General discussion

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  • #2174434

    Say no to Free “IT Advice”


    by freeozraelised ·

    As an IT Adminstrator I get a lot of staff members asking for advice on their home computers.

    What will be a nice way to say “No” to free advice.

    At present it is involving some staff members and a partner.


All Comments

  • Author
    • #3173414

      evil, nasty idea..

      by jaqui ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      hand them the heaviest, thickest, most technically complex manual on computers you can lay your hands on.
      then say, look it up youself.

      • #3174714

        …then tell them…

        by lwebb ·

        In reply to evil, nasty idea..

        …then tell them you read it and that’s why you charge $100/hour without guaranteeing squat…and GET IT.

        P.S. You don’t take checks or CC. CASH Only, half up front.

        • #3178927

          Helping Hands

          by tmcal ·

          In reply to …then tell them…

          I can not believe that you are still beating this dead horse. Sounds to me like IT feels they are above or better than everyone else. The next time you need help or assistance with something hopefully your co-workers will not want to charge you for their help or advice.

        • #3178895

          Obviously you’re not in IT.

          by jmiguy ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          I get multiple co-workers stopping me in my tracks many times during a day to ask for free tech support. I get non-stop calls at home and at work from friends, family, aquaintances, and co-workers asking for free tech support.

          I’ve spent thousands of dollars on schooling and I’ve spent many years of my life learning this trade.

          For anyone to assume they should get free tech support just because they know me is extremely rude and un-thoughtful. These people need to be set straight right away, even if the same rude behavior has to be thrown right back at them.

          IT workers are specialists and should be treated as such. If any of my co-workers can provide a valuable service or valuable advice, I’m more than happy to compensate them, and would never consider asking them for free help.

          The next time you go to the doctor, why don’t you try and ask for some free medical help! Ask your doctor if he or she thinks he or she is above everyone else.

          Doctors shouldn’t charge people either for giving medical advice in you world. Please get real!

        • #3178856

          I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          by cswearingen ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I agree with tmcal. this is a DEAD horse. Just because we went to school for our degrees and certificates does not make us superior to others.

          I get lots of people asking for advice on computers and I give it to them. It’s ADVICE. Advice is NOT a service and should not be charged. My Dr. friend is also more than willing to give ADVICE to people around him.

          When Dr. friend was asked to look at another friends arm after she fell of a swing set he advised that they go to the ER and have it x-rayed as he thought it might be a break. They went and he was right. Took less than 5 minutes of his time.

          If people want service that’s another story as service entails more of your time and skills than advice. Be up front with them. Point them to sites, books and/or other PC service shops that can help them. If they still want you to fix it come up with either a fee schedule or a quid-pro-quo arrangement (I’ll fix your PC if you help paint my house, etc.).

          Remember, there’s a difference between advice and giving free tech support.

          They say I have ADD but they just don’t under.. HEY A CHICKEN!

        • #3178811

          matter of frequency

          by aglv01 ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          When you are asked to provide advice two or three times a day, it’s OK, Matter of threshold. you don’t feel it cumbersome to provide advice. When it’s 10 to 15 or more times a day, when they invade your life, when they call at 9:30pm when you’re trying to sleep the kids…

          Think again, maybe the horse is not as dead as you think!


        • #3178797

          Frequency of the requests is a very good point

          by cswearingen ·

          In reply to matter of frequency

          If you’re getting harranged (sp?) to the point of not being able to get your work done then it’s a problem. This point is very important.

          But this horse is still dead. This topic has been brought up multiple times in past threads. The answers have always been the same “Do it if you’re a decent human being” and “Don’t do it if you’re getting exploited”.

          Bottom line is that freeozraelised needs to figure out where his/her priorities lie and go from there.

        • #3177890


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to matter of frequency

          I agree with you, but each of us as individuals establish boundaries based on our personalities and actions. If people feel that they can do this as often as suggested there must be a reason behind it. The fact that the poster felt the need to post the question here indicates to me that he can’t or is afraid to establish his boundaries. The topic of this thread is not something that should require outside advice.

        • #3176865

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to matter of frequency

          That is a matter of setting rules. Like with my company, if I get a call after working hours and I have to go in, I charge Holiday Rates because it is not a requirement for me to come in unless there is a mess. And If I have to think on my time about work or do work related things, then that is different.

          As soon as we start talking shop or start brainstorming, I am on the clock and I charge accordingly.

          If I have one of those people asking for one of those “gotta sec for a quickie question,” and it winds up being a three hour conversation, then we have a problem. And I tell all of my techs that if it takes more than 15 minutes, table it.

          THe note has gone out to call the tech or put a call in on their company computers, and not to bother them on personal stuff, but the fact of the matter is that I can’t stop people from asking.

        • #3176846

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by carrie.elsesser ·

          In reply to matter of frequency

          I do not mind giving advice or suggestions as I have asked for it in the past. You just have to know when to draw the line based on situation.

        • #3178807

          Re: I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice …

          by ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          > Remember, there’s a difference between advice and
          > giving free tech support.

          That is correct. I don’t mind giving advice but it really pisses me off when someone wants me to go out of my way to come fix their computer for free. I even had someone complain that they had to pay for the parts needed for repairs. Talk about ungrateful!

        • #3177785

          Talk about ungrateful

          by netwerkingnut ·

          In reply to Re: I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice …

          I agree with this point! Daily, I have people who come to me for advise…this I don’t mind, because they also know I’m a reseller too and will give them good prices on what they need. The ones that really get my goat are those who expect me to spend my entire day piecing their XP Home ed. back together and get them back up AO-Hell and then had the audasity to hym & haw when I charged them added expense to the parts that I ran down the store for (you know gas money!).

          I, too, have spent thousands of dollars on my degrees and certifications and feel I have the right to set my boundaries between free advise and free work. Be bold in your stand, but don’t burn the bridge! Once you rot one apple, you might as well throw out the basket, because word will spread faster than gossip that you’re an ungrateful yahoo for not being willing to “help”. Trust me, I’ve been there!


        • #3178721

          It’s more than advice

          by oneshotstop ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          The problem is not the giving of advice. It is being interrupted constantly, both in and out of the office. Helping out a person is fine. But when you have 200 people wanting help, it gets to be too much. I can’t go to the bathroom without getting questioned about this or that. People need to understand that IT people don’t like to talk shop 24hrs a day.

        • #3177915

          Totally agree

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to It’s more than advice

          My boss summed it up like this:

          “Lew, repeat after me…
          This is the only word you need to know.
          It’s my personal favorite word.
          Get used to saying it.
          You’ve got Servers to run and printers to install I can’t have you yakking about people’s spyware problems all day…
          If you don’t cut them off, they’ll never leave you alone.”

        • #3177886

          Advice can be a problem

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to It’s more than advice

          I used to tell people ‘buy a Dell’ or buy an HP.
          Nowadays their service for non-IT depts borders on the ludicrous (goto or and select dell, read revu’s)

          So even a quick advice of what to buy or do is bad if the person then gets ticked off at you.

          And many people simply want you to verify their decision then go do what they want.

          I tell them instead to goto review sites and read up on what they want to buy and the seller. As long as I can do it quickly without them taking a bunch of my time.

        • #3176932


          by jshtcm213 ·

          In reply to It’s more than advice

          Exactamundo… We do do not like to talk shop 24 hours a day. Right on, The worst part is, I have never recieved any kind of “real” gratitude from people that Ive fixed their technical problems. A little money would be nice, after all I am saving them money… (cheapskates)

          Before, i use to love to fix peoples problems because I wanted to be able to troubleshoot anything. Now, Im not learning anything and its turning out to be hassle more than anything.

          From now own, I will only help someone if they truly want to learn or if they are the kind of person that is thankful. Actually you know what, im just sick and tired of this free IT help. Its crap. If you got the internet, then use it. People dont realize how easy it is to learn and look up stuff? know what i mean

        • #3177958

          I don’t tell people what I do

          by lcave ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          When people ask what I do. I tell them anything, but that I’m in IT. I’ve been in this business for 25 years and after a 60-hour week, the last thing I want to do is work on a pc….including my own.

        • #3177917

          You’re absolutely right Chris

          by blueknight ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          I will give advice if I have the time. If I don’t have the time, I’ll make a quick suggestion as to what I’d start looking for/at and suggest they visit certain web sites or pick up a copy of a certain tech manual. I am never rude or short with people as most respondents to this question seem to be from their posts.

          Back when I started in this field, everyone shared information, solutions etc. and offered suggestions to anyone who asked. It was that free exchange that made IT such a great field to be in. It still is, but not to the degree it was many years ago.

          Many of the responses I’ve read in this thread explain why society has slid to the level it’s at today. Remember, you may need assistance yourself one day. “Give and it shall be given unto you.”

        • #3177792

          Just Be Nice

          by tech_guy1 ·

          In reply to You’re absolutely right Chris

          I will usually help anyone out that asks. A couple a day isn’t a problem. Even multiple people asking a few questions I don’t mind about. It is the one person who will ask you a question in the hallway, then ask you a question in the aisle, while your in the restroom, and then barge in and interrupt you while you are in the middle of a conference call to tell you that the suggestions you made didn’t work and demand another option. When it becomes to affect your job and performance or your personal life, you just need to tell them no. Otherwise help them out. With the example above, I just straight up told the guy,”I have a job here and I have work to do. It is my first responsibility to make sure the systems are working correctly. If I have time I am willing to help, but a can’t stop what I am doing to help on personal matters.” Since then, he asks a couple questions here and there and sometimes will fire me an e-mail. You have to limit the questions at some point or people will take advantage of it.

        • #3177878

          Take it to the shop…

          by overcharge ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          My wife is a Family Nurse Practicioner, with her own practice. Between the two of us, we can’t shop in town without getting buttonholed by a patient, client, or whatever, continuously. Shopping at WallyWorld, even at 2AM, has gotten bad.

          Best thing I can suggest: Tell your boss that the requests for help are getting out of hand, that you are creating a pt business, and that your comment will be, “Bring it to the shop.” If he agrees, it’s extra income, it shakes out the cheapskates, and it ends 50% of the interuptions.

          Oh yeah, my wife’s reply is: I don’t have your chart, so I can’t verify history. You need to call and make an appointment.

        • #3184009

          It is a matter of principle

          by wmarr ·

          In reply to Take it to the shop…

          Ok,since you are getting paid for IT services, and your co-workers want “free” services, they had better shop elsewheres.
          Here is an example of one of my favourite responses. “Seems you might have a bug AKA virus of some sort. Can’t say for sure until I get your computer on my work bench. I usually charge (price per hour) but I can give you a break on that if it is something serious.)Just send your computer to me and I will gladly check it out.”
          That usually works, and anyone willing to pay for your time will get you to fix it and pay you. The break?? No break, how do they know how long it will take to fix. I usually use my hourly rate as a benchmark, and then tell them what the total bill is once it is fixed. But try to be reasonable, after all they are your co-workers.

        • #3177772

          Yada, Yada, Yada.

          by thumper1 ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          That’s how I feel sometimes. Family, friends and casual acquaintances all depend on me for computer help. I wish I could get buy with simple advice, unfortunately, I screwed up and started working on some of these systems.

          The three absolute truths of computer repair:
          1) He who touches is last, loses.
          2) No good deed goes unpunished
          3) The truth, while interesting and amusing, is totally irrelevant. Perception is everything.

          For number 1 ? the first time you touch the keyboard, that system becomes YOURS from then on. Every time it burps, you will get a call and be expected to fix it. This is caused by Number 2 and 3.

          Recently, I was asked to install a CD rom drive on a relatives system. I said I don?t want to do that. When asked why, I said ?I don?t want to be married to your system. Please understand, if I didn?t have to eat or sleep, I could spend every waking nanosecond of my time working on computers,? Yea, it pissed him off.

        • #3177694


          by dawnmms ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          Very well put!

        • #3176965

          For those of us who don’t know how to say HELL NO!

          by rayjeff ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          this goes to the posts about “I’m IT. have Dr. Friend…”. I have a co-worker I usually get tons of questions about something wrong with her laptop or even her office computer. Now, you would think that I should say “HELL NO!” all the time she comes to me. But, she has been helping me tremdously with her area. She’s a college professor with a Ph.D in Psychology and a licensed therpist. So, whenever I have a bad day, I can always go to her and talk about anything. Even a few of the professors/instructors in my own division have asked me for advice/tech support. I’m a sucker for just sharing my knowledge…I admit that. But, they will always do something nice for me like leave a thank you card for at my desk when I come in or something like that.

          I don’t know. In order for people to not be so afraid of the little box, they have to be educated. Whether it’s taking a class or walking them through it by them asking for free tech support, it brings them one step closer to learning to solve “simple and easy” problems themselves.

        • #3176840

          Worst of both worlds

          by edenton ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          I seem to get the worst of both worlds. I am an IT person of a large hospital.
          I get calls from people at work asking if I can “come over” and fix a home pc, and I get calls at home from friends asking for medical advice.
          My job requires me to have a fairly high level of understanding of medical care, and I am also a EMT. I don’t mind fixing my sisters computer or explaining a question from her doctor. I will always give emergency care if needed.
          I don’t like the calls at 11:30 at night even thou the caller knows I was sleeping. No one calls their mechanic at 3:00am for a “quick question” and it would be unthinkable to call a lawyer at 4:30 in the morning on a Saturday to ask about a small point in a contract. If you do call your lawyer, you are charged accordingly.
          Why am I called because your mouse is a little jumpy, or “I opened an email and now I think I have a virus!”? Turn off the #@!$% computer, go to sleep and call me at a normal time. Better yet, don”t call me, call Tech Support for your computer! You paid for a 3 year plan, USE IT!
          Even worse are the sick kid calls. When I say to call their doctor, they say they don’t want to wake them up. Doctors are on call. I am not.

        • #3176818

          advice is free, not support

          by tony_moey ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          i agree with you 100%, people in open source movements give free advice all the time,that doesn’t mean they don’t want to charge, it’s just that it helps enhance their own knowledge. When your friend asks you to personally troubleshoot his computer, then it’s time to talk money.

        • #3176765

          I have to agree advice is different than service…

          by bill ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          I’ve read most of the replies in this chain and I have to agree that it can be a pain having everyone expect free service. The key here is that “advice” is different than “service”. One of the best replies put it best, advice is asking a friend or colleague a question with a brief answer. That’s fine and in most cases, the right thing to do.

          If however this changes to making a house call, taking someone’s machine and performing a lengthy “disinfection” this is a totally different story. I know, I get sucked into this all the time. I’m an engineer and design and build systems for a living. The problem is that people think because you do that you would be happy to take care of their problems.

          The solution is not complex and doesn’t have to make you come off as rude. First, decide if you really want to “just help” or start offering a paying service. If paying service is the way you want to go then be prepared to say “you know, this is going to take me hours to do. I would be happy to do this but my rate is $XXX”. I find that people that trust you would rather pay you than the Geek Squad or Dell or some other large organization.

          That said, if you want to build a service based business you should be prepared to offer “some” free advice, especially to friends. Think of this as both goodwill and marketing.

        • #3117431


          by hermit47 ·

          In reply to I have to agree advice is different than service…

          I work locally for an electronics service that targets home, personal, and small business users bill@ expresses how I need to cope with family and friends perefectly.

          Family and close frinds always ask for the “Quick solution” to problems. I am always placed in positions of evaluating the need to charge for time or count it as help “off the cuff” so to speak. The line I draw is verbal advice counts as an advertising tool, or hook to draw the client relationship. If I am asked to do the work I make sure people realize that I am on the clock at that point. Family gets a discounted rate, which creates the impression of a win win situation to them. I get to be the hero, they get the help they need at a discount.

          Those who work in IT departments could help themselves by remembering that since their time and education is valuable, it is only right to expect fair pay for it. Doctors regularly give advice and sometimes sample medications to those in real need, knowing that when the real emergency comes, they will be the one called for the work to be done. So decide on a fair price structure, that either would appeal to the querents if you like helping; or discourage if you want some down time. Make it known to all, and if the boss thinks you are moonlighting? Explain exactly why it is necessary to do it.

        • #3176728

          Dangerous Advice

          by super_it_mom ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          Yes, but Doctors are sued every day for “free” advice they give. I wonder when that will trickle down to us………….

        • #3185497


          by knightheart ·

          In reply to Dangerous Advice

          I sincerely doubt you have anything to worry about. I can’t see someone standing in court and demanding damages because “I cain’t git no porn on AOL since he done touched my compudder.” Besides, you could always claim the advice wasn’t followed properly…there are more realistic things to worry about, so I wouldn’t bother being concerned over this.

        • #3132242

          Advice is all they get!!

          by wvcomment ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          I too have faced the issue of free tech support for home computers. I used to go to peoples home’s (some I considered very good friends) to fix problems or troubleshoot their computers, but it soon got to the point were it was expected. Anytime someone had a problem they just dumped it on me. I got lots of invitations for dinner but always at a price. Finally I stopped. People asked and I told them flat out NO!! I told them why.. because I felt I was being taken advantage of.
          Now I freely give advice, people ask questions, I will try to get answers, but I will not touch their home computers. They ask my opinion on systems to purchase, or what to do if they have a virus.
          It has taken time but now my relationship with friends and co-workers is much better. Funny though how those invitations for dinner stopped coming..

        • #3077499

          So right you are Christopher!

          by nttn ·

          In reply to I’m IT, I have a Dr. for a friend. We both give ‘free’ advice (to a point)

          I am new to the .Net world, and the biggest problem I faced at the beginning was finding out how to get my hands on the learning material I needed to learn the basics.

          I found this site by accident and have been telling all my friends about it, and they have thanked me for the advice.

          Didn’t cost me anything to give it, but the thank you reward was a great feeling.


        • #3178826

          agree to a point

          by jb1 ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I can relate if it gets out of hand as it appears it has with you. But I think this constant comparison of IT to MDs is getting out of hand. We’re talking the difference of telling someone they need to get a CD cleaner and try that to a Dr. giving out medical advice that could adversely affect someone’s health. Big difference there. On the flip side of that, the medical profession is getting pretty out of hand in it’s own right. Health ins. costs, medicine and doctors fees are way out of the ballpark. It’s everyone trying to make as much money off everyone else as they can and exploiting critical areas of life to do so.

          Let’s keep IT on one side of the fence, and the medical industry on the other.

        • #3178787

          My 2 cents

          by alacrity ·

          In reply to agree to a point

          Here’s how I handle this problem. When someone comes up to me and says something like “I have this problem at home. I keep getting pop-ups” I’ll quickly describe the steps I take to find out what is causing the problem, tell them where in the registry the problem is hiding, and how I would remove the offending program. When they ask (and they always do) “How do I edit the registry” I tell them “This is how I make my living. I told you what I would do. If I help you do it it becomes something I have to charge for”
          I have also used “This is what I do for a living. You wouldn’t {insert their profession here} Would you?”
          On some small number of people I have to fall back to “Free advice: It’s worth what you pay for it” followed by “I’ll be happy to make an appointment”

          Clarification: Family is ALWAYS free but even my best friends get a bill if it’s for their business computer. Simple, One paragraph advice is always free, even to business customers

          Just my free advice (which is worth what you pay for…)

        • #3177885

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by cdplayer ·

          In reply to My 2 cents

          I agree with you Alacrity!
          Firing off some advice is no sweat. It’s only when they want you to perform the job for free is where I have a problem.

          I have a good friend that I help from time to time with his computer. This is OK I help him with his computer he helps me with upgrades that I am doing in my house. It’s a fair trade.

          One day I received an email from one of his neighbors asking me how to get rid of a virus for a friend of his!!

          I was polite and give him a link that provides an overview of how to remove the virus. I stated if his friend needed additional assistance I would be happy to help her. My fee is ….

          I never got another call from him. You have to draw the line somewhere. If not I would be the computer person for a bunch of folks that are not even my neighbors!

        • #3183854

          Grace and Diplomacy

          by unix_guy ·

          In reply to My 2 cents

          Well done, Alacrity!
          Yours is the best, most professional approach I have seen.
          New problem: how do you address emergencies (I have a virus and need it eliminated now)? Do you explain that there will be a charge, or do you negotiate later?

        • #3178759

          IT and MD are related

          by misterdufus ·

          In reply to agree to a point

          Actually IT and Medicine are very related. They are logical systems that run dependent of interrelated services. A diagnosis and a plan of treatment has to be applied to each individual situation. A medical degree is simply a degree, not a grade of how smart the person is. There are plenty of moron doctors, and moron IT “professionals” who bill you to rattle off advice they don’t really understand, or comprehend themselves. A doctor provides no “guarantee”, nor does an IT pro, but see how long either of them is in their field, or maintain a client list, if they are nutjobs.
          One prescription (or piece of advice) can adversely react with stupidity (drinking alcohol or drinking water around the computer), and someone ends up spending a week in the hospital, or two weeks trying to reconfigure their computer, or regain lost data. Your “advice” that ended up costing them a lot of time, because you underestimated their level of intelligence or common sense.
          By the way, I don’t think this discussion was how to deal with questions from friends, but “staff members” Your friends should be the ones that you have something in common with, not someone trying to exploit your time.
          Quote them your price, or refer them to a professional, just as the other person commented about a doctor sending someone to a professional at the hospital because their arm was hurting. He did NOT attempt to treat the person, or offer free advice to make a “friend”, he told them to talk to a specialist.
          Doctors fees and IT fees are not “way out of the ballpark”. They are at the rate that a specialist in their field should be paid. That is how they got that way. Can’t afford it? Then go see a doctor from Puerto Rico, or an IT tech from National University or Microskills.

