Monthly Archives: January 2018

Female Gamers Are My Favorite Customers

 

Over the years our female gamer customer base has grown through the roof.

Some time ago I started to notice we were building, upgrading and fixing more gaming computers for female gamers than ever before. When I say female gamers I’m not talking about Tetris or Minecraft, I’m talking first person shooters like Doom, Overwatch and Call of Duty. We’ve had some major systems come through our door specifically built for female gamers.

I thought I had the whole thing down, guys know exactly what they want and women have less of a clue. Turns out I was completely wrong and it took me all of about 20 seconds to figure that out. Basically, guys like the lights and extras and women come in knowing exactly what they want. Women, turns out, do a ton more research and truly pick better components.

We’ve always catered to DIY builders, either helping them choose components or bailing them out when they screw up. Guys for some reason like to dive right into their build. Women, well, already have an idea if it’s something they want to tackle. I have no scientific background to explain this, but it’s kind of like making a rational choice versus an illogical one.

My daughters are 19 and 22 and I’ve always encouraged them to try different things. From the time they’re little girls, women are pushed to play with dolls and not do boy things. I feel building a computer is perceived to be a boy thing because it involves screwing things together. Over the years I’ve noticed that women are more likely to hang out and get dirty than men when invited to help build their own system.

Repairs kind of follow the same funkiness. Men will pull up their pants, puff their chest and try to make a repair. Many times the repairs are done wrong – but at least they’re done (sort of). Women, on the other hand, know when to stop trying to make the repair and admit defeat. That logical approach sometimes saves expensive repairs. I guess that explains why our customer demographics are mostly women.

Speaking of demographics, we’ve been working with women from teens to adult for quite some time. Even though it’s normally Mom who pays for the kid’s computers to be fixed or built, it’s generally the young gamer who accompanies them and explains what’s wrong. Funny enough, the young gamer articulates the problem better than Mom every time.

More and more we’re building machines specifically for Twitch. Most of them are for female gamers who use the online gaming site for either their primary income or as a side hustle. I’ve had one male customer out of dozens (for Twitch machines) ask me to build a machine for broadcasting games. It’s not that guys don’t Twitch, we see those machines after they try and configure them on their own.

This last one probably won’t surprise you. Men’s machines are almost always more cluttered with junk files than women owned computers. Female owned gaming machines are for gaming and male gaming computers are for gaming and everything else available on the internet.

(Jeromy Patriquin is the President of Laptop & Computer Repair, Inc. www.LocalComputerWiz.com.)

8 Computer Repair Scams You Need To Know

Computer repair scams are everywhere. Here’s the 8 most common scams I’ve seen.

Scams abound in my industry so I figured I’d talk about some of the more common ones. Like anything used every day, when a computer repair is needed customers tend not to get second opinions and simply go with their first stop. Do your homework and get an opinion before spending your hard earned money unnecessarily.

How shops are getting away with hourly repair rates amazes me. It used to be shops charged by the hour and could get away with it because of the cost of computers. Computer repair shops today should be charging a flat rate based on the repair.

Computer repair shops are notorious for finding other issues that weren’t disclosed in their initial assessment. A good technician should be able to find major issues during the initial diagnostic. Truthful shops will provide this information upfront so you have a good idea of what to expect for a price.

Although computers may be complex beasts for those needing to visit a repair shop, a good technician should be able to diagnose a machine relatively quickly. Paying for a diagnostic today is not necessary. Most shops that still charge diagnostic or bench fees are doing it to hook customers into a repair.

Overpriced repairs are the mainstay of stores that also sell computers. Big box store repair prices are generally much higher than the industry average to sway customers to purchase new. Not only does the big chain store make money on the new computer, but they make money moving your data to the new machine.

Extended waiting times to have a repair completed are completely unnecessary. Virus removals take about 3-4 hours if done properly. I’ve been hearing stories about computer repair shops taking days and weeks to complete the bread and butter of my industry. If a shop takes longer than a day to complete a software job they’re doing something wrong unless they’re really busy. Even then, it should be completed the next day.

