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First job done and been paid .... but ....

Discussion in 'The Lounge - Off Topic' started by Flamehearted, Jun 20, 2005.

  1. Flamehearted

    Flamehearted Nibble Poster

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    Hi all,

    Please don't flame me when you read this - I'm new to all this. I finished my first job today and got paid when I took the pc back to the client.

    However does anybody have any advice about "grey" areas that can arise doing this type of work ?

    For example when I plugged the thing in for him it detected a printer and didn't have the drivers for it. I just left it for them to work for themselves - presumably they installed the printer before ?

    Also because I had to reinstall windows on the machine the drivers for the graphics card were also lost. Despite several phone calls to the computers makers, endless hours online researching what the hell the onboard graphics card actually is, I had to leave this problem unsolved.

    Finally I left them to set up the internet connection for themselves - i.e enter their log in name, dial up number, password as I they didn't know these offhand.

    They were happy with the job I did and they paid me - although now for the above reasons I am worried I may get another phone call soon.....

    Anyone have any opinions about this ?

    Thanks,

    Martin

    Oh and big thanks to those who helped me during the job :biggrin
     
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: Network +
  2. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I don't feel really comfortable leaving a job unless the computer has been returned to its original state i.e, everything works as it used to.

    If you are going to have to blow away an OS and do an reinstall, before you do, see if the customer still has their original driver disks for audio and video cards, printers and the like. Also, learning from this experience, you might want to have them gather all these disk plus their ISP configuration information ahead of time so that when you go to put the computer back in their home, it won't be too much more of a chore for you to get them back up and running.

    I'm glad they were generally pleased with the results of your work and it sounds like congratuations are in order. It sounds like you may be less than satisfied for how you left things. It's a learning experience. This was your very first job so it would be alot to expect everything to go perfectly.

    If you absolutely have to leave a customer with the job undone and they are ok with taking a stab at finishing it off, make sure they have your phone number and suggest they call you if they get in a jam. Sometimes, it's just a matter of talking them through a difficult bit and sometimes you have to go back out.

    It'll get easier with experience.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  3. Jakamoko
    Honorary Member

    Jakamoko On the move again ...

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    Firstly, well done Martin.

    I'd totally agree with Trip here - make it the customer's duty, not yours, to ensure they have all relevant disks and settings etc to hand before you commence your work on their PC. Also, make sure they understand that all data that may be lost during the course of your work is their responsibility, and that they are liable for anything lost or not backed up.

    Obviously, you would do as much as you can to ensure that every last driver was perfect and things were as smooth as possible for them, but ultimately, you have to keep your own ass covered. After all, this is not Monopoly money we're dealing with here, and the customer is well within their rights to contact you after a job. Actually, in some cases, I have made a point of not taking payment until they are 100% happy, and have seen me going back once or twice to iron out any remaining niggles or glitches - not only are they your future customer, but so are many of their friends

    HTH :)
     
    Certifications: MCP, A+, Network+
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  4. Jamin.

    Jamin. Nibble Poster

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    Found this on the whole PC repair business thing -
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2005-06-19-geek-usat_x.htm?csp=15
    Back to topic, these are the type of things I have painfully learnt while rebuilding PC's - write down thier main drivers they are using, any printers / scanners / odditys etc, also what ISP they use, I set up thier dialup connection with the phone number etc, but leave thier username / password to them, most people seem to be happier if you don't ask them what thier password is.
    Jam.
     
