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Old 07-11-2017, 02:02 PM   #1
wahoo3
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IT bill and knowledge question

I'm not really sure a better place to ask this, I figured i might run across some people familiar in here.

I work in a small office, with a server and 11 computers. We recently had computer problems, and this resulted in a bill of almost 4k. I'm mostly wondering whether or not our IT guy's billing and knowledge seems reasonable.

We pay said IT guy ~200 a month to generally maintain our computers. I don't know if there are any specifics about what he does for this fee. Our server running windows 2008 r2 had not had windows updates installed in quite a while. When the ransomware made the news a month or two ago, he went to do these windows updates. He did them on a weekday evening. Doing these updates made it so our computers could not communicate with the server anymore. He billed us for 14 hours of labor (115/hr) for trying to fix the server, which he was unsuccessful in doing, and then restoring the server from a backup. Seem reasonable?

3 days after we got the server back from that, it got the ransomware. At that point, he re-loaded windows 2008 r2. He proceeded to do the windows updates again at this point, which again broke the server. He said he called microsoft or someone for help, and they were able to tell him it was a permissions issue. He described this as a high level problem that it is reasonable he wouldn't know how to fix. He billed us 16 more hours for the second fix. Sound reasonable that he didn't know how to fix the permissions issue, and that he bills us again for this time?
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Old 07-11-2017, 02:20 PM   #2
jalexand42
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

lol, definitely not reasonable. Hard to give you specific advice, but you definitely shouldn't be paying straight up for all of his time if it was him screwing things up. Can't speak to the permissions thing without knowing what it was.

You need to upgrade and get off of 2008. You probably need to find someone competent.
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Old 07-11-2017, 05:18 PM   #3
Chaos_ult
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

If his role is well defined as a desktop support technician, expecting him to be able to perform high level server maintenance is probably not wise.

200/mo for maintaining computers is pretty low as well. Where did you find him?


The fact that you had out of date 2008 r2 servers in production speaks loudly to the fact that you need to hire a competent IT person or managed IT services company.

Good IT is not cheap, but you definitely wouldn't be in this situation if you had hired someone competent in the first place.
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Old 07-11-2017, 05:58 PM   #4
wahoo3
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

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Originally Posted by Chaos_ult View Post
If his role is well defined as a desktop support technician, expecting him to be able to perform high level server maintenance is probably not wise.

200/mo for maintaining computers is pretty low as well. Where did you find him?


The fact that you had out of date 2008 r2 servers in production speaks loudly to the fact that you need to hire a competent IT person or managed IT services company.

Good IT is not cheap, but you definitely wouldn't be in this situation if you had hired someone competent in the first place.
He worked for a local IT company years ago that used to take care of our computers. He left them, did ?? for several years, and then was back in town offering the same services as his own one man company. My boss liked him when he worked for that company and obv was attracted by his monthly pricing. He manages servers/computers for maybe 10 other small businesses in the area that we know of. As far as I know the monthly payment is just for monitoring the server, as he describes it, and everything else would be billed separately. he's done a few minor things for us over the last ~2 years since we first hired him, but this is the first thing of significance.


I think him not having the server updated prior to his hand being forced by widespread ransomware is pretty terrible. i'm unsure of whether he should've had the knowledge to more quickly fix the server. He used bad judgment in updating it on a weeknight which was a complication for business on the next day. And on top of that his inability to get it updated the first time or have it done earlier on when it should've been, left us exposed to getting the ransomware later in the week which caused the entire second half of the payment - i feel like he's double dipping.

What would it be fair to pay for as far as his time goes? He did say that he underbilled us on hours by quite a bit. I think fair would be for us to pay for one of these server breakage and restores, and not the other - we might've achieved that if he underbilled us in general, but it's hard to know. Right now, i'm kind of thinking we pay the whole bill and then find someone else. If he wants to keep us he'll come up with something.

also, before we got this bill, he suggested getting a new server from dell, and we're waiting on an estimate from him for that. not sure if we'll proceed with him or not, obv.

