By their complex nature computer problems are often unpredictable. An open ended per hour charge understandably makes customers uneasy. Therefore some computer repair companies employ flat rate pricing as a way of guaranteeing costs. On the surface this sounds reasonable. Yet the inter-connectivity of a computer can cause flat rate pricing to be a huge rip off.
Suppose you have a Windows Mail problem for instance. A tech could say he will work on it and quotes an attractive flat rate charge. However the underlying problem may be an internet issue that is manifesting itself in Windows Mail. But you’re not paying him to work on internet issues. His so called flat rate “doesn’t cover that”. So he tells you that there are also internet problems. But not to worry! “There’s a flat rate for that!” The next thing you know the low flat rate price is 3 or 4 times the original quoted price.
Many computer repair companies chant a low flat rate mantra to lure customers. Then exploit their lack of computer terms and knowledge to nickel & dime them to pay much more.
Similar to humans computers need a holistic, wide angle approach. Problems effect many parts of a computer and need a big picture strategy to diagnosis and repair. The vast majority of computer issues can be addressed, diagnosed and repaired in 1 hour. In rare instances the issue is more complex requiring additional work.
Computers are among the most complex devices ever created by humans. A technician is being honest when he tells you that he must diagnose BEFORE quoting a fixed price for the repair. Any other approach is less than truthful. I charge for the repair itself OR for the diagnosis. Never both.
Because my customers are welcome to sit with me while I diagnose and repair they can grasp the complexities of the system and appreciate my recommendations. Their trust is strengthened as they see with their own eyes what needs to be done.
To make the misery of a computer problem a more pleasant experience give me a call. Who knows? I may facilitate a fix over the phone without any charge. That happens on a regular basis.
Bill Emett, Computer Service Calls 503-572-1307
A vast amount of problems can be fixed remotely so we offer remote repair as one of our signature services. But we merge that option with the promise to come pay you a visit if that becomes necessary while NEVER charging for both services.
For many years I’ve offered remote computer service with wonderful results. But NOTHING beats having someone local when more serious problems surface. Remote service works best when combined with the option of a personal visit. If a tech in Denver works on your computer remotely he’s not going to pay you a visit in Gresham if there are issues requiring a real visit. Then you have to hire a local guy anyway while doubling your costs. Here at In Home Computer Fix we blend those two choices but we NEVER charge for both.
Call me with almost any problem and I will attempt to fix it remotely while you watch. The first 10 minutes are free so if the problem is really minor it may cost nothing! I offer that as a goodwill gesture because sooner or later you will need my services and I hope you’ll remember me.
If the problem proves to be complex requiring a visit to your home the advantage is I already have performed a preliminary diagnosis. Upon arriving at your home I know (and you have a general idea since you watched the process) what I will do next.
This takes the mystery out of the fix. My customers learn much about computers because I am always explaining what and why something needs to be done and how to avoid it in the future.
Give me a call for one of my signature personal services or ask for remote help.
Bill Emett, Owner at Computer Service Calls 503-572-1307
During this economic downturn I’ve seen a change in the pattern of in home computer service calls. The most common call that I used to receive was slow, sluggish computer performance. After the downturn started the calls became more catastrophic in nature.
Blue screen, crashes and outright failures seem to be the more common call now in recent years.
Just think for a moment and the reason for this becomes obvious. People are tolerating slowness and similar issues much longer than they used to with the mindset that they are saving money. They seem to be putting up with problems until they become critical or even catastrophic. Not surprisingly such fixes are often more stressful & 3 to 4 times more expensive than an occasional computer tune up.
Many of my clients have learned the hard way that affordability is linked to ongoing care and maintenance. A computer, just like a car with a minor annoyance left unchecked can lead to serious expenses.
Slowness, freeze ups and long boot ups may be all the warning you get before a catastrophic crash.
I have a client in Gresham that purchased a computer when her youngest was in the fifth grade. She told me that she wanted it to last until that child graduated from high school! I told her it was unlikely without regular maintenance. She signed up for ongoing online tune ups that cost her approximately $600 over 7 years. Her son will graduate this spring. Would she have been better off to just buy a new computer whenever that old one failed instead of having it run at peak performance for 7 straight years from regular ongoing service and maintenance?
Consider this: During those years I helped educate her to stop her kids and even her from practicing well intended but harmful habits that will harm any computer. She also carefully followed my advice about being proactive with malicious programs, spyware & virus scans. Without such knowledge she would have been forced into a new PC every couple of years without ever knowing why.
Knowledge is power. Applied knowledge (also known as wisdom) saves money every time. Get computer service when the problem is minor.
Computer Service Calls
Before You Hire Just Anyone Consider
When you hand your computer over to someone they should consider your data a most valuable possession in their hands. After all I can replace your PC but all the money on earth can’t replace lost pics or docs. Yet time and again in shops I’ve seen techs foolishly perform extensive processes without backing up the clients stuff. In my company my staff knows it’s one of the fastest ways to get fired! It takes a little extra time but if a tech doesn’t back up your data prior to doing involved work on your PC he is playing Russian roulette with your data.
A few years ago I told a client that I needed to take her computer back to my shop to back it up because a crash was imminent. I apologized for the delay but didn’t feel comfortable working any further without knowing it was safely backed up. She expressed appreciation for my caution and told me of her own terrible story from college of her roommate crashing a PC that had her entire four years of college photos & wedding, the birth & first two years of their oldest son. All lost to a careless roommate that fancied himself a computer wiz. I looked across the room and saw a 12 year old boy and asked with astonishment; “Is that your oldest boy?” “Yes. And we don’t have a single photo of him before his second birthday.” She whispered, fighting back tears.
