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What Do You Charge for Tech Support?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the scratch-under-the-table dept.

The Almighty Buck 1168

war3rd asks: "Years ago I used to offer tech support for friends and family (for free), and ended up doing it for everyone they and I knew. I cut it out because it was taking too much of my time, but I've been getting more and more requests lately due to everything from viruses, spam, spyware, as well as aging PC with Windows 98 and ME (oog!) on them still. I was thinking of saying OK to requests that are convenient, but I want to make it worth my while. So I ask, I'm sure that some of you out there must do this, what is the general going rate for basic user tech support (i.e. getting someone's home machine cleaned up and back to normal email & web browsing capability)?""I assume that there is probably some range in different parts of the country, but I'm curious anyway. And let's just assume that I live in the Tri-State area around New York City (can you say 'overpriced?'). I figure I should be able to pull in enough to feed my ever-present desire for better hardware, but on the other hand, I don't want to be a jerk and gouge people who should be able to trust me with their machines. So what to other Slashdot users charge for their tech support services?"

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Business or Personal? (5, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609666)

If you're doing it for people you know personally, for instance, your grandpa, sister-in-law or your mum's old schoolmate, in a sense that people are seeking your help as a favor, then I don't think it is easy to ask for something in return.

However, if you really get so many tech support requests, you may consider setting up a side business, that way you have made yourself commercially available and people know they need to pay for your service.

If they don't want to pay, they know not to call you. If they do call you but not expecting to pay, you can give good excuses like you're so busy with your new business that you can only visit them "later" (so much later that they solved the problem themselves).

Re:Business or Personal? (5, Insightful)

quizwedge (324481) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609783)

I don't fix computers as a business. I just don't want to spend more time working and then have to worry about taxes after that along with all the other things you need to have a legal business. Instead, what's worked well for me as a bachelor is dinner. I tell people invite me over for dinner and I will fix your computer. Now that I have a gf, they invite her too. In effect, I've doubled my rate. :)

My plans (3, Informative)

LiNKz (257629) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609668)

Well, someone tell me what they think of mine (note, I don't have any certifications [yet]),

$50 for the first hour of work. $30 for each addition hour of work I do for them. Usually I resolve the issues in the first hour. If the issues are more prone to fully formatting a box, I usually take it home and charge them $50 for my time at home.. since honestly, formatting / installing drivers takes time but not enough time to waste their money.

If it is something like their computer doesn't work (and its rather stupid) I usually just ask for gas money + $20. I usually always work for a friend, or a friends friend.. I don't do professional calls (e.g. companies) unless, again, are small and a friends company.


P.S. I used to do the whole "$50 to wipe it, $20 to install hardware, $15 to install software" thing, but when I started dealing with friends of friends, I upped it.

For a family member? (5, Funny)

apoplectic (711437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609669)

Nothing less than $300...regardless of the problem.

I don't charge much... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609670)

...to say "Get a Mac."

Re:I don't charge much... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609781)

Funny, the only person I hear from consistently with problems is my sister-in-law with her Mac. I'm always having to tell her "Get a PC".

Re:I don't charge much... (3, Funny)

craenor (623901) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609801)

...to say "Get a Mac."

That way no one can work on it, and you're safe from further support calls. I like it!

Reconsider (4, Insightful)

Jane_the_Great (778338) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609672)

Reconsider getting into this. Here's the issue: as soon as you take money, you are the guy who was paid to fix the computer. At that point, when you walk out the door, the person is going to immediately install a bunch of Spyware and basically undo all your hard work. As much as you attempt to educate them, they will. Then, they call you back and expect you to come right over and fix it "right." In their mind, they paid you to fix the computer and the computer doesn't work. And, if you do decide to fix it again, even for another fee, at that point they will be demanding your help at a time that is not convenient.

My rule is that I will fix friends and family members computers if I happen to have the time and they clearly appreciate my help and don't see it as my obligation. If they offer to pay me, I'll ask for a dinner sometime or just a case of Bass beer.

Trust me, taking money is more hassle than it will be worth.