Data snoops are everywhere in my industry, it’s simply unavoidable. Many years ago I realized customers felt better about us doing repairs in plain view so I moved our repairs to the front of the store. Although I don’t want customers hanging around watching us work, it makes customers feel more at ease knowing my technicians are less likely to sift through their files.

I’ve never understood why shops don’t return broken parts to customers. Hard drives should be returned to customers because they contain everything done on that computer. Most shops simply toss bad hard drives without physically destroying them. Fact is, they contain your personal data and until they’re crushed data may still be retrievable.

Before you have work done or sign a contract you should ask who will be performing the work on your computer. Many larger shops are moving to remote service because it’s far less expensive. Sometimes the repair tech is an employee of the business, but many times the store is contracting outside vendors to perform the work. Many repairs simply can’t be completed correctly if the tech isn’t in front of the computer.

(Jeromy Patriquin is the President of Laptop & Computer Repair, Inc. www.LocalComputerWiz.com.)

The Phone Call Service Providers Don’t Want You To Know About

Here’s a real simply way anyone can use to save moolah, money, greenbacks or cash. No matter what you call it, this simple plan will help keep it in your pocket.

About a month ago I noticed the internet bills at my stores were much higher than they should have been. The store that caught my attention was around $244.00 per month. At the risk of sounding snooty, I never really paid attention to the previous bills and just wrote the provider a check every month.

Calling the 800 number on the bill got me pretty much nowhere. I was prompted to push a bunch of numbers, say a lot of words and eventually made it to an operator who was basically useless. The only good that came from the call was a breakdown of the $244.00 bill which included internet, phone lines and TV. We only use one phone and don’t watch television.

Several days later I called again, this time ready to cancel my service. Well I wasn’t really going to cancel my service, my plan was to fib my way into a more wallet-friendly plan. Results of the call were fantastic and I ended up saving half for better service.

Every service provider staffs people who are internally called Retention Experts. To you and me they’re simply Customer Service members. It is the job of the Retention Expert to keep us as customers no matter what it takes. As I said, every service provider including cell phone and internet keeps these types of people staffed to keep customers from bailing.

After mashing a bunch of buttons and yelling at the automated attendant I was eventually connected to a first tier customer support person. She asked the same questions they all do about my day and why I’m calling. I flat out told her, “I want to cancel my service because I found a better price.”

With no hold time I was connected to what I was told was a different department. What really happened was my call was escalated to the Retention department. Within about a minute of being connected he told me how I could save money by staying with the provider. When asked who I was moving to I fibbed again and gave them the competitor’s name.

After a brief hold he came back with an amazing deal that included significantly faster internet, no TV service and 2 phone lines. My bill dropped disproportionately in my favor to less than half. We signed new contracts and now I’m locked in for years until I threaten them again.

While I had this guy on the phone I provided account numbers for my other stores that use this provider and basically duplicated the process. The second store saved about $80.00 per month and the third about $30.00. My other carrier wasn’t so generous, but I was able to save about $20.00 per month for the exact service. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but $250.00 to me is a fair amount of money.

Crazy as it sounds, anyone can shave money off their bills by simply telling a real person you want to cancel a specific service. It takes about 20 minutes out of your day, but with a little fibbing and frustration you could cut your bills in half. Let me know how much my little process saved you.

(Jeromy Patriquin is the President of Laptop & Computer Repair, Inc. www.LocalComputerWiz.com.)

Read This Before Buying Your Laptop Online

When I first started repairing computers I noticed that each region had a specific machine or series of machines that were prevalent in that particular area. At first I thought it was for economic reasons, then I realized machines that dominated one particular region came from specific retailers.

I define a region as a small group of towns, maybe 10-15 miles in radius. Basically a region could be made up of 3-4 towns or cities and all border each other. Because I was working alone when I started and was covering a huge part of the state I could pretty much guess the generic make and type of a machine by the town I was visiting.