Last edited by wahoo3; 07-11-2017 at 06:16 PM.
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:02 AM   #5
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

The problems you are describing seem easily resolvable by a half-competent Windows systems administrator. Your IT guy sounds like he sucks and without knowing more specifics I would definitely balk at paying him depending on what the contract (if it exists beyond a handshake) says. For starters, why were there no updates applied when the guy was being paid on a monthly basis?
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:16 AM   #6
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

Lots of scumbags in IT. No way you should be paying this guy $30/hour let alone $115/hour. The hours are absurd as well. Any competent IT guy makes it so that everything is quickly reversible. There are tools to do this and he should be using them if he's charging more than $30/hour.

An IT guy earning more than $30/hour should also know how to competently do a ****ing Windows update and deal with any unexpected issues.

I say **** him. The $200/month for maintaining your computers should have included keeping up to date with Windows updates:
Quote:
Our server running windows 2008 r2 had not had windows updates installed in quite a while
Which he clearly has not been doing.

You don't get $115/hour for just hitting "update" on the OS and waiting for it to install. You get that money for competently and quickly handling anything that comes up.

Quote:
He described this as a high level problem that it is reasonable he wouldn't know how to fix.
He's a jerkoff. **** him. It doesn't take that long to hone in on a problem with Windows Update. Not in 2017 when you can google and seek expert help online.

I wouldn't pay him a cent of his bills. If he's charging $115/hour, then he's not poor, and on top of that he's not being fair on hours (a competent person would have done this in under 5 imo, it's one update on one server FFS), so screw him. No court in the world would award him his bill after that level of incompetence.

I mean, look at the sequence of events:

Paid monthly to maintain server
Does **** all and doesn't even keep it updated (this is the most basic of maintenance functions)
Comes in to do an update and can't handle any anomaly despite absurdly high pay $115/hour, which is ultra expert level
Screws it up and bills you 14 hours (the cost of a new computer) for absolutely no change
Because it's not updated (his fault as the maintainer), you get ransomware
He charges you to fix his ****up as well

Don't pay this man a penny.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:41 AM   #7
TomCowley
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

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Originally Posted by ToothSayer View Post
Lots of scumbags in IT. No way you should be paying this guy $30/hour let alone $115/hour. The hours are absurd as well. Any competent IT guy makes it so that everything is quickly reversible. There are tools to do this and he should be using them if he's charging more than $30/hour.

An IT guy earning more than $30/hour should also know how to competently do a ****ing Windows update and deal with any unexpected issues.

I say **** him. The $200/month for maintaining your computers should have included keeping up to date with Windows updates:

Which he clearly has not been doing.

You don't get $115/hour for just hitting "update" on the OS and waiting for it to install. You get that money for competently and quickly handling anything that comes up.


He's a jerkoff. **** him. It doesn't take that long to hone in on a problem with Windows Update. Not in 2017 when you can google and seek expert help online.

I wouldn't pay him a cent of his bills. If he's charging $115/hour, then he's not poor, and on top of that he's not being fair on hours (a competent person would have done this in under 5 imo, it's one update on one server FFS), so screw him. No court in the world would award him his bill after that level of incompetence.

I mean, look at the sequence of events:

Paid monthly to maintain server
Does **** all and doesn't even keep it updated (this is the most basic of maintenance functions)
Comes in to do an update and can't handle any anomaly despite absurdly high pay $115/hour, which is ultra expert level
Screws it up and bills you 14 hours (the cost of a new computer) for absolutely no change
Because it's not updated (his fault as the maintainer), you get ransomware
He charges you to fix his ****up as well

Don't pay this man a penny.
This, if you're paying for monthly maintenance and you're more than a patch behind, you've already paid him too much. It's also extremely difficult to get a unique computer problem these days without trying to, or at the least one that doesn't involve some degree of hardware failure which isn't the case here. His hours for doing this are basically just doing the job (and covering for the consequences of not having done the job) that he was already paid for, and it's probably an unreasonable number of them anyway.

You can ask in http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/48...echnical-help/ if you want more IT-geek opinions.
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Old 07-12-2017, 11:10 AM   #8
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

Yeah If you think it's too strong a move to give nothing I'd offer his monthly + 4 hours and tell him that's it, take it or leave it. It shouldn't take that long to do some updates on one server, no matter what happens. Oh and that you no longer need his services.

