This article was written by Larry Sabo, and it does reflect my opinions.
“Pizza Tech” is a derogatory term that legitimate PC repair businesses use to describe low-priced, fly-by-night computer repair people who repair computers for just enough money to buy pizza and beer. Their rates are extremely low and reflect their lack of technical qualifications, business registration and ethics. They see nothing wrong with using or installing pirated, illegal or unlicensed copies of Windows or computer programs and will offer to install them for a very low price or for free. So why beware of them?
Their lack of ethics and working for cash under-the-table aside, they can make a real mess of your PC and end up costing you far more than you bargained for. After they have finished with your computer, you may end up having to call a qualified technician to undo their handiwork, fix the original problem as it should have been the first time, and possibly recover your trashed data. One of my customers was charged more than the price of a brand new PC to repair her old computer – after a Pizza tech spent six hours working on it while his tag-along child ran unsupervised throughout her house!
Some Pizza Tech customers may find that their system will not pass Microsoft’s periodic validation checks, leaving them with a system or software they can no longer access without paying Microsoft to make it legal. And would you trust your personal data to the prying eyes of someone patently dishonest, with no morals or principles? Can you be confident that your computer will be free of password-stealing keyloggers, trojans and spyware after a Pizza Tech is done with it? Theft of credit card data and identities is rampant. One of my clients had $13,000 removed from his bank account without his knowledge or approval, so it’s not a hypothetical risk!
After returning from vacation last year, I received a call from one of my customers asking me to come and repair his computer, half-jokingly admonishing me to never go away and leave him alone like that again. In my absence, he had called someone else to fix a problem and swore he’d never to do so again. I said it can’t hurt to try another tech, to which he replied “Oh yes it can!” To reduce the risk of it happening again, I have added Remote Desktop Support services that enable me to fix most problems remotely and still enjoy a vacation once in a while.
How can you spot a Pizza Tech, other than by unbelievably-low prices/rates and offers of free or low-cost software? Ask if they are a registered business and charge taxes on repairs. All computer repair businesses in Ontario are required to collect PST and those with revenues over $30,000 are required to collect GST. Ask for their business registration number for verification. Will they give a receipt and provide proof of identity?
Do they have a website with their own domain name (e.g., businessname.com or .ca) and does it have their business street address? (A small claims court summons can’t be served to a P.O. Box!) Is their phone number in Canada411’s Reverse Number Lookup? If neither of the above, how do you expect to retrieve your computer or contact them in case of a problem or dispute? Do they have testimonials on their website by people whose names you can find in Canada411 or are they fictitious? Depending on the answers to the above, you will have to decide whether or not they are legitimate, qualified and trustworthy.
There is nothing wrong with shopping around for someone to repair your computer, just make sure he/she isn’t a Pizza Tech.