Really what it boiled down to was the retail locations near that group of towns. If the only store easily available was a Walmart then I knew to expect a lower end HP. However, if there was a Best Buy nearby I could expect a full featured Toshiba or Sony. In the early days I’d sometimes get lucky and cross an Acer which typically came from BJ’s or Costco.

Online marketing has made my job somewhat more difficult because I can’t keep specific parts inventoried. If I were to keep fans on hand for every laptop we could potentially see, I’d literally have thousands of different fans. In years past it was common for me to have a specific fan or other laptop component inventoried.

Websites have increased our ability to purchase tenfold. We have choice after choice of what we can purchase and use. With many of the online vendors we can typically have the device delivered to us within a couple days, and sometimes we can have it the next day.

Shopping online is awesome; however, there are some things on my end that I’ve noticed as a repair guy. Actually, they’re things that make my job much more difficult because I’m the one having to look at customers and explain why the parts are difficult to find. Even more difficult is facing a customer and explaining their really expensive machine is almost as expensive to fix.

First off, the biggest headache with online shopping is not being able to see and touch the product before it’s purchased. Laptops are very personal devices, meaning they become part of us. If there’s anything from a poor quality keyboard to an improperly weighted or balanced laptop (yes, this is an issue), it will change how and if it’s used by us.

Many times electronic devices we purchase online are refurbished. Manufacturers will reserve online vendors as gateways for their refurbished devices. It’s easy to sell a refurbished device online because this type of sale is faceless. Before purchasing online, it’s always a good idea to read the item description and avoid items marketed as refurbished.

Not all online sales are deals. Last week a customer showed me the laptop they purchased. It was an obscure brand with great specifications. Actually, the laptop was a really beautiful machine. The big problem was they overpaid for the technology inside the machine. Had they taken the time to shop chain stores they would have found a nicer laptop for less money.

Finding parts for some of the online purchases is very hard. Many times I find myself opening machines to determine what’s actually inside. A very common repair part is the internal jack that connects the power adapter to the motherboard. If the laptop isn’t common enough to be listed in my database I have to dig through hundreds of parts until I find a match. Luckily we have several hundred in stock.

Although retail salespeople today are pretty much useless, occasionally there’s a good one. Unfortunately there are no salespeople online. On the rare occasion we stumble across a good salesperson we can sometimes get their opinion about what not to buy. Many times reviews and questions about products online are answered by dolts who know nothing about what they’re commenting.

So, what does someone do who absolutely must make an online purchase? Maybe the person can’t leave the house or maybe they live too far from a retailer. Here are a couple things I suggest.

Absolutely first, it’s a good idea to talk to someone in the know. Find out what to look for and what to avoid. We always make recommendations based on what the customer is using their laptop for. We also try and match generic specifications to the customer’s budget.

We suggest taking the list of generic specifications and shopping a few different sites for competitive machines before adding it to your cart. Customers come to us all the time with print outs of competing machines that meet their budget and we give them our opinions as the repair guys. People sometimes forget that we see machines after they’ve failed.

Read the company’s return policy before buying the device. Some companies don’t accept electronics that have been opened. Some vendors accept open boxes but charge a restocking fee. If you do need to return your device in accordance with the policy make sure your data is erased and all original packaging is included.

Make sure the item is stocked and sold by the online vendor you’re making the purchase from. It’s not uncommon for a company to sell the item and only list it with the online vendor. Shipping will typically take longer than expected from that company and will make returns (if offered) significantly more painstaking.

Pay the extra few dollars for expedited shipping. So many times customers show me their broken screens and bad hard drives that didn’t survive the 18 times it was loaded and unloaded from a delivery truck before it arrived broken. Faster shipping means less handling time; for a device that contains many fragile parts the quicker shipping means less chance of breaking before it arrives.

There you have it. Online shopping is good for many things, but laptops and fragile electronics are a few things that should be purchased at retail. It may be a pain to have to drive, but you’ll be happier with your purchase if you have the opportunity to touch and use the laptop before you swipe your credit card.

(Jeromy Patriquin is the President of Laptop & Computer Repair, Inc. www.LocalComputerWiz.com.)