Friday, October 12, 2007

Car Mechanics

This post is mostly about car mechanics, but it also relates them to computer repair services so I feel justified in posting it here.

My car started acting up a few months ago. Various circumstances prevented me from taking it in until a week ago. Up until now I had been going to the dealer, since I knew they would know what they were doing and would have the parts. However, I called the dealer up this time and the mechanic said it would be at least a day and at least $95 to just look at it. That was such a blatant attempt to rip me off that I did not make the appointment and resolved to find someone else to fix my car.

Luckily, my wife listens to Car Talk and has often sucked me in as well. Although we have not listened as regularly as we used to, we still trust those two guys. I knew that their website had a forum for recommending auto mechanics, so I checked it out. After doing a bit more research, I settled on a group of three to try. The first one couldn't see me until next week, and my life starts getting REALLY busy again next week. The second one could see me today, so I made the appointment.

Dropping the car off this morning, I had a little apprehension as I walked away. The repair shop was definitely a lot less "classy" than the dealer. As I thought about it, though, this made sense. The mechanic actually knew how to fix cars. He didn't charge me to look at my car. As of writing, I am still waiting to hear back from him. I'll probably call him in another twenty minutes.

The point is that I realized that computer service repairmen are like auto mechanics. Places like Geek Squad know they can take the average person to the cleaners because the average person has no clue how to self diagnose a computer and fix minor problems. The only way to REALLY protect oneself when dealing with computer repair people or auto mechanics is to actually know a fair amount about what they are fixing.

Otherwise, you end up like me, getting worked over by the mechanics. When I was ignorant/scared of computers, I had a "friend" help me fix an old laptop. Only it really didn't take much/anything. Then the "friend" expected me to give him rides to school every day, even though he had only done about half an hours worth of work.

Knowledge is power, and reading up a little bit can save a lot of money/time.

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