General Question

PupnTaco's avatar

If you provide tech support to family and friends, how do you set your boundaries?

Asked by PupnTaco (13860points) March 26th, 2009 from iPhone

Ever get in too deep? Realize someone you told you’d help doesn’t even know what a file or an application is? How do you deal with it, being the “family geek?”

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11 Answers

cwilbur's avatar

I don’t provide tech support to family and friends.

DeanV's avatar

I refuse to go to wherever they live to fix a jammed CD drive. Otherwise, I do use screenshots and screen recordings to show them what I mean. But I won’t travel if i don’t have to.

sandystrachan's avatar

I help them much in the same way as @dverhey screenshots and recordings, but if i m in there house and they say i tend to help then and there. I wouldn’t purposely go to there house unless i had reason to go in the first place.

gambitking's avatar

I do have a t-shirt that says “No , I will not help you fix your computer” that I’ve found to be quite helpful on occasion.

Typically though, I think you should take great pride in being the “family geek”.

I, too, tend to be the immediate consultant when things go awry with gadgets in my family. I’ve really never felt compelled to say “no” and I think that helping your family members (or friends) with overcoming problems in unfamiliar territory will not only be rewarding for you, but it bolsters those relationships and tunes your skills.

Plus, there’s fun and challege in solving a problem sometimes. If it gets old and the requests keep coming, you should just point them to some other resources. You can still get them some assistance without leaving them high and dry. That’s what Google is for.

Oh, and you can always make demands in exchange for your assistance and keep a running tally. Free home cooked meals are a good start in the negotiations.

kevbo's avatar

Wow. Great question. I tried to fix my gf’s sister’s (who lives 600 miles away) computer once, and I didn’t hear the end of it about the changes. Of course, she’s having problems now because she’s running XP without any of the service packs. Dingus.

And my Dad’s sprung a couple thou for a new Dell that doesn’t work properly because he was misled by some data transfer software, but he hasn’t gone back to fix it. I can’t think about it or it will drive me nuts.

I don’t have a real answer to your question, though. I guess I just go by feel and what I have the time and energy for.

marinelife's avatar

I would set up some ground rules.

1. Your computer problem is not my emergency. I will try to help you if my schedule allows. If not, I will listen to your problem and recommend another resource.

2. Using a computer is like using any tool. You need to make an effort to take care of it and to learn the basics. Saying, “You know I just don’t get these things and rolling your eyes when I am trying to explain how to avoid a recurrence of a problem is not acceptable.”

3. if you ask me to fix it or to show you something, do not then regale me with things like, “Well, my desk neighbor’s husband said to do it this way.” If you want my help, then take it. I am not interested in playing competing solutions.

Good luck! Ain’t family grand?

andrew's avatar

I use ichat screen sharing or bosco’s screen share, because life is way too short to describe something on a screen.

I also assign a set amount of time to work on something.

Also, why do you think we made Fluther??

benseven's avatar

I think it’s something I’m good at, and a lot of people struggle with technology, so I try my best to help.

This is to my own detriment sometimes, for instance undertaking an iBook G4 Hard drive repair recently – pretty hardcore stuff (100 screws or so to get to it).

If you’re honest with the people you’re helping, about whether it’s a hard job or if you don’t have enough time, it re-enforces that you’re only human and I find it helps to counter people taking you for granted. I generally also don’t take payment for helping friends out as it establishes some kind of responsibility should a problem recur or not be fixed.

patg7590's avatar

remoting in is always the best option- is fantastic (and free)
unless there’s no internet. I hate talking people through things on the phone…
Its always a good opportunity to push my favorite solutions on other people.
maybe even Ubuntu

For some reason, people get offended when they learn the stuff they bought sucks….
Sorry you spent money on Norton 360…
“It’s pretty good right?”
“no, i’m sorry, not at all”

@benseven – I feel your laptop disassembly pain

@PupnTaco Recently I was helping someone on the phone who:
1. doesn’t know what the Desktop is.
2. Thinks hyperlinks are called hydrolinks
3. uses Windows 98 with a resolution of 800×600

I gave up

this is the most terribly organized post ever, and I’m a native english speaker if you can believe it

edit: wow I didn’t even answer the question
No, I don’t set up boundaries- but I should
I’ve only gotten in over my head once, and that was a long time ago- I was in 8th grade and really shouldn’t have been trying to fix anyone’s computer. It was a terrrible experience and I still feel bad about it.

sandystrachan's avatar

I just had to help someone last night, there laptop stopped working like it should. They waited until near bed time to ask for help and it had to be done via text message.

BBQsomeCows's avatar

I stopped long ago

I now answer “I don’t know how to do that”

no amount of badgering can make someone knowledgeable

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