Re:Reconsider (1)

JaffaKREE (766802) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609726)

You need to make it clear that this is a one-shot deal. Future problems are unrelated. I've had people who I've built computers for come back to me a year later with the story "The computer was working fine, then there was the huge lightning storm, but I left the computer on. The next day it didn't work !! You suck at making computers !". That's tough. I told you about surge protectors.

Re:Reconsider (5, Insightful)

HawkinsD (267367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609831)

Jane's right. There's a huge line between paid support and support that I do because you're my brother-in-law.

I also want my brother-in-law to be a little beholden to me, because he's good with doorknobs, and I'm an idiot around doorknobs, and I'm going to need a doorknob upgrade soon (this may sound like a stupid example, but it happens to be absolutely real).

If my brother-in-law needs more than I can handle, then I'll help him choose a consultant that he can pay (and be mad at when his machine fills back up with goo).

So... I don't usually charge for basic support. I do it when I have the time, for people I like.

Don't forget... (1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609673)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

$90. (5, Interesting)

JaffaKREE (766802) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609675)

If they balk, then they can go somewhere else. It's just too time-consuming.

FP FP FP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609678)


Whop bop ba looba (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609679)

Crash boom bang!

FP for me!


Are you kidding? (3, Funny)

HardCase (14757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609682)

You couldn't pay me enough!

Not enough (1)

mattkime (8466) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609684)

Not enough.

(...but he best way to go is to try to exchange favor for favor. Both sides are usually quite happy with this.)

What you need.. (1)

rylin (688457) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609685)

What you need is clearly the best support-system in the world: the Pint Support System.

Re:What you need.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609747)

No relevant results on google, care to elaborate?

Re:What you need.. (1)

rylin (688457) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609788)

Sure, but that'll be one pint :)

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609686)

I ask for One Miiiilllllliiiiiioooonnn Dollllaarrrsss.

I barter.... (5, Interesting)

FalconZero (607567) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609688)

When I end up fixing computers for people I know, I usually don't charge, but end up having a favour(s) in pocket, I've ended up with :
  • A free accountant
  • A builder who rebuilt part of my roof
  • A mechanic who services my car for free
  • A company director who throws consultancy my way
  • and a lawyer (who I thankfull havn't had to use yet)
...all I *need* now is a stockbroker :D

Re:I barter.... (1)

LiNKz (257629) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609736)

I like that. I've done the same, just haven't came out that well ;)

Re:I barter.... (5, Funny)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609833)

...all I *need* now is a stockbroker :D

given up on getting a girlfriend, eh? :)

Beer (1)

Xocet_00 (635069) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609690)

A six-pack of Sleeman's Honey Brown is a reasonable generic fee for informal tech support to friends.

Re:Beer (1)

RazorJ_2000 (164431) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609760)

Ahh, a fellow Canadian!

Rates: (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609692)

$50 just to come look at it and determine if I can do anything about it, $50/hour after that (first hour is free). I know some folks that charge more ($75-100 just for the housecall).

$10-15 an hour depending on the person. (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609693)

Not much if I know someone that knows them.
Usually dinner and a favor from family.

Re:$10-15 an hour depending on the person. (1)

Colz Grigor (126123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609755)

You can't be still in high school...

Your time must be more valuable than that...

!st post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609696)

Woohoo First post!

Still Friends? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609698)

If you want to keep them as friends, I would not charge them. Either do it for free - or don't do it at all.

Re:Still Friends? (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609800)

The best part is, I've let my Windoze skills atrophy to the point where I'm pretty useless when it comes to registry hacking and the like.

Using only Linux and Mac OS X for 5-6 years will do that to you. It's a blessed relief. I feel a strange, sublime disconnect from the whole world of adware, spyware, macro viri, popups, banner ads, etc...

So no 'mortal' I know bugs me unless they've got a Mac, in which case they rarely need any help anyway.

Favor Exchanges (1)

Wanderer1 (47145) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609700)

You will find that business professionals like lawyers and accountants generally exchange services. Look for barter opportunities, they are more plentiful especially with family and friends.

that depends (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609701)

man or ugly woman: $20/hr
hot woman: blowjob

Not worth it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609704)

No amount of money is worth it!