        • #3183019


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to IT and MD are related

          You’re making a stretch with your analogy between ITs and Drs. Ultimately, the loss of time or data because of bad IT advice pales in comparison to loss of life and limb because of bad medical advice. Drs. are required to carry malpractice insurance for a reason. I’m not aware of any such requirement to ensure compensation because of a “moron” IT. Protections may be provided for in the contract, but that’s a negotiation issue-not required by law.

          I would like to think that some of our relationships at work develop beyond the professional. Even when they don’t I would think that we would want to at least maintain a professional relationship. My guess is that anyone that ask for advice at work that is not work related does so because they have a certain level of comfort in doing so (rationally speaking). In the end it doesn’t really matter. As someone else posted (or maybe it was me), I don’t know why this question was even posted. The poster (and any of us) have free will to give the advice or not. As evidenced by the range of responses, all of us have a level that we’re comfortable with. Some are more willing to help out their fellow man than others without expecting anything in return. Once the situation gets outside of our level of comfort we can shut it down. If the poster is afraid to do so, then he will have to deal with the constant request without complaint.

          Lastly, why do you imply that someone who received their education at National University is less qualified than anyone else? I don’t know much about Microskills, but their commercials and the fact that their name implies a connection with Microsoft (in my opinion) does make me somewhat leary.

        • #3182872

          Reply to vltiii’s “Reality” post

          by matt.werner ·

          In reply to IT and MD are related

          Several of my family members are physicians. You are incorrect in stating that malpractice insurance is required. It is not. In fact, for some high risk procedures, the coverages provided are not enough relative to the cost of premiums and doctors either self insure or cease to perform the risky procedure. For example, many OB/GYN’s no longer deliver babies due to the high cost of malpractice insurance.

          Furthermore, IT and Medicine are indeed similar. Both require complex diagnosis and prescription to solve technical problems. Granted, computer systems mistakes generally do not involve life or limb (although some do, e.g. medical devices). However, IT negligence can cost thousands of dollars (or more) in damages and it is prudent for IT service providers to carry insurance to cover this.

        • #3178812

          No Man Is an Island

          by benoddo53 ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          Wow! you must be a recluse, or a hermit. Ever hear of bartering? Ever have a friend do you a favor? Ever do a favor for a friend? Sounds like you haven’t. Lighten up! Money isn’t everyting. The drive for money shouldn’t cost you valuable interpersonal relationships.

          I do for friends, they do for me. Use your skills to network and don’t be afraid to barter. You will be better off.

        • #3178751

          You’re right no man is an island….

          by unclerob ·

          In reply to No Man Is an Island

          Unless he’s surrounded by water on all sides.

          Seriously though, I agree with your comments.
          People need to lighten up a little and if you’re really that busy and can’t help them, be honest and tell them you don’t have time right now and you will have to talk with them later on their pc problems. As far as compensation, don’t expect any, their friends and favors get returned, that’s how it works and even if they don’t get it returned, be happy that you can help out a friend.

          Personally if someone at work has a problem with their home pc, even if they’re not really that close to me, more of an acquaintance than a friend, I still tell them to bring the box in to work sans cables, mouse or kb and I let them know that there are no guarantees on what the results will be and how long it will take to fix if it’s fixable. I work on the boxes during my lunch or coffee breaks or during some O.T. after work, I don’t ever bring the stuff home with me. When it’s done, they pick up their own pc and bring it home themselves and I’ve always rec’d something for my efforts without asking, never cash but a case of beer or a few bottles of wine, or a nice lunch or supper has always been the result. Is this profitable, not really but in the end you helped someone and they appreciated it and you probably moved up a few rungs on someone’s respect ladder, you do that enough times for quite a few different people and word gets around and you’ll notice the work environment is more pleasant and people treat you differently with class & respect instead of half glances and snotty noses, you’ll also find that they’ll offer you help when you may need it and you’ll even take advantage of that opportunity too. It’s not just about making money (which is important, we all have to pay bills) but it’s about being a better human being which should be it’s own reward.

          Seriously, you watch CNN everyday and all the bad stuff that happens to people on this planet, I really believe that it’s human nature to destroy ourselves, everything is me, me, me. Isn’t anyone getting tired of this routine yet? And no I haven’t joined the peace corps yet but it does get you thinking about how much you’re doing (or not doing) to make this world a better place.

          My sermon on the mount is over…..
          Who’s N E X T!!!!

        • #3177990

          Props to Uncle Rob

          by r_fernandez ·

          In reply to You’re right no man is an island….

          … and everyone else here who understands that this is not about payment for services. If people know a car guy, they ask him questions because they respect his opinion and they recognise his training and knowledge. If people are asking YOU for advice, this is one way of saying “I respect your opinion on this, maybe you know something I don’t.”

          If you choose not to share your knowledge, perhaps you have bigger issues, like insecurity, loss of job, arrogance. To quote George on Seinfeld, “God forbid we disturb the precious genius!” If you are truly too busy to answer, offer to talk over lunch – they might even buy!

          On the other hand, if you understand that you have an opportunity to build friendships and professional contacts, and you are willing to barter or just receive good karma, you can take 5 minutes and make yourself look real good to others.

        • #3177960

          Helping – No man is an Island

          by noortech ·

          In reply to You’re right no man is an island….

          I agree with UncleRob thoroughly. Knowledge is to be shared. You have one Life. What do you want to be remembered as? Greedy or Kind.

        • #3177788


          by bad2thebone ·

          In reply to You’re right no man is an island….

          In a perfect world other people will respect you and thank you for what you do. In the real I.T. world they take advantage of you, and abuse you to no end if you let them. I have done a lot of freebie support over the years, and very seldom does someone even thank me much less buy me dinner. Now my time (or lack of free time) is valuable and I do charge for work performed. Advice is free if it doesn’t take too much of my time and I can answer it in 5 minutes or less until that person abuses me. I am not everyone’s personal PC guru. I will tell them nicely that they need to call tech support (if the PC is still under warranty) or bring it in and I will take a look at it for a fee. I will barter, and I don’t mind doing that but almost everytime I live up to my end of the bargain by fixing their PC(s) but I don’t get a full return on my investment. That’s why I prefer cash.

        • #3182998


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to You’re right no man is an island….

          I really like your approach to this issue. One aspect that has been completely overlooked by those who don’t want to help, or only want to help if there is something (material) to be gained, is the networking potential from helping out someone even when you don’t know them very well. None of us know where we will be tomorrow and that person we provided a little help to today may have the in on that dream job we’ll be looking for tomorrow. The latest statistics that I read indicate 80 percent of hires, get hired because they knew someone. The other 20 percent come in on the blind. Additionally, what about appraisal time? What marks should they get on the issue of team building or contributing to the team? Build bridges don’t burn them.

        • #3185743

          I’m next

          by tlconsultants ·

          In reply to You’re right no man is an island….

          You know that’s all well and good. Until… the boss gets wind that your doing outside work at HIS EMPLOY, or that co-worker returns a gazillion times because, he/she cannot/refuses to learn the proper techniques of using a computer. Or my very favorite, there is always one individual that FINDS an old a@# computer and wants to re-vamp it, by adding FOUND spare parts or desiring to install old antiquated software. This is the person we ALL dread… the cheapskate, the swindler, the aggrevatingly over zealous self-taught computer tech. When he/she can’t figure it out, they warm up to you, siting how great you are, how much you know, that your the “Computer Guru”. I tell them, buy a new one, it’s cheaper; while there pick up a nice anti-virus and spyware package and keep it up-to-date.

          Now on the other hand a 5 minute lesson, or advice is fine, no matter who you are. It’s okay to be kind, just don’t allow ANYONE to use you.

          Do’ll do fine, it does get easier to say no.

        • #3185653

          Response to tlconsultant

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to No Man Is an Island

          You said “You know that’s all well and good. Until… the boss gets wind that your doing outside work at HIS EMPLOY, or that co-worker returns a gazillion times because, he/she cannot/refuses to learn the proper techniques of using a computer. Or my very favorite, there is always one individual that FINDS an old a@# computer and wants to re-vamp it, by adding FOUND spare parts or desiring to install old antiquated software. This is the person we ALL dread… the cheapskate, the swindler, the aggrevatingly over zealous self-taught computer tech. When he/she can’t figure it out, they warm up to you, siting how great you are, how much you know, that your the “Computer Guru”. I tell them, buy a new one, it’s cheaper; while there pick up a nice anti-virus and spyware package and keep it up-to-date.

          Now on the other hand a 5 minute lesson, or advice is fine, no matter who you are. It’s okay to be kind, just don’t allow ANYONE to use you.

          Do’ll do fine, it does get easier to say no.”

          Let’s not take this to the level of being absurd. Of course this has to be tempered with professional requirements and what we’re actually being paid for. My response was based on the ability and availability to actually accomplish the assistance.

        • #3178789


          by keyguy13 ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          And yes, tmcal, we are obviously above you in computer knowledge or you wouldn’t be asking for advice. But here’s the thing, there is nothing wrong with people ASKING for free advice. All you do id say “no”. Generally when I ask someone to help me, they will give one of two answers; yes or no. Why does saying no seem to be such a big deal with people? If they were demanding that you help them, then it wouldn’t be a question would it? I think that is the problem. People think that someone asking a question is demanding something and that isn’t the case. Just say “no”. You don’t need a reason. You don’t have to feel guilty. Just say “no”. What else is there to discuss about this?

        • #3177995

          Hmmmmm….could be serious…..

          by is girl ·

          In reply to Agreed

          Doctors, lawyers, and computer people always get asked for advice partly because people assume that you love to talk shop in your down time. When a doc or lawyer is asked for professional advice at a cocktail party, they usually say “Hmmm….sounds like it could be serious….” then, they invite the person to make an appt or they offer to recommend someone who might be able to help.

          In IT, the problem can be handled the same way. Offer a simple suggestion – like installing service packs, etc – then suggest they get professional help if that doesn’t fix it. Recommend someone who is good and who is “reasonable”. If they still want free help, tell them you are very busy but might be able to set aside some time for them in …..say….about two weeks to take a look at it.

          That should do it….

        • #3177891

          I do the same

          by gregsugg ·

          In reply to Hmmmmm….could be serious…..

          I run into the same problem, I want to help. But it got to the point with me that I had family, friends, friends of friends, etc coming to me for free advice. It finally was taking so much time out of every day that the phone would ring until 10pm at night, and I couldn’t even sit down to eat with my family for the phone ringing. I finally took the same approach as IS Girl; I give them about 2 minutes of an honest answer that is their best bet to solve the problem. Then if that doesn’t do it; I tell them it sounds too complicated to diagnose without physically looking at the machine. I suggest they call the office and schedule an appointment to bring it by; so that we’ll have all out “diagnostic tools and equipment” available to find out what’s wrong. Sometimes they do just that and it becomes a paying customer; and sometimes you hear nothing else about it. Only exception is immediate family and my Church (the Church itself, not all the members); they always get my time free.

        • #2597510

          Hmmm. Are you really living up to the code?

          by wadeedward ·

          In reply to Hmmmmm….could be serious…..

          I wonder if you were there when the “professional geeks” thought they had screwed the world out of all possible computer software formats by “patent”. If you were, then you would recall that the vast majority of software comes from the one programming scheme that was not patented. So, in all likelihood your job stems from that single unprofessional, donating his intellectual property to you despite the fact that it was the very last and programming scheme to be thought up in his day and thus the most valuable of all. Who are you, any of you, to deny your expertise, an expertise given to you freely, as if you owed “the geek guild” your livelihood. After all, they had consistantly denied persons like yourself any possibility of a livelihood derived from code, by keeping their code secret!

        • #3178748


          by dalin ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          my theory of moderation seems to apply here as well. i agree with it being rude to repetitively ask personal computer questions. i’m an IT manager but mostly write software/code. i used to do mostly hardware repairs, upgrades, and maintenance so i know it pretty well. it does seem like some days my job extends into parties, weddings, going out to dinner, movies, etc. i know a doctor where we have an understanding that we give each other free professional advice. that’s easy.
          the hard part is, what do you do when your girlfriend, parents, brother, sister, best friend, or close friend asks for advice. what are you going to do, invoice your mother? maybe she’ll invoice you for all the things she’s bought you throughout your life?

        • #3178731

          “I’m kinda busy”

          by deritchie ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          The simplest way to handle this is tell people that you don’t have a lot of time to give away free support, and you make your living doing this.

          And your hourly rate, paid in advance.

        • #3176954

          Say yes, but….

          by mail ·

          In reply to “I’m kinda busy”

          This works for me. Say yes, but then say that it will take a few days to get back because of pressure of work/priorities. I expect that is true. You’ll find that the requests will fall away as they are always urgent and often not really necessary. this way minimum ffence is caused.

        • #3178729

          Here’s a novel idea

          by sbanford ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I get the same thing. Why not just give them the advise and be done with it?

        • #3177967

          But when does it end?

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to Here’s a novel idea

          When does it end?

          It’s the same principle as why you should charge by the hour and not by the job.

          The “client” is always trying to bring in work that’s not in the scope of the original project.

          If you give them free advice, they expect more, like the guy you politely try to explain that you couldn’t possibly diagnose his machine in a 5 min conversation without actually seeing it, so he asks if he can bring it in tomorrow and put it on your desk.


        • #3177978

          No kidding…

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I have LOST thousands of dollars and flushed days and days of REAL time down the can on “non-revenue generating clients”.

          I took myself and my family temporarily in the poorhouse and made them sacrifice so I could change careers…

          So after giving out free services and getting burnt time after time I’m NOT supposed to have learned my lesson?

          Giving free advice = “How to LOSE friends and piss off family members”

          I am no longer ANYONE’S IT Slave. Except maybe my wife’s…but she’s the one exception.

        • #3177931

          no dead horse here

          by contact ·

          In reply to No kidding…

          A bit strong, but I understand you point. It is true that you can feel like being everyone’s IT slave. This is why this thread is certainly no dead horse.

          You can see RIGHT HERE the confusion at the heart of the problem : some talk about advice, some about free IT work.

          See that medic that gave advice so a broken arm could get fixed ? He didn’t do the job at all. Nor would he have given advice on a heart attack or cancer problem. (I hope so 🙂

          Same with the mechanic : he will not REPAIR your car for free, only presume the battery’s dead, whatever.

          For IT’s, giving advice is part of the actual work : diagnosing IS getting the job done.

          Samples of good advices :

          – try to write the problem down and send it to me
          – Try system restore
          – Install security programs
          – Google it.

          The rest is …. getting the job done.

          Working for customers, I am constantly -everyday, every hour- asked for something I didn’t came for. I used to be gentle and nice, pausing when needed and fixing what I could. It turned into a nightmare and it happened that I spent weeks when days could have been enough. Changing the price was not an option.

          Having friends like anyone, I fell into this trap of fixing or setting up their box during week end or evenings. I ended up losing them as friends, as they often started to harass me with their problems, obviously thinking I was responsible for them. I must say I never got a single bottle of wine in return. Sad, but true.

          No I try to give short advices or ask for detailed informations. Otherwise, my friends KNOW that I hate it when they ask me to work for free : they have their own IT, pay for it or… find a new IT friend. Which happens to be good trade.

          I know some look at me as arrogant. I swear I am not, but I accept this burden: if you look at me as someone feeling superior, you certainly don’t need me as your friend, do you ?

          Now if I was working as IT for a company, I would definitely fix my collegue’s boxes: why would I get paid for, otherwise ?

        • #3177820

          But it’s not arrogance…

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to no dead horse here

          At work I know it comes off as arrogance. But it’s not.

          People don’t seem to realize (so I make a point to tell them) how many OTHER people are also asking for free advice. You have to be extremely careful that advice doesn’t turn into work.

          Short description of the problem and you think “A hah! Easy! Just install the drivers for your new sound card you ineptly installed yourself because you’re a cheapskate! Simple!”

          “Ok, how do I do that?”

          A 3 min conversation just turned into a 45 min tutorial on driver installation and the risk that said l-user is going to bork it up irregardless and… guess what? It’s YOUR fault.

          You’re a “nice guy” and don’t want any harsh feelings so guess what you’re doing this weekend? Is your wife p/o’ed? She should be!

        • #3177753

          Not their home PCs

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to no dead horse here

          unless your boss wanted you to do this on company time, IT depts, esp. PC dept are usually overloaded.

          What other work that is actually for the company will you sacrifice to fix their home PCs? A

          nd if something goes wrong with it while you are fixing it, are you willing to be responsible when it was failing unrelated to you, such as a HD going bad or bad MB?

        • #3193732


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to no dead horse here

          Now you’re playing semantics. I think most everyone here knows what is meant/intended by use of the word advice. Giving a literal definition doesn’t change that in the least.

          As for the people that you choose to call friend, I’m sorry to hear that. Anyone that I would call friend would never put me in such a position, and when they do ask for advice, they (not me) usually qualify it with when you get a chance, can you…???

        • #3193735

          Free… Not Really

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to No kidding…

          Well, at least you acknowledge that you are responsible. I support giving out free advice when appropriate, but I think that boundaries have to be established even when dealing with friends and family. This is even more crucial if you’re running your own business, and this is your source of income. I also believe that friends/family and business/money don’t mix very well. If your business went under because of friends and family, I suspect there were some other issues at play here.

        • #3177948

          Try asking a carpenter or plumber for a trade!

          by dgood ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          This goes beyond asking for advice! I have been asked to “Format C:” by a neighbor and to rebuild a computer and then asked, “Can I buy you a 6 pack for your trouble?” For some reason, people seem to think that what we do is a hobby and we’d be happy to do it for free.

          Try asking someone in the “Trades” to swap you hour for hour, their time for yours and see what reaction you get. HMmmmmm…. I think a computer rebuild is worth a new toilet installation or taping up some drywall.

          Maybe that’s the solution…. If you can get that doctor to trade some open heart surgery for a new network, you’re on the right track.

          Good Luck

        • #3177850

          I DID! Check this out!

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to Try asking a carpenter or plumber for a trade!

          I know a carpenter. He’s one I can’t say no to (non-revenue generating client a.k.a. my brother)

          I have to fix his damnable fat-fingering every time I go over there AND put up with his wife (a baker) insisting that she knows more about how email passwords work than I do…

          He owes me (still):

          Fixing a broken chair.
          Simple table that would take me 10min if I had my own Skillsaw.
          He build me a small shelf, but never completed it.
          A vacu-form box (looks easy enough, but he’s got the tools and I don’t)

          I have ANOTHER carpenter (not my bro this time) who owes me…
          The same chair fix
          The same simple tabletop

          Yes, I couldn’t get one or the other to finish the carpentry I needed done, so I wound up doing “free” work for two different carpenters….and I still need carpentry work…

        • #3185465


          by knightheart ·

          In reply to I DID! Check this out!

          If you’re still fixing his system after he’s screwed you out of things he said he’d do for you, you may as well tatoo “sucker” on your forehead and kiss his feet thanking him for giving you the opportunity to suck up to him.

          If his wife thinks she knows more, let her fix the problem. If they won’t finish the work they agreed to do for you, refuse to fix their problems. If you want to keep being a doormat, go ahead, but don’t complain about it.

        • #3177895


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          It’s that specialist mentality that have so many IT professionals coming off as Prima Donnas. Being a specialist (I’m not sure that even applies here) does not automatically earn anyone any special treatment. Whatever respect comes with the position is earned-not commanded. There are many professionals in all fields that require specialized training that don’t mind helping out “family, friends (you must be a really wonder person to have as a family member or friend” and some acquantances. If these people are calling you at work it’s because you’ve allowed it and/or placed yourself in that position. My family and friends understand professional work ethics and would never consider doing such a thing. Your analogy about the Doctor is not realistic and a very weak attempt to shore up your position. If one goes to a Doctor it’s with the understanding that there will be a cost associated with the visit. On the other hand no rational person would expect the Doctor to realize that a family member or friend needs medical attention, but not say anything because they’re expecting to be paid for the advice. Please get real!

        • #3177768

          I agree 100%

          by redline ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          If I am at work, and am asked for advice about home computers, I tell the person that I am being paid by the company to work on their problems and do not feel comfortable talking about non-company problems. If ai am not at work, I say, “Well, that is my work, what I do for a living. I am not at work, now.”

          Then, I recommend a friend of mine who does good work for a reasonable price.

          There is an exception to this rule, however. When my children call me, I always help. But then, they will usually feed me!

        • #3177763

          I feel obligated…

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to I agree 100%

          I feel obligated to fix the wife’s laptop and the kid’s desktop.

          The wife feeds me and washes my clothes, but the lazy kid does nothing.

          I did build the machines after all…

        • #3176926

          Same in any field

          by darrins ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I am in school for IT and currently work at a car dealership repairing cars. The field is becoming more technical everyday. I will offer advice when asked, but have strict poicy; No side work. This is my job and I don’t do it for fun!! People think nothing of asking me to stay late and repair their car for free. I haven’t done side work in years, but I answer questions all day.

        • #3176906

          A unique way to say “NO”

          by barkleyc ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I used to be a Physical Therapist. I am also an avid skiier. Nearly every time I told someone what I did they would start in on their list of aches and pains and “what should I do about this?” I cannot tell you how tedious that got obver the years!

