On one call ***** charged me for a full hour while not spending the full time on me. On another call he charged over double his estimate.
On June 6, I was at *****'s house while he tried to figure out how to transfer live recordings to a CD disk. I was there for an hour and over half of the time was spent downloading some crap off the internet which I neither wanted nor needed. While the downloading was occurring he worked on another guy's computer. I was charged the full $95 and he still hadn't figured out how to transfer the recording.
Then, on July 2, I left the computer at his house to have a new screen put in. He had estimated it would take about an hour. I called after 1 ¼ hours and his wife said it would be another ½ hour. I called at 2 ¼ hours and had to leave a message. At 2 ½ hours he called and said the computer was ready. I said what took so long and got a story about special difficulties with wiring and what-not. I asked if he was going to charge for the entire time and he said yes, to the tune of $213.75. I paid about $90 for the part, so I have over $300 into this repair.
My question is, why didn't he know that a repair of a very common HP computer would take much longer than one hour? He is the "expert" and he should know this stuff. If it takes longer, he should absorb the difference-after all, it's just time. He didn't have any other investment. Maybe for the next customer, he'll know to estimate longer. Suffice to say, if I had known I would have over $300 in this old computer, I would have just purchased a new one.
I would be satisfied with a refund of $118.75 which is the amount over one hour that he estimated. Even at that, I probably still will not use him again because I think he is a money grubber and thinks too highly of his abilities.
Business' Initial Response
On June 5, 2013, we served************* at his home. During service, he wanted to burn 2 sound files onto a blank CD. With his wife serving as scribe, I went through the specific steps they would need to burn these files onto a disc using his notebook. *** provided a CD which he believed to be blank, but wasn't. With the written instructions being fairly detailed, I was confident that this would work well when used with a blank CD.
At the end of service he mentioned wanting to have the screen on his notebook replaced. It had a crack that was getting larger & asked how much it would cost to replace. I did not perform a detailed examination of the computer, but based on my past experience, I said that the average new screen costs about $100 for the part & the average time to perform the replacement is about 1 hour. We also had a repair vs. replace discussion about the computer, the value of whether to repair an older machine - which might have other problems in the future, or to instead put the cost of repair towards a new machine. *** received this information as food for thought.
On June 6, 2013 *** called saying that he was missing a sound file. He had no idea how the file had gotten deleted. The Recycle Bin was empty & he wanted the file. I told him to come to our office because I have an undelete utility & a data recovery program, both of which are usually successful.
Since this was an informal "drop in" kind of service, I did not write down the actual start & end times of service. My recollection is that this service lasted about 1.5H. *** was charged 1H for service. *** seems to be under the impression that I charged him for time while I was working on another computer; I did not.
There were three parts to this service: 1) recover a deleted sound file, 2) new portable sound recorder was producing sound files which were either zero length or unplayable & 3) unable to burn data to a blank CD.
1) After confirming that the recycle bin was actually empty, I ran the undelete utility on the memory card & found no deleted files. Next was Data Recovery on the memory card. I explained that this is not a quick process, but it's thorough & usually succeeds. I explained the process & the four phases. I asked *** if he wanted the data, he did & Data Recovery was started.
We talked during the 1st phase. I explained further how the data recovery process worked & answered his questions. This phase proceeded slowly. After about 45 min, it had completed only about 1/2 of the memory card. I told *** that I wasn't satisfied with the rate of progress & there were still several more phases left to complete to begin to produce data. I asked if he still wanted the data. He didn't. The Recovery was stopped.
2) Next was to produce a new test recording on the Memory card using his new sound recorder. We made multiple attempts to record sound files & play them on the computer. The results were highly variable. After 15-20 min, we stopped trying to make this work.
3) Last was an inability for his computer to burn a CD or DVD. I suspected a corruption in the registry or an infection. I made several attempts to reconstruct different registry entries which might cause this problem, but did not solve the problem. This took about 15 minutes.
Next was to perform a total system scan of his computer for infection. The Antivirus scan took about 25-30 minutes. Once the Antivirus scan was started, I was in a wait state with ***s' computer. Although service is a great time to talk with the customer about just about anything & most people find they know more after service than before, I think that *** & I were talked out by then.
