Let me begin by saying that I’m bad at cars. The whole genre, from the driving of them to the care of them It’s NOT a female thing either, it’s a “I’m bad at cars” thing. That being said I know I’m not the only one that dreads going to the mechanic. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to the mechanic because something is straight NOT WORKING. (apparently some people do maintenance on their cars? As far as I understand this concept it includes getting things fixed that aren’t broken) So, either your car wont start, you’re down to A tire, or it sounds like a child is dying under your hood. The mechanic sees people like us coming, I swear. They look at your car and see you haven’t gotten your wingnuts tightened and taken out your fluids and clean them and put them back or whatever and they only see dollar signs. I’m not being a jerk about this, I have verified my suspicions. I have gotten estimates, left the shop, driven down the road and they tell me something entirely else is what’s wrong and the margin of cash is +/- $500. It’s freaking ridiculous and I don’t know anyone I can trust to tell me the right thing. I just don’t trust mechanics, and haven’t been able to find one I can trust. That’s a mass generalization I am comfortable making.
We’re software engineers though, we would never take advantage of someone just because they didn’t know better.
My friend Chris called me this week. He runs a site about MMA and wrestling. It is a .NET webforms app that he had written by a small team for a stipend around last year or so. The site incorporates a lot of videos that he has done (he is a videographer) and the flash player he was using is no longer being supported by the company that made it. The company hat created his site chose this player, so he expected a break when he gave them a call and asked for it to be switched out for one that he could rely on.
He gave them a call and told him what he needed. They quoted him a minimum price of $500 plus any hourly of extra time that was accrued. This just wasn’t what he was prepared to spend, so he decided to give me a call. I said “sure, I’ll take a look at it” and he sent me his GoDaddy login info.
Step One: download solution (asp.net webforms)
Step Two: overwrite existing player.swf file
Step Three: Request solution from coders
Step Four: Change one line in the code behind to publish to the new player
Step Five: Profit
This took MAX half hour of my time. Imagine if I had built his application and didn’t need to look around first, how much faster that would be? Now think about being Chris, he doesn’t know his connection string from his app.config, getting this work done was SUPER intimidating. It’s not because he can’t understand how to do it, it’s because he doesn’t NEED to understand how to do it. That’s why he hires people, just like me and my poor car.
There is no difference between these shady developers and those shady mechanics, both price gouge people because they don’t know any better. Now, should we start responding to ads that say “I NEED A DATING WEBSITE THAT SENDS PPL TXT MSGS, I WILL PAY $200 MAX IT SHOULD TAKE TWO WKS THX” No. obviously we should bill what we are worth to people that trust our judgement…. But c’mon guys. I’m not going to name the firm that did this to him, but you’re giving us all bad name. Let’s not give people the fear of god because their website is broken and they have to call a developer, we should be the people that they trust. The ones that they call for “maintenance” because they know we’re only looking out for them.