I run a computer repair business in Atlanta, and I’m constantly reminded of the need for honesty and integrity in this business. Time after time our customers tell us stories of abuses that run rampant in the computer business.
Just this past week, a new client of ours came to us after making a call to one of the nationally known computer repair companies. Just to come out to her house to see why her sound card wasn’t working was going to cost her around $350. Yes, that’s three hundred and fifty American dollars. That’s not the cost in Yen or Liras. I mean, a brand new sound card will cost you between $20-30, and 2 of 3 people can figure out how to install it themselves. But, they wanted $350 to come to the house, absolutely amazing.
When you call a computer repair company and they quote you $300+ to come out, realize that you can pick up a brand new computer for around $300-400. It’s probably not worth spending that much. And there are much better alternatives with a local company.
There are numerous different price structures that computer repair companies charge. Most charge an hourly fee, which can range from $50-100 an hour. The first hour is usually charged no matter what, and then after that you’ll be billed for every quarter hour after that. However, not to worry a competent tech should be able to solve most issues within the first two hours. Also many companies charge an onsite service fee if they come to you. The onsite service charge may be anywhere from $20-50.
Some companies are moving to a flat model of charging for repairs. They charge anywhere from $59-150 for flat fee pricing. So, no matter what the repair is, they will fix it for a designated fee. However, some of my clients have been pretty unhappy with that type of service. There is no incentive for the tech to finish their job quickly, and the techs seem to be of slightly lower quality.
Most of the reputable hourly companies will charge a flat fee if the job looks like it’s going to extend beyond two hours. If the system needs to be rebuilt, that’s a longer process which could take 3-6 hours. You might want to negotiate for a flat fee, because you don’t want to be paying an hourly rate forever.
Be careful as well with purchasing hardware from a computer repair company. Many companies use hardware as a huge profit source. Selling a $20 sound card for $80-100 is an example of a common way people are taken advantage of by dishonest companies. As long as you have a general idea what things cost you’ll be much better prepared to negotiate a fair price.
One of the hardest things to do is being sure that your technician is competent. The last thing you want is an incompetent service person creating more problems than they are solving. And of course the hourly rates can increase rapidly as well, when they are learning about computer repair on your time.
Most computer repair companies are very reputable and honest. When at all possible try to get a referral from someone you know, or at least get references from the computer company you are using. By being an informed consumer you’re much more likely to get satisfactory service.