Use Linux as a model (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609706)

Linux is free, why would you want to charge? From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. You have the ability to fix computar problems, your friends and families are having trouble and need repairs. Charging is unethical in this situation, pay attention to teh common good - ytou wouldn't like it if you had to pay for Linux, would you?

Re:Use Linux as a model (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609806)

If they were using Linux and being a part of that community- they wouldn't need the service in the first place because there is no spyware that I'm aware of that targets Linux.

Whatever the market will bear (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609707)

Right now I'm going to college and I don't have time for a real job so I work here in the IT department as a federal work study intern. It's pretty silly, because I have as much experience as anyone here, and more in some cases, but that's the way the cookie crumbled. I only charge people $35/hr because this is an academic environment and people (outside of administration) are not wealthy. However, I charge the same amount for the time I spend driving somewhere, which mostly means people just bring me their systems and I work on them at home. It works out well for me, because I can make some extra money on the weekends and so on. I don't do too much work like this though, because even at that price it's more than a lot of them can afford.

Going Rate (1)

basilisk12 (622742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609708)

CompUSA, as an example charges $75 an hour for labor, so I don't feel so bad charging $50 an hour for my services.

Most people just take it as a tax writeoff anyway.

Non-w2? $75/hr at least. (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609709)

If you don't have a retainer or any kind of lenghty relationship with the client, I would recommend at least $75/hr.

You could probably go for less, but I would only do so if they pay in cash on the spot. Mmm... Untrackable, untaxable cash......

Don't do it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609710)

It's a waste of your time. PC Hardware is as worthless as old 78's in today's world. Make it clear that you will only fix PCs belonging to your immediate family. Another strategy is being rude to others so that they dare not even ask.

dr evil says (1)

chubbyj (202831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609717)

I demand the sum... OF 1 MILLION DOLLARS.

Charge for your time (1)

nooch (538215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609718)

$100 an hour, one hour minimum. They provide software. Bottom line, is I rarely do this anymore. It is just not a good use of my time. If they wanted their computer to work right, they would've listened to what I told them in the first place. Idiots. :P


One word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609719)


On the plus side, you can always sell beer for cash - and the price of beer is always rising and dollar always falling so you can't go wrong.

charging friends? (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609721)

I would never charge a friend. Just seems too weird. If I don't have time I would usually just refer them to a url to fix their problem. It's always better to teach people how to fix their problems than constantly help them.

For a non-friend, I would charge 20-30/hour (i am a poor college student so that's more than enough for me).

Depends... (2, Funny)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609723)

$60 an hour for regular users.
$90 an hour for large networks.
$300 an hour, if you're family.

Not having to waste all my time on family freebies, priceless.

Cell Phone Min (1)

msheppard (150231) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609724)

I don't charge my family, but last month I decided I may have to change that plan. I spent over 30min on the phon with them doign computer support (no the OTHER any key) and it put me over the cell plan min and cost ME money.

However: I probably won't charge my sister, she's an Emergency Room Physcian... and you'd be suprised how convient it is to have one of those around.


I'm in the same boat (5, Informative)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609727)

I've been wondering the same thing. I too used to do free tech support for anyone with a Mac. I'd do PC support for any of my friends and family and anyone they told. I always turned down any money. The local phone company/ISP used to refer people to me for support issues and I'd do it for free. That in HS. That was also before I realized that the phone company was making $$ off of my efforts (me keeping their customers happy for free). My Junior or Senior year (I forget which) that phone company hired me for tech support purposes. That was some time ago. In college I was always giving someone a hand. It didn't help matters much that I also worked at the helpdesk as the Mac guy (the only one for a while until I managed to get a fellow Mac guy and friend hired, who then defected to the Journalism dept to run their Mac operations, loser :-P). Anyhow whatever I did on my own there I also did for free (good way to meet women, horrible way to get dates). That too was a long time ago. I recently did some work for some friends of the family. I then worked on that woman's mother's machine. I have to order RAM for it and go back and install it. Then I have to work on her sister's laptop. Normally I wouldn't consider charging, although they do insist. However with the elevated price of gas and my busy schedule, I have to consider it.

