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Selling systems while keeping tech support burden to reasonable minimum

By Lou3
May 9, 2010
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  1. When I mention to people that I build my own systems, they sometimes suggest that I make a side business out of it or ask if I'll build a system for them. I've thought of it too, but would want it to primarily be PC sales and not find myself in the long-term tech support business. I'd of course be happy to offer support for maybe three months that would cover failure of the hardware or software I installed. What I don't want, but would undoubtedly face, is dealing with people who are disasters with their computers and need a 24-hour hotline in case the computer magic stops happening. As it is, I have a few family members who take for granted that I'm only a phone call away. Is there any business prospect of building and selling system while keeping the tech support obligation to a minimum, or do computer sales necessitate a commitment to long-term support?
  2. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    You can support your products any way you please, as long as you your replacement/repair warranty meets federal/state standards.

    According to federal/state guidelines, there is a reasonable expectation that the product you sell will work for some period of time after the sale. You'll need to dig those numbers up, but I believe the rule of thumb is 90 days (but I could be wrong). In places like Europe, it can be as much as 2 years.

    24-hour support or even good support isn't mandatory -- that's your call. If you don't mind the bad word of mouth resulting from taking 2 weeks to fix a customer's three day old computer, then you can do that. Totally up to you. Just make sure you spell it out in your terms of service and warranty contract (which should be made plain as day and signed to minimize your risk).

    Actual laws and rules vary from state to state, but in general, if make you an honest effort to offer reasonable service (not even support, just honor a 90 day warranty which covers parts replacement/repair) you'll be just fine. Having the buyer acknowledge a contract is a really good idea, but you can't make someone sign their rights away. You'll need to (or someone else will) find out what the laws are in your state regarding manufacture and sales of electronics. You should be able to, in effect, say, "NO SUPPORT beyond warranty hardware replacement or repair is provided" and still be in the clear.

    Now, whether your customers like that or not is really up to them. Most people do expect some sort of support, but you can charge extra for it to cover your effort. You may even be able to outsource it.
  3. Lou3

    Lou3 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 66

    Thanks, Rick. It's actually service, not support, that I'm talking about. I'll check my state's laws.

    Although I'm glad you brought up the legal side of it, I was asking more in terms of what amount of service or support is marketable. I guess it comes down to my target market being competent users who aren't into the hardware end of it.

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