Yesterday, I had a client bring their laptop into my workshop because it kept turning off after a certain amount of time. My first guess was that it was overheating as I have seen this kind of thing before. I booted the laptop into BIOS and sure enough, the temperature was slowly rising until it reached the 90 degree celsius range and shut down.
I flipped the laptop onto its back and saw the cooling fan and plenty of hair in it so I am assuming the heatsink is probably clogged like in this picture of a laptop I took about a year ago.
Now, the client had driven about 45 minutes to my place because they got a really good referral about me from their friend. I figured this wouldn’t take very long so I told them they can stick around while I clear it out (I have done this many times before). I took out all the screws I could see but the laptop case wouldn’t open. I looked a little more and found some hidden clips, undid them but it still wouldn’t open up. I searched under stickers and the rubber feet for screw holes but it still wasn’t opening.
I got online and downloaded the service manual to look at the tear-down guide. According to the guide I had found all the screws but it still wasn’t opening. I spent about an hour working on the laptop in total until I decided that it was no longer worth my time and gave up. I told the client that I couldn’t find the last screw and that I apologise for wasting their time. I felt bad because I was highly recommended by her friend so there was a little more pressure for me to perform.
They asked “How much will that be?” and I replied “Nothing”.
“Well, If I diagnose that something cant be fixed (parts are unavailable or whatever), I do charge because its not my fault it cant be fixed. However, if I cant fix something because its something I don’t know how to fix in this case, I don’t know where that last screw was, so I wont charge. Its not your fault that I don’t know”.
She was thrown back by this, as an accountant she knows that time is money and fully expected to be charged for the time I spend on it. Although I couldn’t help, she actually went away happy saying that she’ll recommend me to her friends that live down my way.
Its standard practice for tradesmen to charge for any bench time but I thought about what it could have been like if I was in the clients shoes. I drove 45 minutes, waited an hour, the computer is no better and they expected to be paid for this? Yeah right. I felt what I did was the right choice.
Anyway, that’s the story of how I failed but the client left happy anyway.