Move over Geek Squad, AT&T is launching a new in-home support service that will do everything from setting up home computers and Wi-Fi networks to installing home theater systems.
On Thursday, the phone company announced the new service called AT&T ConnecTech, which will be in select markets across all 50-states. The company described the service as an "all-encompassing home services care program that is designed to take customer service, and the company's own support capabilities, to the next level."
The service, which is available only to residential customers, provides customers with a slew of services from home theater planning and consultations to new hardware installation and notebook repair. Specifically, AT&T technicians will be available to mount flat-panel TV's on walls, install and set-up new PC or Apple computers, including setting up email and virus protection; repair computers, including parts and hardware replacement; and install and trouble shoot home networking issue. The service will be offered both in-home and over-the-phone with next next-day service installation available seven days a week.
And you don't even have to be an AT&T customer to take advantage of the support service. Anyone can call and use the service, if it's offered in the area.
Sounds great, right? But all this extra help and support comes at a price. To get a computer and network set up, it will cost customers $99. Throw in some in-home support to fix whatever problems ail your PC and it will cost you $179. If you just want phone support for the computer, it will cost $69. And set up for a TV and home theater costs $149.
All of these prices are on a per visit basis. Once on site, these prices include two hours of technical time. "Additional charges may be incurred for multiple trips, extended distance (beyond standard metropolitan areas as determined by AT&T) -including rural or limited access areas, or extended time," the fine print on the company's web site says.
Compared to Best Buy's Geek Squad prices, AT&T's services are a bargain. The Geek Squad charges around $170 to set up a wireless home network. And it charges another $160 to set up and customize a new Mac or PC. And to install a flat screen TV it costs anywhere from $350 to $800.
As home networks and home entertainment systems get more complex, it makes sense for consumers to turn to professionals for help. Clearly, there is money to be made. And AT&T isn't the only network provider to take notice. Verizon Communications also offers beefed up support for its Verizon DSL and Fios customers.
Device Protection provides repair or replacement coverage for eligible computers, TVs - regardless of age, brand or place of purchase - and telephones for a monthly fee of $19.99. The plan also covers original equipment such as remote controls, modems, keyboards, mice, monitors and FiOS backup batteries. Additional plans are also available.
The Premium Technical Support service is managed for Verizon by Firedog, and it includes telephone and online support for such network issues as virus and spyware detection and removal; virtual private network problems; help with firewalls; problems with computer operating systems; and gaming connectivity. It costs $14.99 a month.
In June, Verizon started offering in-home support for such things as installing and configuring a new computer or setting up a home network. At this point the service is only available to Verizon DSL and Fios customers, but the company is looking to expand the offering to non-Verizon broadband customers.