First Ever Tech Co-op Begins Operation in Vancouver
Vancouver, March 1, 2004
Ever wondered what your computer technician did when he worked on your system?? Ever wonder if it was fixed properly or as quickly as it could have been?? Ever feel like you were being taken advantage of because you weren't a computer expert yourself?? Ever wonder if your technician was just making money off you?? Just milking you??
Well, if you have, you're not alone. Millions of Canadians are becoming as dependent on the health of their computers as they are on their own personal health. Many businesses now could not operate for even an hour if their computer networks weren't functioning properly.
Puts us all in a bit of an awkward spot doesn't it?? We're at the mercy of the "geek for hire"... the hippy technician skate-boarding in to fiddle around with the very nervous systems of our businesses. Or worse yet, find ourselves in the jaws of a hungry .com wannabe tech support company only too eager to sell us more than we need or charge us $400 to fix a $300 computer.
March 1 saw the birth of a brand new solution to this problem worth consideration. It's called the Tech Co-op. That's right, "co-op", like food co-ops, housing co-ops and the hugely successful Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Founded by computer users pulling their hair out like the rest of us and professionals working in the Tech Support Industry that knew their had to be a better way, the Tech Co-op is going full steam ahead in Greater Vancouver and Toronto.
It works like this: you need to buy one share of the Co-op, a lifetime membership, for $30 in order to use its services. Now you're an owner with a say in how things are done, equal to every other member as well as the technicians helping you, the people who answer the phone when you call, even the Co-op President.
You have the right to cast your vote annually to elect a Board of Directors composed of Co-op Management, technicians, and regular, non-savvy computer user members like us. The Board runs the Co-op, not on a day-to-day basis, it hires and fires management whose job it is to do that: meet quarterly objectives, control service quality, prices, etc.
So that's how it works. As a member using the Co-op, it feels similar to doing business with a "regular" business. The Co-op operates 24/7 with a satisfaction guarantee, but there are a few more unique differences. First, you're an owner, not just the tiniest of tiny end-users. It just feels different... like you have more control.
Second, the Tech Co-op is non-profit. That changes everything. "It was the only way to go," says Tech Co-op President Cameron Purvin-Good, "the core mandate of any company is to maximise profit and shareholder wealth. Alternatively, the Tech Co-op's mandate is to support our members as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Canadians I've talked to don't want to wonder if their technician is motivated by profit when recommending a server upgrade any more than they want to wonder if their doctor is motivated by profit when recommending a medical treatment." Makes sense.
A third way the Co-op is different is that the technicians are different. All tech support companies claim to hire only the best. Try asking them why the best decide to work for them. After some humming and hawing you'll here over-used jargon like "profit sharing program" and "great work environment", but it doesn't hold water. When asked why the best work with the Co-op, Purvin-Good replies: "It's because the Co-op is a democratically run organisation. Every employee is an equal owner with a say in how things are done. Every full-time employee gets full benefits including medical and dental, but perhaps the biggest reason the best choose to work here is that our techs earn more. We have flattened our pay structure. Management earns slightly less than industry average because we believe in what we are doing. Our front line people, our technicians, earn slightly more." Makes sense.
Priced at just $80/hr, the Tech Co-op is available to serve you over the phone, WWW or on-site in Greater Vancouver and nation-wide later this year. For further information, phone the Tech Co-op at 604-875-TECH or visit www.tech.coop.
About the Tech Co-op
Canada's leading provider of innovative IT solutions, from maintenance and support services and building web sites to wireless LAN, WAN, VPN and application development, www.tech.coop Services Co-operative is an innovative, non-profit, member owned and directed co-operative headquartered in Vancouver, Canada. Membership is open to all Canadian individuals and organisations. News and information are available at www.tech.coop.
email: chris at tech.coop