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DOWNLOA Ten ways to decline a request for free tech support

By Bill Detwiler Editor ·
Requests for free tech support often catch you off guard and your first instinct is to accept the task. But taking on a free support job is often a significant commitment and can be a real headache. When someone makes an unwelcome request for free tech support, use a response from this list to politely, yet firmly decline the job.

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We've all been there

by Jeff Dray In reply to DOWNLOAD: Ten ways to dec ...

sometimes even geeks need to have a day off, try some of these excuses for getting out of doing free tech support without offending too many people.

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I like the "Malpractice" gambit.

by dncbrady In reply to We've all been there

I try being truthful, and tell the folks that "I'm not insured
for outside work." It's to the point and most are
understanding, and, it's the truth. It's tough to get
straight answers to problem issues on the job, and one
wrong turn on a private machine could be worse - and
more expensive.

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Number 6 was OK

by Absolutely In reply to DOWNLOAD: Ten ways to dec ...

The document should have been called "Ten ways to be more polite than the #%$%^&! who treats your expertise as his/her personal resource. I learned what I know so I could get paid, not so I could do volunteer work for people who haven't bothered to learn how to use their own tools.

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Take the money and run

by mensaguy In reply to DOWNLOAD: Ten ways to dec ...

Get a business license, take the PC home, fix it, bring it back with a bill. Be sure to charge the same rates as the computer shop downtown, and don't forget to add taxes. I only work for free when I choose to do so.

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Free is sometimes better

by PhCh In reply to Take the money and run

My prefered option is to say no to most requests, and those I feel like doing I do for free. That way it's a favour and I therefore feel under no obligation to provide follow up support. Once there's money involved I'd feel duty bound to continue supporting the work I'd done.

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"Do someone a favor and it becomes your job."

by cp7212 In reply to Free is sometimes better


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Ain't that the truth!

by Does not Compute! In reply to "Do someone a favor and i ...

I once made the mistake of helping one of my users (or internal customers as we like to call them!)now I regularly find PC's left outside the Comms room door in the morning only finding out why they are there later in the day when the user comes and asks me if I have had time to fix it!
Have to resist the temptation to place it in the skip and claim that I thought it was scrap!

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That happened to me,

by Jeff Dray In reply to Ain't that the truth!

Only it was a VCR that was left by my desk. Of course a qualification in PC building works for VCRs, sandwich toasters, TVs, Radios, you name it we cover it!

So after a week of asking around about whose VCR it was and getting no answers, I took it home and plugged it in. It didn't work so I took it back and dumped it. 2 minutes later enter irate managing director aaking why I had slung out his VCR without telling him.

Explained situation, took top off VCR, replaced blown fuse on main board, became hero for five minutes.

what got me was the lack of explanation, the thing appeared out of the blue, and nobody would claim it until it was in the skip.

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Re: Do someone a favor and it becomes your job.


I agree on this one. Just because it's my job does not oblige me to provide free tech support to my friends, family, or co-workers. I have a friend who is a professional auto painter and would never consider asking him to paint my truck for free.
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Good point. Why only our professional is expected to do this?

by TomSal In reply to Re: Do someone a favor an ...

I was just thinking as I read through these posts...when I think about it..I never hear any of the people I know (friends or family) who are in other occupations get asked to provide their services for free.

I don't hear anyone ask my friend who is a mechanic to fix cars for nothing. I don't hear anyone ask my brother who is a plumber and has a boiler license to fix their plumbing disasters for free. Or even hear folks ask my fashion designer friend to make outfits/clothes for free.

So why on earth is it like "expected" for US in IT to be charity givers when if you asked other professions they'd be like "You have got to be kidding me right?".

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