Tech Support: How Do You Do It?

By: tel-editors. Updated: January 08, 2021.

 How do you keep your gadgets and computers working?

Our explorers are talking about this topic, and comparing notes. Join the discussion. Share what you do in the comments below.

 

 

Framing the Question:

Back in the day, you could go to the Apple store, or get someone to drop in, or go to the classes at the local college or senior center.

But, with COVID, many of those options no longer exist.

Yet, it is more critical than ever to have tech (phones, Alexa's, computers, printers) that works. Your social life, and maybe your actual life, can depend on them.

So, what is your approach? Tell us how you do it?

We want to hear from older adults who get help, and anyone who gives help with tech-type issues.

 

 

Comments

 

from Tonia Nguyen (Front Porch Communities) (unverified) at October 23, 2020

I work for Front Porch Communities, which owns and manages retirement communities around California, on the Center for Innovation and Wellbeing team (FPCIW) that deploys consumer technology to our communities support independence, engagement, and accessibility. I just wanted to express appreciation and high interest in following this community discussion! Love hearing about everyone's ideas for how to get help with technology issues and how to support your fellow older adult peers!

In particular, we're really interested in user bert1's "Tech Squad"! We'd love to understand how that was built and sustained over these last 7 years and would love to help our communities assemble similar resident-operated squads to support fellow residents' tech usage. Anyone got tips for starting these groups?

 

from Lew Ford (unverified) at October 23, 2020

I’m member of “Bits and Bytes Computer Club Kitchener Ontario” which traditionally has met in 3 times per month in one of our city community centres focused on Seniors. One of the meetings is centred around a guest speaker on some topic related to computers or related topic for seniors. The other two meetings are related to Seniors with computer skills helping those having trouble with hardware or software. Membership costs about $27/year including parking. Attendees at the speaker meeting pay $2 admission and get a coffee and some form of tasty treat.
Introductory fee charging short courses in various issues, e.g WORD, EXCEL, photography etc are offered by the centre for a modest fee. Other programs for seniors are offered in the same location.
The Covid pandemic stopped everything as the centre was closed and still is closed. A few of us decided to learn to use Zoom and then offered training to our members. Our Speaker meetings now continue, but no coffee unless you make your own. We have recently reintroduced the “Help” program where a few people arrive on line along with a few others willing to provide help. Some of the Helpers are capable of using Team so things are mostly back to normal.
The team that learned Zoom and taught the Club members are now offering the training to senior members of our City who apply. We will be offering our fourth two part course starting next Wednesday.
Bottom line, all of this except the courses with fees are free as the trainers are volunteers.

 

from Carol T (unverified) at October 20, 2020

We hope that most support can be done by phone or something like "team player". So far so good!

 

from David K (unverified) at October 20, 2020

Apple has a technical support phone number that gets you to a technician who can completely take over your computer, with your permission, and solve your problem.

 

from Lee K (unverified) at October 20, 2020

My computer, iPad, iPhone are all Apple products. For help, phone them at Apple Care 800-275-2273 or, if handicapped (for me, it's sight) call Apple Handicapped 877-204-3930. Latter is available 24/7. They are wonderful!

 

from JS (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I use an iPhone, iPad and iMac. I usually try to solve issues myself by looking at Apple help or googling the problem. If that doesn't
work, I'll call Apple. For major issues I've also used an Apple tech expert several times for issues that I can't solve. He will make a house call or
connect remotely to my computer.

 

from Carol Hammel (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I use YouTube, Google, the Library, calling Apple, PCMag.com. I also have a yearly subscription to HP Smart Friend tech help.

 

from BasketCase24 (member) at October 19, 2020

I've always been kind of a tech nerd, so not a lot has changed for me. I subscribe to some tech newsletters that keep me aware of upcoming changes and opportunities, and I try to stay in touch with my 15-year old granddaughter, who is much more tech savvy than I am with some stuff, and I help HER learn some stuff. Google is a great help to stay current also.

 

from Margherita Abe (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I have a Samsung smartphone and an ASUS laptop. When I have trouble with either of these my first source of help is PCMag.com and MakeUseOf.com. If neither of these websites gives me a fix for my problem I next google the issue and also check out YouTube. By this time I almost always have a solution. In the past I have used the Geek Squad at BestBuy. Although I use them rarely (twice in a decade), they are helpful.

 

from Sharon P (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I am aware of a small not-for-profit organization providing one-to-one, free tech assistance by vetted volunteers: https://thetechpals.org/ . In addition to the one-to-one connections, The Tech Pals has a growing library of videos on YouTube available to the public.

 

from Peter R (unverified) at October 19, 2020

Internet search will resolve many problems. Larger companies do online chat pretty well. Email support works, but it's slower. Telephone calls also work, if you are patient enough to get past the bumpf to someone who listens.

 

from Barbara Patterson (unverified) at October 19, 2020

We are fortunate to have you man who runs his own business offering on-site technical help. Now, with COVID-19, he also uses a platform called 'AnyDesk' that allows him to see our computer screens remotely. He's been worth every penny.

 

from Judith Klau (unverified) at October 19, 2020

Like everyone else who has commented, I rely a lot on Googling for help, so when my phone iPhone SE has slowed down.I read that perhaps a new battery would help, I made an appointment for the first time slot of the day at the Apple Store. They do not have senior hours. When I got there, there were about 30 young people waiting for the store to open, crowded together. Most were wearing masks, but I was stil uncomfortable thinking of entering. I then reserached the local "You break, I fix"" but the reviews were not positive. I have written to Apple for a suggestion! Let's see if I hear back.