In my professional life I've charged two hourly rate: $100/hr and $50/hr. I can't ask Ma and Pa Rancher/Farmer for that. I would think that undercutting what the area computer shops would charge would be acceptable. When I did service work at an Apple Specialist shop we charged a $45 bench fee for all computers and a $75 bench fee for all laser printers, just to take a look at them. Then our hourly rate was $50/hr. The markup on parts was anywhere for 40% to 200%. That was in '98. If I charged $15 or $20 an hour and maybe something for gas if I had to drive more than 5 miles or so, wouldn't that be agreeable with these rural customers? They'd have to drive 40 miles one way to get to the nearest town with a computer shop. With gas prices the way they are, that adds up fast.

One thing I don't hesitate to do is recommend buying a new computer. Most of these rural folks have ancient systems, at least by today's standards. If the machine is still useable and they understand that they can't run new software on the old machine, I'll help them fix it, even if it's replacing hardware like a bad HD. I highly recommend they replace the machine if they are trying to run new software on a circa '97 Windows 95 machine. It's just too old. I also never recommend the buying computers at the area Ma and Pa computer stores. I always recommend they buy from a larger company with an established reputation, support and warranty system, and will be here next month or next year when the machine has problems. I recommend Dell or Gateway to those people. I tell them about the back to school specials and help them find a system that fits their needs. I figure that's a much better suggetion than to tell them to go to Best Buy or CompUSA and pick up the special of the week. Sure the individual piece of hardware has a warranty, but if Ma and Pa Computer Shop closes up, they're not going to be able to find anyone else willing to figure out what's under warranty and what's not on an old machine. Thoughts on this?

I always set the folks up with some of the better pieces of free software like Mozilla or Firefox, Thunderbird, AntiVir, AdAware, and others. I tell Windows to auto-update without user interaction (something I'd never do on my own machine, but something that necessary on a novice's computer IMHO).

I'm not sure what the best price range is but I know one thing. We can't afford to do it for free all the time.

I let them set their price (1)

SwItCH_LiVEs (854623) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609729)

I did this back in Hawaii for a while myself. I am horrible at estimating my worth, so I left it up for them to decide. They let me know what they wanted done, and then I would ask them to pay me what they think is appropriate for that amount of work. I recall getting $300.00 for formatting a machine, and installing Windows 98 on it again for someone.

Best Practices (2, Insightful)

doctechniqal (516085) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609730)

Charge what your time is worth to you. If you're not sure, and you have a day job, determine what you make in an hour at your day job and use that as a frame of reference. Generally, I use a sliding scale. I charge friends & family members little or nothing, or work out a barter arrangement, depending on the severity of the problem and how much time and effort I think fixing the problem will require. If I get a referral from a friend, I charge $15 just for the hour or less it takes to drive to the client's place and assess the problem, then I come up with an estimate of how long it will take me to fix the problem, multiply that by the hourly rate I've chosen for myself, and give the client a flat fee estimate. Generally, clients prefer a flat fee to an hourly rate quote because they know up front how much fixing the problem will cost; quoting your hourly rate leaves them feeling a little up in the air as to what the total cost will be. It also forces me to discipline myself to (a) come up with an accurate estimate, and (b) do my best to finish the work in a time frame as close to the estimate as I can. If I take longer to fix the problem than I estimated, I know I needed to pad more; if I take less time, I know I needed to pad less. If I am able to fix the problem in significantly less time than I estimated, I usually reduce the cost of the final bill - it makes for happier clients, which often translates to more referrals.

Depends on the situation (1)

GatesGhost (850912) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609731)

if its for family or friends you could do it for free, or for a favor. if its for business, then i'd charge depending on what it is. and if its a hot girl, i'd do it for a little something something...

forget money, stick to goods and services (1)

Khyron (8855) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609732)

As someone said earlier, for one-off support issues I solve for friend and friends of friends or small businesses and NPO's I just point them at my Amazon list or something similar.

