I’ve been working in computer repair for the last 25 years – and I have a lament. Or a rant, if you will (which I suppose it is).
Computer repair is no longer a specialist trade.
And I’ve got plenty of experiential evidence to back this up!
But in this piece, I’m not going to bore you with the figures. Instead, I’ll dish some description on the trends underway in the field. Facts on how the domain has become insufferably ‘dilute’. Courtesy, of course, of all the newbies who have flooded the stage. All set on opening valves and motherboards without any sense of their intricacies. Thinking that their computer repair shop software will streamline everything problematic.
The end result of this regress is rampant unprofessionalism. Something that’s caused a lowering of every specialist tech’s reputation. Causing the laity to refer to even us old-hats as being nothing more than ‘screwdriver bearing wannabees’. A charge, I don’t need to explain to field insiders, that hurts like anything.
A painful reminder of how far we’ve fallen as members of a global guild.
Table of Contents
On Where Lies the Blame
In this story, and after much thought, I’d lay the blame for this misfortune at the feet of the internet. Strange choice, I know; not to mention a difficult admission. But bear with me as I explain my reasoning.
Now, the internet is touted as our age’s greatest democratizing force. And for the most part, I don’t think there’s any denying this attribute. But whoever said that populism or majoritarianism in anything guaranteed quality?
This is where the problem comes in – that too many people have boarded the ship. If this continues, it won’t be long before we see a complete sink. A titanic drowning!
The web, by its very function, is a connecting medium. A transferrer of data between linked systems in its network. So it facilitates encyclopedic knowledge transmission. A child in poverty-stricken Sub-Saharan Africa can access the same resources as her peer at Stanford.
The ‘Little Knowledge’ Failing
But a little bit of knowledge, as they say, is a dangerous thing. Especially when it comes unmoderated; without a trainer. A teacher, if you will, to guide against wrong understandings and common pitfalls. The kind of guidance that no computer repair shop software will impart.
Narrowly speaking, it is on these last two fronts that newbie techs mess up the most. And the customers are left to suffer the consequences. Everyone’s seen the images of hastily glued phone cases and screen frames. Devices that, post-repairs, fall apart at the slightest handling. A horrific scenario that culminates in the customer badmouthing the entire field.
And so the vicious cycle continues – until a good service experience comes in the offing. An occurrence that is getting rarer by the day; thanks to the reasons mentioned.
Public Ignorance: The Compounding Factor
If all this wasn’t enough, public ignorance sufficiently adds to the morose. Informed people, after all, are harder to dupe in any trade. Computer repair is no different.
In my opinion, this problem stems from another corruption. The scourge of people who only prefer the easy course. The path of least resistance, as it were; where research, obviously, doesn’t figure. Where everything comes dished as it is; accepted without any checks on the other end.
It is this demographic that emboldens some of the cons who are working, nowadays, in the field.
Another public-mediated influential factor here is the concern of service savings on cost. Field newbies and amateur techs are generally ok with charging little by way of service fees. Their strategy, characteristic of the inexperienced, can be likened to ‘dumping’; spurned, ironically, on the backs of some of the best repair shop software in the field. The economic practice of flooding the market with low-cost product alternatives at the expense of quality.
Over time, and if governments don’t come in to regulate the sphere, this practice can be socially debilitating. It can result in entire populations succumbing to the ‘low-quality’ status quo. A psychological plane where consumers consider it the going normal to purchase sub-standard materials.
No Field Centralization = The ‘Everything Goes’ Orientation
The lack of any centralized, certifying repair body. Because of which everyone – irrespective of niche experience – can call themselves a tech.
Now, I’m all for democratic decentralization in the social sphere. But trust me when I say, the workplace – especially the repair space – is no place for activism. You can’t have workers involved in constantly clamoring for their rights. Not when there’s important work to be done.
A ‘federated’ employment plane is only practical to the extent of division of labor concerns. Any more – and the business owner(s) concerned risks losing big on productivity.
As a counter to this problem, all workplace veterans recommend the pyramidal formation. The traditional, hierarchical working arrangement where all strategic/tactical power is centered at the top – from where it flows downwards. This structure allows for the work to proceed in a coordinated manner.
Long story short – and not wanting to digress further – field alignment matters. It keeps every Tom, Dick, and Harry from coming onboard – muddying the waters. Or quality detriments; if I were to be more open.
The resolving way forward – a prescription
In my opinion, field restructuring is the only way forward in the current regress. Stakeholders wishing to improve things can start by working on the problems mentioned. And no – an overt reliance on computer repair shop software to clean up the mess will not do.
Additionally, they can aim for spreading more public awareness regarding the complexities of the trade in the media. This orientation can entail working on pop-culture productions. ‘Entrenching the stereotype’, as it were, of the specialist repair tech. Social scientists have written research-backed volumes on how ‘doctored’ produce can shift public opinions. The change, they say, is only a function of time.
So there it is – my two cents on how the repair industry, the contributions rendered by POS software notwithstanding, has gone steadily downhill in terms of barriers to professional entry.
But I’m curious about my peers’ take on this issue.
If you’re one of these gilded folk, please feel free to pour in the comments field below.