        • #3176905

          A unique way to say “NO”

          by barkleyc ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I used to be a Physical Therapist. I am also an avid skiier. Nearly every time I told someone what I did for a living they would start in on their list of aches and pains and “what should I do about this?” I cannot tell you how tedious that got over the years!
          One fine day I was riding up a 4 person chair lift and the person next to me asked the person on his right what he did for a living. The guy said, “I’m a physician.” You can guess what came next; a list of several complaints and a “what should I do about this?” The doctor simply stated, “I’m sorry, I’m not working today.” Silence ensued and I could barely keep from bursting out in hilarious laughter. Later I skiied up to the doc and thanked him. Told him what I did and how long I haad meen haveing to cope with the same crap. We skiied together the rest of the day and had a great time!

        • #3176884

          Couldn’t agree more

          by uwe.packer ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I 100% agree with you. When I make a “housecall” some people expect my expertice for free as I am “just” sitting at the keyboard and do not hammer in nails and stuff. Yet they would not think twice paying $60 or more for a tradesmen to just show up at their front door. And we are not even talking about any charges to fix a problem.

          I have learned my “trade” and expect to get compensated for the time and money I have spend becomming an expert.

          If someone needs free advise let them go to backyard experts and get what they pay for.

        • #3176721

          I can’t believe this thread

          by cybergoyle ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I also receive many requests for advice and tech support from friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and occasionally total strangers that I meet when they learn my occupation. I’ve met my share of IT workers, and they are many so-called ‘freelance’ hired guns anywhere you look. Most aren’t really that talented at all; they merely possess some basic skills.

          That said, getting good advice isn’t as easy for the tech-challenged individual. Not only do they have a problem to solve without the first clue how to find an answer (and I’ve never read any comprehensive manual that could teach me to merely remove and prevent spyware from infesting a PC), they cannot discern good advice from bad.

          As a skilled expert, you should feel priviledged that people trust your advice enough to even ask – hasn’t everyone dropped a name or called up a buddy to ask for help at some time or another?

          Consider the alternative; no one ever asks you for advice or assistance. How would you feel if you offered to help someone and were met with the reply ‘thanks, but I already know someone that knows what they are doing….’

        • #3117417

          Privileged? Dont say <_<

          by kurdon ·

          In reply to I can’t believe this thread

          First, we shouldn’t feel ‘privileged’ because that is a state of ‘aboveness’in disguise, and that’s not the point but the same as I read in posts before, it depends ALOT in the kind of people asking for yout help.

          When you work in an environment where you deal with alot of people, yo can esaily say if:

          1. They’re just bugging people, who messes up because they give a shit about breaking equipment. You help them, and they break it again and again and again.
          2. They don’t have enough knowledge into using equipmente, because surely they are normal people wic spent hundreds of dollars in specialization in their areas which have nothing to do with computer, but here it splits to:
          2.a. This people want to learn, this people deserve our time if possible, because tey will probably not bug us anymore in the future, the’re interested and doing things right
          2.b. This people just don’t want to get along with technology, and it doesn’t matter if you try to explaining how not to mess up in common tasks with apples and oranges (simple tast as prnting, email, etc), so they mess up again and again too and don’t care.
          3. There’s people who FIRST TRY TO DO SOMETHING as esay as chehing if the printer doesnt print because maybe is disconnected from the computer, disconnected from the power, that the mouse is not working correctly because is dirty and they first clean it, that the email bouced back after sent because they wrote the adress wrong and many oher BEFORE asking any advice because they are conscience that it takes away our time, but at certain point, they ask you for an advice, Since you know that thi people try first, you know that they will pay alot of atention and what you will sggest and remember it the next time it happens again.

          Whatever, it’s tru that this is a dad horse yeah, but is not a ‘matter of principle’ only, it’s very important when you get to know the people requesting help.

          Everyone willing to tryly LEARS is wort our time and teaching wenever possible of course.

          And about charging, tottaly agred when it comes to actual work, because it’s work and we all studied to work in it as a way to sustain orserlves, besides, it’s not ok to make people comfortable with getting things for free that’s damage for them 🙂

        • #3178606

          Who should get real?

          by warnerit ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I don’t know dude, you seem to have kind of a bad attitude. If someone is abusing you, like constantly asking you for business level help and wanting you to come to their business for free, etc. that’s one thing. But a little friendly helping out to people you work with or live by is called good PR.

          I’ve been in IT for 12 years and I’ve seen people with your kind of attitude and they ended up ultimately not getting very far. First people laid off when times got tight, etc.

          There’s a thing called Quid Pro Quo. You help me and I’ll help you. It doesn’t always mean money is exchanged. It’s more of a barter thing. I happen to live next door to a surgeon and he has many times offered to do things like simple stitches when the kids fall down so we or other neighbors don’t have to go to the ER and spend half the day there waiting to get 3 stitches that takes all of 10 minutes. And we in turn help him out with computer stuff or landscaping advice or whatever else our family has expertise in when he needs it. It’s not an every day thing. I’ve also got a guy who owns a custom home building business and also an attorney across the street from me. We all help each other out from time to time with our areas of expertise. No one would expect the attorney to do a divorce or custody battle or something big like that for free, but he certainly doesn’t mind giving out 5-10 minutes worth of advice once in a while. I’ve even gotten referrals for my business from these guys because of helping them out for free in a neighborly way.

          Before we owned our own company, spouse and I both gladly helped our co-workers out with home computer questions without charging, and we’ve gotten some good referrals from them too.

        • #3176577

          I agree with you!

          by pccoach ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          Anyone who has taken time and effort to become skilled in his or her profession is entitled to be compensated for that skill. And the example of a physician was on the ‘er…money!

        • #3172722

          Bad analogy – doctors don’t charge here.

          by gqd2001 ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          Doctor’s charges are included with your Canadian citizenship.

          But I do agree that we should be compensated for out of office IT support.

        • #3117843

          totally agree with you

          by tonez1 ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I totally agree with you… people are always asking for free advice. yet if you ask them for something they want something in return. With me however people dont want free advice, they want me to fix thier pc problems for free.

        • #3131120

          Well said

          by sheldonmoss ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          That is correct – i couldn’t have said it better myself.

        • #3130562

          Not bad…

          by alxnsc9 ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          Picture yourself you don’t “get multiple co-workers stopping” you in your “tracks many times during a day to ask for free tech support”, you don’ “get non-stop calls at home and at work from friends, family, aquaintances, and co-workers asking for free tech support”…

        • #3117455

          Dangers if they don’t get help.

          by michael_orton9 ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I you don’t help them, then they will set up an informal self help group around the “IT GURU”.
          Perhaps form a local LUG, swap software, pirate ware, perhaps even swap viruses!
          eventually you will find that this grooup at work no longer bothers to come to you.

        • #3117328


          by pastwalker ·

          In reply to Obviously you’re not in IT.

          I hope you never have to go to anyone for any type of help. All that technical knowledge and schooling taught you a lot but you never learned anything about human relations. You need to know that your services are being paid by the company you work for. Anything else is “gravy”.

        • #3178873

          Where do you fit?

          by saintgeorge ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          I’ve been working in corporate environments for 20+ years, since the beginning of personal computing, and I still have to find coworkers who know anything about home electricity, plumbing, washing machines, tv-sets, car repair, clothes repair, and so on. I have found no use for security personnel, secretaries and personal assistants, vendors, publicity guys, human resources, and the lady who makes the coffe. Not to mention anyone up the hyerarchical ladder, who only say Hello when they need something and do not even try to find your name before they come asking. But somehow, all of them, have computers at their homes. Where do you fit in?

        • #3178822

          It is a matter of your own character

          by seanwestgate ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          This is a silly thread. It is really simple, it comes down to personal character and how you look at the world. If you are a nice guy then you find a way to give advice without being exploited or feeling exploited because you welcome opportunities to spread good will and share your knowledge. If you are not a nice guy then you think the world is trying to take advantage of you and they should PAY PAY PAY. However if this is you then you do see yourself as a nice guy and you will never understand what I am saying here.

        • #3178739

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by antuck ·

          In reply to It is a matter of your own character

          I would have to disagree with you. This one is not a silly thread. I am the nice guy you speak of and do find ways to give free advice when needed. But at the same time, yes, I do think of getting paid. Everything in this world cost lots of money. If I’m giving free advice all the time how am I able to pay for anything? I do some bartering and that helps, but I spend more time giving free advice. Yet when I need to get something there is a charge for it. I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the IT field. I spend a lot of time learning what is out there now. So why is it I shouldn’t charge for my advice or services? I anymore don’t like telling someone I work on computers because it never fails you are asked a question. And what is really funny is I am expected to know what is wrong with a persons computer just by them saying it locks up. Ask what error the computer is giving they just say blah blah I don’t know. So I am expected to be able to fix blah blah I don’t know and of course it needs to be just a couple of key strokes and no technical computer terms. I don’t get free advice so why should it be expected of me to give free advice?

          Oh by the way I started writing this 45 min ago and was interupted three times for free services. Yea its only 9AM and it starts.

        • #3178719

          You are still getting paid!

          by emmanemms ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          If personal questions ARE disrupting your productivity, that is another issue, and you likely need to deal with that problem! However, sharing knowledge for such a complex technology is just the nice thing to do. No one is calling you at home on YOUR time. No one is dropping by on the weekends! If that were happening, then you SHOULD expect remuneration of some kind. You are being paid by your employer while they are asking their questions. If your management doesn’t have a problem with it, then you shouldn’t either. And by the way, you probably get free advice all the time. You just don’t realize it. If during your time off, your friends and acquaintences are picking your brain and are, indeed, “using you,” then you need better friends. I have IT friends that can do things better than me or faster, and I ask for their advice. I’m mature enough, however, to feel that a “good deed” deserves another one–and I reciprocate in some way. This is all about Life 101–be nice, play well, do unto others… yada yada yada. If you missed that course during all of your time spent on IT training, call your mother–she was giving that course when you were still in diapers.

        • #3177836


          by lwebb ·

          In reply to You are still getting paid!

          “No one is calling you at home on YOUR time. No one is dropping by on the weekends! ”

          Uhh…yes, they are.

          And my boss does indeed have a problem with me giving advice on home pc’s while at work. He gets the same questions that I do, seeing as he’s an IT pro also.

          I’m fine with the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” bit, but the original post isn’t concerned with this. It’s concerned with “IT freeloaders”. There’s a big difference between renumeration in the form of cash or favors and “Free IT Advice”.

          For instance, when I share info with other IT pros, I don’t consider it “Free IT advice”. They owe me and I owe them. It’s reciprocal.
          I would NEVER even consider having them work on my machine for free. THAT’S the difference. Users don’t want just advice. They want more and more until it becomes, not just borders on, Free IT Technical Services.

          One such discourse I had with a user I determined he needed his OS reloaded. I was 100% confident in my diagnosis, but I should have kept my mouth shut. It lead to:
          “Great! When will you have time?”

          My response (not very nice according to the “nice guys” on this forum) was:
          “I won’t!”

          I told him in no uncertain terms that I’d charge $100, would do it when I had spare time and didn’t guarantee anything whatsoever after he left with it.

          He paid, had his machine a week later and never complained about it. We’re good friends now.

        • #3177755

          Oh enough!

          by mr l ·

          In reply to You are still getting paid!

          I’ve read a dozen of these “If you are nice…mature…play well…yada yada…you will dispense free advice and free assistance” responses and enough is enough. Because someone chooses not to spend their time dispensing free advice or providing free assistance they are not nice? When did any of you become the arbiters or world authorities on what constitutes “nice”?

          I make it very easy for my staff, they are here to take care of company business during working hours. It is expected that that is what they do, not spend time they are being paid by their employer assisting people with personal, non-work related issues. In some very small business, you may be able to deal with the losses in productivity associated with technicians being taken away from their work. When you have 3000+ customers in one facility, and 6 technicians to deal with their needs, I assure you you don’t have that luxury…period.

        • #3177700

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by antuck ·

          In reply to You are still getting paid!

          Wow you are so far off it’s not funny. One I work as an independent contractor for a computer shop. I also have my own computer buss. So NO I do not get paid to talk to people. I only get paid when working on someones computer. Yes people do call me at home on MY time.

          Rarly do I get free advise. If I have a problem with a car, A/C, Fridge, or anything else, no one gives free advise. I can’t go to the auto dealership and ask how do I replace this part or what ever it maybe.

          I can aggree that about the “good deed” and the “reciprocating” as long as it is reciprocated. And not always is that the case. And YES my mother did teach me about do good deeds. The problem comes in when I am expected to give the good deeds all the time simply because I work on computers.

          Also, if I did work for an employer, that employer is paying me to work on there computers not everybody elses.

        • #3131284

          I get called when I am not working

          by tonez1 ·

          In reply to You are still getting paid!

          I get called when I’m not working all the time. I’ve gotten calls when i am not home asking when if they can drop off the pc at my house “in a few minutes” so I can check it out. I have to tell them I am not home and I wont be back for a few hours then get the question “when can I drop it off?” You know what most of the calls I end up getting are for pc help….

        • #3177832

          Well I have to disagree with you

          by brian.teeters ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          “Yet when I need to get something there is a charge for it. I spend a lot of time keeping up to date with the IT field. I spend a lot of time learning what is out there now. So why is it I shouldn’t charge for my advice or services?”

          Alot of people cannot afford computer repair at $100/HR for a couple hours of time they could just buy a new computer. Yes you spend alot of time keeping up to date but you do that because of your chosen profesion and most of the time you dont even have to pay for it. So why shouldn’t you charge for advise of service, one word KARMA and KARMA is a B**CH. I do understand charging if you have to go to someones house for hours and do alot of work but to pop a CD into someones computer and reinstall an OS is no big deal at least for most IT Pros and 99.9% of the time that is what they really need. Do unto others man.

        • #3177811

          You’re way off…

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to Well I have to disagree with you

          Popping in an OS CD isn’t a big deal to me.

          But it takes a good 3-4+ hours to do it right. You have to do the settings, download all the freaking patches, install all the drivers etc. etc. make sure they have AV..
          THEN they ALWAYS want you to re-install all their software, which can take 10x more time.

          And you say I’ll have bad Karma for charging $100/hour for that?

          Is it worth $100/hour? No. But I charge it because that’s how much I value the time I’m NOT going to spend with my family in order to help this schmuck. I charge $100/hour BECAUSE I’M COUNTING ON THEM BEING SET AGHAST! I DON”T WANT the job!

          Strangely enough, some people come back with a couple of $50’s and insist… I tried to discourage them.

          AND If you ever load someone’s OS, they WILL be calling you a week later after they bog it down with malware or however they choose to clog it up.

          Guess what? It’s ALL YOUR FAULT! Karma IS a B!t*h!

          NO THANKS. Take your morality and KEEP it.

        • #3177745

          One thing they can’t pay you back

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          We have a finite time on this earth. The one thing they can’t repay you is time spent fixing their problem. So you need something in return. If it is someone who already gives you something in return, you’re more likely to help them.

          The arrogant attitudes of clueless end users amaze me. They want you to fix it, free, immediately if possible, and drive to there place.

          And as plenty of others said, you’re then responsible if it hiccups a year later.

        • #3183458

          Free advice

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          Anyone that makes a decision to pursue a career in the IT industry should expect that there will be request for free advice. Some or most would consider this flattering (at least there was a time when this was true). The choice is up to you whether you want to give the advice or not, but if you’re having problems paying for things perhaps looking for a better paying job will alleviate that problem.

        • #3178735

          FINALLY, a “nice guy”

          by emmanemms ·

          In reply to It is a matter of your own character

          Sean, why can’t everyone understand your concept? It not only applies to IT, but to every aspect of our lives. I’ll bet you sleep well at night and have a lot of good friends. People with good character usually do!

        • #3177942

          “Nice guys” often get pizza instead

          by beads ·

          In reply to FINALLY, a “nice guy”

          Though I agree that there should be a modicum of civility and graciousness in the world. All to often we are faced with the ruthlesness of the “real world”. Get something for nothing attitude that all to often pervades our society. Not that I grew up that way but its what faces me now as an adult in a metropolis. Sad isn’t it?

          With that its all to often to get pizza instead of any monetary form of payment.

          – beads

        • #3177816

          Pizza is a good payment

          by brian.teeters ·

          In reply to “Nice guys” often get pizza instead

          as i stated before alot of people cant afford pro IT advise but they can make a good faith effort to make a friend with you by hookin you up with pizza or beer or whatever Example I fixed one of the cafeteria workers computer a few weeks ago, it took me an hour to install windows and office. and not even an hour i had to put the disks in and continue what i was doing. well now i notice that when i get food from the cafe i always get a little bit more or i get the good stuff from the back thats fresh. also i came to my office today and found a card with a gift certificate for a resurant from him. the point is you dont have to charge someone a ton of money for doing something that in reality takes you 20 min of actual work because you never know how that person will pay you back in their own way, even if they just give you a heart felt thank you that should be enough.

        • #3177799


          by lwebb ·

          In reply to FINALLY, a “nice guy”

          Giving out free IT expertise gets you lots of new friends.

          Too bad you don’t have time to do anything but fix their computers. You don’t sleep too well either with the wife b****ing that you’re never home and you can’t pay the bills with beer and pizza…

          I used to be a “nice guy”. I know how it was. I think I much prefer being the cynical a-hole I am now.

        • #3177795


          by brian.teeters ·

          In reply to Yeah…lots

          sounds like someone hates life and the life he has chosen.

        • #3177717

          don’t see hate of life here

          by contact ·

          In reply to Yeah…lots

          I will not agree that “someone hates the life he has chosen”.

          Sounds more like, on one side, someone who actually TRIED to be helpfull and realized the kind of reward it brings and, on the other side, someone who never tried to help (probably claims so, though) but instead spreads beautiful ideas on what OTHERS should do.

          I am confident that you do not* hate the life you have chosen… I probably would but I understand you like it…

        • #3184355

          too bad!

          by emmanemms ·

          In reply to Yeah…lots

          It’s too bad your past experience has led you to be cynical. However, as with most situations where more than one person is involved, COMMUNICATION is the key. If YOU didn’t explain your expectations, if YOU didn’t make a request, if YOU didn’t get agreement with the other person, if YOU didn’t follow through when the other person didn’t meet that expectation, agreement or request, then YOU set yourself up to become a cynic–albeit a guise for lack of communication, confrontation, or whatever you want to call “asking for what you want and making sure you get it.” What’s wrong with saying, “My spare time is limited, and I have to ensure that it’s maximized. I can work 24/7 and get paid for every minute of it if I want to, so I have to make a choice whether I get paid or do something for you for free. I’m sure you can understand that I choose to get paid…” and so on. I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing in your marriage–it’s not fair to get mad at your spouse if they don’t even know they did anything wrong.

        • #3178575

          A Nice Guy

          by schuhmd ·

          In reply to FINALLY, a “nice guy”

          I like to think I’m a nice guy. I was the neighborhood IT. Everyone would come to me with their computer problems. And I would help them all. One night the lady next door woke me up to help her fix a printer problem. This was 1:00 am. I helped her as always. A few weeks later my wife was having a hard time breathing. I went over to her house because her hubby is a DR. She told me her Hubby could not be disturbed because he worked late. And I should call 911. This is just one of many responses I have gotten from my neighbors when I needed there help. So now I tell them to call a computer support. And I have become the bad neighbor.
          Like someone said no good dead goes unpunished.

        • #3176367

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to A Nice Guy

          In your case, I would respond that it would be OK for me to drop everything at 1AM to help you with a printer problem, but it is not OK for me to come over at 1AM for something else.

          Turnabout is fair play. If they don’t like it, you simply have to explain that there was no reciprocating feelings of loyalty to you when you needed something, but you had to be ready to go when they needed something.

          That is the only way you can make it clear that they were using you and you did not appreciate it.

        • #3185468

          Good Choice

          by knightheart ·

          In reply to A Nice Guy

          Those kind of people are scum, quite frankly, and I’m glad to see that you’ve cut them off. You’re not the bad one, that selfish b*tch fills that bill quite nicely. With me, however, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed at 1am for a printer problem in the first place. This person saw you as a doormat, a tool, something to be used, not a fellow human being who deserves help and is willing to help in return. She didn’t want to wake her husband, but she had no problem waking you? That’s a big screaming neon sign shouting “YOU’RE NOTHING BUT A RESOURCE TO BE TAKEN OUT AND USED AT MY WILL.” Good for you telling them to blow off and get help elsewhere.

        • #3184344

          I don’t disagree

          by emmanemms ·

          In reply to A Nice Guy

          I don’t blame you for your current “unresponsiveness” to your neighbors. Someone stated in their reply to my post that I likely don’t help others… That couldn’t be further from the truth. From IT on, I help whenever I can. However, I am NOT a door mat, and wouldn’t expect anyone to be. If you do a good turn for someone, but they can’t do one for your (a la your doctor neighbor–amazing bee-ach!), then I would pointedly ask anyone who ever couldn’t help me out once I’d helped them, “so, you’re saying that this is a one-way street–I help you, but you can’t help me. I just want to be clear, since I’ll be closing down the street for permanent construction!” There is a happy medium. You know who you can count on to reciprocate, and you know the others… if not, you soon will.

        • #2597488

          and they all finish last

          by locrian_lyric ·

          In reply to FINALLY, a “nice guy”

          nuff said

        • #3177846

          It is character

          by robwaybro ·

          In reply to It is a matter of your own character

          I think you nailed it right here. It is character and some of the follow-ups prove it.