 

from Marly (member) at October 19, 2020

For Mac users who need help, you can get Apple Care Live Chat.  If they can't resolve the issue for you, they put you in touch with a senior technician by phone. For those with Mac devices, Apple Care services are free.   If the issue is phone related, I usually call (also free) my phone service provider, Consumer Cellular, through whom I purchased my iPhone. For other kinds of tech help I reach out to tech-savvy friends. 

Caveat: If you are on Paypal, do not order anything that comes from Singapore or other parts of Asia. Return postage costs a lot more than original item and you need a tracking # to get the credit.  It was a catch-22 involving many hours of trying to deal with the tech issues of many email addresses and lack of resolution.  I just finally threw the clothing item away realizing that time is worth much more to me than money.  Paypal did tell me they would supply a voucher for the price of the original item next time I purchase on Paypal.  They understood it just didn't make sense for me to return the item (the merchant's error!) without any guarantee of reimbursement of postage.

 

 

from Lew Ford (unverified) at October 19, 2020

Solving tech problems during Covid:
With many problems I simply make a web search and look at various suggested solutions. Be careful to watch for fraudulent responses that want your info or subscriptions, etc.
- iPhone, iPad issues the most trustworthy and capable help would be Apple help.
- Amazon Echo Alexa have a very effective help contact. The telephone number is in the app although difficult to find quickly. In one case the response was another telephone number to call and another case they called me.

 

from Mark Robichek (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I keep my tech working using a combination of personal knowledge, technically-competent friends and if all else fails, I call up Geek Squad!

 

from Joanne Cannell (member) at October 19, 2020

I can fix most problems by researching online. But when I can't find the answer or just don't want to spend the time researching, I consult with a tech person who this year moved to France. Less than ideal, but he can remote in & fix problems when needed. I have a Mac, iPad & iPhone, & I have used AppleCare a few times. They can also remote in to fix problems if necessary.

 

from faengelm (member) at October 19, 2020

If you have a family member who is tech-savvy, you might try the personal remote support options listed in this DIY "solution" I wrote up for my Tech-enhanced Life column.

 

from Janine Watson (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I am also a member of the senior center at Aquatic Park and can recommend another member who is very tech savvy, Randy Schroeder. He used to give free classes but that’s a dim memory. Email him at randy@randysfo.com to get a free consultation. He sends out an information-packed email periodically. $45/hour I think is his fee. Janine

 

from mara perlmutter (member) at October 19, 2020

I've recently had conversations with Join Papa, a company coordinating college aged kid visits to the home of seniors to help them with a range of services from tech, to cooking, to companionship.  https://www.joinpapa.com/

 

from Jane Osborn (unverified) at October 19, 2020

YouTube videos are available on almost any subject. Also Wikipedia. I can usually find an answer and step-by-step directions to solve almost any technical issue I have encountered. Also taking a deep breath and (attempting) patience help tremendously!

 

from bert l (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I live in a senior community. We formed a resident Tech Squad of 12 residents with various device skills: PC, Mac, iPhone/iPad, android, applications, Roku, Fire, TV/DVR, landline phone, etc. In the past 7 years we have performed the following service:
2.16 <<Grand Totals>> 2369 5128 7.28
Calls/day nr days Nr Calls Years
Residents leave a request on a special phone number voice mail or send an email. From that contact the dispatcher sends a tech with the necessary skills. With COVID restrictions we currently work by phone or meet in a common area that is disinfected. We track our dispatches and performance on a Google Docs spreadsheet. If a request is beyond our skills we forward the request to the corporate IT department or send the requester to Best Buy Geek Squad or the Apple Store.

 

from Tonia (unverified) at October 20, 2020

Hi bert1, I was curious how you set up the special phone number voice mail? Is that through a free service, or provided by your senior community? Any tips you can impart on how to set up such a group and keep it sustainable overtime? Wondering if I could set something similar up at my own organization/community to support resident tech needs. Thanks!

 

from bert L (unverified) at October 23, 2020

how to set up a [resident tech help] group

Myself and another software engineer were commiserating about being called to fix neighbors electronic gear so much. He suggested we need a tech help squad so we created an outline of a squad and took it to the administration. We asked for a facility phone extension and a corporate email address for service requests. We asked that the phone would not ring anywhere but would send an email of the voice message to both of us instead. Since the admin was also bombarded with resident tech requests, they were more than happy to accommodate. Then we looked through the resident directory to see who might have some tech skills to join us. Between this and other contacts, we recruited 12 others. We inventoried the specific resident skills and promised dispatch calls would only occur about every 5 days. Techs can refuse a dispatch and the dispatcher goes down the tech list. We created a Google doc spreadsheet to track the calls for service and the resulting fix. Each tech was given spreadsheet access to update their dispatches. We only promise contact to a service call in 24 hours - gives the dispatcher time to read his email and find a willing tech to dispatch. After all we are all volunteers and we do not charge residents for our service. We've saved the admin bundles of dollars.

>keep it sustainable overtime?
This is a issue as there is fatigue in a senior community. We always keep an eye out for new residents with the skills and attitude for tech help. We wait about 6 months until a resident integrates in to our community before we recruit them. We start new techs with easier tasks to build their skill and confidence. Being a tech is a good way to meet people and be praised for saving time and money.

Bert L, willing to ask any other queries

 

from Linda Clary (unverified) at October 19, 2020

I use an iPhone, iPad and a PC. when something isn't working well I will try to make it work on the device. If not fixed, I'll Google the issue and submit. Usually this fixes the problem.