National IT & Warranty Companies – The Good and the Bad

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National IT & Warranty companies allow businesses access to a huge range of IT Professionals from all over the country. This means more work for us Computer Technicians, but some National IT & Warranty companies also have a dark side. In this article I would like to talk about dealing with “Nationals” and what to watch out for.

There are generally two types of Nationals. National IT Services allow businesses such as your own to hire Computer Technicians in other states, expanding their reach. The other type are National Warranty providers where a company can send you out to fulfill their warranty obligations. A typical client of a National Warranty provider would be a very large business that has warranty obligations to fulfill such as Staples. Staples primary focuses on office supplies but they also sell computers and peripherals. They don’t want to maintain a network of their own technicians across the country so they outsource this work to a National.

Nationals acting as the middle men will then refer work to a technician who is geographically close to the location of the work and take a cut of the profit. The obvious benefit of this to Computer Technicians is that we have work sent our way. It really sounds like it is win-win for all parties and I know some technicians who have had success with them. However, it doesn’t always work out that way. The good ones are good and the bad ones can be really bad. Here are some of the reasons that make the bad ones bad:

Lowballin’

A large problem with the National companies is that many of them allow the client to set the rate of the work that needs to be done. The rate is often so low than no legitimate Computer Business would waste their time accepting it. You would believe that the market would sort itself out when no one accepts the lowball jobs and forces the client to pay a higher price. However, this is often not the case as inexperienced and possibly unqualified technicians accept the work.

The client gets work done cheaply and continues to post lowball jobs driving technicians with real overheads out of the Nationals marketplace.

My Monitor Has A Virus

When a client needs some work done, the job gets put the onto the Nationals marketplace for techs to snap up or the National might even directly call a technician who is in the area. The client wants the work done at a price they specify and its up to the technician to either accept or reject the work.

The real danger here is the diagnosis of the initial problem. Have you ever had a client say that their computer has a virus only for you to go onsite and find out that it was a blown power supply? In most cases, the client’s initial diagnosis was wrong. When you are working for yourself and are being paid on an hourly basis, this is not a problem. You simply tell the client that the problem seems to be X and is not a virus. You let them know the costs of fixing X, get the go-ahead and fix the problem.

When you work for a National you have agreed to do a certain job at a certain rate, even though that is obviously not the issue. In some cases you can get approval to fix whatever needs to be done, but with some Nationals you are just the grunt who needs to do what they say. In some cases, the person with the failing hardware had to call a support line who diagnosed the issue over the phone and then sent you out with the appropriate parts. The diagnosis might be a little more accurate but it is still possible that they are wrong. The whole back and forth, getting approval and getting parts can get ugly.

Getting Paid

I have heard horror stories where technicians have gone onsite to do a very specific task with parts in hand, find out that the diagnosis was incorrect and are unable to fix the problem. Since the problem wasn’t fixed, the client isn’t going to pay the National and in turn the National isn’t going to pay you, even though you did exactly as they asked.

I have also heard of other payment horror stories where they take months to pay you and make you jump through all sorts of hoops. This is possibly a cash flow issue on their end.

So Should I Avoid National Service Providers?

I don’t believe you should avoid National Service Providers entirely. I know of many technicians who have used them to fill slow times in the day. Apparently, If you have a very specific qualification you might be able to avoid the majority of the issues I have pointed out in this article. If you are the only person in a certain area that is qualified to do a certain job, then you can call the shots and set the price you want.
The trick with working for Nationals is to build your business with your own clients and use the Nationals during slower times. If you don’t rely on them, you have the power to say “Pay my rate and I am happy to do the work. If not, see ya later”.

If you are doing some work with them for the first time, do not accept a large job to begin with and do not accept any more work until they have paid you for your first callout. Many technicians have had problems getting paid by certain Nationals.

If you need some work and want to do a job for a National, always research them first by searching for terms such as:
[name] scam
[name] complaints

Also search for the name of the National (or even just the word “nationals” using the search box in the top right corner of the Technibble site.

