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Who is working on your computer? National computer repair companies: What you should know and why you should beware

Computers have become a staple in everyday life. In the last 25 years the computer industry has grown immensely. Many homes now have multiple computers and businesses depend upon them. So what happens when your computer gets a virus, won't start, or develops another problem? Who should you call? Many people often look on the Internet, or in the phone book for help and end up choosing a national computer repair company, even if they don't know it. In this article we look at national computer service companies, how they work and what you should be aware of before choosing one.

Most people now have at least one computer in their home, many others have multiple computers. Perhaps you have a main computer, perhaps additionally you may have one or more for the kids and maybe even another one for a home office. If you have a computer at all, the chances are good that you will run into problems eventually. Computer viruses, hardware failures, software problems, or operating system problems are quite common. So back to our prior question...who do you call? Many people look on the Internet, or in the phone book. Many times they look for the big, professional looking, yellow page listings, or pretty websites. Quite often these ads are from national computer repair services and many are disguised as local companies.

So who are these companies? First, let me clarify who we are talking about. We are not talking about national chains such as Best Buy's Geek Squad that have a presence in many locations across the country. For the purpose of this article, we are talking about computer service companies that are based in a central location and hire contractors to do their work for them in other locations. This business model is quite common because few companies have the resources to establish a presence across the country. Many such companies are surprisingly small, yet are trying to compete on a national level by leveraging the ease of advertising nationally via the Internet and local phone books. Many disguise themselves with a local address that doesn’t exist, or with a local phone number that routes to their main number.

How does it work? When you call such a company they most often post a description of the problem you’re having to a national job board and route the job to a group of local contractors. The contractors in the area then look over the job and then the first contractor of the group to accept the job gets it. The contractors are then given the details of the job and go out to the site to perform the work. While they are onsite they are told they must act as if they are with the company that hired them for the job. When the job is finished they close the ticket and then are paid.

So what’s wrong with this? Potentially, there may not be anything wrong. You may be happy with the service you’ve received; however, many times price and service quality become issues. First let’s look at price. Price with such companies is often very high. Why? All that advertising costs a lot of money and companies must make up for it somehow and usually it’s with ridiculously high prices. Personally, I can tell you that yellow page advertising is particularly inefficient much of the time. We have tried big yellow page ads before and quite frankly, at normal rates, they usually don’t even pay for themselves. Internet advertising isn’t much better. In fact most of the money you pay such companies goes to recoup advertising expenses. How much you pay is determined by the company you select, but we have done work for such companies before and have seen customers charged $500 for a simple virus removal which makes little sense when you can buy a new computer for that now.

What about service quality? This is where you really just need luck on your side. Why? When such companies select contractors they know very little about them, their experience, their commitment, their knowledge, etc. You may get a good tech, but often you won’t. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the techs are usually paid very little. Often techs that take these jobs are out of work, or have little experience. We monitor these Internet boards and have taken some fair paying jobs. But, we often see jobs paying $60 for virus removal, or other jobs that will take an hour or so and pay $30 per hour. A good tech in the corporate world can make $40-60K per year, or roughly $20-30 per hour and these jobs are usually full time with benefits. In contrast jobs on such Internet boards may come up once per day for a given region. So what kind of tech would take a job paying $60 for a few hours of work, or an hourly rate of $30 for a couple hours? What’s more, the Internet boards that publish these jobs usually take an additional 10% from the tech as a fee and the tech may have to pay a lot in gas, tolls, parking and wear and tear on their car to get to the location. Add to that the fact that many of these national companies make stipulations that, should anything go wrong, the tech must go back onsite at their own expense. The result is that you’re often likely to get a tech that has very little experience and isn’t very happy about the job and won’t be committed to doing it properly.

What are the solutions to these issues? How can you tell if you’re dealing with such a company? Probably the best way to tell if you’re dealing with a locally based computer service company or a remote company is by calling them and telling them you want to drop off your computer for service. A national company without a local presence most likely won’t be able to give you a local address where you can drop off the computer. This should be your most valuable clue. Secondly, look at their phone number. If they have a toll free number this is often a good indication that they are not local; however, if they have a local number this certainly doesn’t mean that they are local.

What about price? Rates charged by such companies are often much higher than the norm. If you choose to deal with such a company make sure you find out if they charge by the hour, or by the job. If they charge by the hour ask how long the job will take. Often removing an embedded virus can take hours and if your operating system has to be restored, if done properly, that can take 4-5 hours. Many problems can’t be diagnosed properly over the phone so it’s very difficult for anyone to give you an exact price, but based on the symptoms they should be able to tell you the most likely causes and approximately what each scenario would cost. Preferably you should look for a company that can give you a flat rate for the most likely causes of your problem. You should also call another company and try and get a cost estimate. While we consistently beat Best Buy’s prices, most of their prices are at least considered fair, so you may want to give them a call for a second opinion. If you’re not sure who to call, feel free to call us. We’ll be happy to give you an idea of what could be wrong and about how much repair would cost.

What about service quality? The honest truth is that there is little you can do about this. National companies control who goes onsite and they won’t let you dictate who they should hire and how much they should be paid. Even the quality at local companies can vary greatly. Even the techs at large companies such as Best Buy can be hit and miss and Best Buy actually has control of who they hire. If you’re concerned about this aspect you may want to ask some of your friends, or relatives if they have had computer work done and if so if they were happy with the service level and price. In the end, there can be a large disparity between computer service companies, so do some research, or you could end up paying two or three times as much as you should for a job that might be done incorrectly, resulting in problems later.

If you live in the Philadelphia, or South New Jersey area you can always give us a call. We are local, experienced and fast and our prices are often 10-60% off competitors that have fair prices. With Dragora there is no middleman and we guarantee the job will be done right. We also offer same-day service and free pickup within 15 miles! No matter who you choose, we wish you all the best.

Contact Info

Dragora Technologies
258 Creek Rd.
Bellmawr, NJ 08031
(856) 931-0074