Its been a while since i posted anything mainly due to work and some personal commitments i've had. The one thing that has been bothering me was the question around IT support in general and what does the industry base it on.
Let me use an analogy. You purchase a new car and generally, in order to keep it serviced, you take it back to the dealership from whom you bought it from. They have (or i am led to believe) qualified technicians/mechanics that have been certified by some governing board as people that have the ncessary knowledge/experience to fix your problem and if not at least you have the backing of the manufacturer for additional support. I've read plenty of columns listing disgruntled car owners referencing support issues from reputable dealers even so far as one person taking out a full page add in the Sunday Times depicting the unprofessional service levels he/she had received from the dealer.
The point i'm trying to get across is that THEY HAVE STANDARDS!!! and yet sometimes the motor industry still gets it wrong.
With that in mind let's look at the IT industry and what sort of monotorium they have regarding who can support and work on your PC. At the very beginning of this process is the supplier (the compnay that imports the product). Most importer/distributors do not interact with the end user. (that is the person who owns the PC). This process is managed by the VAR (Value Added Reseller) or in laymans terms, the Computer Dealer. The Dealer inturn purchases components or fully built PC's from a Reseller/Computer Wholesale Company who purchases the items from the distributor.
It sounds pretty much like any sort of distribution channel. Well thats the way it should be but what are the requirements, if any for Joe Soap to become a computer reseller...
The following comments might offend certain individuals and i apologise upfront for it but here goes.
Here is my example and i guarantee that it does happen like this, not necessarily all the time but IT DOES.
Person A owns a PC and realises that they need to upgrade their VGA card due to gaming requirements. His neighbour recently upgraded their PC so he consults the neighbour who refers him to a retail store and informs him that the upgrade is fairly simple and that he should purchase the card and pull a DIY. Out person A goes, purchases the VGA card, opens the case and slots the card into the slot and PRESTO!! it works!. He goes back to the neighbour, thanks him profusely and in passing tells a relative that he had successfully upgraded his very own PC. To cut a long story short, his family comes to him for upgrades, 3 months later he fills in a dealerapp at a local reseller and like magic he becomes a computer dealer.
The ramifications are endless. If you think i'm joking or trying to be funny ask your IT guy what qualifications he or she has, how long have they been doing it and what systems they have been exposed to. AND i haven't even started questioning what software skills he might have. You end up spending 4k (average) so that your child has a PC to do projects, research information, send emails, etc but do you really know what you are buying???
Just like a car there are simularities across the board, i.e. a motherboard is a motherboard, etc. No disrespect to IT dealers but there is just no real legislation around who can become a reseller or not. So, when you decide to purchase a new PC or upgrade your current one be weary who you go with. Ask the questions about how long they've been in business, how many technical staff they have (if any cos its usually a one man show) and what qualifications they have.
I am in IT and have been in it since 94. I consider myself fairly proficient and have been in all 3 roles (importer, wholesale and retail) for the first 7 years of my career and i still have issues getting the right support, even from the distributors of the product. So much so that i rely on the manufacturer's website and blogs/forum's regarding the product i would like to or have purchased. Its a difficult problem to manage. I say manage because you are going to have some form of issue as a result of a component be it software or hardware sometime in your life and you want to make sure you deal with the correct company or person.
Don't be fooled or misled. It is your right as a consumer to demand the correct level of service and price for what you spend your hard earned cash on.
As always, stay loose.