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.2 HOURS
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 available2 HOURS
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.3 HOURS
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