Important Questions to ask a computer repair business
“What is your hourly rate? / How much do you charge per hour?”
Asking the cost of a service is a normal question that most people forget to ask and are shocked at the bill after the services are completed. Never wait till until it’s time to pay the bill to find out how much per hour you’ll be paying.
Acceptable Answer: “We charge between $50 to $75 an hour.”
Reason: Rates vary upon project, and so do the charges along with them. Some companies charge hourly, and some companies charger per service. Most do both because the cost is averaged in the time it takes to do the job that they have done many times over. $50 to $75 USD per hour is average. Sometimes companies will go to $100 an hour, but to much higher than that and chances are you are getting ripped off.
“How many hours will this take to fix?”
You don’t want to find out it took 10 hours hours at $75 an hour to fix your computer. When a mew computer’s cost could be purchased with the money spent on an old PC. Having at least some idea of how much the grand total will be is important, but any good service should be able to give you an idea before breaking the bank.
Acceptable Answer:“I’m not 100% sure of the problem, but normally things like this can take about X number of hours to fix.”
Reason: If they haven’t looked at the computer yet, a computer repair service can tell you with absolute certainty how many billable hours something like your scenario might take. If it is a reputable company they may just charge a diagnostic fee, and inform you of your problem BEFORE they fix anything.
If all you need is a simple hardware replacement (bad memory or hard drive) or software installation, you might be quoted a specific amount, but otherwise, you should expect a little flexibility on the their answer.
“Do you have a minimum charge?”
Not all problems take hours to repair. A repair service might only spend 10 to 15 minutes solving a particular problem. If your problem happens to be one of these “quick fixes” you should be aware of how you’ll be charged for it.
Acceptable Answer: “Yes, minimum diagnostic fee is to one billable hour minimum.”
Reason: Most computer repair services will charge 1 hour of labor for any time up to one hour spent working on your PC. This is sometimes called a diagnostic fee or minimum bench charge and is completely customary.
“Any extra charges other than the hourly rate?”
Many services we pay for in life are filled with hidden fees. That $24.99 oil change ends up costing close to $50 after they add in all the waste disposal fees, ect.
Acceptable Answer: “No.”
Reason: It is not common practice for a computer repair service to charge extra fees for their standard services. Obviously, if you require replacement hardware or a new piece of software, you should expect to pay for it but you should not expect any sort of hidden fees or surcharges. If you are having equipment installed like network drops, terminating network cable and having wall plates installed, expect some sort of accessories or parts fee.
If you’re told that there are extra fees, be sure to see a list of them in writing before leaving your PC or requesting service in your home or business.
“Do you charge extra for on-site / in home calls?”
National chain computer repair services, in-store, and in-home/in-business repair services are considered completely separate services. You should always be aware of any billing differences between these services before getting your computer repaired.
Answer should be: “Yes, we do charge [a small extra fee or slightly higher hourly rate] for in-home and in business service.”
Caution: If you’re quoted a rate doubled to the normal rate for in-home/business computer repair service, don’t get it. Take your computer to their shop or find another computer repair service. You should expect a repair service to charge a small fee to visit you – perhaps a $10 to $20 USD single “trip” charge or a 10-20% hourly rate increase.
Some computer repair services may not charge anything extra at all for this service. Do not take it as a sign of a low-quality service, just consider yourself lucky!
“Do offer a service guarantee?”
It’s important to know whether or not you can expect a guaranty on the services provided. No one wants to get their computer serviced again two weeks later for the same problem.
For example, if you received an error message like “Windows cannot find C:\Windows\System32\ rundll32.exe ” and the computer repair service corrected the problem for you two weeks ago, it’s reasonable to expect that, at least in the near future, the problem will not happen again.
Answer should be: “Yes. For most problems, we guarantee our service for [30 to 90] days.”
Reason: Anything less than 30 days isn’t a good deal. If a computer repair service offers more than a 90-day guarantee, be sure to read the fine print to see what sorts of problems it covers before you choose that particular service.
In regards to “most computer problems”, don’t expect a computer repair service to remove a virus from your computer and then guarantee that you won’t be infected by it again. Yes, they should make sure your antivirus program is updated, and that you have all the latest operating system updates for your computer, but they can’t do anything about you visiting the same malicious sites and possibly getting infected again.
Important: No reputable computer repair service will guarantee a satisfactory solution to your PC problem before they have even had a chance to look at the computer. You should always be prepared to pay the minimum diagnostic fee or bench charge even if your computer couldn’t be repaired in the way you expected.
“Will you save my files?”
Your computer itself is really just a complex collection of replaceable parts. It’s the term papers, photos of your dog, and the baby’s first steps video that is really important.
Answer should be: “Yes. If they’re there, we’ll save them for you.”
Caution: Very serious issues with your hard drive may result in your files being lost forever. This doesn’t happen very often and, of course, would be out of the control of the computer repair service. There are alternative methods to retrieving these files. Some are supported by the hard drive manufacturer where you can send your drive off and they can do some mechanical magic in swapping internal parts of your hard drive to get the data off.. warning.. that can get expensive.
Keeping your files backed up, either with a cloud backup service or manually with backup software, is always a very good idea and removes the answer to this question as a concern.
“When will it be ready? Or When will I be able to pick up my computer? “
If you’re getting in-home or in business service, a related question would be “When might you be able to come out to my home/business?”.
Answer should be: “You should be able to pick up your PC in 24 to 48 hours.”
The “correct” answer to this question is really up to your personal schedule and expectations. I say 24 to 48 hours because that’s the average response. If you’re quoted “any earlier time than 24 hours” that doesn’t mean that the computer repair service isn’t a good one. That is the answer most people are looking for! If the response is something along the lines of “a week from today” and that’s a satisfactory answer to you, then great. If not, I recommend looking elsewhere.