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Is it normal for computer technicians to charge by time spent or by achievement?
Thread poster: Astrid Elke Witte

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Jul 14, 2008

For the second year in a row, July is the month of computer problems.

I have a feeling that, each time, I spend a lot more money than I should, and that most of that money is wasted. I have not been happy with any of the computer men so far. I would learn how to do everything myself if I could. I had the problem last week that I had no Internet connection for two days. I had to get a computer man in, before I lost all my customers. In the event, it took two different computer men to produce an Internet connection. I recall that, when I had my first computer, and translating was not my full-time job, I had some sort of a modem that came with a six-page leaflet, and I configured it and got into the Internet myself. The present most common modem around here - which I also have - has a manual to go with it containing as many pages as a Trados manual!

Anyway, back to my original question: Is it in order that computer men always seems to charge only for time spent, and not for what they achieve? They seem to automatically be on a service contract here, and not a work contract, and I do not like it, because Computer Man No. 1 spent most of last Wednesday here - for which I have to pay him twice the hourly rate that I myself earn - for practically a whole day, and at the end he produced no Internet connection, but I still have to pay him for the day! I just wondered if that were normal.

Astrid


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:56
Member (2006)
French to English
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Normal, I fear. Jul 14, 2008

I fear it's normal (in the UK at any rate) for computer technicians to charge by the hour and not according to results. I had the same frustrating experience as you with my service provider going AWOL (absent without leave) for several days last week. Maddening. I wonder if it was the same one - without mentioning the name in case I get rapped over the knuckles, it's a popular, brightly coloured Mediterranean fruit.
The same applies to electricians, plumbers, etc. - they all charge according to time spent, after the initial call-out charge.
I suppose it might be possible to set up a special arrangement with a computer technician based on success rather than time, but I can't imagine them agreeing to such a contract.
Best wishes,
Jenny


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 02:56
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Huh? Jul 14, 2008

Why is your connection down?
If your modem is dead, buying a new one would certainly be cheaper than paying someone to fiddle around for two days?
If your ISP is down, call them up and yell at them, they are not giving you what you pay for.
In the meantime, go to a local internet cafe to send off your files?


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:56
Portuguese to English
+ ...
I have to admit... Jul 14, 2008

I was also wondering why you didn't call your internet provider first, or did you? Problems with the internet usually have nothing to do with the computer per se, as far as I know.

Amy


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
We don't all live in the middle of a city... Jul 14, 2008

Hi Hilde,

Modems can only be bought in the nearest city, 35 km away. I do not drive. There are very few buses to the nearest railway station in order to catch the train there.

Internet cafés? Out here in the wilds?`They are the same 35 km trip away (70 km there and back).

ISP? No, there are no faults with the ISP. The problem turned out to be connected with the - rather complex - configuration of the modem, plus the modem itself had a - non-obvious - fault. To get access to the manual I would have needed an Internet connection first.

Anyhow, I do not only translate part-time, occasionally or as I feel like it. I am in full-time business, where time is money, and the urgent orders are constantly rolling in. I nearly lost a customer from whom I earn a lot each year.

Computer men are also thin on the ground out this way, so you have to put up with the few that exist - in fact with whichever one you can get inside the same week....

...

Thanks for your answer, Jenny. Then, we are the only ones who are paid by results and not by time..... the rest of the world gets paid by time...... I guess that is why translators do not earn much per hour.

Astrid


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
But sometimes they do... Jul 14, 2008

Amy Duncan wrote:

Problems with the internet usually have nothing to do with the computer per se, as far as I know.

Amy


I always had an Internet connection for the desktop computer I used to have. I was suddenly without a computer, so had to get the laptop into the Internet. I had a router under the desk, and originally both the main PC and the laptop could get into it - and nobody else could - because it was a secured network.

This meant that, at the last conference I attended, it took two days to undo "the damage" - of the laptop only going into the Internet if it were wired up to the home network - and, upon its return, I did not know how to get it back into the home network. I was not going to pay a computer man again, so the laptop could not access the Internet.

Then the main PC suddenly broke and the problem I had was how to get the laptop into the Internet via that home network. I had tried many times before, so knew that my business would be closed down before I managed it, so I phoned a computer man.

The strange thing was - as always since I brought the laptop back from the last conference - the symbol in the bottom right-hand corner showed an Internet connection, i.e. claimed that the laptop was in the Internet, however it was not.

Computer man No. 1 only came the day after my main computer broke. He sat in front of my laptop and claimed that it had no anti-virus protection, because the one-year-licence had expired. He appears to have put onto it a test version of Kaspersky. Then he fiddled around for the next three-and-a-half hours. I could not stand over him, so I went around the flat doing housework, and kept coming back at intervals and asking if he had got it into the Internet. The reply was always "Not yet....".

When he eventually left he was in a great hurry to get to his next customer. He thrust a piece of paper in front of me, on which he had typed out what he had done, for me to sign. I asked, "Do I have an Internet connection now?" He assured me that I did, and I signed it. He walked out of the door, down the stairs, got into his car, drove off, and meanwhile I discovered that (1) I had no Internet connection; (2) I had just signed to confirm that I had an Internet connection! Now I have to pay his bill, even though he did not get me into the Internet.