          Some Doctors will give ADVICE
          Some Plumbers will give ADVICE
          Some (insert profession) will give ADVICE

          Others will not and expect to get something everytime they open their mouths and/or minds (which don’t always go together).

          I also like the point that was made by another poster, many of the folks feeling ‘used’ are feeling this way by co-workers WHILE AT WORK, so they are getting paid and I agree that if the company does not have a problem with it (and the original poster stated one ‘inquisitive’ person was a PARTNER, so the company certainly does not have a problem with it) then they really need to examine themselves and their character.

          I give advice (and some service) to friends and family all the time, but I considerate it the ‘neighborly’ (for lack of a better term) thing to do. If it is something that is going to take time to fix/troubleshoot, etc, then we do come to some kind of agreement, and it is NOT always monetary. I frequently trade services, even something as simple as them watching my children while my wife and I go see a movie.

          But I am also not into getting money for everything I do, guess that is my CHARACTER.

        • #3183462

          Good Point

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to It is a matter of your own character

          I think you make a good point here. There was a time when those working in the IT field would jump at the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the field. I think the dot com boom has had a permanent negative psychological impact on ITs and that is they now have this elitist mentality.

        • #3178808

          Burning Bridges…

          by coxd ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          This issue really depends on several factors: the work environment, who is asking, what their role/position is in the company, your professional relationship with that person, the level/depth of the question(s), and many others. The right answer depends on these factors. In addition to tmcal’s comment on your co-workers charging you, you need to consider your professional career. Promotion/advancement is more who you know that what you know. People remember and value the little things…refusing to help a co-worker could burn a valuable bridge you might need to get ahead.

        • #3177734


          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Burning Bridges…

          burn your bridges till you get to them!

        • #3178801

          Not so clear as that.

          by markdmac ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          I think there is a big difference between coming to someone for work related help and going to someone for personal reasons.

          A good example would be going to the company book keeper and asking them to do your taxes.

          But the fact is that the lines between home and work are now often blurred. People have remote access to email and sometimes their entire work environment. Those machines connecting to your network could be a security risk if not up to date on virus software and anti-spyware software. It might be in your best interest to help them.

          I think it is reasonable to answer questions that are not too involved. Just like you might ask the book keeper, the name of a form, someone at work might have a question that you can answer quickly without interfering with your day. Its the detailed problems that are really beyond the comprehension of the user that pose the real problem.

          Some things you need to consider would be first off are you salaried or a contractor paid by the hour? If you are salaried I would look at this way, you are being paid to be a company resource. A partner asking for your help is your BOSS asking for help. Your pay comes from his pocket and he has a right to decide what priorities are. If you are a contractor then it is totally different as you are probably contracted for a specific purpose and charging by the hour. In that case I would suggest you have them run things for approval by your supervisor/manager first.

          Under all circumstances, it is totally acceptable to tell someone you are currently working on a priority and ask that they return at a certain time or to tell them you will find them when your schedule clears. That way you can get done what you need to and prioritize things.

          A public folder in Exchange or a task list in SharePoint can be a good way for you to divert some of the questions. Let people post things for you rather than ask you in person. That way you can quickly provide an answer (I can type faster than they can absorb what I am saying).

          Some people get really bugged by people asking for help and I personally don’t understand it. I’ve been in IT for 13 years and have enjoyed a great career because I love what I do. For my friends I always offer to help them, at a price, I charge them a hot cup of tea.

          Naturally there will be people who will try to abuse your generosity. When I encounter such people I can honestly tell them that I don’t have the time resources available to help them and suggest a local computer store that might be able to help them.

        • #3178788

          Bravo! Well said!

          by cswearingen ·

          In reply to Not so clear as that.

          This is the best response I’ve read:

          “Under all circumstances, it is totally acceptable to tell someone you are currently working on a priority and ask that they return at a certain time or to tell them you will find them when your schedule clears. That way you can get done what you need to and prioritize things.”

        • #3178777

          When’s the last time…

          by eureeky ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          When’s the last time you saw a doctor happily give out free medical advice? Or an airline pilot giving free flight instruction? These people are highly trained professionals and so are we. Why should we be the only professional group expected to give away our expertise and years of training? I thought we made our living by selling that expertise.

        • #3177803

          Just a bit different

          by brian.teeters ·

          In reply to When’s the last time…

          I dont get how comparing IT to Medical and Airline Pilots makes any sense for one when working on a computer nobodys life is at risk a doctor giving out free medical advise can become the victim of a lawsuit same goes for an airline pilot. As for the IT world if something goes wrong there is always parts or new software nobody is going to have a life altering experiance because windows crashed.

        • #3177707

          Well Yea

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Just a bit different

          if it crashed when you were working on it, and even if it WAS something you did, it could have life altering (or sever inconvenience) for them. Suppose they had important info on it (that of course wasn’t backed up) for the least example.

          And not everyone in IT is a PC person, and YES getting that router, etc working so the whole company can run IS more important than answering a person’s non-work related questions.

        • #3178002

          Not Better Than Everybody Else

          by djjonas ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          When people knock on your door at 9:00 at night or call you and want advice or to work on their computer at odd hours it makes a person say no, because these people are not willing to pay and are looking for something for nothing.

        • #3177950

          Of dead horses and IT

          by beads ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          We can rarely leave anything alone. It usually takes IT folks years to get over our little pet issues.

          My personal favorite: “Real men don’t use mice…” debate from back in the late 80s or early 90s.

          No, no. This would be mild. This horse isn’t only dead but unrecognizable as a horse any more.

          – beads

        • #3177911

          Good Advice

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          Well said, I’m curious how we got to the point in our society that we don’t want to help anyone unless there is something to be gained.

        • #3176957

          because theres no time

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Good Advice

          to help everyone with problems unrelated to you, and since they are not starving there’s no moral obligation to.

          we do help people, just people in need. most co-workers / neighbors do not fall in this category

        • #3177874

          Helping HandSssss

          by ac2 ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          I can see your point and agree in many circumstances. However, there are those that abuse the privilage, people that still do not see IT as real work. For example: our head grounds keeper consistantly botches his home (and office) computer and comes to me for help. Never once has he offered to cut my grass. I’ve even asked him other botanical questions, only to receive the ‘I don’t really know anything about that…” response. Unfortunately, this is often the rule rather than the exception.

        • #3177652

          Be serious

          by poky_it ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          Get serious — My employer is paying me to do his/her work when I’m in the office (and fre

        • #3176964

          Don’t confuse work with home!

          by samza ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          I don’t think I’m better than anyone else and I’ll gladly help someone for free AT WORK, ABOUT WORK. But like many others say here, if I did everything for free that everyone wants, I’d never have a moment to myself. One “friend” of mine only calls or e-mails when he has an IT problem. I never hear or see from him otherwise, but he’s a “friend”. It’s similar to when I lived in New Orleans. Around Mardi Gras I’d hear from “friends” I hadn’t seen in years, looking for a free place to stay. Sounds to me like you’re a bit jealous of IT with the “IT feels they are above or better than anyone else”. If you want to make the money, you’ve got to do the work. I don’t ask my dentist to work for free.

          On the other hand, I will do barter. I’ll fix this and you do something for me that I’m not good at doing. Remember these are co-workers who don’t want advice about work, they want freebies about their home PC’s. Have you ever spent hours trying to straighten out a system with a 56K modem and AOL installed, no backups, none of the Microsoft or other OS updates installed and please don’t format my drive? Oh, and it’s “FREE”. It’s not like it’s work, huh?

        • #3176868

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          There is a time when you have to say enough free stuff and actually earn your pay. I do not believe that IT is above everyone else, the fact of the matter is that a high school drop out who put a computer together could answer the question. (HINT: IT is common knowledge, and no one should put more value on it than that since most Idiots guide to…. or Blank for Dummies can get people certified) Don’t read more into that than there is.

          But if your asked a general question that is not detailed like my printer won’t install, the common answer is that if it is a HP you have to run the CD that came with the printer first then plug it in after it reboots.

          But the highly technical stuff that will take longer to explain than actually reading War and Peace should be tabled for a person or company that can go to their house and do it.

        • #3176780

          Saying no… the nice way

          by danitech ·

          In reply to Helping Hands


          I have had the same problems in the past… Until recently though i have found it to be a major problem. You can always talk to your boss, and exagurate the amount of time you spend unwillingly helping these people when there are very critical tasks which need to be completed for the company. Tell your boss that you feel there needs to be a limitation on how much time is being utilized with these non-work related issues, and have that “strictly enforced”. Then you can tell your co-workers that your boss has noticed you spend considerable amount of time on non-work related things (if your boss is not at the same location as you, one could say they had heard reports of it from “someone”) and you need to limit the conversation to 5 min and are very sorry but your boss is watching your every min when someone is talking to you… or something like that. When it comes to the partner though, it’s always good to get in their good books, so I would recommend having them bring you to their house to actually repair the problems. That is what we do where I work. Then you get into their good books and magical things happen 🙂

          And if you want to help a co-worker out, or give them “advice” you can always create a how to document outlining the fix for their problems. Just tell them you found something on the internet, not sure if it works, but here you go anyways. Just a thought!

          Best of luck!

        • #3178577

          The Politics Of Helping

          by mgordon ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          Boss: Certainly you help.

          Co-workers: It depends on what is wanted, how long it will take, and what sort of karma you expect.

          Family: Generally speaking wise to avoid. The method you use to dodge varies with the person.

          Friends: Help.

          Here’s the reasoning: The instant you touch someone else’s computer, YOU become responsible for any failure it experiences for the next unpredictable period of time, but in my experience about 3 months. It is sort of an implied warranty.

          Your friends will understand that the computer just died, it’s day was up; and not your fault.

          Family does not understand. Adjusting the brightness on the monitor just before the hard disk or motherboard dies links you to to the expensive replacement of disk, and motherboard; without compensation and certainly no thanks that five years of documents just vanished.

          Co-workers generally also do not understand; if they DID they would have your job. However, there’s karma, if you help them *maybe* they will help you. Anyone in the HR department gets mo betta treatment of course 🙂

          Your boss doesn’t need to understand. If the hard disk dies when you touch it, you fix it; but at least you can put it on the company dime.

        • #3177204

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by brazen1 ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          Actually, if it is something I can answer fairly easily, I don’t mind answering it. And I feel like I get these questions fairly often, however, there are other professionals I work with and the same people seem to think it’s rude or inconsiderate to ask a quick question from them.

        • #3117420

          Help all you can…It may make your job easier

          by rubendlct ·

          In reply to Helping Hands

          I believe helping our friends is part of our lives. The peoplo we work and live with are our sheath and “word of mouth”. When you help a friend and let him/her know you are doing it because they are your friends, chances are they will provide you with businessess. I know; it is working for me in a fantastic way. We can apply “capitalism” without being selfish and thinking we are above the others who lack the basic knowledge of the computer world. Blessed are those who can impart their knowledge to other, for to them belong the kindom of IT. Knowledge is power; but it can be evil when it is placed in egoistical minds. I believe that together we can make this a better world.

        • #3178829

          Depends on who it is

          by danag429 ·

          In reply to …then tell them…

          C’mon, get off your high horse. My doctor supplies me with certain allergy pills and other supplies out of the samples she receives from the drug companies. If she needs some help with a simple computer glitch, I’m glad to help.

          Similarly with other friends. If a total stranger asks, then I charge $70 per hour, one hour minimum. But people who we regularly interact with and are a friend of a sort, tend to share knowledge.

          The concept is called “community”, and it extends beyond your normal field. As a photographer, I am glad to help others. Even beginners in the industry, I’ll help them with their business questions. The cadre of friends you build up is very valuable for the rest of your career!

        • #3178792

          Re: Depends on who it is

          by ·

          In reply to Depends on who it is

          > The concept is called “community”, and it extends
          > beyond your normal field. As a photographer, I am
          > glad to help others. Even beginners in the
          > industry, I’ll help them with their business
          > questions. The cadre of friends you build up is
          > very valuable for the rest of your career!

          I agree with this comment completely. I am not a bit afraid to “share resources” or barter my services. I just choose not to be taken advantage of by those who want something for nothing. 🙂

        • #3177684

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by antuck ·

          In reply to Depends on who it is

          I would agree completly with this. I do give out free advise especially if someone is giving me something for free. I never charge my friends and when I need something they are always there to help. I have customers I will give free advise to. But I am carefull with which customers I give free advise to. Ones that call me all the time or call me once in awhile I will help. I have some that because I gave them free advise once expect it everytime without spending any money. Those are the ones I like to walk out of the shop right away. And they are the type of people I really get agravated about giving free support.

        • #3177036


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to Depends on who it is

          This was an excellent response. It seems that those that are opposed to offering help or guidance also don’t understand what networking is all about. Of course there are times when it may be inappropriate for a user to ask for help, but in general, what is the harm, unless the issue is going to take a considerable amount of time to correct?

        • #3177809

          Don’t work so cheap

          by stan20 ·

          In reply to …then tell them…

          I tell them its $250 an hour. (If I like them.)
          If they are jerks, the price goes up. Billed in 15 minute increments.

          Anyone who thinks my rates are too high is free to
          go elsewhere.

      • #3178922

        Not surprised

        by ddissent ·

        In reply to evil, nasty idea..

        I’m not that surprised that you are Canadian

      • #3178915

        Sharing knowledge will build good will

        by randrews@tropicnetworks ·

        In reply to evil, nasty idea..

        I believe a good response is to listen, offer a couple of quick suggestions. Also state that if these do not work, the machine may need to go to the local dealer. When the time comes for you to need some understanding when you can’t get the office system up quickly – the good will you build will become very valuable.

        • #3178840

          Where did you learn?

          by tampa hillbilly ·

          In reply to Sharing knowledge will build good will

          I read the baloney about how “I spent thousands of dollars on training.” Tell the truth… you threw thousands of questions at us old timers and spend thousands of your employer`s dollars for your education. How quickly we forget that we were also newbies at one time. Confused people are asking for a little guidance, no more, no less. I agree with randrews@… Good Will is priceless.

        • #3178838

          Absolutely Right!

          by deacon336 ·

          In reply to Sharing knowledge will build good will

          You are absolutely right. Pointing them to the local repair shop for the actual repairs is very reasonable. Many of them are simply trying to determine the right course of action. Furthermore, a little good will goes a long way in the office and in personal relationships.

          The bad attitudes posted here offer some insight to why many executives do not want “techies” in the front office. Many of them have NO people skills.

          Good technical skills combined with good people skills are a mighty force.

        • #3177819

          I Agree – Good Will for the Future

          by pos_techie ·

          In reply to Sharing knowledge will build good will

          It’s the same if it’s your family and friends, or the customer you support that needs help with something you are not supposed to be supporting. Like if you support a proprietary software, but a customer calls in with a not really related issue. Do you shut them down immediately or do you point them in right direction? You point them in the right direction so the next time you speak to them they are not all over your case about how you didn’t help them that one time. Because you know that’s all they will ever remember about you!It’s the same with co-workers and families, I will point them in the right direction, then tell them if it doesn’t work they have to take it to a shop. I have posted before about the ungratefuls, they get that response. The really close family members, like my parents and my siblings, get support because they throw gift certificates at me because they appreciate the time I spent fixing their issues. My father taught me that a long time ago. He’s a union electrician, and if you think we get requests for free services, you wouldn’t believe how many an electrician gets! “Can you install a new phone jack? Can you run data cable? Can you install a new light/fan, etc.?” The ones that give him ‘tokens of appreciation’ are always the ones he is willing to go back to anytime, even if it’s just a six pack. The ungrateful ones get the brush off!

      • #3178737

        do unto others

        by emmanemms ·

        In reply to evil, nasty idea..

        Is that REALLY how you would want to be treated? IT/PCs are complex. It is amazing to me that home users even manage to keep their PCs running given how quickly technology changes, viruses advance, etc. You have knowlege that most people don’t possess, and if you’re already being PAID through a “real job,” then you are NOT a consultant for hire technically! If I knew the “trick” to unstick the elevator in the office at your job, and you were stuck between the third and fourth floors, using your MO and since I’m NOT the elevator repairman, I should (1) yell down to you to call the maintenance company from your cell phone or (2) find the 50-page instruction manual to the elevator and throw it down the shaft to you (I’d be nice enough to dog-ear the 10 pages on troubleshooting for you though). How selfish.

        • #3176943

          How do you Figure?

          by dlindley ·

          In reply to do unto others

          “if you’re already being PAID through a “real job,” then you are NOT a consultant for hire technically!”

          How do you figure this? Just because I have a “Real job” doesn’t mean I don’t also have a job as a consultant? I both work for a company and have my own consulting company. I have more work to do between those two than I can keep up with.

          You talk about people being selfish for not wanting to work for free. You’re saying that since I have a full time job I should just donate all of my free time and the work I do for my own customers?

          I will always help people out who really need the help and can’t aford it, I have one client who needs the help but doen’t have the money, so I trade them my time for worthless equipment they have laying around that I don’t want in the first place. But why should I donate my time because someone who has the money is to cheap to pay?

          The purpose of charging or bartering is not so much the return you are getting as letting the people know that this is how you make your living and they shouldn’t expect you to give up your time to fix their problems for free. There has to be some reciprication.

          I just spent 10 hours this last weekend rebuilding a computer for someone who couldn’t afford it. That person recipricated by mowing my lawn. That is more than sufficient. Was mowing a lawn equivilent to 10 hours of work @ $75/hour? Of course not! The point is that they paid in a way they could. That’s all I ask.

        • #3184340

          I agree

          by emmanemms ·

          In reply to How do you Figure?

          I agree with you 100%. What I’m saying regards “while on the job.” The original post stated that a “partner” of the firm was wanting help on his personal home PC. As far as I know, “partners” are generally owners, and if that’s what the owner wants, that’s what the owner gets–during office hours anyway.

      • #3176869

        Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        by the admiral ·

        In reply to evil, nasty idea..

        You could do that if you had the personality of a stick, or you could be nice and say sorry, I can’t help you right now.

      • #3117384


        by framey ·

        In reply to evil, nasty idea..

        Tell them to press F1. That usually shuts them up. 😉

    • #3173410

      Another idea

      by bfilmfan ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      We can set up a database with a phone listing of peers. When they want some free advice, have them call one of us. When we answer, it’s $3.95 a minute for all the hot nerd brain action they can stand and we could pay you a finder’s fee.

      Most people in life are looking for something free. My advice is to provide no more than a 30-second answer for free. If they want more, quote them your rates. They usually disappear real fast then.

      • #3174585

        There is something like this

        by dr dij ·

        In reply to Another idea

        per incident help websites, pc mag rated several a while back

    • #3173403

      I though I was the only one

      by ramrod ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice” I really thought I was on my own in this department. My best excuse is that I won’t get involved because I will not be able to give it the time and attention it deserves to do the job ‘properly’ in fact I could even make the situation ‘worse’, lord knows how many times there is a situation when on the surface some users problem looks fairly simple but soon turns into a farce and a waste of your time, don’t even feel under pressure to answer their questions ‘silence is your ally’ in this situation

      • #3178828

        Tell them you could make it worse? Are you insane?

        by cswearingen ·

        In reply to I though I was the only one

        What a way to really make an impression at work.

        “Sorry I really don’t know how the heck to fix your $2,000 home PC. I’d probably make the problem worse. But on the bright side I’m in charge of the company’s million dollars worth of IT infrastructure!”

        Yeah, that’ll breed confidence in your abilities…

        • #3177794


          by lwebb ·

          In reply to Tell them you could make it worse? Are you insane?

          That’s definately NOT what to say!

          You never want to undermine anyone’s confidence in your abilities, especially the abilities you’re trying to make a living with.

        • #3123670

          I got a flat tire while driving on the information superhighway

          by tonybaggadonuts ·

          In reply to Tell them you could make it worse? Are you insane?

          yeah, thats a stupid policy, making yourself look like an idiot to get out of helping someone. It’s just silly.

          Okay so my company has only 150 users, so I give out free advise more than some. But most often people come to me describing some problem they’re having… I just say the same thing car mechanics tell drivers when they bring in their autos.
          “My car is really sluggish. What could it be?”
          “That problem could be caused by a number of different things.”

          And so it goes….

      • #3178747

        you ARE the only one!

        by emmanemms ·

        In reply to I though I was the only one

        they’re asking for advice for necessarily a home visit!!! there has to be a compromise between silence and telling them how the watch is made. however, your tact will probably ensure that you are, indeed, the only one–one by yourself with no one to call on in a pinch! Can we sing, “Lonely, i’m Mr. Lonely…”

        • #3056692

          forget it

          by ramrod ·

          In reply to you ARE the only one!

          …….I’m not sure what kind of people you surround yourself with but I do not need to barter IT knwoledge and skills for human relationships. I suppose in your world everything has a price and often you sell yourself cheap, we can’t be all things to all people so at some point you have to say no is my point

    • #3173346

      Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      by the admiral ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      The correct answer is:

      “Unfortunately, I don’t have experience with your particular setup, so it would be a complete shot in the dark as to how to fix your problem. You might have better luck by having a person come to your house who is licensed and bonded who can take a look at your setup and make the appropriate recommendations. I don’t want to give you the wrong information without knowing the entire picture, sort of like an automechanic pulling out the engine in your car just to plug a hole in your tire.”

