Fair pricing

Hello all

I am stumped as to how to charge for a job. Let me give you the scenario:

Customer recently changed to Earthlink DSL/wireless and although they were able to get DSL working, they could not get the wireless to work. Since October they had spent a number of hours on the tech help line (to India) and nothing suggested worked. Windows XP home edition, Dell computer, Syslink wireless router.

I was asked to come in to finish the installation. Following the Earthlink manual, I set up the wiring from the DSL modem to the router. Not only did the wireless not work, but Earthlink kept trying to dial out on a regular old-style modem. I re-installed software. No change. I de-installed software and began to re-install and got a blue screen.

System was completely down. Could not run in any of the Safe Modes, couldn't boot off last know good config -- everything I did continued to result in the dreaded blue screen. I ran disk, cpu, memory diags and found now hardware error. I ran Dell diags, no errors. Apparently, the boot strap was corrupted and there was no way to get into Windows.


I removed the hard drive, purchased a SATA-USB cable and recovery software and was able to recover customer's personal data.


I returned to customer, re-installed XP and reloaded data. Unable to connect to Earthlink via DSL -- repeated calls unanswered, as Earthlink had a service outage (unknown location) and no help desk available


Returned the next day, got the DSL working, spent over an hour with Earthlink techs on wireless problem, who then fobbed me off on Linksys tech line. After 45 minutes, Linksys tech determined wireless router was defective (!!!!)

Called Earthlink, got a Return Material Authorization number and had them agree to send new, working wireless router and take back original defective router.


Okay, so I have spent 12 hours on this call so far and still the wireless system is not up. What is fair in this billing? This has been a very good customer and I believe that she will send me other clients, but I still need to recover some of the time/money spent so far.

How many hours (so far) would be a fair price?

Thanks for any suggestions you might have

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It appears you have not improved the customer's situation, so I suggest you chalk it off to education and charge nothing.

Been there, done that.


Reply to
Don Bowey

Sometimes, if you really believe that you are going to get business of a greater value than the time already lost, you just have to take it on the chin, and put it down to life in the service industry. If you supplied the defective equipment, you can always try taking it up with the rep of the company that supplied you, and put it to him that you have lost considerable money on the job, but have gone to great lengths not to give them a bad name with your customer. You might be able to persuade them to give you some compensation by way of parting with some other goods, that you can then sell on at proper retail price. Worth a try, but sadly, I think that you probably won't get far, and you are going to have to put up for the next week with your wife telling you how stupid and gullible you are ... Been there, done that, got the tee shirt ...


Reply to
Arfa Daily

I would take off the first 4 hours - as the work you did actually did harm to the user's computer (although data, and problem was later corrected, and this wasn't directly your fault). This is sort of "down time" and nothing good was accomplished. I would add the remaining hours (as you were accomplishing something for the client) and give a

50% discount (for the inconvenience / problems incurred). So 12 hrs - 4=8. 8/2 =4 - so I would charge 4 hours. Pretty good deal for your customer - 2/3 off. Your customer should be happy in the end as she got what she wanted - with a good deal - and you will get what you want - future referrals.


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Being a bit of the devil's advocate, I'd respectfully suggest that he instead write it all off as a learning experience, (including finishing the job), and hope that the customer remains sufficiently pleased to provide references and leads.

My rationale would be that I (again, respectfully) think that it sounds like the OP bit off more than he could chew. As the customer I'd expect that a faulty piece of hardware be almost immediately identified, and further that a "pro" would come equipped with spares that he could swap. Or at least have sure access to them without undue delay.

Once again I say with absolutely no disrespect - take your lumps, learn from it, and carry on :)

Take care.

Ken (long retired, and happily not working in today's environment :)

Reply to
Ken Weitzel

Before you began the job did you check the customer had a good back up? Did you simply ask if there was a good back up or did you check their back up was good and up to date. Obviously not.

Therefore 0 hours for DR.

Telephone hold time, use a speakerphone and work on another job at the same time. Billing rate $10/hr.

What did it cost your client for their lost computer time?

I agree with "admin" - probably 4 hours for a total bill and only submit it once the customer is online and satisfied they are able to work again.

Hopefully that will lead to further referrals.

Reply to

Charge $100 and explain that you usually get $50 per hour on home calls with a $50 minumum but since they are new customers, you are going to give them a break. Then charge the $50 per hour with minimum for all other service calls. But, it has been my experience that they will call a $100 per hour guy next time instead of calling you back...nature of the beast... even seen friends do the same thing... J.P.

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Hi all

Thanks for the advice. Fortunately (and happily) the customer is VERY satisfied and impressed that once the OS blew up, I didn't just throw up my hands and tell them to call the Geek Squad. Couldn't even imagine not fixing a problem that happened on my watch.

It just shows to go you that no matter how long you have been working on these things (and I have been working on electronics and computers for 25 years), there's always something new to bite you in the butt. And now that I have had a real taste of Earthlink (both in their equipment choices and their tech support processes), I will be doubly wary of them.

I think I will charge them for the backup, since they did not know how to do it and I set it up to do automatically (up to a server) without intervention, and time on the phone (at a much reduced rate).

Cheers and happy holidays

Reply to

Great that it worked out for you. The BSOD will scare the C*** out of any client most times.

I charge a rate somewhat less than the Geek squad for backup configuration - and the configuration I am working on is as you suggest a few keyboard strokes and the job is done.

Your initial post gave me the impression of a newbie, rather than an experienced pro with one of those jobs that did not go right!

Happy holidays, and may your clients only call on boxing day rather than at midnight on Christmas eve!

Reply to

I have BSOD screensaver. Scares the crap out of people...


Mark Z.

Reply to
Mark D. Zacharias

Better uninstall the hard drive, install a new blank one and restore the data to make sure. While you're at it, make sure they're not running any mission-critical applications or system software in background, that their computer isn't internally radio-linked to any other entities, that all the data they possess is valid and undamaged and that their installation of Windows has never had a BSOD or had an application lock up.

If you're going to go to silly lengths, go all the way.

Asking Iran and Syria to help us succeed in Iraq is like your local fire
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yep go ahead and accept the liability for a $100k or $500k data loss. I don't!

If you don't check your clients backup how do you know they in fact have a recent and recoverable backup?

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