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How do I deal with a griping customer?

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July 30, 2007 6:55:22 PM

OK I built a video editing rig for a lady a few months ago. Recently I am being flooded with questions and problems like "how do I do this?" or "the program won't burn my DVD" and "my internet locks up". I feel like I never should have built this for her as I feel obligated to help with things that don't even involve the hardware I put in the rig. There is one problem I am going over to actually fix-(the front audio ports are malfunctioning :pfff:  )-but other than that most of these things I don't know a thing about. I referred her to support websites and other places, but I think I will be dealing with her little problems until that computer dies in 10 years and I need to build her another.

More about : deal griping customer

July 30, 2007 6:58:43 PM

Get a 900 phone number.
July 30, 2007 7:13:28 PM

Simple, Backup her files and do a clean installation, shouldn't take you more than 30-40 minutes to do and you won't have to hear another complain. "Average joe" kind of users tend to mess their own systems and in their useless attempt to fix it they end up making further damage to the system and never admitting it. (I know this moron who f*cked the whole system registry trying to "fix" his PC, yet he won't admit that what he did was wrong)

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July 30, 2007 7:27:42 PM

Quote:
Tell her $50 ph for anything that doesnt have to do with faulty hardware. Thats fair, thats lesst than anyone else charges. I guarantee your phone stops ringing.
I agree %100.

@ OP: You are only warranting the hardware. To be nice you could give her three hours of tech support, which would probably clear up her immediate problems. After that charge her for tech support unless there is a hardware failure. Either on a monthly basis, like $300.00/mo or a service call basis of $100/hr. Min. one hour. Telephone support could be cheaper due to no drive time. Adjust prices for your area.
July 30, 2007 7:33:52 PM

ya i agree with MrsBytch
just charge her for support she needs tha has nothing to do with hardware. it might sound mean or somthing, but its only fair.
besides, you already saved her hundreds compared to of she called the geek squad every time :) 
July 30, 2007 7:45:02 PM

Wonderwill said:
OK I built a video editing rig for a lady a few months ago. Recently I am being flooded with questions and problems like "how do I do this?" or "the program won't burn my DVD" and "my internet locks up". I feel like I never should have built this for her as I feel obligated to help with things that don't even involve the hardware I put in the rig. There is one problem I am going over to actually fix-(the front audio ports are malfunctioning :pfff:  )-but other than that most of these things I don't know a thing about. I referred her to support websites and other places, but I think I will be dealing with her little problems until that computer dies in 10 years and I need to build her another.


I agree; you're going to have to start charging her otherwise she's just going to drive you nuts. Don't feel badly about it either. You are going above and beyond the agreed work.

This is EXACTLY why I don't do residential work and stick to small businesses; it's just not worth the headache to me. Sometimes an employee of one of my clients will ask if I can work on their home computer. I tell them I'm not licensed or insured for residential work, although neither is true.
July 30, 2007 8:20:45 PM

http://www.videoprofessor.com/

It will end up costing you a lot of hours giving free help, did you make any commission?

simple formula is: once the gain is less then the support cost: it's time quit helping.

"my internet locks up": you can make some money off this one, or refer her to geeksquad and the like
and to think you could of sold her an apple

"rate is $5.99 per minute, do you except the charges?"
July 30, 2007 8:49:40 PM

What is your time and knowledge worth? If you aren't being compensated for all that tech support, then you are being used. You're worried about offending/taking advantage of her, but really it is she who is taking advantage of you! Unless you were very well paid for building the system, I don't think you are obligated to provide continual support. Maybe as a benefit to your customers, you could offer a week of free support after the build to ensure the bugs are worked out. But at some point, you have to put your foot down professionally. Be polite, indicate that her questions/problems are outside of the scope of what you provided to her. Say you would be happy to help as long you are properly compensated for your time/knowledge. You could easily charge $35-$45 per hour, that undercuts Geeksquad by a large margin.

If you do plan more builds in the future, it would be helpful to draw up a mini-contract that clearly states what is and is not provided from your build. You could also make up a price sheet for future tech support and make this all very public to your customers and be sure to get that signature! Then you will have some legal backing and don't have to feel obligated when you really shouldn't.


