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Author Topic: Geek squad / Best buy Busted!  (Read 7936 times)
Gothi[c]
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« on: February 07, 2007, 03:43:30 AM »

What I have always suspected:

Inexperienced computer users will call upon a computer repair service such as Geek squad when their computer is malfunctioning. I have always suspected that there must be lots of fraud in that field, since either the 'experts' don't know wtf they are doing,- or they just want to make an extra buck. I've heard stories of people that have worked in the field,... One guy I know said he was called in for a computer repair job, where appearantly the client had forgotten to plug in the power cable. He said he plugged in the cable, then waited 2 hours, when the client came back, he charged $200 for repair. ($100 / hour).

Just today I stumbled upon a news broadcast on youtube in which they use a hidden camera to expose fraud in Geek squad, Best Buy, and some other places.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBvUt2bIQFk

If you're not too knowledgeable in hardware, WATCH OUT!! Try to find a geek friend first.

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nudone
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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2007, 04:14:27 AM »

very interesting.

i got into computers when windows 3.1 was all the rage, which means i'm a bit of a novice compared with many people on this forum. but, like everyone else around here (i suspect) i've fixed many other peoples computers in my time. sometimes in return for money, sometimes not.

i'm not an expert in any field. i've done a few pc repair courses a few years ago but they didn't actually teach me anything regarding fixing a typical computer. just gaining experience is better of course.

right. i'm currently working on a portfolio for the creative things i can do but i'm living off of my savings in the bank. i can support myself for about a year or two if i'm very careful. this leads me to think that maybe i should do a little part time 'pc repair' thing or maybe even 'pc tuition'. to bring money in rather than have it going out all the time.

i've always felt that i've either undercharged clients/friends for the pc repair/tuition in the past or i've really just wasted a few hours of my life when i could have been doing something else. obviously, sometimes it's just nice to help someone and expect absolutely nothing in return except for their gratitude. sometimes it's just satisfying solving a pc problem for the sake of solving it - you've won the battle against the machine (for the time being).

i'd like to hear a few opinions from others that have found themselves in similar situations. are there any of you that have gone 'official' and made a living from pc fixing?

the geek squad sounds like a great idea but (as usual) it's open to abuse. i find myself belittling the effort involved to fix a pc a lot of the time and so will feel guilty about accepting payment (i know this contradicts what i said above), so it seems very difficult to me to know what to charge - have you any thoughts on this.

and lastly, i'm considering this 'pc repair' thing as an official means of self employment. i'm in the UK so i'd be following the law regarding tax and liability, etc.

if you think i'm talking nonsense then i'd like to know - i don't wish to think i can make a small 'living' from this if it's a bad idea. i'd only be working at the domestic level but should things get a bit more interesting there may be other people i could draft in if the task required it. maybe a 'part time' way of doing it would be pointless - if so, then i'd just forget about the whole idea as i need time to concentrate on my art/design portfolio wotsit.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 04:16:50 AM by nudone » Logged
Gothi[c]
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« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2007, 04:59:29 AM »

I feel the same, nudone,...

I've always tried to help people as much as I can with their trouble, and I wouldn't take no money,... I know that I would feel bad if I did. I never had a problem with it until I met a guy that would call me every other day with something. I started spending lots of time there every week, trying to explain him things. He was the kind of person that had to write everything down on paper, because he wouldn't otherwise remember what I had showed. After a while this started to frustrate me a bit, since I would never hear from him, unless there is a problem (which was at the time, quite often). Then I moved to the US, haven't heared the guy in a year, then out of the blew he finds me on msn, messaging me with a problem he has,...

Though, I think, if I would make a career out of it, I'd feel like I were ripping people off. (It would also suck because it'd be 'work' instead of hobby, if that makes any sense at all,... like, I enjoy programming, working on projects I choose; not running around all day plugging in cables people forgot to plug in and charge $1000),..

So, I guess you have to ask yourself, in the first place, if you would really enjoy it if you did it, and if you could live with yourself now that you're charging people money for what you'd normally do for free.

They did give some examples in the movie about the actual price of these services; they are quite high imo.