I don't want the hassle of doing real, taxable business with a bunch of different entities. However a pile of small gifts that stacks up each year is nice and stays under the radar of Irwin R. Shyster.

Dinner (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609733)

It's a fair trade, and you don't have to deal with the dishes...

Zaurus (1, Troll)

denisbergeron (197036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609734)

If they want support, ask them to install Lilnux, it's a lot more easy to support.
-No virus
-admin tool are protected
-easy offsite support (Telnet, SSH, vnc, etc.)
-no game whom f0ck your dll !
- put your others reason here

Location is IMPORTANT (1)

onebadmutha (785592) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609735)

I'm out in north seattle, and I charge $25 an hour.

If you're really cool, (or really hot) that goes down to 20 or 15, and if you're a serious pain (rich, over 60 and annoying, impatient soccer mom with skrypt kiddies/children) you go up to $35.

That's Edmonds tho, in New York, sheesh, I've got nothing to base it off of..

Don't charge everyone (3, Insightful)

d_strand (674412) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609739)

You should certainly charge your friends friends, just like say, a doctor, would do. But dont charge your really close friends and family. Say 'Sorry i just dont have the time, a job like that will take an entire day' or something if it's a big job. If you start charging money from your friends they'll think you're an ass, no matter how justified you are.

I used to do that (1)

nocomment (239368) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609740)

For $25 an hour plus $10 if it took more than $30 minutes to drive there. I eventually cut it because it was never ending. Still, I did make enough money to get drunk on.

$499 (5, Funny)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609741)

$499, but that's for a one-time fix. [apple.com] No more spyware, no more viruses.

My standard (4, Informative)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609744)

Business Relationship only- $30/hr or $100 for Virus/Spyware Detection & elimination flat rate. $5 off the hourly rate or $25 off the flat rate to family and friends. Seems to be just about right- and it's less than CompUSA charges for the same service, so it's competitive.

Depends (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609745)

For personal requests (friends, family) it is dinner. Preferrably they come to my place. (i drive about once a month)...

Business it comes out to roughly $50/hour plus expenses.

Free, but... (1)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609750)

They must listen to me gently badger them about switching away from Microsoft applications. Selling them on Firefox is usually easy.

Mention of MacOS X actually perks up their ears these days, as opposed to years past. A few of my office mates have even picked up their first Macs (one took up the advice of trying SuSE on existing hardware).

$100/hr (1)

rockville (14298) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609751)

$100/hr, with a one-hour minimum, adjusted upward or downward depending on whether I like the person/company.

Really, just ask yourself "how much is this worth to me?" and set your rate accordingly...

100$ an hour on-site (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609753)

with a bit of education thrown in for free (most infections come from not-knowing, education will hopefully prevent it in the future)

I give the client a time/cost estimation beforehand, so there are no surprises when the job is done.

Hourly Flat rate for non-immediate family (1)

dkragen2002 (635073) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609754)

I wouldn't expect a non immediate family memebr to bring his/her skillset to my beck and call (electrician/carpenter/etc...) with recompense. Therefore, my skill is available for an hourly cost as well.

$40/hr is a nice figure here in the midwest, USA.


charge for tech support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609756)

I range from meals to 150 an hour. depending on the problem, person or orgainization, and exposure. I won't walk into a business and fix one or more computers for a dinner.

Don't involve yourself with home users (5, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609757)

With home users, you can have 1,000 customers and make yourself wealthy. You will also be serving 1,000 tyrants with 1,000 problems who if they write you a check for a nickel will think you owe them your first born.

With mid-size companies, you can have 100 customers and make yourself wealthy. You will also be serving 100 tyrants with 100 problems who if they write you a check for $100 will think you owe them your first born.

With large-size companies, you can have 5 customers and make yourself wealthy. You will also be serving 5 people who don't give a rats ass what you do or don't do for them and who if they write you a check for $100,000 will think it's OK if you don't return their call for a few weeks.

This is a slight exaggeration but the basic tenet is true. Don't focus on small fish or you'll be sorry.

Usually nothing... (1)

BB101 (695226) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609758)

... but I get the usual gift of beer or chocolate that goes down well.

