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By Jennifer_EE
via experts-exchange.com
Published: Apr 17 2010 / 09:35

We've all done it. A friend, a neighbor, a relative, a good client, a bad client, a pretty girl... Whoever it was, and for whatever reason, we all threw them a technological bone and fixed something for free. More likely, however, that five minute task you thought you were signing up for turned into 40 minutes, then an hour, then a commitment. There are 5 reasons you should ALWAYS hand out a bill. Here they are...
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henk replied ago:

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A simple solution I once read on a forum: Fix their Windows computers (it really always are Windows computers), by installing Ubuntu on it. You don't make friends that way, but who needs such friends anyway?

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a1programmer replied ago:

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Then, you'll be there every night. I love Ubuntu, but people who can't even make windows work right will be lost in Linux.

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chudak replied ago:

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That's funny. I've installed Ubuntu on several peoples computers and they never call me anymore to fix their computer.

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a1programmer replied ago:

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Hah, yeah, because they went to someone else.

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raveman replied ago:

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a movie i would like to watch doesnt work on ubuntu, how do i fix it? can you do it?

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raveman replied ago:

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also i got a game that doesnt work, contact me and i will give you the details.

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chudak replied ago:

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henk replied ago:

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It goes both ways really. One group will hate your guts for it and ask the son of their neighbor to restore Windows. You'll loose these guys simply because they're afraid you'll install Ubuntu again.

A smaller group will actually start to use Ubuntu. These are basically the people who just use computers to email and browse the web. You can't really go wrong with that. There is very little to demolish really. Specifically about the movies; VLC is your friend. This is what Macs and Windows computers very often use as well, since it really plays about every format know to man. Embedded content is maybe an exception, although the majority of that is Flash based anyway. True, there is some Silverlight stuff here and there that really doesn't run.

If they encounter that, just blame the web site in question. Ask if they can see stuff on Youtube. If they say they can, just tell 'm it's not their computer and it's just the web site that's rotten. In a way, you aren't even lying then ;)

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milki replied ago:

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Second that. Mentioning you only have a Linux computer and can't (won't) help with Windows gets you off the hook.
And if people are genuinely interested in giving Ubuntu a try, I'm all for providing free help, too.
But actually happened to me only once so far ;)

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danto005 replied ago:

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I've done that once before cause they could not even afford to change the hard drive. I set their computer to run from ubuntu Live. Two days later they called me they didnt know how to really use it. Of course the main reason I gave it to them like that is b/c they said they only needed to use the internet.

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a1programmer replied ago:

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This is an excellent article! I've fallen into this trap so many times, and have gotten burned on multiple occasions.

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MCII replied ago:

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Jennifer_EE cannot fix your computer. Not even for free.

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MCII replied ago:

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Experts-Exchange - a vanishing site and company.

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chudak replied ago:

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Who wants to PAY money to help other people out with their problems? The whole pay to join thing is stupid. Are they paying the people who provide the answers that they then sell to subscribers? Didn't think so.

Won't shed a tear when Experts Exchange goes offline.

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a1programmer replied ago:

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And, you answer questions all day for nothing... Points, sure, but what good is that?

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danto005 replied ago:

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I've probably fixed 10 for free this yr so far

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danto005 replied ago:

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Its the paying customers that give the most trouble. I had this one CU that every few months his computer would get taken over by asian porn cause he was browsing asian porn sites and he blaimed me said i didnt fix it right. I've only fixed computers for family and friends.

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tofarr replied ago:

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I actually agree fully with this article - It is a simple rule of marketing and human psychology that when you charge people nothing, they esteem it as valueless, whether it be a product or your time. How many of you have been asked to fix a computer for a friend/family member / friend of a friend only for them to see that it is taking more than 5 minutes and get bored and go off and watch tv or something? I have been burned by this quite a bit, and personally find it frustrating as hell. (ie: My problem is worth your time, but I have more important things to do.) Or how many of you have been called over to try and speed up a PC that is older than the pyramids? I find myself thinking "Trying to do something with this POS will take days. Factor in the time and it would probably be more cost effective for me to go out and buy you a new PC than to waste time on this."

I guess my annoyance stems from being burned on this a lot, and the lack of respect people show. I would certainly not ask any of my friends that are carpenters / plumbers / auto repair specialists / financial advisers to come to my home and spend hours working for free, especially on something I don't really care about, yet people feel perfectly justified in asking friends with knowledge of computers to do this.

/end rant

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Jennifer_EE replied ago:

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Wow! Thanks for all the great comments, everyone! Even the EE haters! =)

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paulo.pinheiro replied ago:

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I like this point of view.

Maybe "never" is really a too strong word (in a sense that I'd never accept any money from my parents to do something for them).

But in the end there's no difference between asking for free services and asking for money.

If that asking "friend" doesn't bother giving you some money here and there with no looking back, that's ok. You should do it for him!



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dawn_mark replied ago:

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I would like 2 vote 100 times on this

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henk replied ago:

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Maybe we need a power vote or so? :P

A special voting ability that you may use once a month orso :P

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