How much should a freelance PC tech charge?

May 1, 2009 at 23:28:15
Specs: Windows XP MCE
Hi guys and girls! I looked around to see if anyone had made a post on this recently but i didnt catch one. So here is my question: How much should a freelance computer technician charge for fixing PCs? Should it be at an hourly rate or a fixed standard rate depending on the issue? Im new at doing freelance work but certainly not new at fixing PCs. I have about 5 years of experience since high school and I LOVE fixing PCs. Im about to get A+ certified next month (ive been slacking on that one :] ) Honestly I do it just for the sake of learning,experience (more haha) and to help family and friends that have trouble with their PCs. And most importantly because I enjoy it. But sometimes i feel i should be getting paid enough for the effort and time spent fixing some of these PCs.

For instance, today I fixed a PC that the customer was using on safe mode because it would freeze everytime she booted normally after accessing the internet and receiving several popups. So I figured out by phone it had to be malware. So after receiving the system and scanning it i found 1,351 trojans and viruses on it! and the scan was only 8.6% done! At that point it froze and alot of noncritical errors starting showing up so I figured it would be best to recover XP to factory default settings. Now between that and updating XP and all the other applications she had, and installing antiviruses and a firewall and updating and running a scan, it took me about 9 hours. How much should I charge for that? Any input on this would be appreciated. Thanks!

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May 2, 2009 at 00:18:12
The pro's usually charge hourly, and an extra fee for service calls. I recommend calling around at the local PC repair shops/services and ask them how much they charge hourly for their services, including their costs for service calls. Once you have that info, knock $10 or $20 off of their fees and that will be what you charge your customers. When more and more people see that you're cheaper, they'll probably be going to you instead of the big guys before long. Around where I live, the big guys charge a $75 service fee and $75 an hour, although I heard from a friend of mine that a lady technician in a nearby city charges $145 an hour! If I was going to start doing this myself, I'd probably charge between $45 and $55 for service calls, and $50 or $55/hour to do repairs.

And yeah that A+ is a definite plus. In fact I'd shoot for any certifications possible because the more you have, the more people that will probably take you as knowing what you're doing. I have my A+, but soon I want to get my MCSE, MSCA, Network+, and Security+ certificates. The problem is that they're all so expensive and I don't have the money right now. It was nearly $340 for me to get my A+!

BTW, if you need some free A+ training, have a look at James Messer has an extensive free 25 hour video course on everything covered in the A+ exams, plus forums where you can ask him and the other frequents questions. I think his site is just awesome.

WinSimple Software
CompTIA A+ Certified

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May 2, 2009 at 04:22:57
some thoughts... from a well worn T shirt.

good lesson there , would you charge 9 hours in the future? cost would out weigh the fix.
initially charge a flat fee, plus callout say you have a car, i dont know, anything up to 10 miles + 3 gall gas/petrol, work it into the charge
no point wearing out your car for a dead pentium 3.
id set a fee on what you think its worth with friends etc , if its a p3 300 with win 95 on it or a alien ware pc whats the value to the user.
Is Mr Knuckles going to pay?
got a contract? no ? tell me do they have to pay? or are you hoping you meet only nice friendly people.
remember your going to meet people from all walks of life.
heres one , you walk in to a client , his pc is acting weird , you reboot , it dies.... are you responsible?
check out any legal issues first.
it happens ;)

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May 2, 2009 at 17:32:31
well rayburn i need to move to a bigger city cuz my city is cheap! haha and the businesses i called dont charge by hour. They charge a standard flat rate depending on the issue. I called best buy and they charge $129 for cleaning and optimizing your PC, then 60 for the internet suite. Then i called some local shops and they charged anywhere between $75 to $120, plus cost for parts. So I ended up charging the customer $100, plus 40 for the memory upgrade and installing her printer as well.

And 1stepbeyond im totally aware of what your saying. Thats why im only currently fixing PCs for family and friends. I know they will pay. And thats why I havent been more active in letting my services be known to strangers because of these contracts and legal terms you're talking about. But in case I do in the future, do you know of a good starting point where I can learn all the legalities of fixing computers?

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May 2, 2009 at 18:49:37
Well I charge $35.00 flat and that includes parts. Yes the parts are used ..but they get a 90 day warranty. If it is a part I put in "ie" part is a power supply, I extend the warranty .

If the computer belongs to a kid under 18 there is no charge.

Understand that they must drop off the computer and return the loaner in working condition. Yes they get a loaner.

