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Simmy
10-13-2007, 07:53 PM
I built a computer for a guy in June 2006 and since building it, this customer has been nothing but a problem. I've been to his house ~10 times inside the warranty period (most of those times for free I might add) and every time the problem is a user error, virus or a software/driver issue. I have never found any evidence suggesting that the crashing/problem is caused by hardware and I've done plenty of hardware testing to make sure.

He text me at 8pm last night saying the PC doesn't work at all. It was a friday night so I decided not to get back to him until Monday. Then he rang me again this evening and left a message saying "the computer doesn't work...again" in a sarcy manner and that he's "getting fed up with the situation". I don't understand how he can say "...again" when none of the problems have been my fault. The last time I saw him was back in February (a self inflicted virus problem...again) and his attitude was really starting to get to me, so much so that I started talking back to him. But after trying to explain how it wasn't my fault he was getting all these viruses, he simply wasn't listening.

It occured to me this evening that his machine is no longer in warranty and I'm under no obligation to help him out. Has anyone dumped a customer before, so to speak? I'm not sure whether to phone up and say "you're obviously not happy with my service, I think it's best if you get the problem sorted elsewhere", or simply ignore his messages?

Any advice appreciated :) He is without a doubt my worst customer and I certainly don't enjoy my work when I have to deal with him.

Blues
10-14-2007, 02:56 AM
I would respond Sat. morning and inform him that his warrenty has expired as of when ever it did. I would tell him you can take a look but as this machine is no longer under warrenty he would have to pay your usual rates. You should make it clear when you can be out there and if that is not soon enough there is an extra fee for that. When/if he complains inform him of his other option to have someone else look at it. I would have no problem doing work on a persons machine I built but I would make it clear that anything non hardware related would be charged at my normal rates.

SandTech
10-14-2007, 04:35 AM
I agree Dont ignore him, thats worst you could do. Yes he is a problem customer at the same time remember he is a "customer", its part of business to deal with those people that need more help than the other.

On the other hand he should have been charged for every single time you go out for software issue.

focuz
10-14-2007, 05:25 AM
It doesn't matter what business you go into or what you do your always going to have problem customers... period

So you can't just ignore the ones your don't like, you just have to make it perfectly clear what you did and what the charge is for. If they don't like that then its their choice to go else where but you don't want to make that choice for them, its very bad for business.

Simmy
10-14-2007, 11:32 AM
Thanks for the replies.

On a couple of the jobs where I charged him, he took months to pay me. Even when he did eventually pay me he would grumble about it and make some snide remark when handing me the cheque :mad: You'd think he would at least appreciate all the free work I've done in the past.

The way I see it, as it's my company I can choose who I want to work for. It is one of the perks of being your own boss. Just like a pub can decide who they serve at the bar. But in this case I will tell him it's out of warranty, get his computer sorted and make sure I charge him.

gunslinger
10-14-2007, 04:37 PM
I think you should call him. If for no other reason than to tell him that he will be paying full price from now on. I have a customer like this who calls about 8-10 times a week because the website I made for him is not making him rich. I have started making him pay up front for everything because of late payment.

Bryce W
10-15-2007, 07:15 AM
An old trick that I used to use in the Web Development industry when I hit a bad client I would tell them that I am really busy and couldn't get onto it until <insert distant date>.
Or, I would bump my price up by quite alot. If they aren't happy with the price they'll go elsewhere and leave me alone. If they accept the new price working for them isn't as painful when your getting paid double. I'm not sure how well this would work in the computer repair industry since you probably have your prices all over the place.

If your happy to work with him as long as he knows he's got to pay. Just say something like "Sure, Id be happy to take a look at it. Just bring it in and we'll give it a look-see. However, since its now outside warranty we'll have to charge out regular price of $XX per hour. Is that ok?"

If he answers no: "We cant help you then, you'll have to find someone else."
If he answers yes, you've got another paying client.

Andyuk2007
10-15-2007, 10:37 AM
All my customers so far have been really nice people but its still early days for me. :)

Bryce W
10-15-2007, 01:09 PM
All my customers so far have been really nice people but its still early days for me. :)
Hehe, your in for some big surprises then. The good ones can turn nasty real quick. ;)

Simmy
10-15-2007, 01:23 PM
Well it turns out this thread wasn't necessary as I just went to the guys house and he was sound. He'd just moved house and he took great pleasure in showing me his new TV/speaker setup, so we ended up having a cup of tea and watching half of the matrix :D

The computer problem turned out to be the RAM, which I simply reseated and the PC booted. It must have been a result of moving house. I guess he was just in a bad mood when he left the voicemail voicemail on my phone or something.

I like your idea Bryce. I'll have to remember that for future troublesome customers.

Andyuk2007
10-15-2007, 01:26 PM
Well it turns out this thread wasn't necessary as I just went to the guys house and he was sound. He'd just moved house and he took great pleasure in showing me his new TV/speaker setup, so we ended up having a cup of tea and watching half of the matrix :D

The computer problem turned out to be the RAM, which I simply reseated and the PC booted. It must have been a result of moving house. I guess he was just in a bad mood when he left the voicemail voicemail on my phone or something.

I like your idea Bryce. I'll have to remember that for future troublesome customers.

ohh thats good then i'm glad it was a misunderstanding :D

The Goatboy
10-15-2007, 07:14 PM
Sounds great but did you charge for your services?