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nudone
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2007, 05:57:33 AM »

Quote
Then I moved to the US, haven't heard the guy in a year, then out of the blew he finds me on msn, messaging me with a problem he has,...
haha, oh dear.

i know what you mean about whether it's something i'd be able to enjoy. i would consider it as a 'job' and not a hobby so i wouldn't be expecting it to be too much 'fun'. i worked in a school for a while as an IT technician and found it pretty dull. the people were great, it was nice to help them out but the boredom came from having to sit around and pretend you were busy when you waiting for the next problem. i imagine being self employed wouldn't be so dull as i'd be able to crack on with other stuff during the slack periods.

i could easily live with charging people for the service i'd provide - i can provide a more personalised service than a shop so that has to count for something AND the point of charging is so that you don't end up with 'friends' like you described above. no point resenting someone pestering you if you've made it clear to them that you are their free personal assistant, but if you make it clear there is a fair charge to be made and they don't wish to pay it then it's time for the them to find another sucker.

my only real issues are not whether to charge but how much to charge. i can price myself lower than the local pc shops but i'll not be dealing with as many customers as them so unfortunately i need to charge more to make it worth while. so, the service i provide has to be better than the competition - which might equate to spending more time helping the customer or just providing a better quality or faster service.

hard to say really with all this - i guess i've just got to do a trial run and learn as i go along rather than theorise about it all.
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f0dder
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« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2007, 06:03:57 AM »

Quote from: nudone
i find myself belittling the effort involved to fix a pc a lot of the time and so will feel guilty about accepting payment (i know this contradicts what i said above), so it seems very difficult to me to know what to charge - have you any thoughts on this.
Exactly the same thing here.

I've stopped fixing people's PCs gratis, though. I still do it for mum, brothers and in-laws, but that's it. I used to feel that I had some sort of obligation just because I know my stuff, but I've slowly (but steadily) forced myself to accept that as a silly thought.

As for payment, I dunno. I still have a hard time demanding money, especially considering that the people I've fixed stuff for usually don't have wads of cash (otherwise they would just have taken the box to a shop). But I think that charging ~DKK150/hour is (more than) fair - that'd be $26, €20 or £13.
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nudone
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« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2007, 06:50:49 AM »

good point. many people i've fixed things for aren't on a great income, others a typical income and one or two a mind boggling income. regardless of their income the response and satisfaction has always been the same, the only difference being that the response is usually more appreciated when money changes hand.

doing a 'favour' for someone hasn't really ever invoked a response of "you are my hero and i shall forever be in your debt." instead the response to the free service is often "thanks" and a tacit belief from them that you are obliged to help (like you, f0dder, said above). making someone pay for something appears to make them think a little more about what has been done - like they now understand the value of the service. okay, i'm talking obvious business practise - i just need to remind myself what it's all about.

back to the question of their income. i've never had a fixed rate so i've just charged what seemed correct at the time - or let them make an offer and i'll take less if they've been over generous. the problem of charging an hourly rate, and you'll know this already, is that some pc problems take quite a while to figure out - charging an hourly rate wouldn't be realistic. maybe having a cap on the total to charge is a compromise, but then that of course means you could have spent one or two days on something and the payment your receive isn't going to match the time you've spent. i see the solution to that is to multitask repair jobs just as a shop would do.

i guess you set a fixed rate, reduce it by 10, 20 or 50 percent for friends/family. if something is so simple it would be an insult to charge for it then don't charge - that's just good promotion for yourself - you've shown yourself to be a fair business person and hopefully that will spread through word of mouth.

as usual, i've thought about all these things, but the action is still in the land of dreams.
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tomos
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« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2007, 11:09:16 AM »

Quote from: nudone
that some pc problems take quite a while to figure out - charging an hourly rate wouldn't be realistic. maybe having a cap on the total to charge is a compromise, but then that of course means you could have spent one or two days on something and the payment your receive isn't going to match the time you've spent. i see the solution to that is to multitask repair jobs just as a shop would do.
which probably means often next to impossible to estimate the cost in advance.

I've had the experience of
1) a profi not charging cause he wasn't able to fix my laptop.
2) a profi charging for his time in spite of not able to fix the my laptop.

case 1)   I reckon he learned not to mess around with laptops he didnt know (or maybe laptops in general  smiley )
case 2)   I learned that if someone is unsure whether they can fix it (same laptop), maybe you're better off sending it to an official service centre - then again might have been still the same result ..

