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Archive for the ‘Home Improvement’ Category

Local IT Firm Warns Of Slow PC Repair Scams

In Business, Home Improvement, Local News on June 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

JAMESTOWN – Over the past several months Miami Valley residents have been exposed to a barrage of ads from websites and software companies who claim that they will clean up a computer’s programming and make it run faster. These firms then take credit card information, remote into the PC and install invasive software that, at best, turns off some of the Windows maintenance features.

Local writer and entrepreneur, Gery L. Deer, is the owner of Deer Computer Consulting, Ltd., an on-site computer support firm based in Jamestown. Deer said his company has been inundated with calls relating to consumers who have been taken advantage of by companies offering so-called optimization packages to speed up slow computers.

“Computers become slower over time for a multitude of reasons ranging from overloaded startup cues to excessive maintenance software,” Deer said. “These companies use scare tactics and offer an online program that they claim will clean up your computer and make it run faster. Usually, they install expensive, highly invasive programs that conflict with your machine’s built-in maintenance software.”

Deer added that he’s had to go so far as to issue confirmation of repair letters to credit card companies on behalf his clients to help them recover payments when refund requests were ignored by the online service providers.

“One of the ways we diagnose computer problems is to find out how the ailing machine is used and who uses it,” Deer said. “That’s something that cannot be done over the phone and an on-site check of the computer is far less costly.”

Deer also noted that there is rarely a need to install third-party software to speed up a computer. Additional programs running in the background only add an operational burden to the processor and would just serve to slow the machine down even more.

Security is also an issue here. Deer cautions people about letting any third-party have access or remote control over your computer. “Most of these companies use the Windows remote access program to go into your computer and manipulate its operation, load software and even extract information,” Deer said.

“Because you’ve given them access, these individuals, most of which are out of state and often out of the country, now have the ability to see any information stored on your computer, no matter how private.”

In response to these calls, Deer Computer Consulting, Ltd., has initiated a flat-rated computer check. Priced between $49 and $79 per hour, depending on the type of service and the location, a technician will perform a check on the computer to look for malware, viruses and the presence of any unwanted software.

“The goal here is to help people keep from being ripped off by these companies,” Deer acknowledges, adding that regular maintenance is just as important to a computer as it is to a car. “If you’ve already used one of these companies, with negative results, we may be able to help recover your money. We want to try to help our community be aware of these problems, provide solutions and offer steps consumers can take to prevent them.”

From now until July 21st, Deer Computer Consulting, Ltd., will be offering free phone or email consultations to help local consumers determine whether they need further help with slow, lagging computers.. For more information call (937) 902-4857, or visit http://www.deercomputerconsulting.com.

Tips From A Pro On Hiring A Handyman

In Business, Economy, Home Improvement, Local News on April 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Photo By Martine Doucet

Spring is finally settling over the Miami Valley region and many property owners are preparing to dive into that long list of home improvement and repair projects. Occasionally, some tasks may be beyond require more expertise, yet be smaller than what might require a large-scale contractor. For these jobs, many people seek out the services of an independent building repair specialist, also known as a “handyman.”

A handyman can do many different kinds of jobs but is often incorrectly labeled as a jack-of-all-trades, with most people assuming there is no expertise or specialized skills needed for the job. Renovation and repair specialist Rob Breckler disagrees. A native of Kettering, Breckler is an independent home improvement and remodeling contractor and owner of Quality Handyman Services, LLC, based in Miamisburg.

“I think the term handyman is perceived as a person who just fixes all of the small items that a larger contractor does not want to do,” says Breckler, who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in finance from Brescia University in Owensboro, Kentucky. “While that may be true in some ways, it is certainly not all a handyman does. Anyone who describes themselves as a handyman should also be able to take on more involved projects as well, like a bathroom or kitchen remodel and minor plumbing and electrical work.”

According to Breckler, it’s not enough to just have a tool box and the ability to use the equipment inside. A professional handyman and home improvement specialist needs to have knowledge in many different areas of home repair.

Sometimes a job is more than it appears on the surface and an experienced professional will know what to do in those situations. “Most people let things go a lot longer than they should before doing repairs so until you start tearing into a project you can’t see the extent of the problem,” Breckler says.

“Part of the job is troubleshooting and determining what the right course of action will be based on the customer’s budget and other considerations.” He notes that while there are plenty of good people working independently in the remodeling trades, consumers need to be cautious.

Before hiring someone to take care of that spring honey-do list, Breckler has some suggestions. “References are the most important marketing tools of any remodeling professional,” he says. “Get the names and phone numbers of previous customers and call around to see what kind of work was done and get their take on how it went.”

Punctuality and professionalism are also important traits of a good handyman service. “I am frequently told that one thing my customers like is that I show up when I say I’m going to,” says Breckler, who adds that people should be wary about someone going door to door offering to do odd repair jobs.

“We all know times are hard right now, but if someone just comes knocking at your door, out of the blue, offering to fix a broken porch light or other problem visible from the road, it’s probably best to say no thank you,” Breckler adds. “Since a lot of people are without work right now, many people that have some knowledge about remodeling are trying to be a handyman and working for little money just to get by.”

“I’ve heard certain contractors referred to as ‘band-aid’ repairmen because all they do is cover the problem rather than fix it permanently,” Breckler continued. “Then, after taking your money, some just disappear and they are rarely insured nor are they part of any organization like the BBB to hold them accountable for their work.”

Finally, Breckler recommends that people get quotes or other critical project information in writing. “If someone is unwilling to put it in writing, you probably shouldn’t work with them,” he says. “A reputable company will always give you a written estimate on work and most will guarantee pricing, work time and other points of the job.”

Consumers have many choices in the area of home improvement and, with money being so tight, they should be cautious and take the steps necessary to prevent problems with disreputable service providers. To learn more about hiring an independent home improvement specialist, contact Rob Breckler at Quality Handyman Services, LLC, by calling (937) 620-8212.