Unless someone specifically pays for support, I usually don't actively support a PC I've built after a few months (a year at the most). This is especially true of a client's PC doesn't boot after 2 years.
I had a client call me today to look at her PC because it “wouldn't come on.” I know this person pretty well so I agreed to look at it without a charge. As I ran through my usual diagnostics I pondered what I would tell this person if I couldn't get the PC to work as intended.
Troubleshooting the PC
Here's what happened:
- Her PC did not show a display
- The motherboard did not display error codes on boot
- Tried boot without devices connected, still a black screen
- Tried a HDMI cable instead of DVI-D cable (yes the graphics card had multiple connections)
- Removed the hard drive and tested it, it works fine
- After more of our conversation when by I discovered the client recently moved
- I reseated all PCI(e) devices
- Voila, the PC display worked
Everything Was Fine
As it turns out the computer works fine. As you may have already imagined, the graphics card was loose and was not able to output the display to the monitor.
The client was friendly and I was especially friendly. The client thanked me for my help and I said it was no problem. Everything turned out perfectly.
The dilemma that I alluded to earlier arises from the unreasonable expectation that computer techs should be able to fix anything no matter what and no matter how long it has been. I usually run into the people that think IT people are not professionals. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they think we are not even real people. I have yet to see a profession where you can go back to the company/person/service person and pressure them to fix something, especially after a warranty/service period.
It may sound like I’m ranting. I’m not. I’m simply stating that when you make a service call:
- Try to get as much information as possible on why the computer is not working anymore
- Be friendly, courteous, and helpful
- Don’t be afraid to charge for your visit. Whether or not you do is up to you. Just because you built or serviced their computer at one point in time doesn't mean you are said person's pocket tech. Tell your client that you are unable to fix their computer for free, especially if it’s way after your original service date
So tell me, if you get a call from a client and this client's PC doesn't boot after 2 years, how will you handle it? Did you agree with how I handled it?