Most people fixing computers around here seem to build & sell them as well - I guess the two complement each other.
(Then you can always say - it's not worth fixing, but I can sell you a ...)
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Tom
nudone
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« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2007, 12:35:07 PM »

tomos, that's another good point which i had forgotten today for some reason... what to do when you can't fix it. i can only remember one occasion where i was completely lost for ideas what to do with a machine so i returned it to it's owner and explained the situation. i didn't charge but i think they might have given me a tip as they appreciated the amount of time i spent trying to help - but, of course, this can't be expected unless you've set out some rules to the customer first.

this is probably the worst and trickiest area when dealing with pc trouble shooting. there are going to be times when something can't be fixed for a reasonable cost, i.e. a new component is required and the customer can't or won't agree to it. you can't force the customer to upgrade or replace the part and they might be unwilling to pay for the time it took you to check out their machine.

this is probably one of the reasons why i've always held back from doing this as a real business. friends and friends of friends aren't likely to refuse to pay but unknown customers don't have any loyalty to you. i think i might be blowing this thought out of all proportion though, as things can't be that bad in the real world.

the point of selling as well as fixing is a good idea but it requires more commitment than i wish to put into this kind of business. that is, unless the selling could be kept to a minimum.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 12:36:49 PM by nudone » Logged
nite_monkey
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« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2007, 01:45:03 PM »

now does half of these replies evan relate to the topic?
Yeah I always thought they weren't really such a good idea. Take your computer problems to a real pro.
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nudone
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« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2007, 03:02:52 PM »

a real pro being what exactly?

edit:
i perhaps better just say that i didn't intend to hijack this thread. but as the first reply was by Gothi[c], the author of this thread, and the topic didn't move back to the 'geek squad' then it seemed okay to carry on.

i'll refrain from carrying on with my nonsense and maybe someone will post something referring to the original youtube link.

« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 03:09:19 PM by nudone » Logged
tomos
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2007, 03:20:24 AM »

its something that happens very easily, innit ?!

I mean threads evolving, or being "hijacked" - dont like that hijacking term, prob cause I do it often enough myself, but, like most people I also do it unintentionally ..

I think in this case its more of an "evolution", Gothi[c] didnt seem to mind either   smiley

Ooops, I'm off-subject again - aren't I  Grin
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Tom
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2007, 04:57:51 AM »

There's a difference between thread hijacking and thread evolution - unless the original poster didn't do intelligent thread design.
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2007, 08:25:15 PM »

A person could try what I do.

I'm disabled and am not very successful with real jobs (some physical problems and an abysmal short term memory caused by diabetes), so what I do is help a local sales/build/repair shop with jobs that are not economical for him to do in house. Or just overflow work that his shop would find it difficult to service. This way I get to work and make some money, he can take on jobs that would be money losers if he or his paid help did them, and some lower income folks can get service if they need it at a better rate than would be charged for an "in shop" repair. My "rate" is what the job is worth vs. what the customer can bear vs. what I need to live on, and continue my love affair with all things computing.

On occasion I have been unable to get an older machine up and running again. I have helped those customers by essentially building a new machine from parts I have kept because they were still functional and a few new or used but cheap parts. I have used a similar tack when it comes to software. I have also tried to teach these users that free software is NOT malware or worse, just that common sense and caution are words to remember.
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nudone
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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2007, 02:03:28 AM »

that's a very interesting idea, benjahuda. i'd never have considered doing such a thing for a local shop.
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Gothi[c]
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« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2007, 06:40:33 AM »

Quote
I think in this case its more of an "evolution", Gothi[c] didnt seem to mind either

Nope, I don't mind Wink that's maybe because I'm more used to talking on irc, i never was that much of a forum person, hence I just kinda go with whatever way a 'conversation' flows, which seems the most natural thing to do, to me. You don't really tell people to stay on topic in real life either if a conversation gets sidetracked.
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nudone
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« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2007, 09:58:20 AM »

well, it looks like we can all chip in and evolve the thread how we like as no one seems to be too eager to say anything about the geeksqaud video. how strange.

Gothi[c], i think your right about the conversational tone of DC threads. i think the regulars around here know what to expect. i was just making a point of it all as i guess there must be plenty of visitors that do expect to see a thread relate to the title that was originally created.

i assume it's no problem, anyhow. no one else has complained but i do feel a little guilty about letting my ego take control of my comments some times (just like now).
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« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2007, 11:13:22 PM »

Quote
well, it looks like we can all chip in and evolve the thread how we like as no one seems to be too eager to say anything about the geeksqaud video. how strange.

My thought after seeing their commercials on television was that if they were spending that sort of money advertising, there wasn't likely to be any in the budget for hiring on the high end of the skill level.  Wink

Having your time and skill valued even if you don't charge for is ticklish.

The best solution I've heard is to submit an invoice (broken down to time and services if necessary) with the total you would charge at your usual rate - whatever that may be.
Then, write No Charge or Donated or something similar across the invoice.
You could add a discount for certain people or circumstances to an invoice too.

I don't think this would work with family or friends - not with mine anyway. They expect me to not only keep them running and updated, but to build them and replace hardware when needed.

