I’ve stumbled upon a lot of articles recently about computer techs using their powers for evil. Here are some of my favorites:
Why San Fransisco’s Network Admin Went Rouge -You all may have heard about the disgruntled Network Administrator in San Fransisco, Terry Childs, who recently locked out all administrators from the city’s network and then held the password hostage, even after being jailed. This article takes a good unbiased look at how this situation occurred and the circumstances surrounding it. One of the biggest problems was that Childs was the ONLY person who really understood how the network worked and therefore had the power to cripple it.
High Tech Peeping Tom Rigged Laptop Webcam To Snap Nude Pics– When this computer repair tech would receive a laptop to fix, he’d secretly install some software the would use the built-in webcam to snap photos of the user and upload them to his personal collection. Very creepy.
Geek Squad Cuts The Cables Inside Your Computer Instead Of Backing Up Your Data– Ah, the Geek Squad. In this blatant attempt at computer sabotage, a user receives his computer back only to find the internal cables have been cut, some memory is missing, and his HD casing is broken. It appears this employee was so disenfranchised he didn’t bother to be subtle with his mischief.
Aside from being eye openers (and sometimes funny), each of these stories provide a valuable lesson for me. As a result of events like those listed above, or because of some previous bad experiences, some people may have a nasty pre-disposition toward computer repair techs. Although I plan NOT to do anything malicious with my business, there’s always the potential that I could be accused of ruining someones computer or spying on their data or uploading a virus etc. I’ve thought a bit about this and here are some things I’m going to do to protect myself if such events occur with my business.
- Document Everything – The fact that Terry Childs never documented anything, and therefore no one knew how his network was configured, got me thinking about this. I will have a plan to thoroughly document every service call I go on. This is a good practice for a number of reasons, mainly to have a record of which solutions I’ve used to resolve certain problems. This will help me get things done faster in the future so I’m not always trying to reinvent the wheel with every new service call. Aslo, if I ever hire any employees in the future, they will also be required to document everything, so I can avoid a Terry Child’s-like hijacking situation.
- Do All Work In Full View Of The Customer – I have a policy that all work is to be done at the customer’s home. I will not be taking equipment back to my “office” (apartment). This way, the customer has full view of all work I am doing on their system. This will mean I’ll have to carry all equipment and tools with me when I travel to service calls. If a part is needed, I will order the part (or the customer can order it) and then schedule a follow-up with the customer to install it. I may have to change this eventually, but I’d like to stay on-site as much as possible.
- Have A Service Agreement – This is the most important part I think. A good service agreement will allow me to set the customers expectations by having a document they must sign before I begin my work. The docuemt will verify the work to be done, the fact that I am not responsible for lost data (the customer is responsible for having it backed up), that certain computer issues can reoccur and I cannot guarantee that my fix will last forver, that I may need to dig into their files in order to diagnose a problem, so on and so forth. I will probably offer some kind of warranty on my repairs, 30 days or something. Also, once the customer pays me, they will sign another form stating that they are satisfied with the work completed. I’ll definitely have to do some research on this to make sure I cover all my bases.
What other suggestions do you have that will help me avoid the stigma of the evil computer tech and protect myself against the inevitable disgruntled customer?