Choosing a Computer Repair Shop While on Vacation

Even in this slowing economy, many people still manage to take a vacation. And if you are like me, whether you travel for business and/or pleasure, you bring a laptop.

Vacation Woes

Sadly, a fair amount of people have their laptops break while on vacation. As careful as you try to be, you are out of your element and things happen. Maybe it gets dropped at the hotel, or maybe you get it infected with viruses or spyware while searching online for information about your location. Now, I’m not saying in any way, that Googling for information about some vacation hotspot directly leads to getting infected. But internet search engine results can lead you to malicious links.

Everybody’s internet surfing habits are different, their internet street smarts vary and so do the security products they use. I know of people on vacation who have taken many videos and pictures and downloaded them to their laptop so they can take more the next day. Then… BOOM! an unexpected and untimely problem happens with their laptop.

If you aren’t there for very long and have a severe problem, you might just want to wait until you get home to have it fixed. But if you have a couple days, or have a computer emergency that can’t wait, there are many local computer repair companies that can help.

How to Select a Local Computer Repair Company

First of all, if your computer still boots up and you believe it is just a software problem such as a program error or a spyware infection, you are a good candidate for an on site visit. But if you want service the same day you call, you should call as early as possible, as on site service is usually by appointment only.

Another note about on site service is that there are a variety of mobile only technicians (free-lancers) and shops that can dispatch their own mobile technicians. In either case, their fee and level of experience can vary greatly. I have to admit, that when a customer is concerned about whether the technician can handle the job, I don’t like getting interviewed over the phone for 15 minutes and then the potential customer asks if they can call you back. That usually means to us that you have no intention of calling back and you just didn’t want to hurt our feelings. Whatever the case, there was some objection, usually the price, trust, questions about being able to handle the job, scheduling, or whatever.

Asking Questions

What I would say you should look for, is a technician who is willing to listen to your problem, and then ask “YOU” enough questions to get a firm understanding about your computer problem. Many customers have a hard time trying to describe their problem and just need a little guidance. You should start feeling at ease when the technician begins to explain the symptoms and some possible causes back to you in words that make sense. I have repaired enough computers (many thousands) that I can probably get enough information out of you to describe the scenario that led to your problem, as well as a fair estimate.

Inside Information

Now some technicians, including myself sometimes, will tend to limit “all” the possible causes for your problem, so as not to scare you. We can only do so much over the phone, and even if there were a small chance of the problem being an expensive motherboard, I wouldn’t want to dwell on that if it were more likely to be something else. Imagine your Doctor talking about cancer when you thought you just had a bad cold, and he hadn’t even run any tests yet. But sometimes, no matter how much we hope it isn’t serious, sometimes it is. Now just to be fair, I know the customer also tends to keep information to themselves as well, for the fear that revealing everything will make the job cost more. Whatever the problems are, they will eventually be revealed during troubleshooting anyway. But knowing as much as possible up front helps us to give you a better estimate over the phone so we can perform the repair with no surprises… for “both” of us. Just remember that we have no control over what you bring us… what it is, is what it is.

Sadly, some technicians just want to set the appointment and don’t want to say much over the phone other than to set the appointment. These guys don’t know what they will be walking into, and you might get a surprise in your bill. I like to take a bit of time and talk about the problem to see if the job even qualifies to be done on site, because frankly, there are some jobs I don’t want to accept, at least not on site. They might be labor intensive, making it hard to keep the price down, or it just might require the full-service capabilities of a shop.

How Long Should a Repair Take?

Most on site techs charge hourly, and most “telephone qualified” jobs should be able to be repaired on site between 1 – 2 hours. For questionable jobs and outright labor intensive jobs, I recommend you bring them into a shop. Once checked-in shop, the whole repair process is different. Techs have to work on multiple computers simultaneously. Not a big deal, but it makes an average repair take between 2 -4 days.

While dealing without your computer for a few days might give you convulsions, you will be getting a lot more value for your money and the fee is usually based on a flat rate. I know that we perform hours of extra tedious work like Windows Updates, Disk Defragmentation, Scanning the Hard Drive for errors, physical cleaning, and more. Things that you definitely would not want to pay extra for if done on site. Having a computer in-shop also helps the tech to observe it long enough to see if there are any intermittent problems. Dropping by your home or hotel for an hour or so might not reveal these types of problems.

Most shops also have an “expedite” service for in-shop repairs where your computer can be sent to the head of the line, and in many cases, these can be repaired within 24 hours or even the same day if brought in early enough. Now all this is based on bringing your computer into a “local shop” not one of those mega computer stores.

One thing I forgot to mention, is that if you still have a way to get online, I recommend you use the internet to Google for a local computer shop. Google is pretty good at serving up a list of local business and you will be able to develop an impression of the company you are calling by their website, not to mention, who, what, where, why and how much they are before they call. You can also compare what they say on their website to what they say over the phone.

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