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Selecting a repair technician or shop

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If your computer is no longer under warranty, don't assume that the only place you can get it serviced is the place you bought it. There may be other options in your local area. These tips can help you locate satisfactory service.

  • The best recommendations for repair techs come from friends, family and co-workers. Ask around for recommendations. Be sure to ask if they were satisfied with the repair or not. If the company you work for has a computer support staff, ask them for a recommendation of an outside shop.
  • Telephone several repair shops. Ask the following questions:
    • What are your diagnostic fees?
    • What are your repair fees? Is there an hourly rate in addition to a specific repair cost?
    • Do they come to your site? If so, what are the fees? Do you pay for travel time?
    • How long does the average repair take?
    • Do they guarantee their work?
  • Don't just call large shops and chains. A small shop may offer more customer friendly service than a larger shop.
  • You may be able to gauge your comfort with a shop from the telephone call. Were they polite and courteous? Did they answer your questions willingly or grudgingly? Did they show that they want your business? If you don't like the interaction, try another. If possible, you may want to check for any complaints about the shop with the local Better Business Bureau or government consumer agency.
  • Once you have chosen a shop, prepare your computer for service.
    • If you can, make a copy of all of your important information on the computer. Delete any sensitive information (like financial information) from it.
    • Write down and keep (in other words don't leave it on the computer) the serial numbers of all the parts (hard drive, modem, CD-ROM, etc.). You can use this list to compare with any parts that were replaced.
    • Put labels on the computer with your name and phone number. Your address is not usually necessary. Put at least 2 labels on the box—one on the cover and one on the connector panel (on the back or bottom).
    • Take in only the parts the repair shop specifies. They may not need the power cables, or the keyboard or mouse. If they don't tell you, ask.
  • Be prepared for bad news. The older your computer, the more likely that parts are no longer available. Depending on the problem it may be costly to repair your computer. It is usually best to determine before you take your computer in, what you are willing to pay to fix it. It may be cheaper to buy a new one.
  • Don't tell the shop to just fix it. You should authorize only a specific repair or diagnosis. The shop should contact you if they need to do anything more or if the repair isn't the right one.
  • Make sure you read the fine print before signing anything. You could get hit with unexpected results and costs if you don't.
  • Get an estimate of what repairs will cost. Also get an estimate on when you can expect to get the computer back.
  • Get all guarantees in writing.

When you pick up the repaired computer, make sure you get a receipt or invoice, preferably itemized. If it isn't itemized, ask for a list of what was repaired. Ask for the old parts that were replaced.