I would have listed the names of some of the better known Nationals here in this article but some of the mainstream ones have so many complaints against them that I wouldn’t dare mention them. So, I am going to send this question out to the Technibble community.

Which National’s have you worked for? Which ones were the best and which ones were the worst? Please leave us a comment in the form below.

As always, you do not need to sign up to leave a comment and you can even do so anonymously. Email/RSS readers will need to visit the site in order to leave comment.



Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (35)

  • Justin says:

    I have done work for Syntechs (they go by other names so be careful) they are based out of Boca Raton, FL and as a rule I will not touch any work based out of that area. If you want to see what kind of nightmare they can bring you, check out the website I set up to help all the others who were ripped off: syntechsripoff.com

  • Tim says:

    I have done work for Barrister Global and I will never do that again.

    They can’t diagnose a hole in the wall. When you get on site, and do your own diagnosis then come to find out you need a power supply, you call them and tell them you need a power supply. They ship it to the customer and then they have the nerve to not want to pay you for the second trip out there.

  • Notto says:

    I am not a fan of united warranty however as long as you do as they ask then it is usually fine and get the paperwork in on time :).

    COVERIT seems to be really good and easy to deal with.

    The main factor is “COMMUNICATION”.

  • I’d love to try my hand at taking in a few warranty repairs during slow times. I’ve never really thought about doing them, but this article raised my eyebrow at the idea. Is anyone aware of good warranty companies in the US? (I’m in California) Thanks!

  • Derek says:

    I’ve worked with a national IT warranty company now for over two years (Installs Inc.) and they are an over-all good company to work with.

    Pro: You get jobs sent to you with little effort.

    Con: You earn about 30% (or some times less) then the customer’s retail price.

  • Sam says:

    Hi,

    Anyone done this sort of work in the UK? Who did you do it through.

    Thanks
    Sam

  • I have done work for Barrister. They pay WAAAY to low They will HARASS you calling you 10-15 times to accept a work order even after you say no, yet still won’t go up on price. They misdiagnose often. And they pay extremely slowly 30-60 days…

    I have also worked for Contingent. They Have never paid me for a single work order. Their normal policy is to pay NET60!! But even wth that I and from looking online it looks like many many other have never received a dime. They owe me hundreds of dollars for “emergency” work. They are featured on ripoffreport…

  • Howard Rubin says:

    In years past, I answered a Florida company add on line, arranged myself work while visiting the Miami area. Over all, I had a good experience. I took about 5-6 appointments, drove an economy car, did my own diagnosis and quickly made repairs, but none involved hardware. I received a check at their office at the end of the week. I don’t remember the name of the company, but about 10 techs met at an office park, got our jobs for the day and then left… very simple.

  • Tony Pirog says:

    Got a call from “Geeks Home and Office” about a year ago. They told me to go to fix a computer for one of their customers. They seemed professional, I was happy with the rate they were offering, the customer was real, so I thought i’d give it a go. They kept emphasizing “DON’T STEAL OUR CUSTOMER!”

    I did the work, submitted my documents, and didn’t hear from them for 9 months, when they called to send me out again. Told him they never paid me last time. He didn’t call back.

    They got a good gig going. They get people to pay exorbitant prices, offer a fair price to the technician, and then they don’t pay up! How much sense does that make? If they paid us, they’d still make a goodly sum, and they’d be able to count on us in future. This way, they have to find a new tech every time they have a job. That’s just stupid.

    I ended up getting the customer’s repeat business. I see no reason to obey their rules if they won’t pay me for my services.

  • Doctor Micro says:

    I have done work for several National and Warranty companies, which I’ll decline to name here as some of my remarks will be disparaging and I would rather not have my comments come back to me regarding this or that specific company. That being said, here are my observations and experiences.

    – Rates: Most (but not all) already have a rate that they will pay you, and it’s generally less than what you would charge if you contracted the job yourself. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a LOT less.