Oh, and if your tech support calls require an on-site visit, don't forget to charge for gas. The current Governmental rate is 48.5 cents per mile.
July 30, 2007 9:05:36 PM

Wonderwill said:
OK I built a video editing rig for a lady a few months ago. Recently I am being flooded with questions and problems like "how do I do this?" or "the program won't burn my DVD" and "my internet locks up". I feel like I never should have built this for her as I feel obligated to help with things that don't even involve the hardware I put in the rig. There is one problem I am going over to actually fix-(the front audio ports are malfunctioning :pfff:  )-but other than that most of these things I don't know a thing about. I referred her to support websites and other places, but I think I will be dealing with her little problems until that computer dies in 10 years and I need to build her another.


This is how sprint deals with its customers that call in frequently to ask questions
Sprint and its Customer Support Solution

:) 

I myself have built several computers for people and have come across the same problem... they ask for too much post-build assistance that i really don't have the time for... I myself charge an additionl $35-$50 an hour to go back to their house and teach them whatever they want to know... that's a good rate for private in-home technical assistance, considering a good math tutor is $60-$120 an hour, and IT techs get paid way more than math teachers :) 

HOWEVER, when you build a computer for them, u need to make sure they're aware that you are building and supporting a SYSTEM, not the software they're putting on it... as for as they're concerned, you are a software MORON... you should ALWAYS tell people that you are building a SYSTEM, and what they put on it is their own choice... I like to say "just like buying a dell or hp... you put what you want on there, and if you have a problem with the software or how to use it, you call the company that made the software, because Dell or HP only made the computer, they have no idea what you're putting on it and are only trained to a certain extent... software support for other companies is OOS [Out-of-Scope] and if you want proper assistance, go to their website and call them, and it's ALWAYS a good idea to join a user-support forum (created for users by users) because you can always find the most knowledgable helpful people there, as well as other people that are struggling with similar issues... you might even make i-friends :] "

give them a similar schpiel and good luck... - Mark
July 30, 2007 9:27:22 PM

Charging her for software assistance is a good idea, but the truth is I pretty much am a moron at Adobe Premier Pro technical support. I'll explain that I don't have time for all that when I do go down there to fix the audio ports, which may have been my bad in the first place. If I need assistance fixing those, I'll post a question in another place. Thanks for the advice!
July 30, 2007 9:28:30 PM

I agree with qwertycopter, writing out a simple contract is your best bet.

In addition you can try to be selective about who you sell computers too. You can usually tell within the first 5 minutes of talking to a person what kind of customer they will be. If the person has a type A personality and little technical knowledge steer clear! You can politely tell them that it wouldn't be possible to build a computer to suit their needs, you'll lose out on the sale but save yourself headaches and any bad PR they might generate because you weren't willing to spend your afternoon removing spyware free of charge.
July 30, 2007 9:30:09 PM

Hmmm. Without having been there, I guess the question here is what did you agree to sell her? "How do you do this" questions are one thing, but selling a video editing machine that is having problems burning a DVD is something else. If you picked out the hardware, and sold it as being good for the task, then there is at least some room for debate on that one. If you just assembled parts that they picked out, then that's something completely different.
July 30, 2007 10:45:48 PM

Is she worth shagging?, if yes then favour for a favour, if not then charge her.
December 30, 2007 2:06:46 PM

another idea i just had, albeit months down the road, but still...

teach her how to use the following and she should be set:

1.) Google
2.) Forums


Done...
December 30, 2007 3:15:57 PM

Subcontract your tech support out to a service in Pakistan.

Better yet, make it very clear up front, in writing, what services you provide and their cost.
December 30, 2007 3:25:18 PM

Mousemonkey said:
Is she worth shagging?, if yes then favour for a favour, if not then charge her.


I about died laughing when I read this.

I agree. People will always look to you as their computer "guy" when you do ANYTHING for them computer related once. You just have to let them know your place and theirs as well in the process :) 
December 30, 2007 4:41:47 PM

carver_g said:
I tell them I'm not licensed or insured for residential work, although neither is true.

I have been enlightened.
December 30, 2007 5:34:25 PM

I give 3 hours of free help that is not hardware related, after that its $50.00/HR. Last week a customer wanted help with his printer, and changing his Quicken '95 files to Quicken '08. The printer got plugged in before the drivers installed and screwed it up. I installed Quicken and transfered his files, then helped him learn the new interface. Spent three hours there, and tild himn I had to leave to get my kid. He said I need help with alot of other stuff also learning Vista. His old computer had 98 on it. I told him well thats fine but the free time is gone and it will be $50/HR. Its been 3 weeks and I havent heard from him.
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