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Computer Repair; The Value of a Second Opinion

10/08/2017 12:19:44

Dennis Crouse


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Computer Repair; The Value of a Second Opinion


People know, by-in-large, they “should” get a second opinion when the issue is medical care, auto repair, or home purchases. What many aren’t aware of, is a second opinion can be just as helpful when shopping for computer repair.


The Problem

In the computer service industry, there is a VAST spectrum of skill and pricing. In a hospital environment, the Federal Government may have some influence on the prices charged, and the quality of services. In automotive repair, most mechanics go by an industry recognized guide they can use to estimate job cost. However, in computer fixit land, there is no guide. Repair professionals are left to their own devices entirely. Even worse, what constitutes “Job Completion” can be different from one technician to another.


What You Can Do

You should take the time to get a second opinion. Not only on the cost, but also the time that the repair will take, and what they believe the issue is. I know you don’t want to hear this, but it is very likely that one of the technicians you spoke to has NO idea what is wrong, and is just taking a “Shotgun” approach. While this approach may well solve your problem, it can cost as-much-as three times more for this untargeted Hail Mary. It's ok if the Tech doesn't know what is wrong based on your description, I wouldn't expect them to, but at some point they should be able to offer you a plan of attack that seems reasonable and logical.

Language that would cause me, as a consumer, to doubt the tech’s diagnosis:

  • I think we need to just wipe the whole thing and start over.
    • If this is the initial diagnosis, you are in the wrong place, and dealing with somebody who has no idea what they are doing. If, after a FULL diagnosis it is determined that this is the best resolution, this is normal.
  • We should replace your ____, and if that doesn’t do it then maybe your ____.
    • This isn’t an uncommon approach, and works very well. However, you should get clarification that YOU will only be paying for the ONE part that resolved the issue.
  • Sometimes this is caused by X, and sometimes Y.
    • This is an issue if the technician doesn’t tell you how he is going to determine which was the cause. It generally ends with them charging you an, originally undisclosed, amount.
  • It will cost between $X.XX and $Y.YY. I’ll let you know when I’m done.
    • Absolutely unacceptable! Never agree to an ambiguous amount. If this technician has any experience at all, there WILL be a point, at which they will know the cost before proceeding.

How to Get Second Opinion Without Paying

Most reputable repair centers will offer a free diagnosis. In RARE cases, the issue could be too complex to get one up front, but they should always be able to give you an estimate before you commit to work. If your issue is not too complex, and the business still asks that you pay a fee for the diagnosis, take your business elsewhere!

Computer Repair is not “Special”, or “Different”, than any other business. You should be able to ask, and receive, an upfront quote. If you arrived at a car lot and they refused to tell you how much the car was prior to you signing the papers, you would walk away laughing.

It is time for consumers to take the same stance with Computer Repair Shops.