For free. (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609761)

I do it for free, graciously, and I'm glad to have the opportunity to help. (for whom? for my immediate and extended family, and about thirty friends).

I'm an IT professional. I think computers and software are terrible, hard to use, pointlessly obscure. Free tech support is the least I can do to make up for it.

The best way to limit my burden is through understanding my friends and family, and explaining at a level they want to understand.

I bought my parents a mac... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609763)

And they stopped calling me.

Well about computer problems anyway.

All they needed was email, a web browser, MS Excel and oddly Basic (which Chipmunk Basic does well enough at)

I never charge cash... (2)

th1ckasabr1ck (752151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609764)

Whenever I do something like that it's more of a "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" type of deal.

I'll fix your computer if you babysit my kids next Friday.

Charge the same as bestbuy / futureshop (1)

l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609766)

I charge $25/hour (USD) for problems, and expressly indicate to the client that most tasks take 2 hours or more. Since I charge the same as the stores for repairs, doing repairs either nets me beer money or the client balks and goes to the store for peace of mind - which saves my time.

My Policy: (1)

ScriptMonkey (660975) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609771)

Only do tech support for the girlfriend. She's the only person that can properly compensate me for the hell of spyware removal.

The Going Rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609776)

Free! That's the only way that PC manufacturers and software companies stay in business, all the free tech support provided by enthusiasts. Otherwise, they'd have gone broke long ago.

$60/hour -- and this is cheap (1)

greenmars (685118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609779)

Charging $60 an hour tends to cut out the bullshit but it's not so much that it prices you out of the market.

Charge by the half hour. That way, little things only cost them $30.

Just don't do it (1)

the_pilif (548146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609782)

Don't do the supporting. It's not worth it.

Regardless of whether you ask for money or not, the supported will take any further problem with his or her computer personally and run to you as if it was your fault.

I've stopped to give any support to anyone. Regardless if friend, family or stranger. It's just not worth the hassle.


My quoted rates == no Windows work! (1)

Nate B. (2907) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609784)

I tell them $50 per hour plus hardware/software they may need. Then I say that I'll support Linux for free. So far no takers on either offer. :-/

Base it on time (1)

cybersaga (451046) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609786)

I base what I charge on how long it will take me to do. One friend needed a basic clean up. All I needed to do was install Adaware, scan, update virus definitions, and scan. I only charged $30, seeing as while it's scanning I'm free to do whatever I want.
Later, I charged someone else $60 for a full reinstall, since it requires more time (backup, install, restore, install other apps).
Just decide how much you want to make an hour, and how much you like the person.

All prices are in Canadian dollars.

I give folks a list (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609787)

of 10 things to check/do before asking me for help (anti-virus, spyware, windowsupdate, etc...). Most stuff gets taken care of in this step.

Pelts (1)

mushupork (819735) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609790)

I guess you could:

1. Set up a business and charge by the hour (e.g. $20/hour)
2. Ask indirectly for a favor, half-kidding or not (e.g. "how about a home-cooked meal sometime," etc.)

No one wants to pay for support of course, but they may be more willing to barter. I've not charged yet, and I know someone who does it even more. His favors have landed him a lot of paying side-jobs. What's gained from networking (social networking that is) could be worth it alone. Plus it's good karma. YYMV

Pricing... (1)

Pyrosz (469177) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609791)

Cute Single Girl - Free (or maybe a dinner, keeps you in their company longer :)

Anyone else - $20 for simple things like spyware removal (about a half hour of work) $50 for system re-do's.

A base rate. (1)

srjames (849628) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609794)

Back when I used to run a PC repair shop, I charged $29 for a "tune up" or getting their pc cleaned up by removing spy ware, turning off the 100 things running on start up, etc.

Note that this was 3 years ago, and I was located in a small town in Ohio.

Charging a base rate was a lot easier than hourly for this type of thing because I had a ton of people wanting it done. A lot of times it would only take 10-15 minutes of my time, sometimes it took an hour, but it all worked out in the end.

For other service I charged $39/hour in-house and $49/hour on-site.

I don't know anything about the economy in NYC, but I hope this is helpful.