      • #3173292


        by tagmarkman ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        This is what I have used in the past. It works very well. I also carry some cards of a tech person that would be more than happy to do that work. I haven’t got that question at work for many many years but I still get it from time to time at parties and such. It’s like a person walking up to the head of surgery and asking them if they could take a look at their sore throat.

      • #3173284

        And a graceful way of backing out , too

        by mickster269 ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        The Admiral summed it up quite nicely. We aren’t psychics, and we aren’t omnipotent.

        But we also don’t want to dent our relations with our co-workers.

        The diplomatic way out is the best way.

      • #3175390

        I like it

        by aceskaraoke ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        It says you care, but not enough to get yourself on the hook for it.

      • #3178956

        The Best Approach

        by mollenhourb9 ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        The Admiral has it right (maybe that’s why he’s the Admiral?). You don’t need to get belligerent, as some film critics do. Quoting rates could actually violate company policy with regard to moonlighting. These are usually decent people just trying to get a straight answer from somebody they trust. Give them the benefit of the doubt and treat them with respect. Someday you may need their help with something in the office, and you don’t want them to think you are a jerk (unless of course you ARE a jerk and LIKE being thought of that way).

        Treat people as you would like to be treated.

        • #3178912

          Make it Work for You

          by tj8 ·

          In reply to The Best Approach

          Better than being rude,is being helpful and having folks continue to see you as someone they respect. I’m often asked for advice and rather than blow them off, I’ve developed a system that usually solves the problem. It involves a little upfront work, but pays off in the long run. Usually they’re asking about the typical stuff: how to remove a virus, spyware; how to set up a computer or wireless;what’s a good program for something; etc. So, I have a bunch of easy to read and follow articles I’ve collected from sites such as Tech Republic(and made into pdf’s) along with downloads of my favorite software, such as ZoneAlarm or AVG. I’ve made a CD with all these on in it. I’ll make them a copy, give some advice and get them started. Then I tell them if they need me to come to the house, here’s what I charge folks, (but, since I work with you I’ll give you the discounted rate). I have a rate for phone assistance too. If they need you, they’ll happily pay you because you were kind and considerate of their needs. Plus, if you’re looking to have a little side business, you’re kindness will pay off in recommendations. You’ll also get people in your organization who are more knowledgeable and less likely to cause you problems in the long run. As others have said, you won’t have burnt any bridges and when it comes time to get cooperation for something you want (like maybe a raise) you’ll have built support.

        • #3178820

          Couldn’t have said it better

          by smullster ·

          In reply to Make it Work for You

          T.J., is spot on. IT has a bad rep when it comes to customer service (and let’s face it… that is what the job boils down to). Even though some see people asking for technical advice as being rude, I try to look at it as a compliment. If they didn’t respect your opinion, then they wouldn’t ask you in the first place.

          I’d want someone with TJ’s outlook working for my organization, compared to someone being rude to the end user.

          That’s my $.02.

          Oh, one more thing… what’s up with computer technician’s / engineers compairing themselves to medical doctors??

        • #3177894

          Diagnostic ?

          by contact ·

          In reply to Couldn’t have said it better

          Oh, one more thing… what’s up with computer technician’s / engineers compairing themselves to medical doctors?


      • #3178857

        but when you know, just tell them

        by jarodbee ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        Sometimes you may actually know the answer to their problem. Then just tell them. If you don’t know, say so and don’t spend time on it. This is what I do (mostly).

      • #3178819

        Remember This Next Time….

        by nottheusual1 ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        … ask some poor schlub for a “freebie” – no matter what he does – fixing your car, mowing your lawn, fixing your phone, and the list goes on.

        Freebies are a cost of doing business for those of us self-employed. They are a great way to build customer loyalty and create a patina of “invincibility” for you, no matter how illusitory it might be. Finding a balance isn’t hard, and most people sense when the balance is reached. If they don’t, the “it’s out of my league” advice is solid.

        But – you run the danger of them finding a guy for whom the task isn’t out of his league. He could be your replacement. Why keep Underdog when Superman is looking for a full-time gig?

        Don’t forget that these same people who you are withdrawing your support from will be making decisions about your future, and, quite sadly, based primarily on perception. You control perception, and they don’t particularly care about your reality. Business is business.

        • #3178794

          A little free advice goes a long way

          by arrichter ·

          In reply to Remember This Next Time….

          I work for a Cardiologist group with 3 locations expanding to 5. There are only 2 people in our IT department. We are very busy to say the least, but I try to give advice when someone asks for it because it creates a better working environment. The person you help just might have the ear of someone who makes the decision about your next raise. Think about it!

        • #3176928

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to A little free advice goes a long way

          Without knowledge of their complete system, you run the risk of loosing the raise anyway. Ever hear of the good samaritan that put the roof on the house to keep the people out of the rain in the poorest part of WVa?

          The house fell and killed all 5 who lived there because of the weight of the roof on the house.

          So sometimes, giving free advice is the wrong thing to do.

        • #3176929

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to Remember This Next Time….

          Those decisions are made with or without your free support. Those decisions are made by bean counters.

      • #3177961

        Then they say…

        by lwebb ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        “can YOU come take a look at it tomorrow? Just real quick (doe eyes) I’m sure someone with your technical skill can just punch a button or something…”

        Been there, done that. Many times with different people of vastly differing familiarity.

        • #3177790

          But it IS the best reply.

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to Then they say…

          My previous post was just a warning…

          I’m not downing the suggested reply, as I use it all the time and it is probably the most gracious way to get out of a jam.

      • #3177789


        by martimus ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        this reply leaves an awful lot of latitude for the troubled end user to try to force the situation. End users aren’t stupid or ignorant but this reply tends to imply just that.

        Let me build a plausible but theoretical framework to help explain my statement. Let us say for a moment that I, an non-computer literate employee of the company come to you, the tech support person at the company, who just yesterday fixed a Windows problem with my PC. I ask if you could assist me with a problem with my home PC. How do you think I would react to a response indicating that you had no experience with my “setup”, AND anything you did would be a “shot in the dark”?

        In all likelihood I would perceive that response to be a lie. Why? Because most end users see PC’s as generic commodities and feel that most computer problems are caused by Windows. And since I already know that you, the tech support person for the company, are very capable with Windows your response is obviously a flimsy excuse to try to avoid assisting me.

        So what have we accomplished with this response? Well we’ve shown the end user a lack of respect reinforced by a statement perceived to be a lie or misrepresentation.

        Personally if the question were posed to me, I’d simply tell the individual that I have prior committments that would interfere with my ability to assist them promptly. I would also say that I would be happy to refer them to another more capable resource (like a local computer store).

        Simple and honest. I suspect the although the end user may not want to hear the response they’ll appreciate the fact that I’m sincere with them and not trying to “Blow smoke up their skirts”.

        • #3176684

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to Unfortunately…

          I think that is giving too much benefit of the doubt, since most if not all users understand that not all PC’s or operating systems are alike being that they come to work using the blessed version and then go home to their preloaded system.

          I hae never had someone that did not understand that all PC’s are not alike, all notebooks are not alike, all cars are not alike, all homes are not alike.

          Lets say that the user asking the question is knuckle dragging stupid as you say. My answer is honest in that the user would not know the difference. If the person is a tinkerer, the answer is still valid, since most if not all companies have a standard setup that differs greatly from every other preload on a home system.

          While I have confidence in every technician, I also have confidence that the tech will defer the end user to someone outside of the company, or call the free support numbers for their PC for their answer.

          I do not believe that the answer is misleading in that quite simply, it states that the technician is not familiar with their HOME setup versus the corporate setting, and that it is better for a person who is familiar with the HOME setting to work on the system. Nothing more.

          I think what I am saying is that in a corporate environment, I want my techs to focus on keeping the business running rather than working on everyones home system, and that free advice for a split second item is fine to give, but for setting up a wireless network with a plethora of other items, that is a different issue whereby stating that “I don’t know your situation, so I can’t comment” is not misleading or is it avoiding, but respecting them and pointing them in the correct direction.

        • #3177236


          by martimus ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          based on my perception of what you’ve written you are the one who seemingly thinks that all end users are ignorant of technology. In my opinion there are an awful lot of people who understand just enough about computers to be dangerous.

          In my opinion the end users deserve to be given a plausible reason rather than placated with mis-information and hyperbole. If you, as a technology resource, cannot or do not want to involve yourself in troubleshooting their problems tell them so. To me telling them that you’re unfamiliar with their configuration and any assistance would be a “shot in the dark” is somewhat inaccurate and misleading.

          I, for one, try to have a life outside of work. As such many of my evenings are committed to family, friends, and spending time with my dogs. If someone wants me to look at their computer I tell them that my evenings are booked. I’ll be happy to look at their computer for them but it’ll be when I have time not when they have time. If my availability is not consistant with them then my recommendation is one of many local computer stores.

        • #3178251

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to Actually…

          When I was going through all of the social and psychology classes through college, there was one factor that came up.

          No one likes an arrogant smart butt. When you tell them that it is on your terms not theirs, it shows arrogance, so who in the heck would bother asking you later?

          I like spending time with my family as well. When someone tells me that they know every configuration of every Personal Computer on the planet, they are full of crap, plain and simple. There are party quirks of every single system out there and a blanket statement saying that something is inaccurate or misleading is avoiding the facts.

          The fact of the matter is that there is a correct way of letting someone down by pointing them in the right direction or looking like a jerk. My comments show that you care about the person, and you give them assitance in pointing them in the proper direction to get the help that they need rather than let them hang there until such time as you have time to deal with them.

          However, that is your opinion, and since my answer works 100% of the time, I can take my answer from the opinion rack and put it on the policy rack without a guilt trip.

          One other thing. I am glad that you agree with me that all end users are ignorant with technology with your statement: “…awful lot of people who understand just enough about computers to be dangerous.”

    • #3173222

      Backside business!

      by admin ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I have had this alot over the years, my response is this… I’d love to help! I can’t accommodate you on business hours of course, but I don’t charge and arm and a leg- just $xx and hour, and I’ll put in the queue for after hours or weekends. After the humms and hahs, you can say, well, there is a service depot in town for your machine, why don’t you take it there?

    • #3175919


      by zen37 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      One of my friends had a neat idea.
      He shows his MCSE card and tells them that the MCSE rules obligates him to charge for any and all work he does at an acceptable minimum rate.

      So far, he hasn’t been busy all that much outside of work!!!

      I don’t do that anymore. What i hated the most is when people would ask for pirated copies of software and they would look at you funny when you told then it was illegal and you couldn’t do that. Like all IT people are expected to be thieves or something. geez!

      • #3175914

        “Free” Tech Advice…

        by beads ·

        In reply to Obligations

        Short of wearing one of those: “No, I won’t fix your computer…” shirts around the office. You might be tempted to put a small, sign on your desk or what not. Just large enough for people to see but not explosively so. Yes, someone really does make a T-shirt with those words printed on it. Thought about wearing one to the next family get together where I am usually barraged worse than anything at work.

        No, the PC (Politically Correct) thing to do would be to follow Admiral’s advice. That is without a doubt the most succint way I have ever heard to avoid the perils of the ‘free advice’ dilema. Of course if they get really upset I remind them that the advice I could give would cost them many years of training and learning for the privilidge. So, even for us, its not at all free now is it?

        – beads

      • #3175908

        we we are..

        by jaqui ·

        In reply to Obligations

        all suposed to be thieves.
        after all how else are they supposed to get free software?

        ignore the fact it’s us that create it so we are stealing from ourselves ( in a sense )
        we should support piracy of software….


        since I’m open source, I just say go download the sources and compile it.
        if it’s a commercial app, why does the company need it?
        I ain’t spending money I don’t have to.

      • #3179009


        by mjd420nova ·

        In reply to Obligations

        This is a problem for all IT souls. I’m slanted towards hardware and will give it all for free.
        As much advice as anyone doing it by osmosis.
        I refer to it as the “laying on of hands”. To
        truly bless the needy, they must bring it to
        my presence and say the magic words. I will
        do “work” for friends and agree ahead of time that no money passes hands, as the blessing are to be repaid inkind. BARTER I gain many services I could otherwise not afford. I barter
        with my auto mechanic, dentist, doctor, babysitter, and grocer. My regular rates are
        $125. arrival and $95. an hour with one hour minimum. I do everything from printers to
        monitors and systems. Many things are dependent
        upon the age of the machine and available parts.
        So far, the best customer I have is the dentist
        as I feel I’m getting the best side of the deal,
        but I would never have suggested Barter, He brought it up…

    • #3175864

      no free lunches

      by fbeechwood ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      As a school Technology specialist and Computer repair teacher I have a solution
      Tell them what I say, ” I will be happy to have one of my student assistants to assist you.”

      They usually recoil in horror and beat a hasty retreat!
      This is not the nicest way tro handle the problem but it is effective

      • #3178941

        I Don’t Usually Have A Problem

        by knightheart ·

        In reply to no free lunches

        Whenever coworkers ask me to look at their systems, it’s usually the same thing: Spyware. I wipe out as much as possible, and then put their hard drives (as slaves) in a system I have specifically for eliminating spyware, and clean it up all the way. It usually doesn’t take that long, so I give them a REALLY reasonable price, and I haven’t had any complaints. No one has expected anything for free….yet.

        I worked on my boss’s machine and didn’t charge, but she gave me a couple gift certificates for a restaurant I liked anyway. And since it was her machine, I didn’t have a problem doing it during work.

        One thing I do steer away from, and that’s building machines for people. As soon as Windows crashes once, even if it’s because they’ve stupidly installed a ton of spyware and have no anti-virus or anything, they complain that the machine isn’t right. So now if they ask, I tell them to get either Alienware or Dell (feh), for no other reason than if they have a problem, they can call tech support.

        Of course, I’ve had people buy the Dell and then ask me for help when something goes wrong with it. That’s when I can say “sorry, but I didn’t build the machine, and since you’ve paid for Dell’s warranty, you should ask them.” Sometimes when reminded that they paid for something, they tend to want to get their “money’s worth.”

        Never do it for free once, because then it’s expected forever. People will get a lot more offended having to pay for something after it was free then if that’s how it’s been all along.

    • #3175807

      Don’t know

      by choppit ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Some years ago (before I made a living from IT), if I asked IT related questions of our IT support guy I’d always get the answer “I dunno mate”. At the time I wondered how he could perform his job function whilst apparently knowing so little. Now I’m in the same position I understand why he always played dumb.

      • #3178959

        Could be….

        by mrshickman ·

        In reply to Don’t know

        Heck….if our “IT specialist” said that, I’d believe him. 😉 I’d never ask him for advice, because I know more about it than he does. Funny how “expert” someone becomes to the ignorant when they hang out a shingle for a computer business, whether they have any credentials or experience or not.

    • #3175799

      I just ask the which version of

      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      VMS are they using.
      It’s quite easy to let yourself get dragged into this sort of thing. If it’s a mate I’ll go round try and help and sink a few beers. If it’ the missus’ sister best friends mother in law then Ill book atime to do it and then be unfortunatley too busy

      • #3175720

        E-Z PC, No freebie’s

        by astral_traveller ·

        In reply to I just ask the which version of

        I allways tell people who ask for “free” computer support, YES I can certainly help them for free, just as soon as they can put me onto a Plumber who can sort my plumbing for free. Oh and by the way when did they last go to their work for “Free”.
        PS. Check out the rates and call out charges of Plumbers. Are we not the same ? Electron plumbing in a precise manner.

        • #3175388

          Well Said

          by aceskaraoke ·

          In reply to E-Z PC, No freebie’s

          I have a business running karaoke, hence the name. I found myself being invited to many social gatherings after I started my business, always with the dread “and if you’d like to bring your equipment and play music, that’d be great”. Of course I would, just like a dentist would love to pull some teeth and do a root canal before going back for seconds at the buffet. It took a while, but I learned that “no” is a perfectly acceptable answer for many questions.

      • #3117407


        by mikemerch1 ·

        In reply to I just ask the which version of

        With family and close friends I say if you are still running Win 98 I can no longer help you MS not longer maintains it. I will help you upgrade…
        XP I will tell them first before I will even look at their PC. Update XP, Update Virus scanner and Anti Spware.Run them . Call me if they still have problems.
        Friends of friends and the milkman’s brother in law …sorry

    • #3175643

      New Law Idea

      by ed woychowsky ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      When dealing with those that have never read a manual in their lives I usually explain my idea about a five-day waiting before somebody can buy a computer. During this five-day waiting period the government researches the buyer?s background to determine if their having a computer would be a burden on society. After all, I explain, if someone is too dumb to read the manual, they?re too dumb to own a computer.

      • #3178827

        5-day waiting period for IT techs

        by dumbuser ·

        In reply to New Law Idea

        Perhaps there should be a 5-day waiting period for IT people who don’t understand the nature of customer service……sounds a awful lot like American automobile workers in the 1970’s—very smug. Look where that got them.

    • #3175638

      Can help advance you

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      By helping people higher up the food chain, this helps you get friends in high places.

      this can only be good news when it comes to raises and advancement.

      • #3175385


        by aceskaraoke ·

        In reply to Can help advance you

        I find that when I take care of people who are in a position to help me, they generally come through when I am in need. It also matters the manner in which I am approached. If the person seems genuinely aware that I am doing them a favor of not so small nature and are thankful for my donating time and energy, I am much more inclined to help than if they expect me to be Mr. Instant Answer and Fix It for them.

        • #3175316

          Not to mention

          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to True

          it really can be as simple as saying yes and making a friend in a high position and saying no and making bad feelings with someone in a high position.

          I prefer the friends.

      • #3174839

        Doesn’t have to be higher-ups

        by dmambo ·

        In reply to Can help advance you

        C’mon, we can help those who might not be “higher up the food chain”. In reality, the help most people need doesn’t take too long to give. As long as nobody’s taking advantage of my good nature, I’ll usually help them out regardless of their social/work position.

        Most of us geeks spend a significant amount of our free time pursuing geek activities anyway. Why not let that time benefit someone who needs the help? 🙂 (That doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. Everything has its limits.)

      • #3178914


        by rdover ·

        In reply to Can help advance you

        What if you gave verbal advice and they didn’t follow your verbal advice and did something wrong and messed up their PC?

        Or what if you go to their house and in attempting to fix it, something unrelated happens and their machine crashes, or two days later it crashes? Their going to say “You came over to my house and broke my computer.” It can get real ugly real quickly!

        • #3183307


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to But

          It’s rediculous to not help someone on the off chance that the worst thing that can happen will happen. That’s like saying you won’t get out of bed in the morning on the off chance that you will twist your ankle the wrong way, fall and crack your head open.

      • #3178883

        At last some reason

        by gary ·

        In reply to Can help advance you

        Thanks for the realistic post. Sure everything has limits. It takes little time to recommend people download adaware or run an antivirus. Recommend outside help where appropriate. You want to be viewed by upper management as helpful and knowledgeble. I can tell you that after surviving multiple downsizings and company buyouts, those who aren’t viewed favorably are no longer here. Didn’t you say one of those asking for advice is a partner? Sure, don’t offer any advice, and pick up a copy of the help wanted ads while you’re at it.

      • #3177951

        I used to do that…

        by lwebb ·

        In reply to Can help advance you

        I only got screwed.

        It turns out in our Corporate environment that helping people higher up the totem pole than you with their personal machines devalues the importance of IT to the company.

        They don’t give me free training in Accounting…Aseptic Supervision…Tetra Mechanics… They DO see the value in these things, but not the computers that make it happen.

      • #3117398

        Not necessarily

        by coyotenm ·

        In reply to Can help advance you

        I’ve found that where you work, that may gain you some goodwill–as long as everything you do works well, but not advancement. In fact, in some weird twist of logic, it may do the opposite. Your superiors will think you are a nice person, but somehow it says you are not management material. They aren’t looking for nice. So if IT help is your way of doing good for the world, go for it. But it won’t get you much in the way of promotions.
        One exception: if you volunteer IT work for an organization, that’s a great reference, a way to build professional contacts, and a great way for a beginner to get needed experience for a full IT job.

    • #3175607

      Keep it free!

      by dmambo ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      A lot of times, people who ask me for help try to pay me for it afterwards. By not taking their payment, they usually (if they have any class at all) hesitate before asking me again because they don’t want to put me out too much. Of course, there are those folks who will take advantage of you. In those cases, I just tell them that I do not have the time. No other explanation is needed.

      • #3175466


        by hugh_vagn ·

        In reply to Keep it free!

        I like some of the responds on thread. There are some exceptions when some decent co-workers need your help & pick your brain. Who knows one of these days, you might be asking for their help and expertise. I have fellow employee who are honest and willing to help (ie fix cars) for a reduced rates.

        • #3175384

          You get what you give

          by aceskaraoke ·

          In reply to exceptions

          When you give a little, you often find that it comes back to you. Depending on who you help.

        • #3175320

          Many users treat you like a doctor or laywer

          by jmgarvin ·

          In reply to You get what you give

          You are there for free advice and help. They think you WANT to constantly work and give out free advice. They think you don’t want a weekend or time off….

          Aren’t you ALWAYS thinking about these things? Aren’t you ALWAYS wanting to work for hours on end at someones house (or on their home computer in your house) trying to figure out WHAT they really want and need?

        • #3177962

          Many people also treat you like a Pizza Delivery

          by beads ·

          In reply to Many users treat you like a doctor or laywer

          Years of being asked for free IT advice, especially on weekends often makes me feel more like a Pizza Delivery than a Physician or Lawyer.

          Yep! Put it over there. Here ya go!

