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Be careful in offering "favors" to help friends of family with PC issues

By ManiacMan ·
Rant to follow:

A few months ago, a family member from my wife's side of the family tried to put in a good word for me to one of her friends and stated that I "fix computers" and am very good at it. Now I appreciated the gesture and never turn down the opportunity to make some extra cash on the side, but I regret having dealt with these friends of family who have turned into more of a nuisance, as I'll explain further.

These friends were retired doctors, and even though they don't actively practice medicine anymore, they're still heavily involved in the medical community and collaborate with other doctors. Anyhow, I show up at their home at was immediately inundated with so many things to fix on their PC that it made my head spin. First of all, this doctor had loads of spyware and other junk on his PC, so I cleaned that up and optimized his PC, got paid, and left for the day. Not even a week goes by and he calls me back, stating that his 10 year old HP OfficeJet's scanner died and he needed a new printer. OK, so I recommended a new HP multifunction printer for him and he places the order for it. Not a day goes by and he calls me again, stating that he wants to buy a new computer as well because the one he has is running XP Media Center Edition and he wants XP Pro, so I recommended a PC from Systemax and he placed the order. He finally get's all the components in and calls me up to come in to temporarily setup his new printer to his old PC and at a later date, transfer his old files and applications to the new PC. Before I decided to stop by and do the data transfer, I had asked, or more on the lines of demanded, that he clean up his old PC of any files and other junk that he doesn't need anymore because I was going to run migwiz to transfer the data. Needless to say, I finally come in, assuming that he did all of that and he assured me that he has. I start running migwiz on the old PC and realize that it's going to take longer than I had expected. This doctor had over 100GB of ripped movies from DVDs'in DivX format sitting on his hard drive and of course, migwiz picked it up and started to process it. Realizing that he didn't clean up his machine as I asked, I told him that it would be best for me to take the two PCs' home so that I could complete the process and have the machine ready the next day. He stated that he was leaving on vacation for 2 weeks and would follow up and pay me after he gets back. Now this angered me because I expect to get paid for my time there and even offered to do this while he was away, but he was stubborn about it and told me that he'd pay me when everything is completed. I don't know about you, but I bet if his former patients didn't pay him on the day of the procedure, he'd be quite furious at them too. Nevertheless, he comes back from vacation and calls me up again, leaving a message. He is angry at me because I "misled" him into a buying a printer that can't accept faxes of over 1,000 pages as the paper tray only holds 250 sheets. He started claiming that he gets such large faxes (yeah and I'm Santa Clause) and that he was under the impression that the printer had memory and could store incoming faxes if it ran out of paper. I had responded to his email that if he wanted such functionality, he'd have to spend $15,000 on an office class multifunction device like a Cannon Copier with a built in hard drive, and that a $300 HP OfficeJet wasn't going to do it for him.

Needless to say, I got so angry that I decided to simply avoid him and let go of the fact that he owed me money for the time I spent fixing his problems and catering to silly requests. I'm not saying that dealing with all customers is like this, but this guy was truly strange in that he had some grand illusions of setting up his system to do more than it was capable of.

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by Oz_Media In reply to Be careful in offering "f ...

A few breaks to create paragraphs would be welcome.

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One problem...

by The Listed 'G MAN' In reply to Be careful in offering "f ...

The machine is HIS machine and the files BELONG to him. If he WANTS to keep his movies then he has the right to do so. Who are YOU to tell somebody their movies (or any other data) should not be kept or not.

100GB is not much data!

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I agree, but these were files from original movies on DVDs' he had on him

by ManiacMan In reply to One problem...

Migwiz took hours processing those large DivX files, which could have been reripped onto the new machine if you ask me, but that's not the point. The guy was a royal pain in the arse and was constantly calling me for things that were completely off the wall.

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I agree completely

by Bizzo In reply to Be careful in offering "f ...

A few years ago I got hold of about half dozen old pcs that work was going throw away. Not very good specs, but my plan was to install linux on them and network them. At this time I had never used linux, nor set up a network. So it was going to be a bit of a fun project and a learning experience too.

My girlfriend at the time (now an ex, but not for this reason! :-)) decided to tell her friends that I had these free pcs. And a couple of days later she tells me that this person wants a pc, that person wants a pc for their kids, etc. I then spent the next month or so building and delivering these machines to all of her friends, getting them all connected to the internet and so on.

At the end of it, I was left with two empty pcs, neither had memory, harddisks or anything, due to failures. And no-one paid me a penny! Why? I had got the machines for free, so they didn't see why they had to pay anything.

I think I was seriously taken for a mug! It was shortly after that I realised *she* was taking me for a ride.

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I bet she was counting in those notes as well

by The Listed 'G MAN' In reply to I agree completely

Why you were working for free and ending up with nothing.

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I think I knnow her

by Dumphrey In reply to I bet she was counting in ...

And I am almost positive I dated her sister.

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NNo Way!

by The Listed 'G MAN' In reply to I think I knnow her
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Does she

by Dumphrey In reply to NNo Way!

have these cutsy little horns, smoke alot, and offer you food in exchange for bits of your soul?

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I use to do

by Dumphrey In reply to Be careful in offering "f ...

basic stuff for friends at work in a previous job. I would do spyware removal, backups, OS cleanups, virus cleanup etc. And, I never charged. Heck, it was all learning experience, and I did it while at home, so no pressure. Anyway, it soon became apaprent that people just expected me to do this....
After I spent 8 hours cleaning up a frinds, mothers computer (she runs her own buisness form home, and could not aford to loose that data she had not backed up) that he nearly assasinated surfing bad porn, I kinda snaped.
I related to this mans (he was 31 at the time) mother EXACTLY what had nearly destroyed her livelyhood, and then recomended some new AV product (AVG) an external hard drive, showed her how to use windows backup, and told her under no circumstances should she ever let her sone use her computer again.
Well, my boss heard about what a great job I had done in saving the data, and wanted me to "rescue" her computer as well. Unfortunately it wa snow exam time... well, she was not very pleased when I said it would be several weeks befor I could get to it... she was the type to hold a grudge.

Luckily I found a new job several months latter...

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Fixing the boss's personal PC on company time. Major No No!

by ManiacMan In reply to I use to do

I too have found myself in such a situation earlier on in my career and have learned to say no to such things. If someone wants me to fix their personal PC, then it has to be done off company time and I will bill them accordingly as an independent consultant. I was young back then and a bit shy and naive, so I didn't balk at such a request or should I say "demand", but I've learned that such requests are blatant attempts to use company time for non business related things. When that boss had me work on his personal PC, I was trying to install a game for his kid and fix his screwy AOL install. Yeah, that sure was "business related". I don't do house calls anymore because I know of all the problems involved with people who expect too much for too little.

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