I cannot imagine a customer paying me for a translation if I produced no translation, but said "I spent 15 hours TRYING to translate the text...."!

Astrid

[Edited at 2008-07-14 21:08]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:56
Member (2000)
Russian to English
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Not all tales of woe Jul 14, 2008

Having bought a new laptop recently, I happened to have a computer man in earlier today. I had made the appointment for his visit a couple of days previously. When he arrived, I had already solved for myself the problems for which I had originally called him out, but he he spent nearly a hour and a half sorting out other things I'd thought of since then, including removing all trace of Norton AntiVirus from two computers, which I could never have done myself, replacing it with AVG and finding and downloading software from the Internet for my printer. And he only charged me for one hour (admittedly it was GBP40, whereas my own hourly rate is only GBP25, but it compares well with plumbers and car mechanics), so I am a satisfied customer!

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- Carolina  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:56
Member
English to Spanish
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Normal in Argentina as well Jul 14, 2008

Hi Astrid,

As far as I know the same happens here in Argentina. At least, the two PC technicians I hired so far charged me by the hour. It is also true, on the other hand, that if they (the two PC techies I usually work with) spend many hours on some issue, they end up charging an average of the hours spent. And, usually, I'm a satisfied customer as Jack, because they end up solving issues I could have never solved by myself. :S

Regards,
Asimenia


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:56
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
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On the other hand, what about a dial-up backup, or neighbors? Jul 15, 2008

Astrid,
If you are so isolated "out in the wild" (I am envious, I think), have you thought about testing out a dial-up service that you could use as a backup in case of emergency (such as your modem dies or something)? Your laptop probably has a phone jack and a built-in modem, and I am sure you have phone service at home.
If I were you, I would try and test it before I really need it.

An another note, do you have neighbors, closer than the city?
Perhaps some of them have internet, and they would let you use it in case of an emergency, just to send off files, or something? Have you thought about that?

Katalin


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
I'm disappointed too Jul 15, 2008

Up to now I used professional assistence twice. But they charged a fixed sum agreed upon in advance. Some 60 Euro as far as I remember.

Last week probably Millions of us had problems, after the last Microsoft security update ZoneAlarm did not work properly anymore and had to be switched to a lower security level. I was lucky and resolved the problem in ten minutes, but many people lost a whole day.
One needs a backup internet connection in such cases, otherwise you may be unable to solve the problem in reasonable time.
Our civilsation is so dependend on the web that I wonder what will happen during international conflicts when all try to interfere with each other's connections.

Regards
Heinrich


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, now I know what a memory stick is for Jul 15, 2008

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

An another note, do you have neighbors, closer than the city?
Perhaps some of them have internet, and they would let you use it in case of an emergency, just to send off files, or something? Have you thought about that?

Katalin



A memory stick will be my next purchase!


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:56
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
I did not mean a memory stick Jul 15, 2008

A memory stick is not a bad idea, but I did not mean that. I meant you would put your laptop under your arm, walk over to the neighbor's house, plug it in and go.
That way you would have your email, and all your software at hand.
If you take only the memory stick, you could probably only use some web-based email and you may have trouble sending files that way. If you carry your whole laptop you would have your normal email client with you, and you would skip the copying to and from the memory stick.


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:56
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The laptop would not go into the Internet at the neighbours' house either Jul 15, 2008

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

A memory stick is not a bad idea, but I did not mean that. I meant you would put your laptop under your arm, walk over to the neighbor's house, plug it in and go.
That way you would have your email, and all your software at hand.
If you take only the memory stick, you could probably only use some web-based email and you may have trouble sending files that way. If you carry your whole laptop you would have your normal email client with you, and you would skip the copying to and from the memory stick.


Hi, Katalin,

I guess the major part of the problem was that the laptop could not be configured to go into the Internet. Computer Man No. 2, who came the next day and appeared to be very experienced, took an hour and 20 minutes to solve the problem of the Internet connection. He said the problem lay three-quarters with the faulty, difficult-to-untangle configuration of the laptop and that also the modem had a slight fault.

Astrid


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:56
Flemish to English
+ ...
Not the translation world. Jul 15, 2008

By the hour is normal.
Aren't there any IHK-hardware courses in your region? Normally in the first three lessons you learn to assemble a pc and the second year is about telecommunication where you will learn things such as Mac-address, how to configure an IP-address, how to connect in a small network.


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 02:56
English to Norwegian
+ ...
I live out in the sticks, too Jul 15, 2008

My modem is provided by the isp, so if it is down, (which it is, occasionally)it can usually be fixed with a phone call to their tech service at no charge.
The one time it could not, they sent me a new one in the mail that arrived the next day.
Most places that sell computer equipment have a support phone that you can call for help?

For the computer itself, I have bought an extended sercive deal (Dell). COst about 200 EUR as far as I remember, and covers the computer for 3 years. If it breaks down, a technician will come to my house to fix it the next working day.

We do not have internet cafes here either (I just thought it sounded cool), but we do have a library with internet connection, and neighbours are usually helpful in an emergency.

PS
I also have two computers - one laptop and one desktop, which I suppose is more or less mandatory for anyone depending on a working computer to get their work done.

[Edited at 2008-07-15 07:33]


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