What I charge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609797)

I've been getting more and more requests lately due to everything from viruses, spam, spyware

I don't charge anything to tell them to get a Mac.

What to charge what to charge (1)

SlipStream289 (856135) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609798)

I do this on a part time basis you want to really regulate what you charge. For example i charge 50hr for clients and nothing to family. but if friends ask you they useally take me out for a beer!!

What to they think it's worth... (1)

Mad_Italian (856870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609799)

I do it and tell them to pay me what they think it's worth. I've gotten gift certs to money. Sometimes it works out well for me. Sometimes not so well.

Geeks On Call (1)

EastCoaster (583032) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609802)

Geeks on call charges $75/hour. You should give them a "break" and charge $30-$50 an hour depending on the client(friend) and the complexity of the task. If they balk at the price point them in the direction of Geeks on call and tell them to have a nice day. I quit helping out all but my immediate family and nearest friends because it always cause rifts and I am nobodys personal tech support. At one time I was fielding calls from at least a "friend" a day for computer help. After awhile I asked what they did for a living and requested free service from them instead. Nobody obliged and I now have a free life again.

Simple Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609804)

1. Family's free
2. Friends pay me in beer
3. Friends of 1 and 2 pay me in $$, as much as I think I can get.

I'm cheap (1)

mao che minh (611166) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609805)

Friends and family: free, always, home or otherwise

Acquaintances' home systems: between $20-$100 (plus parts), depending on how long I worked. I never charge much, even if I am building them multiple systems or wiring their entire house. I'm cool like that.

Acquaintances' small business: depends on the type of work. I usually just determine the going rate and cut it by 25-30%, and as much as half for some work. For example, if local Consulting Company A wants to charge $3,000 to set up a small network, I'll do it for about $1,500 - quick and easy, won't take up much of my time.

There's more to it than just money. (1)

LighthouseJ (453757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609807)

My area of expertise is in hardware (computer engineering major), but I will fix computers if I'm asked. I don't ask for anything in return because only friends will ask, but I have been given money (they volunteer $20/hr) or movie tickets (friend of mine gives me a wad of emergency tickets which are passed out when a movie ends prematurely because of emergency [loss of power usually]) which is nice to know I'm appreciated.

Although I do dislike being the go-to guy for my family and friends because they expect me to take time out and fix problems they created out of carelessness and if I don't, then there will be repercussions. That kind of expectation is hard but I've distanced myself from ex-friends that only wanted to be friends to get help with their computer. There's more than money involved in tech support.

$1000/hour or part thereof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609808)

This is honestly what I answer.. I kind of smile when I say it, but I figure if the person says "sure", I'll gladly do tech support for $1000/hour.

No price makes it worth it (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609809)

I used to do a lot of free tech support type help. I never felt it was properly appreciated though. To me, "thanks" means nothing and I refused money people offered because I didn't want to turn the relationship into that kind of slavery for money transaction. Learning from what I do and the advice i give them to avoid future problems would mean everything to me but rarely happened. People get dependent on quick answers instead of thinking things through.

I stopped doing this and told my wife not to mention my computer skills to anyone. It's a lot like putting down dry catfood that a cat can have whenever it wants-- the cat comes to see me because it likes me not because it wants something. People talk to me because they want to, not because they have problems.

I don't think it's healthy to have social relations founded on fixing other people's computer problems. I've spent time fixing a computer while the owner chats with someone else to pass the time.

Personally, I view my time as more important than a couple of bucks and there are plenty of problems more important than a virus-infested computer.

will work for food (1)

v@mp (136150) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609810)

If it is family or friends I ask for dinner or lunch depending on the amount of work I do. If it is someone from work I charge them $20 an hour. As a graduate student I tend to prefer home cooked meals to money.


Expectations... (1)

mythosaz (572040) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609812)

We've had posts in the past for what people ask for OTHER THAN money for doing tech support. I suggest you stick to barter with your friends and family. Sure, people will say barter has this problem too, but with the exchange of money comes responsibility and even with a bold-faced denial of warranty on your part, you're going to be expected to KEEP fixing things forever.

