View Full Version : How to select a computer repair shop

January 14th, 2013, 07:57 PM
I've got a laptop that needs the fan replaced. Nothing big or complex, it's just that the way the computer is designed, you have to entirely deconstruct it to replace the fan. I could do it myself, but I'm juggling 100 balls right now and don't have the time.

Since this is the first time, virtually in my life, that I'm not repairing my own computer, I have no idea how to select a repair shop. I live in a small, rural area, the nearest town has a population of 10k and 4 repair shops, most of which appear to be part time gigs run out of someone's kitchen. Which is just fine, so long as the work is good, and they don't try to rip me off.

So, how do I pick? How negotiable are the prices? How can I tell a rip-off joint?

...and speaking of which, should I just go to the nearby Staples?

January 14th, 2013, 09:16 PM
Where in the world are you? If UK then I'd find a recommendation in either Checkatrade or Which?Local both of which I've used to find various trades & been pleased with work/prices.


January 14th, 2013, 09:43 PM
Out of the 4 shops, go with the one most knowledgeable about linux. They often work with older hardware and will have more experience dismantling and reassembling laptops. Of course, if you are not happy with the work, you can always post a sign on their front lawn. News travels fast in a small town.

January 15th, 2013, 12:02 AM
Need more info... post the type of computer you have and what town or region you live in.

If you live in the US check the BBB website which should at least list the computer shops in your area along with any complaints they've gotten. Also check Google Local to see if there are any shops others have commented on.

DO NOT go to Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max, etc. The only chain I'd trust is Altex which may or may not be in your area. You'd be better off just doing it yourself then trusting your system to those guys.

Also it's hit or miss with the part timers doing it on the side, but some are great and some aren't. You just have to meet them and ask them questions to see if you think they can do a good job. Get references if possible though.


January 15th, 2013, 02:09 AM
The few lappies that I took apart were a PAIN. Way too many screws and tricks. Will someone not having the experience and trying to make a buck at it, do it right? I say no; better to do it yourself.

January 15th, 2013, 12:04 PM
There is a simple solution. Do not disassemble the machine, since it is very easy to break a connector and then your keyboard or trackpad will stop working.

Rather use a Dremel to cut a large square out of the bottom of the lappy around the fan, replace it and then glue the square back with epoxy glue.

January 15th, 2013, 03:53 PM
There is a simple solution. Do not disassemble the machine, since it is very easy to break a connector and then your keyboard or trackpad will stop working.

Rather use a Dremel to cut a large square out of the bottom of the lappy around the fan, replace it and then glue the square back with epoxy glue.

I've stripped a good couple of laptops in my time and you must be a real neanderthal to break something. If you are not sure what you are doing I suggest downloading a service manual and following it, hard to go wrong.

January 15th, 2013, 05:15 PM
I work on computers on the side. Ive worked on many laptops. My first step on any laptop if it is a make and model ive worked on before or not is to down load the manual. It doesnt matter if the issue is viruses or hardware. I want to have a reference. Some times there are videos available also.

The first time I take a laptop , any laptop apart is a time consuming process. I check, recheck, then check again. then begin the disassembly.

The ones I have worked on cutting a piece out of the bottom would be pointless. The fan was on top of the board so all that would do is get you a view of the underside of the board.

As for the big chains the only one i have any experience with is best buy. I wouldnt trust them with tinker toys. A Friend took a laptop to them that we had given him. they told him the board was fried and he needed a new computer. He bought one and sent me back the old one. about 30 minutes told me all that was wrong was the fan. I replaced it and used it for over a year.
Another time he took his new laptop to them, they told him it had viruses and would cost 250.00 to fix. He sent it to me i had the viruses cleared with the antivirus that big lots installed when he bought it in 15 minutes.

the only suggestion i can make is ask the local user group if there is one or the closest one.

Mega Pony
January 16th, 2013, 02:58 AM
I'm not so great at finding a computer repair shop, but if I were you, DO NOT use Geeksquad!!! They are awful and they should feel awful.

January 26th, 2013, 01:59 PM

I knew it. I shoulda done it myself.

So, I took the advice here and went to a guy who billed himself as a FOSS supporter. He's also a tech for a larger repair company, and he moonlights doing repairs on his own. He's got low overhead -- kitchen table repairs -- so I got a good price.

My first warning signal should have been when, despite his support of FOSS, he was not familiar with Ubuntu. That's ok, I thought, this is a hardware problem....

Oh lord what did I do. I picked it up the other night, and the computer he returned to me is quiet, but completely crippled.

The touchpad doesn't work.

The speakers don't work.

Two of four USB ports don't work.

The damn thing is unusable to me now, at least as my work/personal use computer. I will repurpose it to a different function at the office, but that still put me in the hole for a $700 purchase for a new laptop that I wasn't budgeted for.

I wrote the tech an email and told him how dissatisfied with his work I was. I didn't ask for my money back -- after all, he did fix the fan -- and, honestly, I am loathe to return the computer to him to try and make it right, because I'm pretty sure he gave it his best shot on the first go-round. I can't imagine what I'd get back after Round 2.

Oh well. Lesson learned. Instead of going cheap and getting refurbished and/or hacked crap from Tiger Direct, I ordered a System76 PanP9, 1 year warranty, and I can send it back to them for out-of-warranty repairs.

January 26th, 2013, 02:11 PM
I knew it. I shoulda done it myself.

You still could. Sounds like he just hasn't plugged things back in properly. Even if the ribbons on things like the trackpad are knackered they're not that hard to replace. You can get parts for even quite obscure laptops on Ebay. Not necessarily cheaply though...

I didn't ask for my money back -- after all, he did fix the fan

You'd have every right to do so. It doesn't matter if he fixed the fan if the rest of his work wasn't up to standard. Is there such a thing as a small claims tribunal where you are? Threaten him with that and/or the local trading standards authority if required but by all means get your money back.

If you've got a site that rates local tradesmen, get on it and slag this guy's work off. It's totally unacceptable for him to try and charge you for work of that standard.