    – Time: Many companies already have a set time estimate or limit that they say the job can be accomplished in and will not pay more than that, even if the job takes longer. Where this can bite you is if their time estimate is low to start with, the job turns out to be more complex than described, or you encounter delays caused by the end user. This latter is actually very common and you may spend an hour or more just cooling your heels waiting for the end user to grant you access to the server room, or to finish whatever they were doing, close their application and let you get on the workstation.

    Travel: Some pay travel time or mileage; most do not, though you can sometimes negotiate that if the end user site is a significant distance away from your base. I’ve been asked to do jobs that were as much as 90-100 miles away. If you accept one of these jobs, you can basically kiss a good five or six hours of your time goodbye for a one or two hour paid job.

    Parts: In addition to the comments above regarding the wrong part, beware of parts that are drop-shipped to another location and not the end-user site and you are required to make a side trip to pick them up yourself. I once had a job where the parts were drop shipped to the regional office, but the job was at a branch that was another hours drive away. Also it’s a good idea to make contact with the end user if you can to confirm that the parts have in fact actually arrived.

    Paperwork: Once you accept the job, you will either get a fax, email PDF or a website to log in to retrieve the paperwork for the job. Whatever you get, read it carefully and scan for any potential problems or issues. Get these resolved as much as you can before you actually go to the job site.

    Reporting: Most will require you to call a support number when you arrive, and then again when you are done and are leaving. Some jobs have more than one support desk to call; one for the National, and another for the end-user corporate support desk. Also be aware that most will require you to get a signature from an onsite representative. Failure to get this can result in delay of payment at best, or worse, not getting paid at all. You will also be required to complete and return the signed work ticket, which will also show the time you arrived, the time you departed and a brief summary of work performed.

    Representation: In almost all cases, you will be required to represent yourself as a technician from the National or Warranty Service company and are prohibited from soliciting jobs for yourself, or leaving your own business card. In my case, I have a vehicle that has my company logo on it, and I always made sure that it was understood that would be the vehicle I would be driving to the job.

    Tools: You will be required to arrive onsite with whatever tools will be required for the job. Sometimes the essential required tools will be listed in the work ticket, but in my experience, you should take your full field kit with you, as you never know what you will encounter once you arrive onsite.

    Payment: Be prepared to wait… and wait. ’nuff said.

    General thoughts: After doing work for several different National and Warranty Service companies, I’ve come to the conclusion that in general, it’s really not worth the time and trouble unless you’re really desperate for work. You are at the end of a long payment chain, getting only a modicum of payment and doing all the work. You have no idea what the end user is paying and if you did, you’d probably be shocked. Another way the National and Warranty Service companies sometimes make money is by padding the time; i.e., they cap you at one hour and charge the end user for two hours. End user clients rarely audit their work tickets versus consolidated invoice, if ever, so they get away with it.

  • Dave says:

    After being ripped off and dealing with slow pay issues we have decided to NEVER do any third party service work as it just isn’t worth the constant hassle.
    Barrister Global takes MONTHS to pay you (if they pay you at all). They constantly call and harass every shop in the area because NO reputable shop will work for them.

    I look at the issue like this:
    Their customer made the decision to buy their low quality, low price P.O.S. computer/printer from a discount retailer instead of buying a bit more expensive, high quality unit from my store. Their customer got suckered into purchasing a crappy service contract that is serviced by low quality, mostly unqualified “technicians”. (my so called “competition”) Those are NOT my customers in the first place and if that customer want’s his P.O.S. properly repaired then he will pay me a fair service fee to do it otherwise he is on his own as far as I am concerned.

    I am quite happy to let my so called “competition” run his butt off doing service for next to nothing (when he get’s paid at all!) because in the long run I am making over THREE TIMES the income that he is dealing with the third party service companies.