    Certifications: MCSA: Security! GCSE Nautical studies
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  5. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    I've been turning this one over in my head and then realized that they should have a drivers disk for all of the on board devices that shipped with the PC including the graphics card. I had a similar situation with my Dell laptop when the motherboard decided to go toes up. They replaced the mobo but I still had to tweak the software and drivers after I got the laptop back with the new system board inside.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  6. noelg24

    noelg24 Terabyte Poster

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    like the rest of the guys flamehearted have said if I am fixing someone's PC before taking it away I always ask them if they have the original discs that came with the machine, cos if they dont well either I download them off the net meself and copy them to CD and then I am able to do a reinstall or its a new PC to be built. The last one I just fixed the owners didnt have the original discs so I was thinking they would need to get a new one built but eventually I got it fixed and I made sure everything was in working order before handing it back to them. Only so far as I know they havent plugged their PC back in so I am just waiting for a call so I can go round and connect it up for them. So if you are worried that they will call you and start ranting, just make sure they have all the correct discs and if not see if you can download them yourself and then install them on the PC.
     
    Certifications: A+
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  7. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    As a side thought, you may want to do a courtesy call in a day or two to see how things are going. You could also use the opportunity to ask them about original disks and all the rest of the stuff that normally comes with a pc and get them to collect it all and store it in a box near the pc area.
     
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
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  8. Flamehearted

    Flamehearted Nibble Poster

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    Thanks for all your replies.

    I guess the problem I had in doing all of this was that I gave the guy a set figure for the repair job.

    He did have a driver cd which let me restore most of the drivers before I returned the thing but no drivers were on the cd for the graphics card. I spent literally hours (at no extra cost to him) trying to work out what onboard card it was to no avail - even Time (who made the pc) couldn't help. Where do you draw the line here ? After a day on this alone I felt that I have more than earned my money on this pc. I did consider putting in a free graphics card but again felt this was going too far.

    I like the advice about telling them to gather isp information before you return - I will definitely do that next time. I will also give a courtesy call as I will probably then sleep better :D

    I just think that whatever you do there is always the potential that the person will need extra help and surely it is reasonable to expect people to do things like reset up their isp details for themselves ? Otherwise surely you will end up running back to them potentially for every minor thing. In this case the guys data had all gone and everything on the harddrive was corrupt - so from what some of you are suggesting should I also reinstall all his son's computer games again which were lost ? I feell you can't keep giving "freebies" due to unforseeable problems.

    Anyway I will do things differenly and better next time !
     
    Certifications: A+
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  9. noelg24

    noelg24 Terabyte Poster

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    Not in the slightest mate, if their disk was corrupt and you told them beforehand that the whole hard drive would be erased and the data would be lost then unless they backed up any important info then its upto them to reinstall any games/apps, etc that they want to use. One thing I always do is if they dont have any AV/FW software or any other security software and no important updates have been done, then I do it for them but include it in the price and then I tell them how important it is to do the updates as often as possible and also run the AV software as often as possible. so once you outline all this to them things will get better for you mate. And yes courtesy calls always help, cos that way it makes them think that you do care about them and thats when they start talking to their friends...and we all know what that means dont we children...:D but keep up the good work mate, you will do CF proud...I know I have.
     
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  10. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    When I suggested that the machine should be at the same state as when they were using it before, I meant something basic like it would work, print, and connect to the Internet. Obviously, you can't reinstall every little program they had in place. The computer should just be in a state to where they can. I agree, Antivirus/spyware programs should be in place

    BTW, when I've reached the end of my rope and I actually propose blowing away the OS, I make sure the customer understands exactly what that means. I've never met a home user who has actually backed up anything so they have to live with at least the possibility (if I'm just doing a repair) that their data could be lost forever.

    Sounds like you poured a lot of time and energy into the job. As you get organized, you'll be able to save yourself a lot of aggrevation. Cheers.
     
    Certifications: A+ and Network+
  11. Mitzs
    Honorary Member

    Mitzs Ducktape Goddess

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    One of the things Ihae done in the past if they don't have orignial cds and I'm gonna have to find the stuff online anyway. Is burn 2 cd one for me for in the furture and one to give to them. They thihk you have gone an extra step for them. Thing is though if your called back down the road and you can fix it there they have it. If not you do. And I agree with Trip if they had a printer hooked up and was online when you took the computer, set them back up like that.

