Tech Rant – Expectations vs Ignorance
Yes, This is one of my Tech Rants
I had a lady call me today asking how much it costs to have a virus removed. First off, we do this for a fixed-flat rate which is published at our shop and online on our website. Even so, the answer can be as loaded as the question itself when the customer challenges the amount. We charge a mid-range price for this service. It isn’t as low as some of the bargain-basement pseudo techs on Craigslist, yet not nearly as much as the Geek Squad at Best Buy.
Anyway, I told her we do it for a flat rate of $129.99 in-shop. Then she responded, “Just to remove only “1” virus?” She wanted to haggle the price because she thinks she only has just “1” virus, as if the price should be pro-rated. How much for just 1 peanut I thought. I tried to ask some questions about the problem, but her expectations quickly met her ignorance and she was mildly rude about it. I kept professional about it and she hung up without saying goodbye. I can usually shake it off, but this call drove me nuts, because I know my local market, my abilities, and the computer mentality of most of my customers. While I’m not famous, Ashton Kutcher could’ve Punk’d me good with this one, but I think this lady was for real.
First off, how does she know there is only “1” virus? In my experience, most of my malware infected computer customers don’t ever have any “true” viruses. In fact, only about 3% of infected computers are infected with an actual virus, most of the time it is a combination of other types of malware. No biggy, but there is a technical difference. Second, how does she know she only has “1” whatever? I assume she had some program that reported something, yet it couldn’t fix it. To complicate that, most of my customers that have infected PCs, are infected with a Fake Alert Security program, and you can’t trust anything it tells you, in fact, it “IS” the infection if you have one of these. I typically run about 5 – 7 different scanners to search for malware, not to mention several special purpose utilities for manual search and removal. Most people have just an antivirus program, and it is usually expired.
I have personally dealt with several thousand customers over the years, and I can confidently say that virus and spyware removal is my least favorite PC problem to deal with, yet it is the most common and one that I am extremely experienced in. In all this time, I can’t remember when someone had just “1” infection, not to mention one that was apparently bad enough to call a computer shop about.
If I Were a Betting Man
I would bet money that this person already tried to fix the problem herself. And while that is totally her right to do so, some of the worst problems I get are when someone already attempted to fix the computer themselves, or they had one of their anonymous, so-called computer whiz friends try to fix it for them. It’s like trying to fix a bad haircut by the time we get it. I would also bet that she had multiple infections. Now, if I decided to remove this alleged single virus and called the job done, do you think that if she really had more infections after all, that she would be happy with the job? Do you think she would show up at my shop again and demand some warranty rework? Of course she would, and it would give me no joy to say “I told you so”.
The fact is, PC Techs don’t like to do rework. We will acknowledge what you have to say about your computer problem, but we always perform our own independent diagnosis. And while this person may have tickled her own ego about her virus finding prowess for this one, single, evasive virus, I’ll bet she never looked past her own nose. I work on about 10 computers simultaneously, 8+ hours a day, 6 days a week, most of which are infected with a variety of malware. Whether or not you think I am stroking my own ego in telling you this, I am just trying to convey to you that unless you do this day in and day out, that whatever a woman such as this thinks she knows about infected PCs couldn’t fill a thimble.
Malware removal is a never-ending cat-and-mouse-game that requires you to be an expert Googler, to have an advanced knowledge of Windows, secret ninja computer moves, lots of industrial strength software, and a never-give-up attitude. It is why I preach spyware prevention so much. Anyway, most of my customers are very humble about it and often admit they are computer illiterate, so I reward the trust they put in me and take good care of them. The good news is that I make a full-time living do this. But finding the time to share my knowledge and blog about it is just a side-project that also helps me to vent my frustrations about this field of work.
My Closing Rant
Before I began to freelance in computer repair, I always wondered why some PC Techs were a bit snooty and now I think I know. Fixing people’s computers is a very personal thing in my eyes. If you give me a hard time when I am just trying to help you, I view it like someone passing gas while getting a massage. Some of us get tired of it and are not going to act as if nothing foul suddenly filled the air. Some customers do it without even realizing it, but you certainly notice it when we get snooty.
So please educate yourself more about the cost of maintaining your computer, seek a pro when you are in over your head, don’t act like your computer repair guy is your slave just because you paid him a hundred bucks or so, get real about your expectations, and don’t be one of those ignorant computer owners that goes down the list in the phone book calling around for the best price, wasting everybody’s time with unrealistic expectations.
Most computer shops can do it good, cheap or fast. Pick any two.