Despite working in telecoms and technology for far too many years, I am far from a tech expert in most areas - I understand how and why things work as that is my job, but to physically take apart or mend things this is not what I was bred to do.
My personal laptop last weekend stopped working and just issued a series of beeps every time I turned it on, which is not ideal at any time. After carrying out all of my diagnostics (which was just repeatedly turning it off and on and disconnecting the power supply), it was still doing nothing my beeping. I have no attachment to the machine at all, but like many people my computer is full of bits of my life so panic set in and I did what any grown man does, and called for the wife.
She instantly said count the beeps, google it on the other laptop and there it was, a known issue that there were some fixes for on line. Some chats with good mates on line and the worst case scenario which was having to buy a new laptop was changing to a £25 part and about 30 minutes work - so I was able to calm down a bit.
My fear was loss of all my music and pictures stored on the hard drive, but when I started to think about it I was surprised how little the laptop itself mattered. Almost all my music I own physical copies of, and the rest is actually on my iPod, so that was never going to be a disaster, a problem, but not a big one. As for photos, almost all of mine are printed, not because I print them, but because I was very late to bother getting a digital camera. It wasn't until on holiday a couple of years ago when my camera clicked and rewound the film and about 50 people turned around in amazement that Debbie insisted I upgraded to a digital.
So there was luckily not that much I would lose, but it has reminded me to get round to backing it all up just in case of a different calamity.
Although the part and repair looked just about manageable, I thought I would check if there were any local repair services, I would be happy to pay someone who knows what they are doing to sort it all out for me. I was avoiding the chain stores like PC World, not for any Gary Glitter type reasons, but as in a sweeping judgement I wouldn't trust them to do a good job, and it would be expensive. So like any hotel, restaurant or business I am going to use, I check on line.
Loads of local businesses offering PC and Laptop repairs, all guaranteeing to be the cheapest, all offering home pick up and drop off and a full range of services. All appalling web sites. Spelling mistakes all over the place, sparse contact details, very little factual information at all and all badly laid out. Now this is not the most complex website in the world, and it costs pennies to maintain and run, but has spell check, options to change the layout and fonts etc, and I keep it up to date. One of the PC repair sites I looked at their last big announcement on the home page was to follow them on twitter, no tweets for 18 months on their feed. Another had spelled the name of the town wrong in at least two places.
However big or small your business is, even if it is just a sideline, at least make it look like you care about what you do. None of the ones I have found so far I would trust, not because I think they are con artists or going to steal my identity or load me up with viruses, but because I don't trust them to do a good job. Something Debbie has instilled in me over the years, if the website is bad or out of date, what about the rest of the business. A restaurant that has its Christmas Menu and theme on the site in mid January or even into February, would you have the confidence that the food in the fridge was fresh?
As often in life, it is the little things - make the front look good and you are half way there, make it look bad and I will be off your site in seconds. And don't get me started on the sites riddled with adverts...