Top 3 Reasons Not to Offer Tech Support to Family and Friends
Article by George Norman
On 23 Mar 2016
When you work with software all day, like I do, people get the idea that you could fix all their tech-related problems. And, for the most part, they’re right. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.

Back in the day, I would gladly offer tech support to friends, family, and anyone who would ask for my help, really. Not anymore! Nowadays, I try to get out of offering tech support as best I can, because I’ve learned 3 very important lessons.


1. You’ll be stuck doing it forever

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and… he’ll constantly pester you with advice on what sort of lure to use, where the best fishing spots are, what sort of gear he should buy, and so on.

Your friend Bob asks for your help because he has a problem with his PC. Bob obviously isn’t interested in learning new things, otherwise he would have googled the problem. He wants the easy way out, and that is to get you to fix his problems. You do it once, because you feel sorry for the guy. You do it twice, because hey, Bob is a decent enough guy. You do it three times because you have nothing better to do on a Wednesday evening anyway.

Will you keep doing it indefinitely? Bob certainly thinks so. You’ve become his go-to guy and if he ever needs help with a problem, he’ll call you to fix it. You will forever be his “friend who is good with computers.” He’ll tell others about you, and they too will want you to fix their problems.

2. You’ll get “the call

You do a guy a favor and then it comes back to bite you in the ass. Somewhere down the line, you’ll get a phone call from Bob, and he’ll say something like this: “Hey, how you doing? Remember a month ago when you were here and you fixed that problem? Well, you must have done something to my PC, because nothing works anymore.”

Are you serious, Bob? I fixed your lousy computer a month ago because you were careless enough to wreck it. When I left, it was working just fine. A month has passed since then and you did God knows what to that poor PC. It’s not my fault your PC is broken – again. It’s your fault and your fault alone, so don’t try pinning this on me. I might help you fix this new problem of yours, but not if you act like this.

3. You’ll fell like you’re talking to a brick wall

You’re familiar with the lingo and so is your friend Bob. Or at least you think he is. No one would fake something like this just to seem smarter, right?

Worst case scenario: there’s nothing you can do and you have to start from scratch. Take a look at Bob’s face when you explain that you have to reinstall the operating system and you ask him if he backed up his important files so he doesn't lose anything important. It’s the same look I have on my face when my mechanic explains that the thingamajig broke and that the what-you-call-it is loose and he has to order a new one.

Bob will tell you the same thing I tell my mechanic: “Sure, go ahead.” Guess who Bob will blame when he finds out that all his photos, videos, and games are gone? He’ll blame you!

Honorable mention – The uncomfortable conversations

Here 3 things your friend Bob might tell you while you’re fixing his PC.

"That huge folder full of adult photos and videos, that’s not mine. I don’t know how it got there. Must be a virus, or a hacker maybe. Couldn’t have been Bob Jr, he’s such a good kid."

If it’s yours, at least have the decency to admit it. If it’s not yours, then it’s definitely your teenage son’s. You might want to look into some parental control tools.

"So, it’s been three hours now and its dinner time. I’m going to go have dinner with the family. You’ll keep on working, right?"

What, you can’t put another plate at the dinner table and invite me to join you? I’m hungry too. And I’m doing this out of the kindness of my heart, so the least you could do is give me something to eat.

"My PC is a bit old now and it doesn’t run as well as it used to. It’s kind of slow really. Do you know what I should do to fix it? Download some more RAM perhaps."

Yes, there are some things you can do to fix a slow PC. But nothing is going to help your 10-year-old PC. It’s time to get a new one.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows, PC, tech, tech support, friends, family
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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