  • Patrick says:

    I have done work for:
    Syntechs – D+
    Barrister – C-
    Install It Today – B
    OnForce – B+
    Nexicore – A-
    Field Nation – C
    Prism Pointe Tech – D-
    Captovis – C-
    Gurus2Go – B+

    The ones that are C and below, I don’t really travel for and really force them to raise their rates or to go without. The rest, I can work with, but everyone has their own issues and their own circumstances.

    Patrick
    The Computer Guy

  • sebell69 says:

    Hi ……….. Can you post some of the names of the companies like in a list with one side the “good” and the other side the “bad” I would like to see if the 3 companies that I currently scratch a living off right now fall under the G or the B 8P

    thanks

  • Patrick says:

    Most of the techs that I’ve known who have had some problems with companies, don’t know how to work a Fed Ex label and put it on a box and mail back the old parts. I can understand why they are all pushing for background checks lately.

  • Tony says:

    I don’t recall the name, but a year ago or so I answered an online ad, got a call the next for a phone interview, seemed legit. I was emailed over all the paperwork and contract to sign. That’s when I did some research online, from the few articles I found, they were ok, some did complain of long payment times, etc but after reading the contract, the fine print said I was not allowed to do any tech related work on my own in their service area, that’s when I bailed and said no thanks. They emailed me a few times asking if I was still interested, I said no and that was that.

  • Rob S says:

    We do work for a couple of these companies.
    Decision One:
    Good company to work for. They will provide computer based training, tech support and special tools needed for repairs.
    Low pay (but aren’t they all)but they pay on time.

    Logical Maintenance Solutions:
    High volume of calls.
    Hard to work for. Too many rules to trip you up.
    Low and slow payment.
    Last time they called they wanted us to reduce our rate to them. We said no, they have not called back since then.

    Barrister:
    We fired them.

    Rob S

  • bluesoleil says:

    I’ve done 20 jobs for Barrister, and have been paid for every single one of them. There are definitely some horror stories out there, but following their instructions precisely (and calling or emailing when things seem to have gone wrong) I’ve never had a problem.

    The diagnosis is often wrong, but Barrister doesn’t diagnose anything. The customer calls their company be it HP, Gateway, Staples, Walmart, Emachines, who tell Barrister what needs to be done and they contract the work out. I’ve not had problems getting paid for both trips.

    They do definitely use unqualified techs though. They cold called me initially when I set up my own small business more as a learning experience/hobby than a serious source of income. I have no structured training or certifications, haven’t taken the A+ yet, and they didn’t even ask. Though I believe if a tech screwed up they’d be out.

    If you decide to work for Barrister, don’t use their speedpay system/give them your bank account numbers, and follow all your work order statuses closely.

  • Patrick says:

    I’ve not had big issues with Barrister, it’s just that I won’t go out of my way to take one of their calls.

  • nrkmann says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned any recourse…

    State Attorney General
    BBB
    Mechanics Lean

    Any of these can cause a company real headaches.

  • Russel says:

    Sounds like if u made a good bill chasing database to handle chasing up late payments, u could employ a kid to do all the crappy jobs they send and take a slice off the top.

  • Mark says:

    I looked into doing this a few years ago when I was just starting out and quickly came to the conclusion that the companies I looked at are really made for pizza techs and people desperate for money. No way am I going to drive 30 miles to change out a mother board for $50 bucks.

  • Appleby says:

    I’ve voiced my opinions many times on the forums, so I don’t want to get into it all here. I don’t like saying alot of bad things about certain companies in a public arena, so I will keep this fairly short.

    I’ve worked for several of the 3rd party warranty companies and have rarely if ever had a good experience. I would say that if I had to pick the “best” company, that would be Nexicore. At least they pay on a consistent basis. Barrister would be the worst by far.

    I do not recommend these jobs to anyone unless you are flat broke and don’t mind risking very slow pay or not getting paid without alot of emails and phone calls. Again, not every company is that way but some are. Also, do not expect the jobs to be as easy or as quick as described when you get the work order.