          – beads

        • #3177774

          Paid off with a pizza

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Many people also treat you like a Pizza Delivery

          I’d driven a ways to help small biz with problem. They knew my consulting rates.

          Then they tried to buy me off with a pizza.
          I told them no thanks, and got the check.

        • #3178967

          Hard Core

          by the hard way ·

          In reply to You get what you give

          I see a lot of people are really hard core about this. I believe what goes around, comes around. Helping those who give you a reason to have a job can’t hurt the image. Advice is one thing, on-site service may be expecting too much.

        • #3178896

          Free ?

          by thomas.lattimer ·

          In reply to Hard Core

          I am regularly asked to help with PC problems. I have no hesitation in attempting to assist someone without any thought of recompense, but then I am not running a business, or business centre, so I do not have a profit incentive. Many times people in very desparate situations ask me if I can help, mainly with try to recover misplaced, or missing, information. I help to the best of my ability, not expecting any reward, but sometimes a book voucher, or a cake, or some such other thing arrives at my desk. I feel good, I have helped a person who may have lost a lot of work, or be faced with a long reovery path, they feel great, and my boss gets a nice letter saying how good I am. Where’s the problem with that? However if I needed to earn a living doing that I would probably starve. Different situations require different tactics.

        • #3177750

          If its not your job

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Hard Core

          to fix their home PCs on company time you shouldn’t be doing this. If you are willing to do this, be sure is OK with your boss.

          Even free advice can cause an unknowledgable worker to do something bad or goof up your suggestion. Free advice for what to buy is 1) freely available on web, you shouldn’t be telling them, 2) can get them po’d if they follow your advice and buy something they don’t like or doesn’t work

        • #3176616

          Exceptions agreed, but how far

          by wrc it dude ·

          In reply to exceptions

          We had an accountant at one stage kept asking for help and expertise with problems that he had caused because the Government is out to get him. I always helped him and all of my colleagues without question.

          Then one day when I needed some financial advice, he had the hide to say no problem, should take more that about 2 or 3 hours to sort and the rate is ?100 and hour. I declined.

          The next time he had issues with his personal laptop, the only answer possible was shouldn’t take more than two hours but the rate is ?150 an hour.

          He did get the point immediately but thought the rate was too high, until I explained that I knew exactly how to fix the problem and was he prepared to pay slightly lower rates that will probably twice as due to infamiliarity with his environment?

          The point here is that all of my other co-workers I am willing to help, (office machines are an obligation, personal machines good will), as I know they will oblige me with their expertise when I need it.

          You will find out soon enough who is taking advantage.

          If they are persitant ask them to bring the machine in and leave it sitting for a week or two, if it is that urgent they take it else where because you will obviously be too busy to look at it.

          It’s funny how most get the point of this as well.

      • #3178771

        Member of my community

        by thorarinn ·

        In reply to Keep it free!

        Living in a small community (60 miles from the nearest town with any sort of commercial computer support) I’ve been asked many times to “fix” computers.

        Most often it’s a question of removing spyware and viruses, then installing patches to the operating system(!) and explaining why some sort of virus protection and a decent firewall is a good idea.

        I’ve never asked for payment but none the less, I’ve often been paid. I never set my price and always accept what they feel it’s worth. (I’m also careful never to promise something I can’t deliver.)

        The payment? Anything from $30 (after driving 15 miles to a farm to remove a corrupt e-mail via web-interface) to a whole lamb, fresh from the slaughter-house (after removing some spyware for the second time from the same laptop).

        Why do people pay me? Because they say they “want to be able to call you again”. They know I’ve taken the time to help them out (sometimes many, many hours) and most realize it would cost many times more to take their computer to town.

        I realize my situation is somewhat unusual and I do understand those of you who are reluctant to sort out your co-worker’s mess (been there, done that).

        But apart from being able to put food on the table (quite literally!) my greatest satisfaction comes from the gratitude of those “clueless” people. To me, that’s what makes a “community”, taking part and helping each other out. (TechRepublic, anyone…?)

        If anyone attempted to earn a living in the area by “fixing” computer, I wouldn’t hesitate to point people their way. In the absence of a real alternative, I’m quite happy to be my community’s computer “geek”.

        • #3176910

          That’s good

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Member of my community

          if you never got anything you might not repeat visit. you might not be able to afford to, it costs you time and money to drive somewhere and help someone.

          doesn’t have to be money. you help avoid excessive govt by using barter. unfortunately, in cities people don’t want to swap anything much of the time, just want it for free.

    • #3175415

      Do what they do…

      by winkyx ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Just tell them that the manufacturer of the machine is usually the best source for information, seeing as how much of the installation is proprietary (he he) and to just give ’em a call. Of course you must act as if this is the most natural thing in the world, even though it will become the bane of their existance. Better them than you; you never know, tech support might actually get it fixed. Easier them telling ’em to reload their OS than you.

    • #3175319

      post to intranet site for company user groups

      by davemori ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      We post recommendations to an internal user group discussion page on our intranet, with links to various vendor sites, and Q&A type stuff with huge legal disclaimers on each page.

      Whenever someone asks, we point them there.

    • #3174818

      Be like the lawyers

      by paul ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Send them a bill afterwards. They will never ask you again.

      • #3178876

        Or bill them up front…

        by mswanberg ·

        In reply to Be like the lawyers

        Just say, “well, I usually charge my friends $100 an hour to work on their stuff… but I tell you what, I’ll do it for you for $90…”


    • #3174720

      Say it in style

      by vince ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

    • #3174716

      This is SO easy…

      by lwebb ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I think all IT people have this problem at some point.

      So do what I do:
      Act like they’re imposing on you (body language, tone of voice etc…shouldn’t be hard to do because they ARE)

      Tell them you normally charge $100/hour for consulting and off-site jobs.


      Repeat after me:
      “You know dude, I’d like to help you but I’ve already been through this a million times already. If I give you advice, then suddenly I’m responsible for every little thing that goes wrong with your machine and all of a sudden I’m roped into driving 40min to your house at 10pm on a Saturday night because you fat-fingered your password and it’s somehow my fault…
      Dude, your FRIENDSHIP,…and my Marriage… are far too important to me than giving you free computer advice. Here’s a number of a guy I know in the Valley…”

      Works EVERY time.

      • #3178931

        You’re so right…

        by legalalien ·

        In reply to This is SO easy…

        This is absolutely the best post here. Come on, we all know that in reality there’s no such thing as 30-second help. Once you provide free help, they always come back for more. After a year or two, when you’re only getting a few hours sleep a night because you now have a reputation as everyone’s best friend and have a home full of other peoples hardware, you just try and turn it around. You’ll then find our how quickly those friends disappear.

        • #3177919

          Ain’t it though?

          by lwebb ·

          In reply to You’re so right…

          I noticed if you scroll up to the top you can see how I’m getting flamed like an AOL’er for suggesting that you mention your “normal fee”.

          Hey, I used to give out free advice. I used to think it would advance my career, I needed the experience etc. etc. etc.
          I got burnt far more times than it takes the average person to get cynical.

          Nowadays I restrict my “free advice” to software recommendations, manufacturers, and reputable technicians working locally.

          I have a family who wants me at HOME when I’m not working, so when someone gets insistant, I WILL charge them $100/hour and not feel bad about it.

    • #3174633

      It will take time….

      by bkl.thomas ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I send them an email stating that I am not responsible for anything that could happen to destroy data or the machine including theft and that they have to bring me their entire machine and hook it up in the common storage facility we have and I will look at it when I have time. Oh and the general turn around time is 3-4 months for an urgent project?.this usually works.

    • #3178966

      A successful reply

      by johnshell ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I experience the same requests from co-workers and friends who need help with their personal equipment and programs. I found a way to answer their questions and not offend them or immerse myself in ongoing problems and remedies. I direct the folks who ask me questions to web sites where they can get free help, like I tell them to go there, click on “Computing/Technology” and follow the links. The volunteers at that site will provide them an answer within three days. This provides the questioners an answer but keeps me out of the loop. If they insist or persist in asking me then I tell them I have a policy similar to lawyers, one free consultation then it’s on the clock at $100 per hour.

      • #3178853

        Get a Dell

        by sirlanse ·

        In reply to A successful reply

        Tell them to get a Dell, they have free help
        from India.
        Unless they are Gay, then
        tell them to get a Mac.

        If they insist, ask them a lot of background
        questions about the situation.
        When they cannot answer these, offer to do
        on site service at $100 per hour.

        • #3177938

          Used to say get a Gateway

          by beads ·

          In reply to Get a Dell

          Before Michael Dell got his company really off the ground I used to say similar things about Gateway.

          Now for gays. For some reason all my gay nieghbors use PCs not Macs. Though I never had to think about it till you brought it up. LOL.

          – beads

        • #3176955

          Say dell gain an enemy

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Get a Dell

          read or or ratings of dell and you won’t recommend them to a friend.

          hp and gateway almost as bad

    • #3178965

      Be nice

      by tekdoc ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      “Prescription without Diagnosis is Malpractice.”

      That usually gets them laughing.

      Then hand them your card, or the card of someone who makes house visits.

      For executives and managers in your company, you should look for agreement that this is part of your job. Home computers are extensions of their job, and you need to keep them realtively safe. Of course you are compensated for the time involved.

    • #3178964

      What a miserable lot of buggers you are …

      by merchantbanker ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Remember now, if you are going to be this mean spirited and petty you forfeit the right to ask anyone anything about anything you don’t know (without payment) ever again. That mechanic friend of yours ? Forget it. And the guy that works at the garden place and knows plants ? No chance. That guy down the street that is a tax person. No, that’s it. No cash, no help. You said it.

      Nope, you are on your own now pal. Whatever happened to being a nice person and applying a little Karma to your life ?? Jeez.

      The Merchant.

      • #3178945

        have to agree

        by dugga6 ·

        In reply to What a miserable lot of buggers you are …

        Yeah, I agree with merchantbanker – people come to you because they respect your opinion – be thankful your needed. Who wants to be the surly office grump who no one wants to talk to for fear of having their head bitten off?

      • #3178942

        Ahh, you’re right

        by dmambo ·

        In reply to What a miserable lot of buggers you are …

        We really should take these requests more in stride and look to help folks out more. But you’ll probably get flamed for saying it if this thread has any legs!!!

      • #3178918

        THANK YOU!!!

        by ddissent ·

        In reply to What a miserable lot of buggers you are …

        I like you – YOU get it – The rest of these greedy idiots surely don’t. That’s ok because you and I? we can look at ourselves in the mirror and actually LIKE what we see. These other “people” get to live their lives picking up every penny they find on the sidewalk … wishing it were a dime.

        – greed is the gas that fuels the car of the lonely


        • #3178733

          Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          by the admiral ·

          In reply to THANK YOU!!!

          I don’t know. Is it greed or is it work ethic? Stopping and on the company time giving information out on a personal matter?

        • #3177771


          by lwebb ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          For me, my boss has the same problem, so he discourages “wasting company time giving out non-company advice”. And I agree with him. It all depends on who’s doing the asking.

          When I’m NOT at work, well that’s MY free time and I don’t like to talk shop or work for free. Sorry, I must be a total a-hole with bad karma…

          My wife and kids are MUCH more valuable to me than fixing my mothers-hairdresser’s-cousin’s-roomates’ computer, or even my best friend’s.

          I don’t charge $100/hour because I’m greedy.
          I charge $100/hour because I don’t want to do it.
          If they want me to blow time away from family, then they gotta renumerate me how I see fit.

          Strangely, people can and do cough up the $100. But most of the time it’s the best deterrant I can think of.

        • #3176844


          by macghee ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          If I’m at work on a project, I’ve got to charge my time to what I’m working on. If you need advice on something personal, then I can’t give it. Come back at break or lunch and we’ll talk when my time is my own. If I spend 30 minutes talking to you about the problem with your home computer and the boss catches me, I have to charge Do Not Pay Absent or risk being fired for mischarging. If we talk during lunch or after work, no problem.

        • #3176913

          If I was greedy

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to THANK YOU!!!

          then I’d help them and get paid.
          I value my time OFF work.

          Sounds kind of communist russia years ago, people off work were ‘expected’ to ‘donate’ large amounts of their time building the moscow subway.

          Do you think that tax guy or car repair guy helps people for free who have done nothing for him?

          If you want to help the truly helpless that’s great. Some people are simply clueless about computers but have the resources to pay to fix, and of course if anyone can get something for free they want to.

          So people helping for free without any barter DOES devalue PC and IT work. Doesn’t mean you can’t be nice off work and do it for someone special. It’s more special if you only do it occasionally.

      • #3178906

        Finally someone with compassion

        by wdeckert ·

        In reply to What a miserable lot of buggers you are …

        Do Unto Others is a good moto. If you can help with plain simple advice, then do so. If the problem is extremely technical, tell them. If they act like they can’t even understand the answer, refer them to web sites, computer stores, or hot lines for help. We really do need to help those “computer challanged individuals” if they seek our help. Who knows they might be helpful to you someday, or provide promotional opportunities.

      • #3178844

        Right On

        by mrmilt ·

        In reply to What a miserable lot of buggers you are …

        It’s not someone trying to get something for free. All the people I help have offered monetary compensation. They know they’ll get a truthful answer from me and a good job done if service is needed. My compensation is a thankful human. If they really insist on compensating me, I tell them to donate to a charity or remember this when someone asks for their assistance.

      • #3178795

        Well said…..

        by danag429 ·

        In reply to What a miserable lot of buggers you are …

        Very well put. You will feel exploited if you are an exploiting type of person. If you’re easy going, you might make less money but you’ll live a longer and happier life.

        It’s all in your priorities.

    • #3178963

      What a bunch of cheap whiners

      by steve.thornburg ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      What’s the problem with helping people? I get asked for help on a fairly regular basis; co-workers and friends mostly, and family sometimes too. I have no problem lending a hand, and in return I get help if and when needed.
      Don’t you earn a good enough living? I simply don’t see the need to ask for money in return for helping a friend.
      I did not have time to read all the posts, but the first 10 I read were all negative. You sound like a bunch of immature egotistical spoiled brats. I sure hope that many of the posts were positive, and that I simpyl missed them.
      Lastly, I would like to point out that many of us, and probably even many of the complainers, offer *free* advice here online to people in need, so what exactly is your problem???
      Teamwork, folks. Teamwork. Don’t be so cheap.

      • #3178908


        by jb1 ·

        In reply to What a bunch of cheap whiners

        Posted incorrectly. Have since corrected my mistake. Do not need any free advice on what I did wrong. I figured it out on my own.

      • #3176907

        not friends

        by dr dij ·

        In reply to What a bunch of cheap whiners

        but co-workers.
        they WANT to pay you to fix it sometimes
        And I consider it whining to think that everyone else should work for free.

    • #3178962


      by haylocks ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Why would you not want to help out colleagues?
      I had so much support from tecchies when I was tech-ignorant in sales in DEC that I now run my own PC support company.

      I help out my colleagues who are in the state I was 25 years ago – I usually, smilingly, ensure that I receive an untaxable bottle or two of Shiraz. And it’s nice to know they prefer my help rather than some others of my colleagues!

      Staff who work together for their common benefit give their company a performance boost. If you’re you’re a curmugeon, don’t expect anything from them either.

      • #3178924


        by carterdn ·

        In reply to Why

        Geez I’ve got to break out the Webster’s just to understand the post? Crusty and ill tempered heh? Perhaps. I’m not sure the old part applies judging from the previous messages on hiring prospects for the middle aged. At least I learned something today, even if my wishes are that I shall refrain from using it.

    • #3178961

      Free Advice and Help gets you A LOT of political capital

      by jeffh ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I try keep my free help to a minimum. If it is an important person or someone I may need a favor from I will make the extra effort to help. The downside is that I try very hard to say no to anyone. If I “check out” a PC or laptop at work I will never accept cash. A donation of some delicious Heinikein is alway’s appreciated. The point is that you ARE the good IT guy not the jerk IT guy with the smarta$$ answers. Treat people with respect and it will always come back to you. It has helped me in my position tremendously.

      • #3176953

        Helping others makes life wonderful, but being bothered makes things ugly

        by hank ·

        In reply to Free Advice and Help gets you A LOT of political capital

        It’s not about free advice or helping people. It’s about being bothered. When you are at middle of writing codes or system/network troubleshooting, a five second interrupt may break the concentration and you may have to spend 10 minutes to resume the task. Sometimes it’s not we don’t want to help. Mostly the stress comes from peopel asking at the wrong time or the wrong questions. I love helping people who have done some homework helping themselves before asking others’ help, and I feel it’s worth for me to spend some time in my life helping them. Not everyone is worth to help if you know what I mean. Many people think that being with their family is more important than helping others, but some people may not agree. As long as it’s you that making the decision to help people, being with your family, or doing something else, please live with it and do not complain. It’s not about money or helping people for free; it’s about if you do it happily or not, and everyone is responsible for the decision he/she makes. If saying “no” to others makes you unhappy, don’t say it, help them, and do not complain. No matter how good the excuse is, it won’t work if not speaking out. Firday is coming, and that makes me happy. Everyone has a great coming weekend!

    • #3178960

      Deal with the partner first

      by karenc ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Tell the partner you are starting a home business dispensing IT to the needy for a small fee, outside of work and won’t affect work in any way of course.

      Then as the partner has had all this free help from you it’s only fair the partner helps you run your business by giving you advice and solving your problems.

      Once the partner decides this is a bad idea you can legitemately do the same and further you can apply it to the other ‘customers’ with the partners backing.

    • #3178958

      Say YES

      by joseph.r.piazza ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Dear freozraelised:

    • #3178957

      New Policy

      by arkous ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Try to have a policy created where you work that does not allow the IT staff to consult/work on the personal PCs of members of the organization.

      • #3188539

        “I don’t do Windows”

        by gary.woodman ·

        In reply to New Policy

        I wish I could say that. But everyone knows I do “do” Windows. Thanks Bill, it’s been a pretty stable career for 20 years now, following you around tidying up your doo-doos.

        I *do* say “I don’t have a Windows CD”. It’s true, too. People who have character weaknesses that cause them to wreck Windows systems really need a Mac, or a PC with Linux (or a typewriter). I give away Linux CDs 🙂 People I help, in or out of work, get my standard rant about how they’re not doing themselves any favours by sticking with Windows, that this will happen again, that there are villains out there on the Net attacking their systems as we speak, that they’re fodder for the upgrade mill.

        PCs are too complicated. Even the normal care and feeding required to keep Windows functional is rocket science to most people. I’m disinclined to be a self-appointed (and largely unpaid) MS support dude. People who *really* want my help, as distinct from a cut-and-shut repair, will be changing to Linux. I do that for free 🙂


    • #3178955

      Say YES

      by joseph.r.piazza ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Dear freozraelised: If you are a High Level empolyee, you are in a position of trust and human narture dictates we should go to people we trust versus people just trying to make a sale. And as an high level employee you should want to help your fellow workers and partner, so gladly offer advice. If you want keep it short and simple. With computers being so inexpensive, that should be easy to do. Because once you say NO. People will not trust you, you may lose some friends and “whatever ties” you may have with high level management. Just keep it short and sweet. Personnaly the negative feelings I stated, I had against my IT group when they refused me.

      • #3178947

        it just diplomacy

        by jez ·

        In reply to Say YES

        All situations are different, but i think it is good for our (IT peps) reputation to be approachable and offer basic advice…
        I try and be helpful and if people get too probing the geek in me comes out and i tell them
        “of course you wouldnt have this problem with linux”. 😉

        Also any mention of home visits is met with “so your going to cook for me”, or “that’ll cost you few beers”.

        The bottom line is be honest. If something is going to take me 2 hours (OS install) then i tell them it is a big job and i can / cant fit it in.

        We are all only human and people will respect you more for your honesty.

    • #3178954

      What’s wrong with yes a few times?

      by lsa ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I get that a lot here and I always try to help as much as possible. Sometimes I’m swmaped and can’t and they understand that. But I will help and I tell them there’s no charge, even when they offer to pay. These are co-workers and people I like and won’t take money for helping them. Some of you are just plain mean-spirited and nasty. Get over it.

      • #3177775

        Since you asked…

        by lwebb ·

        In reply to What’s wrong with yes a few times?

        Apparently you don’t get taken advantage of much. Perhaps you’re new to the field. Perhaps you just are a masochist…

        The vast majority of us who have been in the field any length of time quickly figure out that giving out free advice more often than not includes basically working for free.
        Not trade.
        Not barter.
        Information is a valuable commodity. I am more than willing to trade it with my accountant, handyman, electrician, fellow IT pros.

        Giving it away may be nice, but the recipient (whether they know it or not) is being rude and thoughtless. At the core, it’s also Socialist.

        I’m a non-apologetic Capitalist. Dad said “Make a living with your brain, not your back!”

        I don’t see why I have to give away information to be “nice” when experience tells me I might get roped into spending hours of my valuable free time and risking relationships with the client.

        I have had a simple question turn into 48+ hours of free work in another city. How? He was a friend and a “Lodge brother”. He took advantage of that and guilted me into being his IT monkey-boy thinking that a half a dozen beers were adequate compensation.
        There wasn’t any graceful way to get out of it without having to end the relationship entirely.

        It’s an extreme example, I know. But SO many people I thought were my friends have tried with various success to bend me over like this.

        You’ll find out your true friends cough up at least a $20 without having to be asked.

