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Hobbs: Check fees, technicians’ skills in search for computer repairs

QI have a Dell laptop XP. It’s 6 years old and needs a good repair shop or computer person to look at it and get it in better working condition. Do you recommend any company or person in Tucson? I don’t know where to go.

M. Shiffman

A: This is a question that many computer users find themselves asking. Having the manufacturer maintain the system has its benefits, but it is not always the best option.

I find it is best to look for the same general qualities in a computer repair shop as you would in a mechanic, plumber or doctor. First and foremost would be honesty. This is a hard quality to find in most professions and computer repair is no exception. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Research potential computer repair shops. A word to the wise: Do the research before you actually need one. When you are in dire straits, you may use a repair shop without performing the necessary due diligence. Compare and contrast them on more than just their fees. You should ask about warranty policies and refund policies.

Ask for customers you can use as a reference and find out what they liked most and least about the shops’ customer service. Having an idea of the turnaround time for the completion of repairs is also important.

If a computer shop goes out of its way to use technical jargon to explain repairs to you, then it may not be what you are looking for. This is a tactic some shops use to justify their fees for relatively simple repairs.

Another thing you should do is verify the competency level of the computer repair shop and its technicians. You can save a few bucks hiring the local guy who is good with computers, but hiring someone with the proper technical qualifications is normally worth the difference in price.

You should also inquire if the computer shop has any ties to vendors. Are they sponsored by a particular company or do they use a specific brand when repairing systems? Knowing this determines the quality of your repair to a degree. If a shop is loyal to a brand, your repair or upgrade may be limited by the product line of a particular vendor.

Next, you should compare prices. The cost of the repairs shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, but it should be a factor. You should be clear on what is included in the price and what services are in addition to the base costs.

There are a lot of good repair shops and technicians around town and there are some bad ones, too. Hopefully, this information will help you locate the repair shop or technician that is best for your situation.

Quincey Hobbs is a team member at the University of Arizona’s Center for Computing and Information Technology and an instructor at Pima Community College. Send questions to quinceyresponds@yahoo.com.

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