I have no idea what to charge to be "on call" for a year, just in CASE a computer has a problem.
posted by CommonSense to computers & internet (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I got a call this morning from some guy that works with a company that has a government contract with -- I'm guessing -- the Social Security Administration here in Baltimore. His company does IT for them. Well, they have a couple of Macs that they want someone on call for, and surprise surprise, his company wouldn't know how to spell "Mac" if you spotted them three letters.
I do ONLY Mac support and consulting, on kind of a "boutique" business -- I'm a sole proprietor, and I consider it a strength that small businesses always are dealing with me, the same person, and know they'll get me whenever they call, e-mail, or have me come out to their location. So I guess this guy found my company website on Google and called.
Basically, he wants to know what I'd charge to basically be on call, 24x7x365x4 (I don't know what the x4 is, but I'm assuming four business hour response time), for a one-year contract to cover these two Mac Pro machines their client has. Mind you, they don't need me to come out on a scheduled basis or anything like that; they just want to have someone to call for onsite support/repair in case something goes wrong.
I can do tech support, server work (on OS X Server), networking, and LIGHT hardware (e.g., memory upgrades, hard drive swaps, cloning/imaging). I don't do more hardcore hardware stuff, like logic board replacement, etc., much less do it AT the client site -- but I don't think many companies who DO do that kind of service can do it at the client site, either. (There's just a shitload of tools, workbench, etc. you have to have.)
Now, these are pretty new, high-end machines, and the odds of them having serious hardware problems inside of a year are pretty damn low. Still, say something comes up. Would I be OK by explaining to them that it's a high-level repair that HAS to be sent out, and then coordinating everything (pickup, drop-off at a repair facility, being sole point of contact with said repair facility, picking it up when it's done, and delivering it back to the client site)? All the while, I could give them a loaner machine (not necessarily as high spec, but functional) in the meantime.
I've never been asked for something like this, and I don't really know how these government deals work. Also, I'm really not sure HOW the hell to charge to a company that wants me on "retainer," though doesn't actually need me to even show up unless something goes wrong. Yet, the guy who asked me was looking for a quote, something along the lines of a monthly fee or whatever, even (apparently) if I go months without so much as a phone call or e-mail with these people.
But say something big happens and I have to coordinate repair, etc. Do I have to eat the cost, in light of the fact that I'm charging them a retainer? In other words, are we looking at more of an "insurance policy" model rather than a "service contract" model (wherein the latter actually entails regular onsite visits, etc. -- you know, something that's actually DONE, regularly)?
It kinda sounds too good to be true, but hey, it's the government. Working logically isn't their strong suit.
For anyone who's done this before, I'd love to hear whatever input you can offer. Better yet, some suggestions on what a good ballpark range is, too. These are two high-end Mac Pro machines, probably no more than a year old, pretty nicely souped up. FYI, I normally charge businesses $135 an hour for onsite support.