As I loaded the computer in the car I felt sadness about the foolishness of working on a PC without backup. I walked back to the front door and asked through the screen door what ever happened to that old college computer. She told me that her husband could never bring himself to throw it away. I asked her if she would let me take a look at it. We went out to the garage and there under a bunch of camping equipment and a greasy old toolbox was an ancient Micron PC with a Windows 95 upgrade. I didn’t have much hope but blew the dust off and placed it in the car.
Back at my shop I didn’t even attempt to turn it on. I took it apart and removed the old skuzzy hard drive. I had some old adapter cables that allowed me to slave the drive to see if the drive would give up any secrets. With the power connected the drive would not even spin. I gently tapped it and it started spinning! Within seconds I was viewing the lives of a young college couple, dating, hiking, getting married and holding the cutest little baby boy! My heart skipped a beat as I realized that I was viewing the most precious moments in the lives of a couple that had long given up hope of seeing them again! Ten seconds later I was backing up those precious moments before the drive died. In fact it did die. About 20 times during the back up process but each time I would ever so gently tap it and it would hum back to life. 3 hours later I was done. It was 1am and I was tempted for the first time in my life to wake a client.
Instead of a phone call I savored the moment by driving that precious data over to her the next morning and seeing the sheer thrill in her eyes as I told her that the missing 5 years of her life had been found. It was priceless!
I share that poignant moment to underscore the need to have someone with knowledge and wisdom work on your computer.
William Emett 503-572-1307 bill@InHomeComputerFix.com
I hear that lament almost daily My computer freezes. Computer freeze is often caused by exactly the opposite.
Try to guess for a moment what is the most common threat to your computer? Believe it or not heat ranks high among threats to your computer. Running computers generate heat. They are cooled by heat sinks and fans that work in concert to cool your processor from harmful heat. These cooling systems are marvels of tiny handiwork that bring in cool air across a heat sink much like your cars radiator. It then blows the air out to keep things running cool. Several things get in the way of this process.
#1. Broken Fan. Many computers will simply not run if there is a faulty fan. They will even alert you that a fan is not working at start up. Other systems will allow the computer to run but will automatically and abruptly shut down when it reaches a predetermined temperature that the computer considers unsafe. Some will just keep running until the failure messes up the boot up and your computer shows a file corruption and it just won’t start.
#2. Covered Intake. This is caused by placing a computer in a location where it is not allowed to take in fresh air or little fresh air is available like a closed cabinet. All too often a laptop overheats while using it on your lap because a knee or thigh plugs the intake and the computer overheats. (Seems ironic they call it a laptop since your lap can actually ruin it. Some manufacturers call them notebooks for this very reason) Running laptops have been known to start fires while left on a bed while being unable to take in fresh air from underneath.
#3. Dirty. This is easily the most common reason a computer overheats. The cooling system continuously pulls in fresh air with its airborne dust. Eventually tens of thousands of cubic feet of air blows into the computer. Overtime this sucks in enough dust to clog the system. Computers must be cleaned regularly to keep them from overheating. Twice per year on average is about right. Blowing out your computer thoroughly is critical.
There are clues that will tell us our computer needs cleaning. Much like a vacuum whines when you cover the intake so will a computer. But the change is subtle and gradual. Many computers have various fan speeds that ramp up when over heated. If you notice fans running louder or faster than they used to it may be the last warning sign before disaster. When a computer freezes up or is unresponsive it is often caused by excessive heat.
If your computer has run everyday for a year I guarantee it needs a physical cleaning.
Few things kill a PC faster that heat.
Anti virus software, malicious program scanners and antispyware software can help you to keep the nasties out of your system. But you can play a large role in avoiding viruses and the like. So let’s talk about what to avoid while on the web to stop the bad guys from infesting your computer.
By far the most vulnerable avenue of infection while using a computer is through email. Forwarded email is the worst. (You know it’s forwarded by the FW in the address line) The bad guys know that there are millions of people that forward jokes, quips, recipes, and other emails of interest to millions more of their friends and relatives. So they use a good joke, for instance, attach a link or other nefarious intruder in that email and send it out. People inocently forward such emails out by the millions. These malicious programs can be as simple as redirecting your opening webpage to taking control of your email and contacts altogether or worse. Before long people are getting emails addressed from you without your knowledge. This is sometimes fixed by changing passwords. At times the email must be abandoned altogether. Delete forwarded emails without reading them. Even from people you know.
Occasionally an alert will come up telling you any number of alarming messages like “You’ve Been Infected!” or “Your Data is Being Stolen!”. The message is almost always false. The question is: How do you know if it’s legitimate or not? The following suggestion is useful weather it’s harmful or not?
When you get a suspicious alert DO NOT CLICK ON ANYTHING in the pop up window. Don’t touch a single key or mouse button. Don’t click NO. Don’t click YES. Don’t close the alert window out! Pull the plug on your machine! That’s right. Do Not perform a proper shut down or restart! Proper shutdown is for the purpose of saving current work from RAM memory to permanent storage on the hard drive before turning off. While a computer is turned on most everything being done is in RAM memory until shutdown or save. When a false alert comes up it too is in RAM memory. That means it is living temporarily in RAM memory until shutdown when it will be copied or STORED permanently on the hard drive. Therefore if you pull the plug (or pull the battery on a laptop) to cause an abrupt shutdown you kill EVERYTHING in RAM memory. Everything legitimate is already stored on your hard drive. An abrupt turn off is harmless. If the alert were legitimate it will come up again. If it was fake you have killed it in RAM memory like blowing out a candle. All suspicious activity should be met with an abrupt shut down via pulling the plug.
This method is elegant in its simplicity. But profound in it’s effectiveness. The success feedback from my clients to this procedure is 100%. Scores of customers have told me that the alert never returns. Keep this suggestion in the back of your mind until a virus comes knocking.
Computer Service Calls