    I would never give a free video card or something like that unless it was to a family or a eldelry person that you know would have a hard time paying for one themselves. And you will find people like that, but it up to you weather you want to go that extra mile. I don't mind because I know it will come back around to me in someway.
     
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  12. Davver

    Davver Bit Poster

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    Nice work mate. I've been building systems for family and friends for a while now and have never had one complaint. Sounds like I'm boasting but it's true.

    Anyway, I'm not qualified yet but one thing I make sure I have done is get a reference off each of my clients and add it to a portfolio of stuff I have. Which includes photo's, problem logs, which I keep for each job I do (amazing how much this actually helps!) and any upgrades and drivers I installed. This way, anyone that calls me and tells me of a problem, I can quickly eliminate any problems that have arisen from MY work.

    Word from the wise though. You will have clients that make the same mistake over and over and over and over.... I think you know what I mean.

    Good luck with stuff!

    Davver
     
    Certifications: Diploma IT
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  13. 808

    808 Nibble Poster

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    is it onboard graphics or a separate card?
    if it is onboard then look at the motherboard and make a note of the manufacturer and any model and revision numbers and look these up in google.if you let me have the model and revision numbers l will see if i can help as i have a lot of driver disks at work that i use.when i fix a computer for someone i always make sure i can get the drivers before i commence work.
    i only charge the person when i have set the system up and used it in front of them to do basic tasks(printing,running 3dmark etc....etc....).always make a point of telling the customer that data may be lost or even better get them to sign something to say they understand this fact.as for any internet logon info i always let the customer sort this themselves or i sometimes talk them through installing internet related software over the phone
     
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  14. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

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    Hmmm, I don't think I would be happy to pay for a repair that left my computer in a state that couldn't display graphics properly, ie only 16 colours and low res. They probably don't understand the implications of this at the moment but as soon as they connect to the net and look at a web site or want to check their latest pictures out they will.

    I have blown away more computers than I care to remember and I have never been unable to find the appropriate drivers. As has been mentioned, if it is on board video, then there will be info on the motherboard regarding model etc. You may well have to spend time finding this info but that is the nature of the game.

    You should be looking at returning their computer with no viruses, no spyware, all the critical updates done, drivers loaded etc. I even install AVG free edition, if they don't have a current anti virus solution. I would also clean the equipment and make it look like new again.

    I've been in the service game for a long time, since 1969 to be exact and I know my reputation depends on being thorough even if the job ends up being unprofitable because it took longer than expected. You reap what you sow!

    Pete
     
    Certifications: C&G Electronics - MCSA (W2K) MCSE (W2K)
  15. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    There are two key points in this industry to remember
    one I swear by, is that a good engineer doesnt know everything, but they have the ability to find out anything, what this means is no engineer knows the ins and outs of everything they work with, not by a long shot, but they do have a firm and amazing grasp at finding information, using published works, search engines, RFCs, etc, the ability to find what you dont know makes you a far better engineer than one that 'knows alot of stuff off the top of thier head', simply because there will alwys be more that you dont know!

    As mentioned above, any machine with onboard graphics is generally a nightmare to know off the top of ones head, but relatively simple to find out, What model was the system from tiny? what era was it? P1? P2? P3? this narrows down the chipset used on the north and southbridge, infact these may be printed on the chips if its old enough not to have a heatsink, this allows us to track the graphics module if it was integrated into the bridge (The Intel I815 chipset for instance has an integrated graphics known as the Intel I815 funnily enough), if its not native to the chipset then there will be graphics chips on the board which should be displaying the model of the chip, failing that its generally easy to find and piece together the remaining info on the net