    While they all demand that you not tell them you own your own business I explained to every rep. that called me that I would not lie. If asked I would tell them but I wouldn’t offer the info without being asked. I’ve been asked on almost every job. I’ve yet to ever receive repeat business from one of these people. I did have one lady call me one time about doing some work for her and when I quoted her a service call price she balked and said no way. I haven’t had that happen 5 times with anyone else in over 5 years.

    I don’t think these companies do us any favors by trying to pay us beans compared to fair market rates and most will ask you to drive long distances for no extra money. I just can’t recommend these jobs to any experienced tech.

  • Thanks for the informative article Bryce. So far I have not worked with a national warranty company but I may in the future.
    Thanks.

  • RickyP says:

    I don’t know any legitimate Tech who would work for these low ball wages and I don’t have any pity for anyone who lost money from these scrupulous firms. By accepting these meager wages you are hurting the entire industry

  • pceinc says:

    I took a few jobs from Nexicore a few years ago. Misdiagnosed the first 3 jobs they sent me to. The fourth job was to reconnect a floppy cable the previous tech left disconnected after a motherboard replacement. In all cases the client was very upset with the entire process. Imagine taking a day off work to have your computer fixed and the guy shows up with the wrong part. I never took the 5th job because I was afraid of getting bad publicity from it. All jobs were in my area and a few of the clients had used my services in the past. They agreed to pay my regular rate of $75 per hour at the time but it was not worth the hassle. If you are growing your business and value your reputation be very careful taking this type of work. If you are a single tech you can probably make a decent living and set your own hours but you wont get rich.

  • crabig says:

    I’ve done work for two of the nationals. Gurus2Go, and PC SOS. Both of them paid in a timely manner (10 days for G2G, and 21 days for PC SOS). The rate isn’t great, but it does help fill in the gaps, and PC SOS even pays for up to an hour of travel.

    I did a lot of work for G2G around here during the BP spill cleanup. They were setting up remote offices for the cleaning crews, and I would go into the the site and set up an “Office in a Box” that consisted of a Cradlepoint aircard router, 2 Sprint Aircards, and 1 or 2 HP network laser printers. Also, I was expected to setup all the onsite laptops onto the Wireless LAN. There were several times I spent half a day on a site, and never once did I have a problem getting paid from them.

  • Thank you for the post. its very informative.

  • Howard Rubin says:

    As this column reaches technicians around the world, when you publish your results, please specify if the company referenced is Global or country specific? This would save some of us time looking for work in our own areas of residence.

    Me? I’m looking for companies that service Brazil. Compaq/HP and Dell are sold here, so I assume they call third parties to do the service. US Dollars and Euros look mighty good considering the current exchange rates.

  • Sam says:

    Yeah, would like to hear about some experiences about anyone working with companies in the UK.

  • Ivan says:

    Thanks for this info.

    For me this is very good and important at this timebecause my full income will comefrom my new business. I have found everyone of the posts very helpfull.

    Question though,

    I submited my application to Gurus2go and was accepted,but it says YOU HAVE NOT COMPLETED A BACKGROUND CHECK!

    PLEASE PERFORM YOUR BACKGROUND CHECK TODAY TO RECEIVE ACCESS TO PREMIER SERVICE REQUESTS AND ACCOUNTS!

    Is this really all right or is it a scam.

    Thanks

  • farhan qasim says:

    i have started my repair business 6 months ago but i have not earned any income, i caught this article about national it & warranty companies how do i go about obtaining contracts so i can get my business started somewhere?

    appreciate all the help and advice

  • David S says:

    I’ve done some work for one company involving upgrading a chain hotel’s local network and that went well. Recently I was called by another company that at first I was ready to deal with because they offered to pay more than what I would charge, but when I looked at the contract I saw that I wasn’t allowed to let their customers know I have my own repair business. Why should I promote someone else’s business and keep quiet about my own when I offer a better price and have plenty of competitors locally??

  • Farhan Qasim says:

    I need serious help with getting my business up and running, I have tried all types of advertising and my main focal point is the residential area in my state, but I am not getting any response of any kind please help