        • #3188267


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to Since you asked…

          To consider someone asking for advice, free or otherwise as being rude is a matter of personal judgment. I personally think to withhold information that can help another is rude, except in extreme cases. Most of us that consider ourselves decent human beings are more than willing to help another human being. It’s that I have all the information and I’m going to keep it to myself mentality that (in my opinion) set so many up for failure, and to the same extent I think it’s borne out of some sort of insecurity… If I share this information I won’t be needed, or I can be replaced.

          It’s a sad commentary of where we are as a society when people are only willing to help another if they think there is something (material) to be gained. I don’t see how we as individuals can be harmed or damaged by helping another. Of course there are times when helping is just not practical for whatever reason, but to adopt that philosophy as a general rule is truly sad.

      • #3176939

        Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        by the admiral ·

        In reply to What’s wrong with yes a few times?

        Yes a few times leads to “Awww Come on, you did it before…” then it winds up being an all the time job.

        As I have told people that brought in their personal home terminal workstations, “I don’t want to ever see the machine again under any circumstances, know it is in your home, or any other information about it after this point.” Even with that, they come back and ask information about the PC and I generally give them a bad look and they go away.

        The situation is purely an ethical decision when you take all of the good and bad emotions out of the situation. First, it is unethical and generally against company policies for them to ask you about their personal systems or bring them in to be repaired. It ranks along the lines of running a personal business using the company telephone, or selling items on ebay during times that you are supposed to be making a marketing presentation for the company you are getting a bi-weekly paycheck for.

        Second, there is a level of ethics that get violated not doing the companies business, but personal business. Technically speaking, personal business is supposed to be done on your break, so asking for personal support during business hours could make you a target for getting fired.

        BUT you are human, and you can be human to everyone else, and give them simple answers to the “no duh” questions, but the more advanced questions, such as the one I was asked the other day on how to get the wireless working on their wireless router with encryption and security, I simply told them the fastest and cheapest way to do it is to read the instructions, or if they want it done themselves, that a local PC store that offers home visits. Outside of that, simple every once and a while is OK, but the advanced stuff, I stick by my previous post, refer them to someone who can dedicate the time to it who is a working for food.

        • #3188253


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

          If anyone is using awww come, you should question this individuals maturity level and/or what it is about you that makes them feel this approach will work. Pick one.

          Yes it demonstrates poor work ethics to bring a personal computer to work assuming that there is not a pre-arrangement with management to do so, but to say that asking a question demonstrates poor ethics is a stretch. Anyone that truly believes this should consider taking courses in organizational behavior. Granted our employers pay us to perform our jobs, but anyone in the work force knows (or should know) that there are some behaviors/actions that “most” employers don’t have a problem with in the interest of maintaining a decent quality of life and harmonious work environment. Using your perception, it would be unethical to call your spouse using the company’s phone to tell him/her that you’ll be working late. It’s the employers phone and the employers phone bill, but you’d be hard pressed to find one that had a problem with that.

    • #3178951

      GET A MAC

      by shuubz ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      there’s my free advice. that particular advice is free all day, every day. anything longer than 2 minutes is billed as a consultation (PC-related work is $50 US per hour, network-related is $75 US per hour). i have close to 20 years of experience, and access to that sort of expertise costs money. i give a discount already, i won’t give time away any more. i have no time to spare these days.

      • #3188249

        Time to Spare

        by vltiii ·

        In reply to GET A MAC

        If you have no time to spare, why is it you’ll mysteriously have time if they’re willing to pay you? Any excuse is a good one I guess.

    • #3178950

      For those with side businesses

      by neokinetic ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Since I own and operate an outside computer business I usually tell them the basics, refer them to and give them a business card (gives them something to try when they get home and they feel empowered and like you are trying to help them)…when they come back (and they usually do) I setup an appointment and state my rates…if they don’t agree to the fees they will never bother you again

    • #3178949


      by gauravbahal ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Probably you need to be an entreprenuer now. Get a buddy. As soon as someone asks for advice say ” Gee, I wish I could help. But hey, I know a great guy who can help you out. Simply Brilliant fellow, he has his own business and runs a small company (that indicates money will be charged)” :-)) Give your buddy’s number. Who ofcourse charges for work and splits the proceeds with you.
      Bingo. You will rake in some moolah and those who dont wanna pay will seek advice some place else. Two birds with one stone.

      Also, you can decide on who to help and who not to. There are times when help goes a long way. Remember most of our work as human beings is done because we network, because we know people who know people who can help us in times of need. So use the above ploy sparingly.


    • #3178944

      Say “Yes”

      by dstahl ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      My experience is that quite a few of these people are using home-computers for work purposes (As the cost of USB-data keys has declined causing the weight of company issued laptops with proper VPN clients have increased to the point where employees will sometimes elect not to take the laptop home).

      My point here is that frequently the home computers of the employees become a defacto extension of your computing environment. Wouldn’t you like to make certain these devices are at least ‘virus free’ before that USB-key returns to the office and gets plugged back in?

      My policy has been:
      *IT will clean/debug/reload home PCs for employees during work-hours on a lowered priority basis.
      *IT staff WILL NOT under any circumstances make a house call to an employees home (this made our lawyer very happy).
      *The company purchased additional anti-virus CALS for every employee to use at home.
      *When IT works on a home user’s PC, the AV software is installed/updated/configured, a personal firewall is downloaded/installed/configured, SpyBOT S&D installed and, of course the Microsoft Update service turned on and brought current.

      The results of this kind of approach seem to be terrific.
      First, employees gain access to IT staff in a non-emergency/non-project scenario – get some free advice and learn all about each other’s family (“It all started after my son installed something called bitTorrent and….”). That kind of social interaction pays dividends later on.
      Second, employees are being gently educated and in some cases better able to deal with the ‘kid/computer’ relationship at home since many of the children are felt to be more knowledgable about computures than they are.
      Lastly, you’ve done a good thing as an IT professional by helping control insecure PC’s in the always-on home environment. Altruistic? Nope! You’ve also reduced the risk that your corporate LAN environment is going to be infected from the ‘inside’ (saving those all important egress security elements that we all have from failure).

      So, my advice is just say yes. Manage their expectations properly, give them more value than they bargined for and you’ll increase your customer satisfaction in a huge way.

    • #3178940

      Saying “No”

      by ronbirch ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Advise them that you could be responsible for furtherproblems, and suggest they use an online helpdesk like

    • #3178939

      Free Advice

      by cleanjoe ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Let me get this right, you don’t want people you work with to ask you for help on there computers at home? Well bud get over yourself, if I am getting your problem right, you don’t want to help unless you get paid for what you know. In the bussiness I’m in I am asked all the time buy the people I work with to help them, I have no problem helping them, You guys (and gal’s) are a team and you work together at the same place, That has benefits in that it self. They should not go to any other company or computer place if they have a friend they work with that can help them. Unless your a total jerk. If you are a total jerk, you need to relize that the way you are acting about this will one day come back on you if you ever need help…

      • #3176502

        You are a complete moron.

        by jmiguy ·

        In reply to Free Advice

        You have absolutely no concept of reality.

        Starting right now, I want you to start sending your entire paychecks directly to me. Since you’re so willing to work for free, you won’t be needing those silly paychecks for anything.

        (As a matter of fact, I have some work I need done around the house, why don’t you be here at 7:00 AM to get started. If you do real good, I might even give you a beer.)

        IT support people get paid to “resolve computer related issues!” Much of this is done over the phone by offering step by step instructions.

        Again, “this is what we get paid for!” This is the same kind of “advice” people are looking for. They are not looking for tips, they are looking for a way to get free tech support.

        Anyone who thinks differently has no clue what it’s like working in a support position. I’ve had
        one individual so rude, he came up to my desk, dropped his home PC on my desk and “told” me to see if I can figure out why it wont boot up.

        He never asked if I would mind taking a look, he just assumed I would do it. (I barely knew him) I had another idiot come and interupt me while on a phone call to ask me if I had a CD burner. When I said yes, he handed me an Allman Brothers CD and told me he needed 2 copies right away. This was at work on company time. He demanded me to burn music CD’s for him! (I never even seen this person before)

        These are the kinds of arrogant, ignorant people we have to deal with, and quite frankly, I have no desire whatsoever to offer these people anything for free – including my respect.

        One more point; I keep reading posts about the “joys of sharing knowledge.”

        Guess what, sharing requires an “exchange” of some sort.

        “Giving” knowledge is what they should be saying.


        • #3188245

          Speaking of Morons!!!

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to You are a complete moron.

          How does helping someone impact your pay check? Let’s get real people. If you don’t like helping others without expectations of something in return-then don’t, but don’t come up with lame reasonings for not wanting to do so. I know you’re thinking his income could be higher if he charged. Perhaps, not everyone is driven by profit either. I’m more than willing to help others just for the satisfaction of helping yet in all my years in the workforce (26+) my paychecks have always gotten bigger. To date I’ve never suffer a reduction in pay. Hey! Maybe there is something to helping people just for the sake of it.

    • #3178938


      by terrymcginnis ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      what a bunch of mean spirited people we are. we don’t help if it doesn’t benefit us in some fashion. that is really sad.

      based upon the majority of replies, does this mean i can’t ask my neighbor for advice on hiring a contractor to do constuction work when my neighbor just went through the same process? or talk to a family member who owns an automoble that i am considering purchasing? how about talking to a coworker who has vacationed in a country that i would like to visit? what about asking a fellow runner about the brand of running shoe they are using?

      each of those folks have domain knowledge (aka advice) that i’d like them to share with me for free.

      we all need to lighten up. take a day off. we are all so stressed out that we can’t think like a ‘normal’ human, a good friend, a family member, a nice neighbor.

      • #3177737

        to protesting “generous” geeks

        by contact ·

        In reply to WOW

        I am amazed how so many “almost insulting” posts came up in this thread.

        Basically, IT’s should be sharing their knowledge -as if they did not do it already either in forums or on their own website- otherwise they get called greedy, mean minded, selfish… whatever. Some might be generous with their time but they are equally fast at disrispecting people. Usually such persons are pretending to be what they are not and don’t know what they talk about. Lessons givers they are.

        There is no point that knowledge has to be shared, for free. Giving advice is good and everybody here agrees that social skill matters and that greed is bad.

        The question is more about being HARASSED :

        – How do you manage to refuse doing free work and endure the responsibility for 100’s of computers run by noobs in your area?

        – How do you get people to making a distinction between advice and free service ?

        – How to explain someone that it is not because you put your hand on his keyboard that you HAVE to offer free maintenance for the rest of your life.

        – How do you get people to be a bit more specific than “it doesn’t work”

        – How do you get people to be a bit more honest than : “since you came and installed my printer I have slow internet access”

        On one hand, how dramatic it can become in one’s life to have to say no, over and over, to peeps he meets daily.

        OTOH it is so easy to call us greedies. So easy to point a finger and “your aura’s dark” or “you badly minded”. Probably, most of those talking this way have an easy work with comfortable wages, 45 hours a week.

        I understand they are willing to help whomever will ask from them but I am pretty confident that they are probably not asked on a 100/week basis. Otherwise they would talk differently.

        The question was simple : HOW TO SAY NO. Not “Am I allowed to say no”.

        You advice was not require on that matter. I respect the fact that you give it for free. but it was not required. Nor is it welcome.

        Another useful thread could be : should I give any advice, even for free, or should I keep it shut ?

        • #3177669

          HOW TO SAY NO

          by cogtek ·

          In reply to to protesting “generous” geeks

          The moral issue aside.
          To say No or to not say No will continue to be debated in the other threads.

          The only proper way to say No to a request for advice is to politely point out your completely consuming task list.
          You don’t have time to answer any questions…
          On your way to the bathroom
          During your lunch hour
          While waiting for the PC to finish installing
          Because your boss/supervisor/manager/partner/owner pays you good money to work, not socialize.

          Yeah, us Techies can be sarcastic too!

          Because you can’t say No to a request for advice.
          When that request requires more than a discussion, you can say No.
          Blame the boss, blame your schedule, blame whomever/whatever you want.
          But NOT UNTIL the discussion becomes actual work.

        • #3122840

          How to refuse

          by bcftw ·

          In reply to HOW TO SAY NO

          I do it for my immediate family, anyone else I just say ‘have you tried kicking it around the sitting room a few times?’ if that doesn’t shut them up I just tell them part of my contract is not to do outside work. My friends would not expect free advice anyway, they’ll bring me some goodies before they ask, just like I would for them. (Mind you I don’t have many friends :-), but the ones I have are good ones.)

        • #3188240

          Just because…

          by vltiii ·

          In reply to to protesting “generous” geeks

          …you feel disrespected, doesn’t mean that you were. Everyone is entitled to their opinion including those that I disagree with. No rule, policy, law, philosophy, etc should ever be so rigid that we can’t adjust to extemporaneous circumstances.

    • #3178937

      Help them

      by mill3502 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Maybe if you help them and really know what your talking about the next time they come back they will know more and you will get satisfaction out of being there for someone.

    • #3178936

      Free IT Advice

      by pete1978 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      First, analyze the politics. If the person asking for the advice is in a position of influence (such as a partner), giving the advice may help your career or allow your department to get things the department wants later. Always give the advice to political powers as you will often get something in return later.

      For the people who are not in such power political positions, make a referal. Tell them, the people over at ______________ PC store are very reliable. Check with them. They’ll have time to look at the problem and give you an answer based on what they find. I don’t have the time to look at the PC and without looking at it, I’d just be guessing.

      • #3188237

        Flawed Theory

        by vltiii ·

        In reply to Free IT Advice

        What happens a year down the line when the person that you rejected who wasn’t in a position of power a year ago now is because of promotions, restucturing, etc… and they remember your rejection. That’s what the saying don’t burn your bridges is all about. You never know when you’ll have to cross it again.

    • #3178935

      IT Advice

      by wondercat ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I have used the line, “Hmmm, that’s a good question, if I have some extra time I’ll look into it. Here’s the number to the xxxxxxx store and they can help you in the meantime” Seems to work pretty well. Good Luck!

    • #3178934

      Tell them to check the forums

      by crazijoe ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      There are plenty of computer forums that offer free computer advice and can help solve some of the hardest problems. Everything from building computers to problems with Office apps. It’s the best free advice that anyone can recieve.

      • #3177941


        by jeff the project manager ·

        In reply to Tell them to check the forums

        Perhaps I’ve never been overwhelmed with requests because I teach friends “how to fish” — get online and find the answers themselves. To track down a thorny error message, Google Groups is the place I go first. Anyone can do that.

        If they’ve already searched for the answer, then I’ll help them more. Call it sweat equity. But just that first reply that gets them working on the solution themselves cuts down the number of repeat requests.

      • #3188919


        by vltiii ·

        In reply to Tell them to check the forums

        …but, most likely only the technically inclined are aware of all of these forums. If the user asking for help were aware of them or even becoming proficient in maintaining their computer, they probably would have already utilized these resources. Your statemnet presumes that the user actually wants to know this information. I drive a car, but I have no desire whatsoever to understand how it does what it does. Unfortunately, I also don’t have a personal relationship with any mechanics either, so I’m stuck paying for whatever service I need. There are computer end users that are in the same boat.

    • #3178933

      Geek Squad

      by genes ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I have caved in on this issue and bill friends for my time working on their stuff. I give a “family” discount ($95 v. $125) and so far it has been OK. No one has been dissatisfied, I don’t feel like a sucker, and I have picked up sime business from the companies who employ them.

      Has anyone heard how the Geek Squad at Best Buy is doing? As an independant, I worry that they will take my SMB clients away.

      • #3177954

        RE: Geek Squad

        by disciplen2k ·

        In reply to Geek Squad

        If the store I’m working at is any indication, the Geek Squad is doing pretty well. I don’t think you have too much to worry about as far as losing your SMB clients, though. One of the bad things about the Geek Squad is that we tend to hire high school/college students that we can get by with paying $10/hr for tech work. As a result, we occasionally end up with longer than necessary turn around times, incomplete jobs being sent back with the customer, and REALLY aggrivated clients. If the quality of your work is solid, you should have nothing to worry about.

        In regards to the original topic, I have yet to refuse giving someone free IT advice (except when prohibited by my current employer). As someone who is fairly new to the IT field, I consider it a great compliment when people come to me for advice or help with their PC. Because of my eagerness to help with these types of problems, I became the “go to guy” for technical problems at my previous job and now have several new people who can attest to my technical abilities. Being so willing to help has helped me to develop my network of professional contacts and get my start in the IT field. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re new to IT, take every opportunity you can to demonstrate your skills. As for how to deal with it when you’re already established in the business, I guess I’ll just have to figure that part out when I get there!


        • #3188236


          by vltiii ·

          In reply to RE: Geek Squad

          I think most IT professionals once felt the same as you do. Unfortunately for the IT field, many get to the point where they forget where they came from and have this greater than thou mentality. As you grow professionally always remember how you got to where you are and don’t forget those that helped you along the way, and how good it feels to help someone else. If you’re good at your job, the pay will come along and you won’t have to use profit as an excuse for not helping anymore.

    • #3178930

      Not a Doormat

      by curtisyerger ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I help anybody I can as much as I can as long as I am not taken advantage of. Believe it or not my biggest offender of this policy is family. I am also a certified master mechanic, and I work on cars quite frequently for little or nothing more than help when I need it. I believe in what you put out come back to you.

    • #3178926

      Pay up or Shut up

      by soulman918 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I tend to get a lot of people asking for advice, complaining that their home PC’s are slow / infected / not working. I simply tell them that if they want me to look at it then I can do it after hours and I charge them a nominal fee to do it. Usually between $20 and $50. If they really want help then they’ll pay. Usually I don’t get asked a second time unless they really are serious about getting help.

    • #3178925

      After Hours

      by gnorton100 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Produce an extra income stream. Verify that it is their home computer and then remind them that home computers are outside your job scope so you can’t help them during working hours, however, you could work on it as an after hours job or they could take it to a local shop. Then give them your pricing: X dollars per hour + one way travel. (Half an hour travel one way = half an hour pay.)

      I’ve had a couple of people balk at the price and some that try to press for the information for free. I simply restate the top paragraph and ask them to call me if they want the job done after hours and tactfully hang up.

      • #3178889

        Encourage self help

        by etco ·

        In reply to After Hours

        I know the pressure IT Pro’s can be put under by co-workers looking for solutions to tech problems at home and … is cheeky and presumptious of them to expect IT help on tap. The issue doesn’t have to be about whether or not to charge for helping them. Myself and my team are currently drafting self help materials (PPoint, Viewlets, Docs etc) covering a variety of common in-house issues eg.NDS login, email/intranet login etc, which will be delivered during a ‘drop-in clinic’ event targeted at all non-IT staff. Beyond this initial clinic, we anticipate future clinic agendas being driven by the demands of the attendees which will almost certainly involve offering advice and information on avoiding and, to an extent repairing common home PC problems.
        All materials will be made available through our staff intranet and actively promoted by our team whenever we are approached for unofficial help.

    • #3178923

      And I thought I was a curmudgeon…

      by skorekeep ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      …when I post answers in the forum I work on, because I take on a surly, contrary attitude on purpose. Ya’ll take the cake. With an attitude like that you can kiss goodbye any chance of ever becoming an entrepreneur; the best thing for bringing people in to see your wares is free advice on your common problems. You want to be an island, then I hope you pay your kid a living wage for mowing the yard, and keep a spreadsheet to account for every penny.

      The worst aspect of trade unions and guilds is the “lets keep it a secret” attitude. Try to find out how a surveyor does his job by searching on the web, for instance. y’all sound like a bunch of 16th century craft-masters.

      Then, of course, there’s always the possibility you’re simply scared silly by not knowing the answer…

    • #3178917

      Remember they are clueless

      by dfox138 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Yes, it is irritating, but remember that they are clueless and desperate and do not know what to do to fix their problem. Personally, I tell them that I am a software person, not a hardware person. Then point them to a local shop that fixes people’s computers.

    • #3178911


      by mshi ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I usually ‘misunderstand’ their request for help and answer by giving them some advice – maybe the address for spybot s&d or a local geek squad type service. When I lived in a different state, I had a friend who would do that kind of thing on the side – he had cards and everything, and I’d just give them one of those.

      I also get a lot of ‘what kind of computer should I buy’ questions, and I usually probe a little and end up recommending they shop around and make sure they get enough memory and hard drive space and a good anti-virus program. I’ll give them a quick rundown on the main things they need to look for.

      And occasionally I’ve managed to impress them by looking up a specific error message in google and telling them what to do about it.

      Partners/owners – I’ll fix their machines, but on company time. If they’re paying my salary, they can have me work on whatever machine they want. If it’s a bad time, I’ll just make clear what project is being delayed so I can fix their printer.

      I’d think the goal is to be nice enough not to really piss off your coworkers unnecessarily, but not so nice you get taken advantage of. Most people I’ve dealt with have been understanding.

    • #3178905


      by tony.savoie ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I get this all the time. I dont like doing it, but cant say no without offending people. I dont feel right about charging friends/family/coworkers so I barter with them. I trade them 1 hour of computer work for 1 hour of whatever they can offer.

      One persons husband runs a landscaping business….8 hours of fixing thier home pc got me out of taking care of my lawn for a month!

      My mechanic’s pc was acting up….couple hours of spyware removal and applying patches got me 3 free oil changes.

      Kid down the streets mother approached me cause the kids laptop was farked up and he uses it for school. I fixed the laptop, kid came to clean the gutters on the house.