While waiting for the Antivirus scan to complete, I made good use of time & began to work on another notebook at the same table I was already sitting at. After about .25H I found the cause of that problem & communicated this to the customer. Note that this did not cause the scan of ***s' machine to take more or less time.
After the Antivirus scan completed & found no infections, I shared this finding with *** & said the next thing to do is either dig deep into the problem or stop work. ***s' decision was to stop work.
The total duration of working with ***'s computer was 1.5H, but .5H was marked off because this was not billable to ***. The cost of service to *** was $95.
On June 19, 2013, *** reported via email that the black splotches on his screen were worse. I said I would research replacements & send him an email message with purchase links.
On June 21, 2013, I sent *** an email message containing the purchase links. The HP cost for the replacement part was $190; I found sources for the same part which ranged from $75 - $135. *** ordered it himself & would call when it arrived to schedule installation.
The total cost of this service for a long term customer was zero. This research & analysis took .5H - 1H to actually do & write up & was done as a courtesy to help get the right part at the best price. Since he purchased the replacement for $90, we saved him $100 on the part cost alone.
On July 2, 2013 the panel replacement was performed. I found that the plastic panels which enclosed the LCD display were extremely difficult to separate cleanly. They were held together with many small hidden plastic clips which held the plastic lid to the plastic frame & were difficult to open. There were 2 screws at the bottom of the frame to provide structural integrity near the hinges & these were easy to remove quickly. However, it took me 45 minutes just to separate the rear lid from the front plastic frame. There were several other difficult elements to replacing the display, which were time consuming because they required the partial disassembly of the computer. The nature of this notebook was to be assembled quickly, but not repaired quickly. The total time for performing the work was 2.5 hours; we marked off .25H for a discount & the total billable amount was 2.25 hours.
*** was actively angry & belligerent when called & told that the machine was done & ready for pickup. When he arrived, he would not hear any explanation as to why his machine took this amount of time to replace the display panel & probably did not hear that we had marked off .25H. He thinks that because this manufacturer was a well-known brand, that they will all be designed to be easily repaired. They aren't. And this wasn't.
The total cost of service was $213.75 for 2.25H of work done on his behalf.
In closing, we have served *** 10 times since the spring of 2008. Note that this does not include non-billable phone calls & emails from *** asking for guidance about something that was important to him at the time.
*** knows our company is a fee for service company, that we do very high quality work & he has received multiple excellent quality services at his home & via phone support. *** is the kind of person who would probably not have called us again for service if he wasn't very satisfied every time.
We could understand ***s' hard feelings about the previous service on 6/6, if the reasons were correct. There was work was done on a different customers computer during this time, which was billable to that customer, not to ***. Again, *** was charged for 1H of service, not 1.5H.
We can understand ***s' hard feelings about the last service on 7/2. In hindsight, we could have answered with a range of times that it might take to perform the replacement & will do this in the future to better set the customer expectation. We had already marked off .25H as a discount, but *** was too angry to talk - which, was highly unusual behavior for him.
We wish *** well & hope that he continues to enjoy his computer with a new blemish-free display. We really do try very hard to give complete & accurate information to all customer questions & properly set customer expectations. Again, we will apply the experience of this "lessons learned" to future service, to reduce the chances of misunderstandings either by the customer or by Geek For Hire, Inc.
In response to ***s' request for a refund, we do not think that it is appropriate to give *** any more discounts than he has already received, which are:
a) .25H discount on service given on 7/2, worth $23.75;
b) .5H - 1H of our time on 6/21, to research & identify the correct replacement panels from different sources & sort the list of purchase links into ascending price order & send a written email report to him, worth $47.50 - $95, but was not charged to *** as a courtesy to a long term customer; and
c) $100 of actual cost reduction by getting the correct part from a supplier rather than paying full price from the manufacturer.
From our point of view, *** has already received $171.25 - $218.75 in discounts & cost reduction.
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she ACCEPTED the response from the business.)
I appreciate the time ***** has spent on this explanation. As far as I am concerned, the case is closed. I wish ***** the best of luck in his future business ventures.