Simmy
10-15-2007, 08:01 PM
Yeah, I charged him for the hour :) I was there for just under 2 hours in total, but most of that was spent checking out his TV setup which I couldn't exactly charge him for. He also works for Legal and General investing other peoples money and he spent a while telling me ways to make the most of my investments - free advice can't be bad.

The Goatboy
10-16-2007, 09:43 PM
Well I guess you can't argue with that.

layoric
01-26-2008, 08:39 PM
Mine have been the type trying to get more out of me, or something for nothing. Just today I got a call from a guy about a used PC I'm selling. 5 times he called today, in the space of 2 hours. He wanted more memory, warranty, and he insulted me. He said, "Well, other techs out there are selling them with warranties, and you are a tech, if you call yourself that." Also said, "how about lowering the price, or giving me another stick of RAM."

I told him no, no, and no. I've sold other systems of the same for the same price. He was just very rude to me over the phone. What I told him was that he could just go to Walmart or somewhere else. It really irritated me later, so I set up my machine to leave him a private message if he calls back (based on his caller-id) saying that I'm not selling a computer to him.

I could just see problems in the future with this guy, so it's best to avoid them before they start. I'm with what another guy said. It's MY business, and I can do what I please. I don't have to answer to someone else, if someone's being an ass, they can go elsewhere - period. No more cow towing or whatever, those days are done.

devlynh
02-08-2008, 03:53 PM
This is a good tactic to use when providing work that is covered under warranty. Issue a invoice showing the total time ($) spend and the amount discounted to adjust the invoice to zero. This shows the customer the value of what they are getting and means being able to keep track of the time spent on a problem customer. Also when they do have to pay for non-warranty work they have already seen your rates for the warranty work.

Just my $0.02

Devlyn H.

hawks5999
02-08-2008, 06:18 PM
This is a good tactic to use when providing work that is covered under warranty. Issue a invoice showing the total time ($) spend and the amount discounted to adjust the invoice to zero. This shows the customer the value of what they are getting and means being able to keep track of the time spent on a problem customer. Also when they do have to pay for non-warranty work they have already seen your rates for the warranty work.


This is one of the best pieces of advice you can get... charge the customer for every single thing... show them every single expense they are incurring... and then show discounted to whatever you are actually going to bill them for. This is such a powerful move. If you don't do this, you devalue yourself in the eyes of the customer. In the case of looking at the home theatre setup and all that... charge for 2 hours on the invoice and discount the second hour with a comment (something like "great home theatre setup" or "thanks for the investment advice"). You want your customers to understand that if they call you out and then show you around their house and shoot the breeze that it is costing you money that you can't be billing to someone else. After an invoice showing that, they will consider your time more valuable at the next visit and enable you to move on and bill more (or stay and build a friendship if you so desire).

The company that I work for now implemented this practice during the last year because we did so much free work for our customers as a "value add". At least we saw it as a value add. They began to see it as expected behavior from us and would become reticent to pay for things that they considered to be "free". For example, we have some level of project management on every project, but often this is just viewed as our "cost of doing business". So we began to show them the cost, even if we discounted it out of the bill and the perception changed. This is for a company that did $15 million in services last year. If we need to do that, the smaller independent folks should do it as well to solidify their value.

IcedFalcon
03-03-2008, 05:01 AM
Simple solution. If a disgruntled customer uses abusive language or otherwise insults you refuse service. I cant tell you how many times working with the public that someone expects it to be their right to treat a private individual like dirt because they think its your job to put up with it.

As for the warranty side of business I only buy parts with manufacturer warranty. It is well documented for the customer and myself as to these expiration dates. I am happy to provide free service to replace defective equipment however I only personally offer 90 days parts and labor which means that after those 90 days any problem besides a total hardware failure is billed at the normal rate.

With or without a warranty document everything. If you get really clever you can deduct warranty service as a business expense and pay less tax. Always, ALWAYS get your customers signature on every document.

One problem that has bugged me both now and in the past is customers will buy a system and then move away. I had someone call me last week and had moved 30 miles away. When doing on site service I charge $1 per mile of travel if I travel more than 10 miles away.

I am also now looking into the best solution to image the clean install onto a disk. That way I can walk the customer through the process over the phone instead of having to make another trip.

PC ZONE
04-28-2008, 11:02 AM
I am a great believer in "Being Important/On Top" with out being a pratt, have confidence in yourself, stuff happens just deal with it and it doesn't always hurt to have that semi abusive/upset client (just depends on the volitile levels) just make sure you get back on top. I've had few clients that are quick to praise/rant i know their nature now and most of it is praise

When onsite take immediate control of the situation make out your important where neccessary kick users off computers whilst explaining why and in the nicest possible way, you are there at $$ an hour to fix their issue which is usually at an higher rate than staff wages,

I made the mistake of selling a cheap computer when i first started out (which has turned out quite good as i've learnt from my mistakes) The client had a existing HP printer from their 98 machine, XP had drivers installed the drivers all went well for 1 week from there it all turned the printer drivers were causing an issue and the computer would crash, tried explaining this to the client including showing the event logs e.t.c. to prove this, the client stated that computer was under warranty and was up to me to fix, with no updated drivers avaliable i was un able to do this yet client insisted it was my problem when i mentioned that there is no warranty for software issues only hardware the client in an almighty voice told me that was not so, eventually i refunded to get rid of client. This sale went against all policys i now have Cheap- client talked me into it, you know the "i only want it to do this i don't need much" 1st and last at that price, Onsite trying to deal/explaining with the same issue over again and not charging:(