    I aggree with the above, sure you dont have to get the user back to the state it was in before they gave it to you, but you do need to get it into a working state, this includes working graphics, and working net connection,
    This brings me to the second point, Organisation and Preperation (they fall under the same umbrella here)
    I used to have a very customised (over the course of years) XLS file that printed off as a form for them to fill in, this included information that they could gather, including ISP, Machine make, model, original purchase date, place of purchase, as much as they could remember, once i input this info BACK into the XLS file (a seperate workbook page) it re generated a second form with details on thier ISP contact information, common drivers, chipset numbers, basically anything already known about that model of PC was displayed to me, this obviously took input, but learn from this first example, record and organise records that you can use in future cases, construct a database of this information, hell even copy the driver disks (only the drivers themselves, dont copy any other proprietary stuff) for use in the future

    Definatly get a form going though, and dont be afraid to charge more!

    dont worry that they may 'call you back in a week' this is future business for you, and a little bit of effort goes along way in the future

    If u tell me the model of the PC ill see if i can help you find the drivers
     
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  16. Bluerinse
    Honorary Member

    Bluerinse Exabyte Poster

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    Sorry Phoenix but what is the other key point, is it the form? :blink

    Despite confusing me, it was an excellent post!!!!!

    Pete
     
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  17. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    Hehe edited now Pete
    thanks for raising that, got a bit caught up in 'writing' and forgot to say 'and now for the next point..' :D

    tis indead the form, or more generally, the practice of Preperation and Organisation
     
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  18. Flamehearted

    Flamehearted Nibble Poster

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    ok ok geez enough already. Some of you obviously are perfect and have never made a mistake. I didn't really want replies saying "ooooh you didn't want do that" like a homage to Harry Enfield. Enough sactimonious "I've been in business 3000 years and I'm perfect replies" already :eek:

    Anyway thanks to those of you with helpful suggestions about what to do next time. I guess its hard to get an honest response from people and less boastful guff. Surely everyone makes mistakes at times....

    Right onwards and upwards to the next client !
     
    Certifications: A+
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  19. Phoenix
    Honorary Member

    Phoenix 53656e696f7220 4d6f64

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    Personally i think thats a pretty shitty attitude to have
    nobodies looking down on you, nobodies telling you how to do things, infact were all happy for you

    Did you make some mistakes? if you ask me, sure, but dont we all? this is your first gig, nobody expects you to be perfect, and nobody stands on a pedastool pretending to be perfect

    You asked for some advice, and some of us took the time to give you some from our own experience doing the same thing, others gave you some advice of what not to do

    if your not interested then kindly dont ask, there are alot of helpfup people here that give up thier own time to help others, and I really dont expect them to be slapped in the face with a '**** you very much' just because you heard what you didnt want to hear
    perhaps you find this a little harsh, but after your seemingly ungrateful response i think its warranted

    or perhaps im having a bad day and you just walked into it

    Edit: Hmm my response sounds a little harsh, but re reading yours above I still feel its warranted, not aimed at you personally, just the attitude you displayed after people went out of thier way to give you advice
     
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  20. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

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    Ok, ok, let's take it easy guys. Flamehearted, unforutnately when you ask for opinions, you are going to get them. I've been on the receiving end of some less than complementary comments in my time and it does sting. Under those circumstances, I try to take out of the comments those things I think I can integrate into what I'm trying to change and move forward.

    One thing to keep in mind is that there are techs out there with just a ton of experience who know what they are doing and have this whole gig down to a fine art. To say that they have *never* made any sort of mistake whatsoever in their careers is probably unrealistic but perhaps they've been fortunate enough to either not encountered a really tough problem (unlikely) or they benefited from the experience of others and learned to be prepared.

    I recall reading something Mike Meyers wrote in his A+ book when he was describing ESD measures. He said he's personally been in a position where he's hosed a customer's PC because he failed to take proper precautions. Obviously, he moved forward from there and made a pretty good career for himself. I'd blush if I had to describe the occasions where I've fallen flat on my face on the job. It would be best for everyone to take the experience and the advice, and just move forward.

    I hope we can now take the "personalities" out of this thread, gang.
     
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