Trust me, Google is your friend.
  3. Call Tech Support if you can’t find a solution on line: This accounts for the other 5% that I mentioned in item 2. If you do call tech support, do yourself a favor and be in front of the computer as well as having the EXACT error message(s) that you are seeing. Trust me, it will help the tech support rep diagnose your problem quicker and solve it quicker.
  4. Phone a friend: If you have a friend in IT, give him/her a call. Chances are they will be able to diagnose your problem and tell you how to fix it (if not fix it for you).
  5. If you must take your computer to a repair shop, shop around: Not all repair shops (or IT companies like Geek Squad) are created equal. Some guys really know what they are doing. Some are clueless. Call a few up and explain the problem to them and see what they say. The good ones will tell you up front what’s wrong (or at least give you a clue). The really good ones may even tell you how to fix it yourself. You should also ask friends if they know of a reputable shop as well. Positive experiences mean a lot.
  6. Back Up your data and remove stuff you don’t want people to see: You should always have a back up of whatever is on your computer. Even if it means burning it to CD or copying it to a USB stick, it’s best to have some sort of back up because data recovery is expensive. Also if you have personal items on your computer that you don’t want people to see (your will, bank records, porn), remove it if you can. I’ve never gone through the contents of my customer’s hard drive when I worked on help desks or in computer repair, but don’t assume that that other people won’t.

If you’ve got any other suggestions, leave a comment as I’m sure others will benefit from your tips.

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