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When the client doesn't know any better

September 25, 2014

I've written here before about amateurs doing IT work and giving advice when a little investigation shows that they don't know what they are talking about. In most cases they don't know what they don't know, and they only get away with what they do because the client doesn't know any better.

Sometimes, however, I come across cases where the perpetrator must know that they are trading on the client's ignorance, usually where they supply a service that the customer can easily do for themselves and which costs nothing in money and little in time to do. I have installed Act! at several sites where an outside IT support company has installed security software which prevents the client from doing Windows updates, defragmenting disks, changing the way that files are displayed in folders (images, music, etc), and other things which are, or should be, just routine maintenance. To do my work the support company has to be contacted to allow program installation, and this support call generates the obligatory invoice to the client.

I came across a quite blatant example of this recently when someone announced that an expert had developed a QR code for their business. QR codes are those square barcode-like images that you see in advertisements, and if you read them with your mobile phone camera they will take you to the company's website. The QR code below will take you to this very web page. It took me approximately 1 minute to create it (it would have taken less time but my Internet is slow today and it took about 30 seconds for the page which generated the code to load).

These are the steps I took:

  1. Search Google for "QR code"
  2. Pick a code generating web site from the list that comes back
  3. Paste in the URL of this page
  4. Save the generated image

In one of the earliest posts here I mentioned someone who charged a nonprofit organisation many thousands of dollars to set up a website where the estimated amount of time involved from initial contact with the client to delivering the final product would have been two days and then only if the site developer spent a lot of time drinking coffee. It might not surprise you to find that the expert who who so cleverly developed the QR code was the same one who overcharged the non-profit organisation. Sometimes I wonder whether I should put my conscience into cold storage and earn a lot more money than I do now.

How you use QR codes? Well, here's the back of my business card and people can go to my business website by just pointing their phone at the card. I don't remember how long it took me to generate that code before I sent the artwork off to the printer, but I don't think it was much longer than I spent today to generate the code above.

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