Mysterious World of PC Repair

My PC hard drive failed a couple weeks ago, some boot error with a bad sector. Since I work on my Mac most of the time, it was not much of an inconvenience, until I realized I needed to create an invoice for some of the work we did recently. So today I turned to Craigslist after checking with some friends for a reccomendation and coming up with nothing because almost everyone cool I trust uses a Mac. (kind of like that issue that came up with “24” I suppose)

The first guy I spoke with sounded sketchy, so I called the next one. He seemed knowledgeable enough, so I called his references who both said they have used him for a year or more. Turns out he had time this afternoon, so he came over to do the work after quoting me a flat rate of $75 (why he doesnt have an hourly I dont know). While more than I expected since it just needed a boot disk (I dont have one, my bad I know) to scan and repair the system, I agreed because I just want it over with.

So he comes in with his own mini-desktop and starts hooking it up to the hard drive directly. He never tried to boot the machine to see what the error really said, but I figure he has some utility on his system that would do it quicker then just hitting it with a boot disk. After about 20+ minutes of fussing around he informs me he can not even get it to show up properly (just attached a USB jumper to the SCSI on the back of the physical drive) which meant it was bad – he kept trying to point out the ‘red light’ on the jumper which meant this was not good at all. So now he wants to do a little backup on the data before trying to repair the drive. We try to figure out where to put the data, since it was less than a gig of data at the most since my last backup, I figure we will jsut use the 2nd drive. So he gets it all set up, wires everywhere, ready to scan the drive and he says he is going to go out for a while and take care of another client while this runs against the 60GB drive. OK, I say, I will be here.

Then he says (45 minutes after he arrives and 20+ minutes after establishing the plan of action) that it is going to be at least $150 now because this is data recovery project. What? You have not even tried to look at the drive through the system itself, not even performed a surface scan to see if it might be fixed easily. So I told him no, I wont pay that, you should have told me that before you started all this stuff – it felt like a mechanic taking your engine out and then telling you you need a new engine. He kept telling me how expensive data recovery was and how reasonable this rate was (which is actually true, but this was not a data recovery problem yet, it was a bad boot sector as far as I can tell). Had he actually told me this beforehand, we could have taken a different approach, but as it was I felt he was trying to pull one on me by upselling me and preying on fear of lost data.

Thing is, he seemed like a nice enough guy, not too personable, but definitely did not seem like a shark who would try to pull something like this. It may have just been bad communications skills and a lack of service oriented business accumen, but whatever the real deal, he started to disconnect everything and I waited patiently. When everything was disconnected, he said, well I guess I can just move the data over here for the original $75 he quoted. I thought for a few seconds and quickly realized he was not the right person for the job and after a few minutes more of packing his stuff, he left here with an hour less of his time and no money for the trouble.

And I am still sitting here without my PC, without the ability to create an invoice and mad as hell that I did not get the right person to do the job. Anyone else know of someone reliable who can solve simple hard drive related boot problems for a reasonable fee?

  1. #1 by Rachel - October 19th, 2005 at 11:42

    Found someone thru’ Yelp – the posting is here (
    and the guy’s web site is here ( I haven’t used him, so buyer beware, etc. You could try posting to the Live Journal communities – sometimes they can have good recommendations.

    Craiglist – good for scoring cheap products in great condition – but bad for scoring competent services…

  2. #2 by Scott Blumin - December 8th, 2005 at 18:37

    Just surfed in after looking at links pointing to my site. If you ever want to check me out, I have worked with over 150 customers, mostly in San Francisco. Give me a call anytime.


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