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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

June 14, 2005

160 quid an hour, guv

I was talking to Neil about this earlier. I heard on the radio this morning about the ever-increasing prices for car servicing - up to £160 per hour in some garages - and can attest from my own all-too-recent experience that 'tis true. The parts costeth almost nothing because they're made in China (for example), but the labour costeth over 400 quid for a few hours' work.

We live in an unequal society. One of the worst ways in which it is unequal is in the area of knowledge and technical competency. There are some sectors who have cottoned on to this and charge whatever they feel like charging for their services. Plumbers and car mechanics, for example.

Meanwhile, in spite of the rhetoric, we still push our kids towards a "career in IT" or a "qualification to do with computers." We're told endlessly about the importance of IT in the classroom, computers in schools, bringing IT into all subjects, from music and history to science and languages.

Forsooth why? It takes hardly any time at all to learn to use a computer - and yet who among us can change a cam belt and tensioner?

The predominantly IT-based blogging and news community often reports on the levels of ignorance among ordinary punters about 'puters, and how they lack ways to protect themselves from spam, pop-ups, more spam, porn, spyware etc etc. Meanwhile, IT Serfs, over-supplied to the market, are paid a pittance to do a thankless job supporting and repairing all the shitty £300 computers these hapless punters buy.

Ironic that nobody would in their right mind consider paying £300 for a £300 computer to be repaired by a £12k per annum IT engineer. In other words, it's cheaper and easier to "upgrade" and buy new than it is to try to keep a 12-month old computer on the road.

If ordinary punters are suffering the nightmare of existence on the "hinternet" (as Ben Hammersley puts it), well, tough shit, I say. Because these same ordinary non-IT-savvy punters are the same bastards who will charge you a £100 callout fee to fix a tap or £100 per hour to change a part on your car.

(I say "change a part," because nobody fixes anything in this world. No attempt is ever made to mend something, it just gets chucked in the landfill and replaced - because the new part from China is so very cheap.)

So, next time you're ass-raped by your local franchised dealer for a simple service, take comfort in the knowledge that their experience with computers is almost certainly awful, and a great source of pain and frustration. And next time your friendly plumber moans about his computer, say, "Having trouble with spyware your PC? Good."


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