      It gives the people a little perspective too. They dont like cutting my grass on thier own time, I dont like fixing thier computers on mine. They are less apt to call with “Oh, my icon moved to a different spot on my screen. How do I put it back?” type problems…

    • #3178903

      Why sya no!

      by roadman1007 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      If you are a consulting service that sells “advice” you would not want to give away your product. Other than that, if you are an in-house service provider, why would you not want to give away the advice. It benefits the organization significantly to have a knowledgeable user base. It also creates good client relationships that are coveted in most organizations. If giving advice takes up too much technician time, try having periodic scheduled open forums to allow users to Q & A. That gives the techs the opportunity to answer questions by saying “come to the forum.”

    • #3178902


      by jb1 ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Wow. I can’t believe the number of negative posts on this topic. What kind of egos have all of you developed? Have you never been in the same position? Have you never asked anyone a question related to their career specialty? Or are you different and don’t hold yourself to the same standard you expect others to live at?

      On top of that, you said these people “ask you for advice on their HOME computers”. They ask for advice. They didn’t ask you to come work on it, they asked you for direction with a particular issue. Try getting off your high-horse, become a human being again and answer their question to the best of your ability. If it’s a difficult, in-depth issue that logically can’t be answered easily, just tell them.

      It is internally fullfilling when someone comes back and is beaming all over the place about how they did exactly what you told them and it worked! They feel so good about themselves and are very thankful to you. It often ends up with a homemade cake, them buying you lunch or some small token of thanks for helping them out.

      It’s egotistical, self-absorbed “techies” like the bunch of you that bring down America and neighborhoods. “Horay for me and screw you.”. Nice attitude to have. I suppose you’ll want us to feel sorry for you when life throws you a curve and isn’t going your way. Just remember not to ask anyone for free advice or help at that time. Call a professional egotist and pay them to do something a good friend would be willing to do just to help you out…

      • #3178881

        Agree totally

        by mikefromco ·

        In reply to Unbelievable

        I agree. It’s as if none of us have ever asked for free advice from co-workers?
        So if you work in the IT department of a hospital and ask a doctor or nurse a question, their answer should be “Make an appointment”? Would you really appreciate that response?
        And JB is also right; there’s usually some token of thanks or maybe better a return of the favor.

      • #3178679

        Right on!

        by dr dij ·

        In reply to Unbelievable

        and those self absorbed doctors who won’t diagnose me in the hallway, I hate them.

        And those egotistical idiotic auto service co-ordinators at dealers, who tell me to ‘bring it in’ rather than let me know what’s wrong over phone!

        It’s our fault that we’re not teeps and can mystimagically know in the hallway or over the phone what’s rong.

        The neighborhhods are going to he** because techs want to have their nights and weekends off!

        And that person who called my friend over to fix her computer then was not there for two hours is perfectly reasonable, any pc tech whho has a human side should wait for inconsiderate people who use them. After all they exist to fix people’s computers.

        Now who’s missing the human side?

    • #3178897

      See your Doctor

      by i,technician ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Dear Freeozraelised,

      You may have forgotten the law of sowing and reaping. While you give advise for free, you are being paid in the valuable currency of knowledge. Every time you solve a problem, you have to think. You hone your skills, for FREE. Put another way; it costs you nothing now to become the most knowledgeable, well-rounded technician your company has in the future. The law of sowing and reaping in action. If you feel you are losing time away from real work to give free advice and that is what is really bothering you simply let your co-workers know that ?free? advice will be secondary to work. Ask politely if they could get back with you later. Better yet, consider talking to your supervisor about organizing one or two lunch break home computer Q & A sessions a month. This shows your willing to assist your compatriots, demonstrates and enhances your skills and everyone will learn something. Oh, and it will probably be a lot of fun. Sow, then reap.

      • #3178843

        Great idea

        by jb1 ·

        In reply to See your Doctor

        I think the lunch (or other times) sessions you mentioned are a great idea. We did something similar to that at a previous endeavor for work related issues to bring other techs up to speed on single, focused issues. Voluntary – if they wanted to attend. Very successful. I think we called them “Micro-sessions”.

    • #3178890

      Free advice

      by mhambrecht ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Look you can do this in any number of ways. You can give the advice free of charge or you can start handing them your business card an saying call me I can talk about this after work. I am not aloud to mix personal business with work. Now with the partner if he owns the company he owns as an interpretation your time whenever that maybe or where. I know of a large tax business where the partner expect their tech support to provide support at their home even after hours. One guy I know actually had to go install a wireless network thru the entire hou..

    • #3178886

      What is wrong with you people?

      by jnoonan ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      After reading some of these replies I ask myself two questions: 1. Why are we wasting time with such a stupid question? If you have time to read through inane articles like this one then surely you could offer some free advice to fellow workers and friends. Charge or barter when you need supplies or if it’s time consuming. I no longer pay co-payments to my doctor because of this. 2. Do you consider it professional? Your demeanor can speak volumes about the type of person you are. Acting as if it’s beneath you to offer free advice is degrading to both yourself and your peers. Ask yourself where you got advice from. Get a grip and lighten up. Life’s too short to worry about this nonsense.

      • #3178837

        Right on!

        by dumbuser ·

        In reply to What is wrong with you people?

        You’re dead on. Too bad most techies have a superiority (or inferiority?) complex.

      • #3177831

        and with you, dude ?

        by contact ·

        In reply to What is wrong with you people?

        Obviously you do NOT understand what a problem this subject is for us. Mates, friends, family : we HAVE to setup a strategy on this dayly question : can you (you the guru) fix my computer in two keystroke (which means you won’t deserve any kind of greatfulness), do it during offtime, for free and then feel responsible for whatever will happen to my computer the next months on ?

        This IS what I hear when asked for free help.

        You could ask YOURSELF : why do we take the time to read on this thread that was discussed again and again, over the years.

        You seem quite fast to talk about nonsense or the “type of persons we are”. Let me do the same with you : if you have no clue what the subject is about and can be quicker at insulting people than trying to understand, I have no doubt with the kind of person YOU are.

        • #3176724


          by jnoonan ·

          In reply to and with you, dude ?

          I do get asked quite frequently to help others with their PC’s. I don’t mind helping people especially friends and family. A thank you is sufficient. I don’t need to charge them for anything more than supplies, whether it be software or hardware. When they reccomend me to others that I don’t know or work with , then I will charge a nominal fee so as to not be taken advantage of. As far as insults go, only individuals that see this as such a major inconvenience in their lives need to lighten up and realize that life is way too short for such trivialities.
          Tell me… have you ever asked anyone for advice? Aren’t you using Tech Republic for free advice? Have you ever searched Google or Yahoo message boards for answers to your questions? How much did you pay? Did you ever have a friend do repairs to your house, car etc? Next time you do make sure you pay the going rate.

          Have a nice day!

          — Joe

    • #3178885

      The Right Thing!

      by horell ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Do the right thing, if asked for help, help if you can. If you can’t, tell them you can’t and why. Be generous and kind, no one should walk through life thinking that they should make a profit from everyone. If no one has ever told you, we exsist because of other human beings. To be liked, loved and needed by people is the only reason for being. Be remembered fondly!

    • #3178880

      Free Advice…IT’s all good :)

      by gary-knight ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I work in a local 11-16 age range school, and I think I have seen almost everyones home computer belonging to staff. Last week I took HOME two PCs and a laptop to work on. Ok so it can be time consuming but it builds great bonds. Also I dont like the word “Expert” I dont claim to know everything but as a “professional” I share knowledge and as co-chairperson of our local ICT Technician’s Panel enjoy swapping information and advice for free – which I would do with anyone who is interested. I think IT spent too long in the dark ages where knowledge is power and to gain even simple knowledge from people you had to pay, pay, pay

      • #3178672

        individual choice

        by dr dij ·

        In reply to Free Advice…IT’s all good :)

        if that’s what you want to do fine. but others in this thread seem to think it’s an obligation, which is TOTALLY BOGUS.

    • #3178874

      Case by case … so to speak

      by btitus ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I deal with this on a case by case situation.
      For the occasional advice seeker with a simple problem, I listen to the issue and offer a couple quick solutions. I can afford a minute or two out of my day to be nice to the people I work with. For problems that seem more in depth I usually tell them to send me an email with detailed description and if possible a screen shot of the error message and when I get a chance I’ll look into it. Most of the time I never receive that email so I’m off the hook. Hey, I offered, they elected not to follow through, not my problem. On the rare occasion that I do get an email, many times I have learned something in the process of helping them resolve their issue so it becomes a gain for me.
      I do have some users that almost daily are asking me to resolve issues with their home PCs. With these people I eventually draw the line and tell them they need to spend some money on a professional service because the company is paying me to attend to it’s systems not employee’s personal PCs.

      • #3178851

        …. with a little forward thinking

        by mad mole ·

        In reply to Case by case … so to speak

        I also treat my users on a case by case basis. However I’m extremely keen to see my users learn more about their PCs because it makes my life at work an awful lot easier!
        A more IT literate user means I can talk them through complex tasks over the phone when the inevitable problems materialise at work. If that meant helping them fix their home PC first that’s fine by me.

        The more the user understands what they’re dealing with, the better the info they give the IT Admin when things go properly wrong.

        When it comes to purchasing advice it takes me 2mins to tell them what to avoid and another two to tell them what questions they should be asking themselves. Then send them off to do some of their own research. If they’re keen they’ll be back with a list of alternatives it takes me 2secs to advise on.

        Whatever you do giving them confidence in the use of PC means they’ll make decisions themselves in the future and aren’t likely to bother you again.

    • #3178872

      No Time for friends…

      by portypicker ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I’m with those that don’t quite see what the problem is? If you just tell people that you you ‘don’t have the time’ then pretty soon you’ll be known as the guy who doesn’t have time – for work colleagues, for friends, for his/her partner(!! You really don’t like helping your partner??! Ouch!) – and the problem will go away.
      Personally, it’s a little ego-boost for me when folks ask for my help/advice. And generally most are pretty generous when it comes to paying me back (one or two insist on paying properly, with invoices and that (I give a ‘discount’ rate!), but most give me some wine or malt whisky or maybe a ‘techie’ gift they know I’ll like). But even those that don’t give something material (like my Mum!) do ‘give’ in other ways… helpful advice in other areas, may just being ‘good company’ (and ‘bigging me up’ to their friends…).
      If anyone does get to be a real hassle and takes advantage, then it’s really down to your interpersonal skills to ‘dissuade’ them without them wanting to slap/kill you! That may vary from person to person – the ‘no time’ excuse generally works though. (Or fall back on the ‘helpdesk’ mantra of ‘reboot/reload/reinstall’).
      But always remember, people will always remember what you did for them, when you were ‘there’ for them… They also remember when you weren’t! You get what you give in this world (eventually!). The choice is yours.

      • #3177711

        reap what you saw

        by contact ·

        In reply to No Time for friends…


        The problem is that you are … IT.

        Which means you are CONSTANTLY asked, while you barely need anything for yourself.

        Surprising how some mates I know who not only seldomly need me for their puter but also do very well at fixing their car, fixing electrical or plumbery problems. These I help whenever I can, plus I know I can count on them when I’m in need.

        Let’s face it : the old saying was true until pc’s got sold in supermarkets : for the average IT, it’s become : “you gotta reap just what you saw(saw*saw*saw*2+E^n+7)”. N being your number of friends/mates/family.

        Sounds more like an evil spell than an old saying, doesn’t it ?

    • #3178870

      Free Advice

      by crowell ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I have always answered fellow employees questions concerning their PC’S. As we are suppose to be the experts we are therefore asked for our advice. NOW if they wish me to attend to the problem at their home I explain that there maybe a fee involved. The point is as in all judgement cases each one has to be evaluated for the fellow employee relationship. As in all cases the abuser of course is ignored.

    • #3178858

      A doctor’s viewpoint

      by robert.t.moss ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I have several friends who are doctors. I’ve asked them how they handle the issue. They all do the same thing – they give the best advice they can with the knowledge at hand. One of them told me “I became a doctor to help people. If other doctors are unwilling to give out some free advice, they should find another career”.

      • #3177814

        do you diagnose outside of you cabinet ?

        by contact ·

        In reply to A doctor’s viewpoint

        I am no doctor, but I wouldn’t give anythng but common advices: I would’nt try to diagnose, as long as i feel something serious is going on.

        I guess the same applies to us : giving common advice is wtg. For anything serious, let’s talk serious.

        To go further with the doctor comparison, I’d say that I wouldn’t considere a doctor who is not feeling this way : helping people first. The fact is that most of those I heard about are not.

        But I would DEFINITELY considere an IT that became such WITHOUT any will to help people. Just the same with my butcher or hairdresser.

        Let me add that people are much more reluctant to require free worlk from doctors (or butchers, plumbers and hairdressers) than from pro IT’s. More reluctant is an understatement, as some of you here might know.

        • #3176949

          the butcher, the plumber and the hairdresser

          by terrymcginnis ·

          In reply to do you diagnose outside of you cabinet ?

          first of all, i am not trying to offend anyone and apologize if this or previous posts were offensive to anyone.

          do you ask your butcher for the best technique for preparing a cut of meat? do you ask your plumber the best way to ensure that the drain does not get clogged again in 30 days? do you ask your hairdresser for advice on the best hair care products?

          i’d argue that each of those questions amounts to free advice. once the butcher cuts my meat, hands it to me and collects my cash, that job is complete. a follow up question amounts to free advice. or, to look at it with a different spin, it is providing good customer service. or, from another view, it is simply being a “nice person”.

          if i ask my butcher for preparation advice and he (or she) hands me a business card or tells me to read a cookbook (rtfm) or tells me to surf the web, i will certainly form a negative opinion and possibly not spend my money there in the future. that is very effective way of voicing displeasure.

          anyhow, just my 2 cents.

        • #3176500

          My 2 cents

          by jmiguy ·

          In reply to the butcher, the plumber and the hairdresser

          Butcher’s sell meat, plumbers fix pipes, hairdresser’s cut hair.

          Support techs “advise” users on how to resolve their problems.

    • #3178852

      Free advice or service?

      by shraven ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      You should never charge for your “advice” and you should hand it out freely – it only takes a couple minutes! But if someone is asking you to spend hours working on their PC, that’s not advice and that’s not a reasonable expectation on their part.
      Just tell them you’re a little busy this weekend, but if they’d like they can bring their PC by your house and you’ll work on it while they paint your house… or whatever project you were plannign on doing.
      If you’re not comfortable with that you can take a more subtle approach: listen to their problem and recommend a very expensive upgrade. Be sure to qualify that it may not help their problem, but it’s the quickest way to fix it. People will decide on their own to persue other avenues… the ones they probably should have been anyway.

    • #3178850

      It’s called “value-added service”

      by dumbuser ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”


      It never seems to amaze me how IT pros don’t understand customer service. Sure you’re “giving away” some knowledge, but hasn’t anyone ever taken you to lunch? They gave something away, with the hope of improving their relationship with you.

      Instead of whining about how people get freebies and coming up with ways of dodging their questions, why not look at it as a way to build a better relationship with a customer? Ok, you can’t sit there all day, but a few minutes won’t kill you, and that person who’s home computer question you blow off today may be the CEO of tomorrow—you know, the guy or gal that approves your budget….or position?

      Every time I read something like this, I think, “the IT people still don’t get it.”

    • #3178842

      give them someplace else to go

      by snag ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Explain that you have a personal policy not to give advice to people you work with, and that it’s nothing against them in particular. Then, give them a couple of websites they can find information and answers at. Teach them how to do some online and book research, and they’ll soon be the ones others are pestering for the free help.

    • #3178839

      Share the Wealth

      by xt john ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      9 out of 10 people I have helped in the past have been very appreciative, generous and insistant in whatever way they could compensate (whether fresh baked goods, a gift card or money). Numerous people have helped me to get to where I am today, so why shouldn’t I share the Wealth of Knowledge? Be prepared for that 1 out of 10 who will be unappreciative, call you incessantly, blame you for their errors and make you swear you’ll never help a soul again! Favors for friends, family and co-workers always return to you, in positive ways…

    • #3178830


      by sam.hays ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I Don’t know if this is *valid* per se. But I turn people down on the argument that If I were to give them free friendly advice, and they use that advice incorrectly or whatever, then they come back and blame my company because I gave them advice here at work and blah blah blah. Then I may become responsible for that. I’ve read of similar situations happening with online gambling on work equipment. So – i don’t give advice because I don’t want to be at risk… If it’s not a work computer, don’t bother me with it.

      • #3177758

        Getting sued

        by lwebb ·

        In reply to Liability

        I’ve never been sued, but I’ve been threatened.

        It’s a long story, but I did some piddly thing for free on an aquaintance’s computer, a week later he hosed his entire HDD.

        Turned out it was a hardware malfunction caused by a large refridgerator magnet he was using on the side of his case…moron…

        But it was MY fault because I touched his mouse a week earlier…you all know the story.

    • #3178823

      Paying for service

      by richard vickery ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      My answer to the question is to let your employees know that advise is never free, whether a teacher, lawyer, tech, etc. the same applies at work. If there is a problem with the company’s machines and they happen to learn something from that solution, fine. Somebody is paying for it. It took you time and money to go to school and learn stuff, nothing is free even if it comes from a book they bought or borrowed. If the want free information, try barking up sommeone elses tree.

    • #3178817

      Golden Rule

      by itfreak ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Well, it’s obvious that some of the people posting to this thread have never gone to their friends in the accounting department right around April 15 to get their taxes squared away because of that one form for that one deduction that could make a difference between paying $1000 in taxes and getting a $5 refund.

      There’s really no good answer here and it all depends on who the person asking for the help is. All of us here knows that we can say no to an underling but can you say no to a director or VP? Let’s be realistic and use common sense. If we ask people for advice on non-work related stuff, we should be willing to reciprocate in kind.

      • #3178642


        by dr dij ·

        In reply to Golden Rule

        I could say no if they asked me to do something on my own time. If we had a policy not to waste time chit-chatting then I also could say no. And if I was busy, I certainly could say no. Is getting the router working for alot of people at work more important than the directors home PC? Just tell them you’ve got urgent problem if you don’t have time. And since many IT depts are understaffed, this means something is not getting done because they’re bothering you.

        Carry a notebook, walk fast and look worried, and you’ll never be bothered 🙂
        just lose that worried look on the weekend.

    • #3178815

      A Much Better Answer

      by rknrlkid ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      My brother taught me this one, and I modified it a little. When someone asks for advice (especially if its complicated), use this response:

      “You know, that could be a number of things. Its really difficult to pinpoint a problem (over the phone)(during a conversation). You really need to be sitting in front of the computer to find out.”

      This isn’t a direct refusal of help, and its more diplomatic than bluntly saying no or demanding payment.

      Now, if they ask you to come to their house and fix it, THEN you can (politely) say no, you don’t have the time, or (like I do) say “I’m a professional, and I have to charge for housecalls. My basic fee is $xx.xx to walk in the door, and $xx.xx for every hour after that. Do you still want me to come look at your machine?”

    • #3178810

      Gain on it

      by rgovaerts ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I’m an Sysadmin and if a collegue or even the CEO asks me for information, I give them my cellphone number. They call me, I go over to their places and charge them by the hour.
      Even the CEO is now a client of mine, and this had as result that my contract with the firm has been extended already a couple of times.

    • #3178806

      Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      by rbb ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Asking for free advice on how to say no to giving free advice?

      • #3177805

        …and who’s paying for your time now…???

        by thorarinn ·

        In reply to Reply To: Say no to Free “IT Advice”

        I’ve been following this thread on and off today – during your working hours in the States… How many of those who’ve posted today are doing so at work, whilst getting paid for doing a job for your employer?

        Those of you who are worried about “wasting” working hours on handing out “free advice” to co-workers – are you worried about “wasting” working hours posting to a thread where there obviously is no simple “correct answer”?

        Having said that, here’s my attempt at the “correct answer” for “outside working hours”:

        If the gratitude you recieve for helping people out without expecting payment isn’t enough for you to feel it’s worth it, don’t do it. If you’re plagued by people expecting something for nothing, there’s a good chance they came to you (and not someone else) for a reason. Only you can change that pattern, just try to go about it in a “diplomatic” way (no need to burn bridges) but stick to the truth.

    • #3178805

      Just say no-

      by reddittlouise ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      I don’t think the problems is with them the problem is with you- perhaps mixing business with pleasure- If your at work and expected to perform your job- then talking about their problems at home would not be professional- politely explain that you get a lot of request for assistance and it’s intefering with your job- you have a full plate during the course of the day- if your desire is to charge them- have some business cards made and when they ask pass one to them- that ought to shut them up-

    • #3178804

      Polite & Professional IT Advice

      by jalassiter ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Always try to be polite and professional. Personally I enjoy helping others if possible, but there is a limit. My guideline is, if the answer to their question is less than 30 seconds I concider answering. If the answer is more involved give them the name of a reputable computer repair company or a website such at

    • #3178802

      Learn to be a good marketer

      by commandgce ·

      In reply to Say no to Free “IT Advice”

      Make it clear that there are many variables involved – ask them if they know the 4 different ways to tell if their … is at fault. Make it attractive for them to admit their ignorance and your superiority. Tell them you give an in-house discount that is a real bargain compared with the sharks outside. Then turn them into fee-paying customers. Everyone wins.

    • #3178791

      Advice vs Ser