Make certain you want to be in the business of fixing machines on the side for cash for the rest of your natural life.

If you're foolish enough to do this sort of thing on the side, a fair rule of thumb would be about 2-3x your fulltime hours rate for "basic" work (home router setups, Spybot installs, video card upgrades), and 3-5x your fulltime hourly rate for "complex" work (disaster recovery, custom programming).

By those guidelines a 60k professional could charge $70-100 an hour for basic work while an entry level help-desk techno-geek making 35-40k could charge $40-60 an hour for the same task -- and still keep a striaght face when quoting their rate.

..depends.... (1)

caddisfly (722422) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609814)

...Windows machine? Not enough money in the world. I do 300+ of them at work. ...Mac OS....nothing.....of course, I would never get any money anyway because they don't.....

Not that much... (1)

MattyDK23 (819057) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609815)

I'm lucky enough that most of my friends are decently tech-savvy to know how to run an anti-virus scan. Even if they want me to, say, install some RAM or a video card, since they're not on my back for every piece of spyware they get, I usually do it for free; for a few beers, at most. Extended family or family friends, I usually just stay for dinner. If I need to take the PC home, I'll take $10 for gas money (you don't know how long a simple spyware and anti-virus scan can take on a PII 300MHz). If they absolutely need to pay me, then I'll ask for something in the $50 range. Friends of friends, aquantiences, and such, I'll lay down the $50 rule. If it's a longer job that requires more effort -- over two hours -- then I'll go $20 per hour. (Note: Canadian prices)

Tech Support (1)

thedipmon (857518) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609816)

I live in Jersey City right across the river from NYC. I usually charge $50 for any general bullsh*t and $75-100 for anything else such as windoze reinstall's, upgrades, ram installs, etc but do combo's for cheaper pricing. 1 computer for $50 and 2 for $80.

A Donation to a Non-Profit (1)

Snap E Tom (128447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609817)

I have two policies.

#1 I only fix Macs just because I'm a blatant Mac Bigot. I've turned down close family members who had Windows problems.

#2 - I never charge for my services. I do it for the love of Macs. I only ask them to make a donation to a local animal shelter for what they think is fair for my work and send me a copy of the acknowledgement letter.

Charge the same as... (1)

Colz Grigor (126123) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609820)

Charge the same as auto mechanics and plumbers charge in your area. They provide a similar service.

In my area, that's somewhere between $85 and $105 an hour.

::Colz Grigor

Folding@Home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609824)

I'll only fix direct-family-member's computers. (No cousin's aunt's great-uncle, or anything like that.)

I won't charge money, maybe a roast dinner or something like that...

And as a rule, any computer I fix I install folding@home on. (Hey, how else am I supposed to compete with those 50CPU freaks!)

Barter!!! (1)

synchrostart (93516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609828)

Why ask for money from friends and family. It is better to have them owe you a favor. Just tell them the going rate of whatever you think is fair and as them "whatcha got to trade." you can get dinners and other things out of it. Then you atleast feel like you got something out of the deal and they feel like you helped them out and gave them a deal. Plus instead of cash you get a social occasion and a great excuse to spend time with them. If they offer an object, just make sure it is worth your time. or think of a list of things you would like to have (keep the price reasonable) and give that to people as an idea list. get creative. you are doing them a favor, have them do something for you in return that is a favor. If they have nothing to barter, then they do not know you well enough to go out and buy you a birthday present either, so they get no services.

an eye for an eye (2, Interesting)

dan501 (223225) | more than 9 years ago | (#11609829)

I ask them to make me something.
something creative, something they feel they do with a professional or near professional level of skill. that's what I'm providing.

I've gotten paintings, dinners, serenades, lessons and all sorts of things I value more than the $50 per hour I could have extracted.
plus, you can ask family and friends to give you those sorts of things. most of them will enjoy making them.

you have a windows machine, don't you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11609834)

Gee, I'm sorry. I would love to help you out, but I really haven't touched a windows machine since about 3.1, and I really don't know the best practices for dealing with modern windows installations. If you ever get a unix box, I'll be glad to help you with that.
Have you tried re-installing?
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