You might consider trading with some people. I've been known to trade work for something material or trade for something in kind.
That's another place an invoice comes in handy, you have a way to estimate for trade.
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nudone
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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2007, 02:10:30 AM »

breaking things down on an invoice is a good idea, laughinglizard. i've done a print out of the 'work done' for that last few people so that they can see exactly what i did, i also make recommendations for what they might like to do next regarding their machine.

i'm not sure if doing this is appreciated but at least it looks more 'professional'. i do like your idea of stating the cost in the invoice and then showing the 'special' rate/reduction also.
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2007, 04:53:09 PM »

I just had to reply to this cause I have done computer tune-ups and stuff for friends (friends from neighborhood/school to friends I only know online) but (depending on location) I will go and repair their computer either on-site or on-line for free just because I love doing it. Even people I just met I will help. (I am kinda a little too nice at times...I sold a $700 Compaq computer (tower, monitor, speakers, keyboard & mouse), a $300 Brother printer , $300 of Brother printer ink and the guarantee that if something goes wrong with anything I will come over and fix it the best that I can for free- sold them all to a friend from school for $100!!!)
-Wreckedcarzz
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nudone
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« Reply #19 on: February 11, 2007, 12:26:11 AM »

it's always good to be charitable. i'm still charitable now, but playing the hero eventually doesn't really do you any favours. if you have the luxury of being able to help out and expect nothing in return then i think that is a very commendable way of doing things. personally, i think there comes a point when you start to question if your generosity is being taken for granted - not by all 'clients' of course.

it sounds like a common thing for computer fixers to go through the stage of wishing to help out at their own cost. how long this lasts will probably depend on what other commitments they have and how many times they see someone that can easily pay for a service get away with paying nothing at all - simply because you let them.

i'm wondering if there is something kind of unique about the world of computers. people take software for granted a lot of the time and expect to pay nothing. people will often expect a friend or neighbour to fix a pc for free. there appears to be a common lack of appreciation involved.
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Gothi[c]
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« Reply #20 on: February 11, 2007, 11:41:04 PM »

Quote
i'm wondering if there is something kind of unique about the world of computers. people take software for granted a lot of the time and expect to pay nothing.

This is nothing unique to the world of computers, it's more unique to being an engineer. People don't wonder about why big bridges don't collapse under the weight of all those cars and big trucks that drive over it every day, people don't worry about how ANYTHING technical works, it's just there and who cares about whoever designed it.
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nudone
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« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2007, 02:25:25 AM »

true.
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jgpaiva
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2007, 06:36:04 PM »

Oh, and see what they do with the time your money payed for!

Consumerist catches geek squad stealing pr0n
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nudone
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« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2007, 01:44:07 AM »

not sure what to say about technicians poking around on a customer's pc (looks like the desktop wallpaper might have tempted them to look further - i suppose that was the point of it).

there's no good reason they should steal files let alone personal photos - there's really no justification for that and i'd expect disciplinary action to be taken if it was reported. but is there a justification for a technician to look through your hard drive?

i'd say not but i'm sure that's simply impractical and i bet it mentions they have the right to do so in the contract you sign.

gary glitter, a uk pop star convicted of owning child porn images on his hard drive was discovered by a technician at PC World (big pc retailer in uk) when they searched his computer. why did they search through his computer during the repair job? i've no idea but i'm sure it's standard practice - especially if the machine belongs to a celebrity.

i think it's a kind of bizarre thing to pretend it doesn't happen. it's very unlikely anyone would tolerate someone coming into their home and searching through their cupboards and drawers just out of curiosity (and maybe a bit of theft thrown in for good measure), and yet this is what routinely will happen with their personal information stored on their computer when they take it in for repair.

i guess most people just think why would anyone bother to look through my hard drive but that video clearly shows how sad technicians can be - they'll take anything for a quick thrill. and i'm sure there will be situations when more valuable information has been taken like credit card and bank details if it's left unsecured in a word document (i've seen plenty of that kind of thing stored in the my documents folder on my friends computers).

really, a technician should be allowed to do just enough to get the machine working and there ought to be a law that made them think twice about doing anything more than that. i know, such a law would be nearly impossible to enforce but if there are routine checks using things like the video above then it might provide good evidence for a case against a thieving techy.
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nudone
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« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2007, 01:52:38 AM »

you can find out how to set up your own video capturing device before letting the geeksquad get hold of your pc by reading the original article. http://consumerist.com/co...ing-your-porns-272458.php

might be a good idea to just make everything secure first - if you think you'll be dealing with the geeksquad, etc. at some time in your future.
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