I also work as a volunteer refurbishing computers that are given free of charge to kids in need.

Guess where the parts come from..................

I only do hardware problems. I find most software problems are from user screw ups. I do reload the system with a legal and activated os if needed.

Happy to check a computer for viruses and happy to load anti virus programs on any computer......but If a person is to Hmmm %$#@! to dumb?and go bare foot then by all means they can pay some one else $100. plus to clean up the machine....over and over

Theocho do this ...check out craigslist in your area.
See what others are charging.

To ovoid problems have the people bring the machine to you. Avoid in home repairs. Have a few loaners to give your customers.

Most hardware problems can be fixed in under 15 minutes.
if you have the parts.Do the math.... thats $120.00 per hour.

Way to many repair shops are going under because it is cheaper to just buy a new machine than fix one thats has a few years on it......given the rates they charge.


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May 2, 2009 at 21:25:44
Wow theocho they must do it differently where you live because everyone does it hourly here. In fact I've never even heard of a flat rate unless it's Staples or Best Buy. But come to think of it maybe a flat rate would earn you more money, especially for those 15-minute repairs.

WinSimple Software
CompTIA A+ Certified

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May 3, 2009 at 06:26:12
just use common sense, & some more caveats;

Home , Small office home office business visits:

your knowledge is what people are really paying for, dont think you have to fix a pc often you cant a phone call will determine that.
(eg: Business may use bespoke products you may not have experience in, eg accounting packages etc)

Add the usual provisos:
Any testing, reinstalls eg; can take up to 40 mins on a decent pc hence high 1st hour callout fee.

(& includes driver install, net re-& search for drivers, ppl think you can do it in 10min btw,

Clients must provide recovery cd's software cd legit keys
no parrots or wooden legs.
Always provide a receipt of services if asked. add your phone number , repeat calls :)

WL hits nail on the head, take a spare pc/laptop with you often you can get the latest drivers off the net* at the clients ,if they havn't got the chipset cd, Its also a good back up in case its doa and they want all their data back immediately, (*get full permission off internet owner!)
again my take:
home or business;
Any pc over five years (pentium4, 939 or less) i now draw the line at, drivers are too hard to get or now cost off the net eg driversguide

(dead parrots,) any licencing issues
I tell them straight Go and buy a new one! or i'll happily supply one Legit!
dead drives noisey unpredictable drives: Do not get into any issues over lost data, your not a recovery specialist, thats a whole new ball game.
home: accidental deleted files, have a go with undelete progs you may be succesfull.
business; no let them hire a recovery specialist.

Tell the client up front;
anything over 5 yrs thats smokes, DOA, bsods unless you have a stock of old gear," state parts are not always available", I only do memory upgrades dvdrws etc (i binned all my junk this month im not going to waste my time competing with the local shop or supply 2nd hand parts. I give no warrantys any way UK law is 'sold as seen' i only support 12 month warantys on new parts.

reason why;
Theres a new wave of start up businesses here called recycler businesses, warehouses full of junk pcs that were destined for Asia for break down to recover gold,caps etc
due to the economic downturn these are being refurbished for resale, just like Worldlibrary is doing for charity, except these guys are in it for hard cash, warranty ..non, software? ,, a flood of crap
pc's that have already been round the clock once.
eg; full p4 dimension with xp £40, so I cant compete, 1 gig pc 2700 ram = £30.

chose your own policy's & stick to them.

Insurance, if your going to become a one man band look up some liabilty insurance, esp for car use, your now a business, not social & domestic, i dont know how USA car insurance works it may differ.

Another Good point from WL, loaners, i dont normally do this but have started due to vista, people want their stuff back,eg their old camera dosent work on vista etc certain progs only work ok on xp

pc supplied 'as is' second hand item a legal term, they are old pc's, clients; use their own software, their documents files etc always at their own risk. Pc is wiped after use (active killdisk demo works fine.)

i dont charge for pc loan, class it as a total loss, they may throw it out of the window :)

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May 3, 2009 at 06:46:11
"Do not get into any issues over lost data, your not a recovery specialist, thats a whole new ball game."
agree 100%. I don't do data recovery, if you want that go somewhere else. I make them bring it to me, don't do house calls. Usually by the time they get to me, they just want a PC that functions again. I work similar to worldlibrary, flat fee, parts not included.
Whenever I reinstall, I setup a dual boot with some version of linux.
I don't touch anything still under warranty, I work on mostly older machines.


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