Age != IT Illiterate
A few years ago I started helping out the local OAPs and uni students with tech support queries while unemployed.
My rules were simple :
Feel free to pass on reccommendations if you liked the service.
You want me on-site, you pay for the travel time.
Payment accepted in cash (£10 per hour), paypal, or BACS.
All work is accompanied by an invoice detailing all work done (pdf archived in a folder). DO NOT LOSE THE INVOICE, the jobcentre may ask you how much you paid and for what.
All payments are declared to the job centre. (unemployed at the time)
If you don't like the service / me, then don't call me back.
If I can't fix it, I'll tell you so as soon as I know.
*All* tech support requests come by text to a seperate number. That number is deactivated when I am busy or asleep. I do not give out my private number.
Hardware upgrades work as follows : You buy it, I'll fit it. I do not buy your parts, you do.
I only charge OAPs for the time I am actually working. (So a three hour install where I spend 2 hours sitting around, is only 1 hours work.) [Fine for me as an unemployed person, and gives them someone to chat to while I explain how to fix the problem.]
I take my tea with milk, no sugar; and my coffee white with one. Biscuits, sandwiches and cake are accepted as well.
If you ask for advice from multiple sources, I expect you to stop asking me. If you don't trust my advice don't ask for it.
After about 6 months using this not overly stringent set of rules, I had about 50 people asking me for support on a semi-regular basis. I think I made about £20-£50 per week towards the end though. (not counting JCP rules where you only get to keep the first £5 mind you).
I had one 90+ year old little old lady who went from not knowing how to turn it on to running a nice little network perfectly smoothly with no problems, and only the odd call for hardware upgrades. I also had an english language student, (from england, where english was their first (and only) language), who couldn't spell, had no idea of grammar (neither do I, but I'm an IT geek, it's not expected of me), and read so slowly that I actually wondered if they were a functioning illiterate.
I would hand out idiot-guides for common issues (conflicting anti-virus, how do I uninstall X, etc) and a flow chart which boiled down to "Turn it off and on again, does it work yet?". I found that I reduced the repeat offender rate to about 15-20% on most issues with these. Those that continued to repeat offend were handed off to someone who charged £25/h, or to PC World etc.
I had great fun, met a lot of lovely people (and some infuriating ones), and did a lot of basic IT training for mixed groups of students and OAPs. I'd like to think I managed to improve some of these people so that they didn' just shut off their brains when there was an IT 'problem'. At least they all learned to give a better description than 'it broke'.
I still can't stop my mother from texting with "Can you fix your sister's phone?" or "My laptop is slow." Gah!