Computer Shops & Bad Service

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astro_rob's picture
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Joined: Mar 19 2005
Posts: 320

Didn't know where else to post this...
It's funny how a few things just bother you for days on end. I haven't really paid a visit to many of our local computer shops since I returned to northeast Florida. Two of my favorites are now gone, and the folks who ran them were choice people. This past weekend, I decided to visit one of the remaining older shops, one where I had... weird... experiences. First of all, this shop is aimed at PC users. Not a big deal, as I use PC's as well as Mac. A few years back, I walked into this shop, and discovered a cache of Quantum HardCards. He was asking $19.99 a pop for them then (that was late 1998). I picked up two, but found the owner of the shop to be... difficult.
This past weekend, I thought I'd go back and see how much had changed in the past seven years. Amazingly, not much. Let me change that; there was change. It was worse.
As I walked in, I noticed a sign on the door - "SALE! All monitors - 15" $19.99, 17" $29.99". A little pricey for used monitors this day and age, I thought, considering that a good drive down a street on a garbage night might yield two or three. Apparently, that's what he thought, too, since most of these sale monitors looked as though they were recovered/recycled. Various stages of yellowing, some knicks. All clean, but all worn. Most had prices on them ranging from $29.99 to $69.99. But he did have them on sale. Well, okay... at least he tested them... I hope.
I walked around and noted some prices on some of the systems. Not a one less than $100. I wish I could say they were worth it, but I found a sea of Pentium //'s, 200 - 233 mHz range. Not a Mac to be found (fancy that). Well, maybe he really put a lot of time and/or effort into them. Didn't boot a one of them, so I can't say. Still seemed a little pricey.
And so it was with everything in this shop... it was all a little pricey. Some of it was just thrown in bins ("All video cards - $15").
Still, this isn't the saddest part of my visit. I found a SCSI board, and was walking to the front, when a customer walked in to pick up a repair. Didn't listen to much of what was said, until the topic shifted to another computer he wanted to work on. Seems he had an earlier Pentium-class ship, and wanted to use it as a server. He was thinking of, oh, what's-it-called... uh... oh, yeah... Linux?
The shop owner said "no, you don't want to go with that. Costs too much."
"How do they pronounce it, anyway, do you know? Lin-nux? Linux?"
I interjected "Well, its developer's name was Linus Torvalds, but both work."
The customer turned to me and said. "so you're familiar with it?"
"A little. Installed it a few times, have RedHat 6 at home. Not bad."
The shop owner shook his head.
"It's crap."
"What, RedHat?" I asked.
"Nah, Linux. Costs too much."
I said, "there are plenty of variants on the web for free download. It's open source, there's always new stuff being developed for it. Stable..."
"No, it's not," he said.
"Not been my experience," I replied. Something told me that an argument was about to begin, so instead, I began to walk back to the board bins.
"What can I help you with today?" he finally asked from the front.
"Was going to buy this card, but never mind," I replied. I put down the Adaptec board and walked out.
I just can't do business with someone who doesn't seem to know the territory, and something told me that this fellow was a diehard Windows/DOS guy, and he couldn't see past his OS of choice. The sad thing is, this is perhaps the only shop locally that still sells components for older PCs, but trust me, he is probably well aware of it. Hence, the prices.
It may have been wrong to confront him like that in front of a customer, and he looks like he could use the business. But just like used car salesmen in loud leisure suits, he just struck me as someone who no longer cared enough about the industry and instead was simply focused on his store's own survival, or, more to the point, a buck. My experience has always been that, eventually, they ruin themselves.
Sometimes, not soon enough.

/Rant

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Jon's picture
Jon
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Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 2804
One of my gripes about local

One of my gripes about local service places is that many charge for services they don't really know how to provide. I've dealt with people who had a shop do a virus/spyware scan on a Win98 system. They guy got charged over $70 and still had a system chock-full of crud. I have no clue what they ran, or if they even did run any thing at all, but they then tried to stick him for a copy of Norton System Works. I'm guessing they charged for a scan they didn't do, then tried to sell a copy of software to do the job for them and profit from both. I find some shops are nearly despicable. Then again, I used to go to some that were full of smart, friendly people who'd make a small repair for free, just so the customer might think twice and come back before they go to another shop.

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Joined: Jan 25 2006
Posts: 1
Geek Squad

This remebers me of geek squad. They ask to much for simple things. Spyware/virus removal between $70,- $60,- .Or learning you how to use a Ipod/digital camera. Honest i saw this add in the local Metro and they asked yes, $70,- for it. That is almost a budget digital camera!

I do the same stuff hardware removal/installation and just basic support for computer seniors. I ask $5,- to instal hardware and I give free advise/support for Linux/Windows systems..

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Reverend Darkness's picture
Joined: Dec 20 2003
Posts: 502
Prices...

The price of the equipment or service is only as much as the ignorant person is willing to pay.

The quality of service provided is only as good as the customer will allow.

For some reason, there has evolved a plethora of stores whose specialty is the selling over-priced junk by total jerks. Every time I encounter a place like this, I make my opinion of both heard...

... in my "outside" voice.

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astro_rob's picture
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Joined: Mar 19 2005
Posts: 320
Excellent Point

After my run in with that shop, I discovered that another hardware shop in town is still selling parts and keeping honest prices, but their main business is repair and support. Not sure about their prices for repair, but when I paid them a visit, I explained that I was just looking, and the guy behind the counter (who, unlike the barbeque sauce covered jerk at the other shop, was wearing a clean shirt and even looked as if he shaved and showered) said just to let him know if I needed anything. After I looked around, I went to head out and asked him what his thoughts were on Linux. He said "it's okay, not for everyone, but its okay."
"But isn't it expensive?" I asked.
He looked at me incredulously, "you do know what open source means, do you?"
I smiled. He figured out that I was joking, and we talked for a few minutes, and I brought up the other shop, and son-of-a-gun, if he didn't bring up those very points, Reverend.
Suffice to say, a good, honest shop. Who'd have thought?

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Jon's picture
Jon
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Spread the word! A good shop

Spread the word! A good shop deserves word-of-mouth from the local geeks. You gotta keep your parts suppliers in business.

As for Geek Squad mentioned above, anybody priced their "named brand" crud? I've seen 6' USB cables for $30 at BestBuy with their name on 'em. Egads! It's likely the exact same part as the $6.50 special from joe-blow mail order online... I've paid less for 16' USB 2.0 cable from WalMart.

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Joined: Feb 5 2006
Posts: 36
USB Cables

Yeah, even a Belkin one from the Apple store is less. I can only imagine what they'd charge for patch cords at Worst Buy. (I usually make my own patch cords from a spool of wire that my friend has).

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