Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why Do I Feel So Alone?

A UTC faculty member brought me her computer after it had been reformatted by a locally-owned computer repair shop.  Although I've had no direct dealings with this shop, they had not impressed me in the past: they took a brand new drive (still under warranty) that they said failed--it's very possible since even new drives can fail--and charged the customer for another one without mentioning the warranty.  Somebody got cheated there.  Strike One.  Then, on their website they named one brand of computer they definitely did not recommend because they'd had "bad experiences": a little company called Dell which I know from a decade of experience and thousands of computers is top tier.  Well, that was two strikes against them, but then I took a look at the faculty computer.

The problem was that it wasn't connecting to the network when it got home.  In about ten seconds I knew why: the shop had reformatted, all right, but had not bothered to reinstall any drivers!  The PC couldn't see the network because so far as Windows knew, there was no network card installed.  I absolutely could not believe it.  I mean, reinstalling drivers is about as basic as it comes, step two in what I consider a ten step process (and if you don't do step two, you can't do anything else on the list).  I don't know what they had charged, but basically they had done about five minutes worth of work at most, and probably more damage than good.  Installing Windows 7 takes about four or five clicks of the mouse, and if that's all you're going to do, without even checking to see if things such as the network card or the audio work, it's a pretty sweet gig that a six year old could routinely accomplish.

So why do I spend several hours on each and every computer I touch, making sure that every file is saved and every driver installed, updating Windows, installing antivirus, copying back all the customer's files, making sure the computer is absolutely clean and safe and working?  Is PC Liferaft the only company that goes to these lengths?  I honestly don't know.   Does the Geek Squad install drivers?  I'm sure they do, but do they save your files and reinstall your apps?  If they make a mistake, do they eat the cost or just pass it along?  I think I'm the only one crazy enough to do these things.

This particular shop--and in their defense I'm sure they have done good work for somebody, or they wouldn't still be in business--has been expanding, so they evidently are making money.  Is it possible to make money and do the job properly?  I hope so.  One thing's for sure: I'm no businessman.  My business model--and it's not one I'm willing to change--just might lead to the poorhouse.  But it's the right way to do it, and that's the road I'm going to drive.