If he says no then pay him nothing.

You can frame this in lots of ways - anger over getting ransomware when all that was needed to stop it was the latest update (which you paid him $1400 for for absolutely nothing), anger over the huge number of hours billed for an update, saying you don't trust his services after getting ransomware and you're not paying for a Windows updates which should have been part of the most basic maintenance plan.

I'm a very generous person (bonuses, high pay for staff, etc), but I've not paid and balked at contractors before. They've all folded and some have apologized. Contractors try to rip you off all the time. It's just the way the world is, because enough people pay their fraudulent bills that it's +EV for them.
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Old 07-12-2017, 11:27 AM   #9
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

FWIW I would consider alternatives and try to find a new candidate to fill the role (or hire a firm that has specialist who handle each of these service areas individually - i.e. dev ops or server support, computer/hardware maintenance, internet and email etc etc.)

Also consider restructuring your configuration with your new IT partner so they can have ownership over the entire sandbox themselves (at least somewhat.) Let me make suggested upgrades and then full accountability can be placed on them. I would certainly look to migrate away from this current provider ASAP. He appears to be apathetic at best, bordering on incompetent.
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Old 07-12-2017, 11:53 AM   #10
Mihkel05
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

I will agree that the guy you are paying should be paying you.
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Old 07-12-2017, 12:26 PM   #11
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

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Originally Posted by wahoo3 View Post
I'm kind of thinking we pay the whole bill and then find someone else.
This is why contractors attempt to defraud you. People simply pay their bills even when they know (as you do) that the charges are ridiculous.

His charges here are essentially no different to him stealing your wallet and computers. It's pure fraud.
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Old 07-12-2017, 01:26 PM   #12
OlafTheSnowman
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

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i'm kind of thinking we pay the whole bill and then find someone else... he suggested getting a new server from dell
Hi,
I can get you situated with the latest version of Windows XP and I actually have a personal relationship with Steven Dell which should prove useful for upgrading your Dell server.

Regards,
Someone Else
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:47 AM   #13
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

Yeah do not pay this bill. I'd tell him that if he attempts to collect on said bill you're going pursue a claim against him for damages. You'll never hear from him again.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:49 AM   #14
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

I used to (up until a couple years ago) do what your contractor did: contract out to small companies as tech. support. The thing is, when you advertise yourself as a 'one man IT shop' then saying that you don't know how to solve an issue is BS. Charging a company for 14 hours, then coming back with that answer is straight up robbery.

Going to assume a few things - your company is small, not reliant on technology beyond email and web browsing and spends as little as possible on it. That being said, you're going to have to spend some cash to avoid this happening again. Is the server only being used for file/print sharing? Upgrade it ASAP and lose that guy's number.

As to the question of to pay or not to pay, I've had to spend an extra weekend solving an unforseen issue before, but I wouldn't have the gall to bill the company fully if the issue was due to myself not knowing the technology. Pay him for the initial 12 hours if you want, but that second bill is pure chutzpah.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:51 AM   #15
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

Just reread your OP. That 12 hours of work was for him to try to update Server2008, fail at it, then restore the server to the initial state - which was unpatched so you got the virus? No chance I pay him anything. I can see why he's on his own now - no employer would keep someone that incompetent around.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:54 AM   #16
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Re: IT bill and knowledge question

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrookTrout View Post
As to the question of to pay or not to pay, I've had to spend an extra weekend solving an unforseen issue before, but I wouldn't have the gall to bill the company fully if the issue was due to myself not knowing the technology. Pay him for the initial 12 hours if you want, but that second bill is pure chutzpah.
If you are going to pay him (you shouldn't pay him anything), pay him for the second part where he actually fixed something. if he has any kind of claim, it exists there. The first part he took 14 hours to change precisely nothing, doing a job he arguably should have done already. No judge would award him a cent for that.

And yeah. Someone honest would not bill or would reduce their rate heavily. Honest contractors like Brook even knock down hours on legitimately long jobs, because the amount is out of sync with the value of the service you're getting.
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