Like most IT pros with veritable knowledge of computers, you will have plenty of friends and family members asking you to fix their PC’s. Although you have always tried to help people whenever you can, you will eventually come to the realization that with a few exceptions it is a bad idea to fix people’s PC’s for free.

Don’t get the wrong idea because there are a few people that you truly need to help. For instance, you definitely need to help your wife with a computer problem, and you would never cut off your mother. Unfortunately though, the majority of those that you have helped might eventually abuse the situation, if they aren’t already doing it.

As such, you need to avoid being your brother’s, sister’s, uncle’s, cousin’s, or close friend’s free tech support by doing the following:

Don’t Do, Teach

Every time a family member asks you for help, offer that help on one condition: you show them how to solve the problem and they implement the solution themselves. You need to teach your family to fish and not have them depend on you to provide the fish all the time.

This can be frustrating at first. Most family members will be resistant to learning any technical skills since they’ve had you do everything for them for so long. They may even prefer to never learn because they only use the computer out of necessity. It may be difficult, but you need to be firm. You also need to be patient. They’ll get frustrated in the beginning and you’ll have to explain things slowly and simply. Eventually they will learn and they’ll remember, but that will only happen if you show enough patience and encouragement.

Make Them Practice the Basics

When you are physically with your family and can help them on the computer, set up some time to practice. You really only need about 15-30 minutes for each session, and you don’t need to have these sessions often. Pick some basic skills they need to learn and demonstrate how they work such as the difference between copy and paste and cut and paste or attaching a photo in an e-mail. Watch them practice and answer any questions they have during the process.

Pass the Buck

Not to be rude or anything, but sometimes it’s better to be firm but kind. If the problem is about viruses, malwares, and the like, scold Aunt Mabel why she downloaded a file she shouldn’t have, or why your cousin Scott installed a questionable app. Tell them you’ll solve the problem, then get them to pony up enough cash to buy a good PC protection package, and don’t forget to teach them how to use the malware and anti-virus software.

If they purchased their PC from a licensed company like Dell or HP, hand them the 800 number for their computer manufacturer’s tech support. If you don’t, the unwritten laws of tech support dictate that the last family tech support guy (that’s you) to go mucking around inside a PC becomes the designated go-to guy for all future related issues. You might even be blamed for something that’s not your fault.


This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 8:39:36 PM and is filed under Mixellaneous.

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